Yesterday I got my SR20 out of the shop after its slightly tardy 100 hour inspection, and took Troy, the shop foreman, hostage for a couple of swings around the pattern. It had been raining and snowing at KSAF earlier in the day, but there were big chunks of blue sky all around. When we taxied out for takeoff on runway 20, winds were 260@20G27. It was a wee bit squirrely on the takeoff roll (the runway was also wet.) Came around the pattern and on landing the winds were 260@27G35. Half flaps (8000 feet of runway), a bunch of power, and I felt my way back down to the pavement (with rudder left over) and did a touch-and-go. Went about five miles to the north to try out some other stuff, came back in, and ended up doing a 360 because the tower could not see the Lear on left base, and neither of us could see each other. By the time I brought it back in, winds were 260@35G41. This looks to be a crosswind component in the neighborhood of 30 knots (watching a Beech 1900 land in these conditions was quite entertaining.) On final I had power off and full flaps and was seeing 1000 fpm up (!) followed by ±20 knot airspeed excursions and a couple of bounces off of the ceiling. This time I had the rudder pedal buried in the floor but still had enough to pull it off. (The fallback plan was to use the closed runway 28 or one of the taxiways that goes in that direction.
Troy came away a believer in the SR20, and I was pretty amazed myself.
Today I flew down to Truth or Consequences NM, picked up a car, and drove up to tour the Trinity Site (home of the world’s first nuclear explosion.) Not a great deal left to see, but a lot of history (and spectacularly desolate scenery.) I didn’t take any Trinitite (the fused glassy sand that emits a friendly stream of neutrons) but the radiation officer said that he had caught a young boy taking some, and he owned up to the fact that he had two pants pockets full of the stuff. There was a display table with a Geiger counter and various radioactive items (Trinitite, old lantern mantles, a smoke detector, a chunk of depleted uranium [later stolen from the table], etc.) The most radioactive item on the table was an old orange Fiestaware salad plate; the glaze was colored with uranium.
Next it was lunch at the Owl Bar and Cafe in San Antonio (purported to be the home of the finest green chile cheeseburger in New Mexico, and quite delicious) and a drive down through the Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge–wetlands in the desert.
The day ended with 30 knots of tailwind back to KSAF. It just doesn’t get much better than this…