Mary and I planned on a 9am departure this morning but mother nature had other ideas. We arrived at Red Eagle Aviation at 8:15 and strolled through the gates with our vehicle, figuring on keeping warm while we wait for Dassult Falcon Jet to top off our tanks. I completed the preflight as the fuel truck rolled in and gave 679er a drink of 100 LL. I pulled the bird out of the tie down to let the sun shine on the wings and speed the melting process. Mary and I loaded up and I made a quick call to Williamsport to activate our flight plan. We were ready to roll at 9:35 clear of all frost.
The Valley with a Heart, Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley was our destination today. Wyoming Valley got that tag back when a flood ravaged the area. On June 23, 1972, tropical storm Agnes swept through the area. In her wake, she left 18 inches of rain, 6 people dead, 25,000 homes nearly destroyed, and $1 billion in damages. The river rose to 40.9 feet, 18.9 feet above flood stage, and 4 feet above the levees that were built after the flood of 1936, which crested at 33 feet. Although 2,278 businesses in Wilkes-Barre were damaged by the 9 feet of water that flooded the square, downtown Wilkes-Barre has been totally revitalized by the new businesses and buildings that have sprung up after the tragedy. I rememebr walking through the area and seeing houses gone, washed away. The devastation was almost unbelieveable....but it was so real. The Valley with a heart vowed to come back and they did. Good hard working folks that care about each other and the place they call home.
Mary and I got kicked to the curb by Philadelphia Approach, "Archer679er call back in twenty minutes,(I'll be half way to WBW in 20, I'm starting to get a complex)I gave the ol' double mic click to acknowledge message received and that we were on our own. Mary and I continued to cruise along at 3500 climbing to 5500 once clear the Class Bravo of PHL. When reaching the Allentown airspace at a point 13 miles east of Reading, PA (KRDG) I called Allentown Approach for Flight Following. Allentown approach gave us a squawk code and we were glad to have the extra eyes with us. Overall great flight, nice and smooth, so smooth my "co-pilot" took a nap. Allentown handed us off to Wilkes-Barre Approach and at 5-8 miles out we had WBW sight so we were turned loose to squawk VFR. I wanted to proceed up the river but approach recommended a heading of 025, which was fine, we entered on a short 45* for downwind 25 (even though I said 22 and then corrected myself) . A nice landing and short taxi to a tie down right in front of the FBO. The gentleman working marshaled me in and set chocks under the nose wheel once shut down. A very nice man, wished us Merry Christmas and Helped Mary off the wing and pointed her to coffee inside. He let us know the rental was there but left so he called to get them back out.....THANKS ED !!
The fun few hours spent with my Aunt & Uncle were well worth the trip. We also made a stop for fresh greens that were arranged to sit on top of my parents headstone. It looked nice with the red ribbon and fresh holly mixed in (My Mom would have liked it, Dad would have tolerated it). It's never easy for me during the Holidays.... I miss them both so much.
We returned the rental and got a ride back to the airport. I completed the pre-flight and then called from the plane for an update to the weather brief. I am going to purchase the smart patch cables so I can plug the phone into my headset and music into Mary's headset. I got the same guy at Williamsport FSS and he remembered me. He said its nice to know as a fairly new pilot that I would make the second call knowing the forecast reports this morning were calling for VFR all day. I laughed and said the call is mighty cheap insurance for an extra look see by qualified folks. He thanked me.
METAR KAVP 201954Z 25009KT 10SM CLR 06/M05 A3030
A call to WBW traffic for taxi, back taxi and departure has us taking off minding noise abatement (following the river)and making a call on unicom to thank the folks at the FBO. A quick flip to WB Approach has flight following activated with a new squawk. A hand off to Allentown followed by Philadelphia and at 15 miles out of Wilmington I cancelled flight following. Wilmington Tower gave me a "report 5 mile final 19" Wooo Hooo, that sure makes it easy, I'm heading 185 and I have the runway in sight. A business jet calls in and is told to enter a left downwind for 19, he then is cleared to land as I report a 5 mile final as instructed. I get "cleared to land 19, no. 2 behind (can't remember what type)jet", I confirm cleared to land 19, no. 2 and have traffic turning final. Second notch of flaps in I watch the jet turn off and continue my decent. Mindfull of wake turbulence I slow myself down and plan my landing. Everything looks good 65 kts short final over the numbers holding solid at 60 kts, sinking flair.....and down on the runway. Very shortfield with a right turn off on t/w kilo that I had to add power to make. I stop beyond the hold short and clean up then taxi to parking, staying on with the tower as requested.
All buttoned up we decide to head out for shrimp and chips (The No.52) at La Tolteca with a few cold ones. It's good to be back home after a fun day flying!!