Saturday, March 31, 2007

Kim's First Flight

Today was a great day, it fulfilled again one of the reasons I learned to fly and that is to share my passion for flight with others. Mary and I had a great day flying this past Thursday, burning enough fuel to be ready for today's flight. We spent 2.5 hours hobbs time and that works out to about 17 gallons used. With my weight and balance checked for our flight of four for Millville, NJ we had 31 usable in the tanks. Plenty of go juice for this short hop.

Now about Kim, and her husband John. John and I pretty much grew up together since grade school (5th grade), best of friends through thick and thin, he'd lie and I would swear to it and vice versa. My Mom liked John so much she would ask me why I couldn't be more like him.....and my dad, well he always thought of him as the third son. Kim married John or was that John married Kim....well you get the picture. Anywho.....a great couple that compliments each other well. I know she loves my best friend and him her, or so that saying goes.

After Gary and I had been dating a while it was very important that I meet John and Kim. I was a little nervous knowing the history between the two men, and what didn’t help Gary had been telling people for years he would NEVER marry again, and we were talking about marriage. Kim and John made me feel so comfortable like I was already family and I have never forgotten that wonderful feeling. So it was very exciting to share this day with them.

Today Kim decided to take the plunge and fly for the very FIRST time. That's right not even one commercial flight prior. That's hard to imagine in this day and age but at 29 and holding she decided to give it a try. I called yesterday before retiring for the night and she said she was nervous but was ready to have it, I tried to reassure her that it will be fine and John did too.

Mary and I arrive at Wilmington to uncover and pre-flight. I find all is in order and lock 679er up and move the truck to the parking lot and wait for our passengers arrival. John called and said they were running a few minutes late because Kim hit a yard sale....I make a mental note of this shopping addiction and vow not to let her and Mary talk about ANY shopping. We all head in the gate together and Kim is first to climb in. Walking up to the plane I see the anxiety in Kim’s eyes, I gave her a bear hug and said just have some fun. I said to Kim this is such a great adventure you are about to have today. When she smiled I thought her face was saying she really wasn't that sure. Mary explained the seat belts, headsets and hook up in order to communicate with the rest of us. John was number two to board and he got situated and plugged in no time. John has flown with me one time prior. I performed the Piper roll and got belted in the left seat as Mary closed the door and buckled in also.

I took my time to explain what I would be doing with the run up, talking to the tower, my hand signal for quiet if needed and the need for each passenger to call out traffic if they saw it. I think if you give folks something to do they think a lot less and extra eyes searching for traffic is always a good thing. The winds at Wilmington today were 090 at 9 kts which made for a very smooth roll out and take off. Kim missed the takeoff because she had her eyes closed and I think was digging holes through John's coat with her nails. Today's winds aloft were (for the first time for me) light and variable as reported from Atlantic City for 3000'. Millville KMIV is just under 20 minutes from KILG so low and slow fit the ticket very nicely.

Ten minutes southeast of Wilmington and you could see the opening of the Delaware Bay, both land masses, Cape May, NJ and Cape Henlopen, DE. You could see Kim starting to relax, now that she opened her eyes. We started talking about the local sights and how different things look for from this "looking down" view. I announced at 15 miles out for a full stop runway 10 Millville and was advised of a mooney inbound, which I heard but did not see. Once closer in I changed my plan from a 45* entry for downwind 10 to a left base. The Mooney announced clear of the active and he was all that was in the pattern. I slowed down and lost the remaining altitude along with adding flaps. Calling out each leg I turn a short final and add the last notch of flaps with a wind check reporting 080 at 11 kts. Nice smooth landing and taxi clear to parking at Antino's.

Breakfast as always was fantastic. I had the Antino's breakfast quesadilla as did Mary. Kim had waffles w/ blueberries and John had a monster omelet (6 eggs) . That's right they use six eggs!! Kim had John call her friend who she had on standby just in case she didn't want to get back in the plane for the ride home. Gary and I are still laughing about Kim’s back up plan for getting home!!!! Actually it was a good idea, I would not have thought about that. Needless to say she was excited about the ride home. Thanks again John and Kim for treating Mary and I to breakfast. We took a few pictures by the plane and saddled up for home. John took video for most of the trip and I'm excited to hear my radio calls and see how it looks from the back seat.

We fire up 679er and start to taxi out when I hear a jet announce his taxi to runway 10 also. I look to my 3 o' clock and sure enough from Millville jet he starts to roll out. I had started my taxi from the last parking spot right off taxiway Charlie (at Antino's)and the Challenger Jet was rolling from Millville Jet Center. I never made a stop, I continued my taxi with the plan of departing from runway 10 at the intersection of "C"harlie . That plan changed when another aircraft taxied on to "C"harlie from r/w 10 forcing me to right turn and head to the approach end. Kim looked back and saw this monster Challenger jet closing on us and I explained that I rolled out first because he was most likely going to be waiting for his clearance. The World Wide jet xxx was immediately cleared so he could have been off in no time flat. Oh well, we position for run up and then announce departing runway 10 VFR to the north on the downwind leg. I make a nice smooth takeoff and I quickly climb to pattern altitude turning crosswind a bit early and announcing with the added "We'll get out of the way for the World Wide Jet." WW Jet announces his departure and that he had the Archer in sight.

The haze had cleared a bit more for the hop home and Kim seemed to be enjoying the ride. John has some great video I'm sure and I hope to get it posted soon. Looking off to our 9 o' clock you can see St. Georges bridge and the fairly new SR 1 bridge over the C&D canal. Kim takes a look at Fort Delaware and at historic New castle as they pass beneath us. Off in the distance we can see the cooling towers near Pottstown, PA, just ahead north of the airport the Rollins building in north Wilmington and the memorial tower at the DuPont children's hospital.

Having previously noted the information on the ATIS, I had called Wilmington tower about 15 out to the south east and announced a full stop with information "D"elta. I am offered right base for runway 9 with winds 060 at 11 kts or straight in for 32. I took the 32 option and decided to work on my crosswind landing. I reported mid river for 32 as directed and was cleared to land. As we crossed Rt. 13 I slipped into the numbers holding the right wing down enough to get a good right side main touchdown with the stall horn singing followed by the left main then nose wheel a few seconds later......way to cool!

We taxied to our tie down and secured 679er. We said our goodbyes to Kim and John since it was a bit nip and I had to wait for fuel. Kim gave me a hug and said she had a great time and from what Mary said it sounds like she is wanting to get back up with some beach trip time. Mary walked out with our passengers and brought our truck in so we could wait for fuel and keep warm. 679er took on 25 gallons for her 3.6 hours work in two days. Not to bad with a gal/hour burn of 6.94.

We had a great day and all look forward to getting out again soon. Maybe John and I will kick the girls out at the beach and get some flying time in. They can kick us to the beach, (outlets)it matters not. We had a blast and I can’t wait to do it again.

Hi Gary & Mary.

I just read your blog and thought that was a great account of the day. I feel so foolish for being so afraid all these years (29 sounds good). I might have lied just a little when I said I was nervous, that was a gross understatement. I was TERRIFIED. Its a good thing there was no door on my side! Mary had it right when she said I was still trying to convince myself to do this. Everyone told me how awful the take off and landings were and I was anticipating the worst. I took the advise of a childhood friend who said "close your eyes and pretend its stadium jump. A really long, really high jump". Like you and John we've been through it all together over the years (again 29 sounds good). I trust John completely and he would have trusted you with his life long before you thought about flying. I knew deep down our bestest friends wouldn't steer me wrong.

What a rush! When I opened my eyes and we were up and level I started breathing again and thought how wrong all those people said about the take off. My face was kind of still buried in Johns shoulder a little and I missed old New Castle! Then I sucked it up, sat up and it was great! but it was almost time too land. Closed my eye again and didn't even know we were on the ground. One little bump and time for breakfast. I was a little in shock, I think. Those other people were wrong about the landing too! I figure It must be the pilot.

Breakfast was great. I watched the take off and the landing coming home and was sorry I missed It the first time. I even picked out old New Castle without any help. I am so proud of myself ! All afternoon I was thinking how much I felt like Sally Fields in Smokey and the Bandit. After he jumped the bridge and she was jumping all over the car screaming "I wanna jump something else!!!" (Never mind Burt's reply). I only have one request for next time, lets let the big guys go first. Mary and I will find some way to entertain you guys while we wait. Didn't like him on your six!

So Guys, Anytime you have a spare seat, I'm in.

Thank you both, I'll never forget it!


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