After a long weekend of overcast weather Monday was looking like the day to fly. I called the flight school (TAS) and booked a Cessna 172 for an afternoon of fun and adventure with my Bride. Yes, today was our introduction to aviation as a husband and wife team. This is not our first time flying together, we logged time in Las Vegas (with a CFI on board) and Mary joined me on my night cross country to Jake Arner Memorial with my CFI.
My flight plan was for N99 to KGED, Sussex County (Georgetown). With 2746C already booked for the afternoon we had to rent N65021 on a shorter time frame. We had the aircraft all to ourselves from 1:00 to 4:00. With the time available and aircraft change we decided to make Millville our first run. A quick plan update on the AOPA flight planner with winds aloft and weather completed I only needed to update my wx briefing with Williamsport FSS. FSS says good to go VFR and have fun on first flight with your new ticket, I pass along my thanks and confirm, it will be a blast! I could say nothing prepared me for how I was feeling about today, but then again it’s like being on your first date, your so excited but at the same time cautious……not sure what to expect yet knowing your in for the ride of your life. We talked and dreamed about this day for a while now and then here it is, right in front of us. I have supported Gary every step of the way and he has always said that he never would have been able to pursue his dream if I could not be part of it. How lucky am I!!!!!
Pre flight complete and buckled in I get 021 started. I go through all my checklists out loud so Mary can follow along. I also find myself paying attention to the explanation for the break check and once to the run up area the reason for the increase in power and no movement. Hearing Gary go through the pre-flight was a little unsettling along with the butterflies in my stomach…….but within seconds that was gone as we started to roll for take off. An audible check of systems and the run up is finished. We start our roll to runway 27 for departure while looking for traffic on base and final. Once at the hold short I go through my last safety checks, fuel, trim, flaps, mixture, transponder. Announcing my departure on 27 we roll into position and head out. Nice and smooth, maintain heading for noise abatement we are climbing out. Mary made a comment how cool it looked! Once we were in the air the butterflies were gone and the excitement of the view took over, just Gary and me, what a rush.
No GPS on board today, it's in the shop for repairs. I confirm my heading inbound for the DQO VOR and announce leaving Brandywine to the south. I climb to 2800, good for pictures and above the Class Delta at Wilmington. We are also under the Class Bravo shelf 70/40 outer ring of Philadelphia. The Delaware Memorial Bridges in sight and Wilmington Airport lined up for a very long final to 19, we are headed in the right direction. I call to advise Wilmington Tower that I am transitioning above the Dleta airspace NW to SE at 2800, they confirm. I know it was not needed since I was above the 2600 ceiling, but sometimes it gets busy there and knowing I am on frequency and aware of my location may help the guys in the tower out.
Crossing the Delaware it was a bit bumpy but not to terribly bad. Not terribly bad, who is he kidding!!! It took only a few minutes of closing my eyes then I started enjoy the sensation. Intercepting the 140* outbound radial of DQO VOR was easy enough and now tracking to Millville. Nice view today as I look towards the South-South East over the Delaware Bay. There are a few tankers lined up waiting to deliver the goods. Mary and I are taking in all the sights, enjoying the flight when she says "traffic passing under us on her side, helicopter", I could not see it. Good eyes! and I thank her for the spot. Bridgeton is now in view with KMIV just of in the distance.
As we listen to 123.65 CTAF for Millvile we spot the aircraft on short final for r/w 27 and the #2 turning from downwind to base. I announce my position as 5 north-west of the field to cross at midfield NW to SE and reposition for a 45* to enter left downwind for 27. I turn back towards the east and loop in for a nice 45* and report a 2 mile entry followed by the downwind entry call. Last checks for landing, fuel, mixture flaps, lights check, and carb heat already on for decent to pattern altitude. What a nice landing, smooth as could be a real greaser as they say! Mary said, nice, real nice, Bill should have been there to see it. He was in my mind, I heard him, nose up, nose up hold it off. I know that Gary wanted our first landing to be perfect and it was, he did a superb job smooth as silk, I was so proud of him…………and grateful too!!
After parking and getting 021 secured I followed Mary into Antino's for lunch. Ahhhh...what a gal already had my ice tea waiting. A very nice lunch, Lobster Bisque soup and a BLT on home made Pita bread (good stuff). I was thrilled that Antino’s was our first lunch stop, I’m a huge fan!!!! Lunch was followed by a short stroll to Big Sky Aviation to say hello to friends. The folks are so nice at Big Sky, they took the time to take a picture of Mary and I for the flight scrap book, how cool is that. I would like to thank Beth for sharing our excitement and allowing us to be the tourist along with taking our picture for us.
A quick call to Millville radio to inform them I am at the Big Sky Ramp and ready for departure VFR to the north. I confirm traffic advisory, runway in use and ALT setting.
We are off..... (Thanks Joe for taking this shot)Slight cross wind with a little wing wiggle and squared away for my climb out. A call to Millville traffic to advise of our NW departure and we are headed home. A smooth ride back towards Wilmington and Mary and I soaking up all the view. We easily spot the cooling towers on the island and can just see the concrete anchorages for the twin spans. About 10 -12 miles out I give a call to Wilmington to advise transition above airspace at 2800 SE to NW. A confirmation of cleared to transition and ALT setting we are back to sight seeing. Well I'm looking for traffic to my 9:00 with runway 14/32 active at ILG as
we pass over the Delaware memorial Bridges. Mary and I track North along Concord Pike (Rt. 202)to pick out all the places we frequent. Hmmm, oddly enough they are places to shop and eat. The Dupont Mansion is off to our 9:00 and the Childrens Hospital Alfred I. DuPont Memorial tower is at our 3:00, very cool from the air.
I catch a glimpse of the Smithbridge road covered bridge, a project I had the good fortune of having spent some time covering while working at the Delaware DOT. Crusing along the Brandywine and making way for Modena (MXE) our journey is almost complete. The familar twin water towers acting as the gateway to a 45* entry for downwind runway 27 clues me to announce my position. Brandywine traffic, Cessna 65021 on a 4 mile 45* from the SW for left downwind 27 Brandywine. Not a word on the radio, pattern is quiet. I flow through the landing checks, hold my pattern altitude and turn downwind, base then final. Nice and easy, good headwind as I check the windsock for the last time followed by a nice flair and gentle chirps......home sweet home. Another nice landing with a tad of movement to the right but pretty much on center.
Calling clear we taxi to the tie down and secure 65021. I feel so much better getting the first one in the books. I honestly can say I was a bit nervous with the Bride on board for the flight to Millville, but coming home I was more at ease. My CFI was at the school as we walked in, he was happy to see us taking to the sky.
We are not sure about our next trip. I guess as always wx dependant, we may try to get to Cape May for a day on the Beach and crossing the bay for dinner at KGED before heading north to home.