Today I teamed up with my flight instructor and flew for the first time in a Cessna 150. This is the two seat version of the Cessna 172 that I fly regularly. After getting over the initial shock of not seeing many of the things that I normally see in the cockpit, like a GPS, two com radios, ADF and so on…we took off from Canandaigua for a flight to Wellsville.
This flight was not an official training flight so much as it was a flight to get use to the plane. However, anyone who flies with their instructor knows that ANY flight is a training flight. A 150 is a lot like a leaf in the wind, you don’t have as much power and things sound different. As I was climbing to 4,500 feet, I noticed that I had a few clouds ahead of me. Now I do know what pitch and power are and how to use them…really…but I started to fixate on the clouds and not on my flying. The result was a desent and an airspeed increase into the yellow arc. I didn’t know you could go 120 kts in a 150…but I did. My instructor took over for a bit and I felt foolish about being so stupid as to not notice my situation as quick as he did.
I was looking at the clouds. My mind was on the regulation for cloud clearances…1000 ft above, 500 feet below and 2000 feet to the side. Which is why I was decending and turning right. Since the RPM gauge was now on the right side of the cockpit and not in front of me (out of sight out of mind) I didn’t catch it. Would I have made the same mistake in the 172? Probably not since I was a bit more timid in the 150 and still building up my confidence.
I was slightly disoriented in that I was looking and not seeing and wasn’t smart enough to remember to look right toward the RPM gauge. Did I look at it when I took off or was I just looking at my air speed? I think the truth was that I was looking solid at my airspeed and not at the RPM’s at all when I took off. All I cared about at the time was my rotation speed. Simply stupid…and dangerous…but in the 172 I look at the RPM’s religiously.
I guess this is why you take your instructor with you on such a flight!