Hello LISA

Hello LISA

Visibility: about 10k
Temperature: 31°C
Wind: 050°, 5 knots
QNH: 1009 hPa
Location: EDAZ (Schönhagen)
Equipment: „Lisa“, N9920U Grumman AA-5A “Cheetah”

I have not spent as much time with „Lisa“ as I would have liked. She is one of the airplanes of the „Pilot & Flugzeug“ magazine and she is available for readers to rent.

Last summer I got checked out on her and later that year I took her on a little trip to Dessau. But over the winter we did not have a chance to fly together.

Today I have a great excuse. I am taking a friend on a trip over the Big City. We have wanted to do this for a long time and today is the day.


I arrive at the airport early. I want to have time to practice on my own before I take passengers. After my „baby break“ that seems like a good idea. I have refreshed my memory about „Lisa’s“ vital stats (speeds and limitations) and I flew as co pilot on her only a few days ago. I am looking forward to some one-on-one time with her.

„Lisa“ is waiting for me outside the hangar. I do a slow and thorough pre-flight check before I fire the engine up. It has been replaced very recently and starts up at once. Taxiing is a bit of a challenge. „Lisa’s“ front wheel is free swinging and ground steering is accomplished by differential breaking of the main wheels. This strange method makes for some swinging around the center line before I get used to it again.

On the runway I push the throttle all the way forward. „Lisa“ is not a sprinter but the runway is long. Once airborne, It does not take long to feel comfortable again. The Cheetah is a lot of fun and landing her is a dream. Because of the low wing configuration, there is a noticeable ground effect. When the wing gets close to the ground, the air flowing under it can not escape any more. An area of high pressure forms between the wing and the ground. The aircraft „floats“ on this cushion and lands very softly.

Approach to EDAZ

I do a bit of pattern work to loosen up. Then I’m off to the Big City. I want to do a „dress rehearsal“ of the whole trip. I dial in the tower frequency for the international airport. The controllers are also responsible for the sectors of controlled airspace I want to cross. I call and state who I am, where I am and what my intentions are. As always, I am a bit nervous initially. Luckily that dissipates quickly in the routine of the exchange. The controller is friendly and the trip over the city is a real treat.

Waiting for the passengers

Back at EDAZ I wait for my passengers. I have about half an hour and after initial impatience, I pace myself and enjoy the moment of down time before the concentration of a passenger flight.

My friends are full of anticipation and I explain the route for this evening. We go and everything works like a dream. We are cleared to cross midfield over the international airport and fly towards the city center. The view is great and the cameras are clicking.

Over the city

We have some more time and so we decide to take the long way home. A few miles south of the Big City is the largest freestanding building in the world. The former Cargolifter airship hangar is very impressive from the ground and even more impressive when circling it at 1.000 feet.

Cargolifter hangar

Back at EDAZ it is time for a beer. The local watering hole has a terrace overlooking the apron. We watch the last flights of the evening come in and life is good.

To be continued…

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