A change in plans after watching the extended weather has us adding a day on the front end of our mini vacation. With storms forcasted for Thursday Mary and I decided to depart Wilmington on Wednesday.
It's brisk this morning as we arrive to pre-flight 679er but it is crystal clear. Bags packed, buckled in, ATIS noted and I call good morning to Wilmington ground, Archer 28679er at Red Eagle with Hotel, ready to taxi for VFR departure to the south. Wilmington responds with taxi to 27 via Kilo, Mike hold short for departing traffic.
Run up complete I switch to the tower and advise Archer 28679er ready to go at Mike runway 27....cleared for take off we roll out and ....we are off on our vacation! Nice and smooth today as we make our way south for the SBY VOR. Dover Approach eventually provides flight following since Philly approach would not answer my calls. I don't know why I waste my time calling them. Dover sounds sharp and the pace seems pretty laid back with not much activity this morning. Mary adds some nice photos to our flight journal with pictures of the new SR 1 (background)and St. Georges Bridges over the C&D canal and a barge hard at work moving through the the C&D. Dover hands us off to patuxent approach who rides along with us until almost Cape Charles, CCV VOR. We get handed off to Norfolk who immediately tells us to stay clear of the class C airspace. Well no kidding....We didn't even cross over the Cape Charles VOR, heck we didn't even make feet wet at this point. I get a return call from approach and he confirms destination as we "ride along" together over the Bay. Once over Point Comfort we get handed off again to another Norfolk Approach covering the area north and west of Newport news. I am cleared to descend at my discretion to not below 2,500 and to acknowledge field in site. I confirm instructions and eventually announce field in site and comply with maintain VFR squawk 1200. Williamsburg Jamestown here we come! Airport advisory has winds at 115*-120* at 8 kts just nice for a landing on r/w 13. I announce cross wind entry for 13 and lose the last bit of altitude and join the pattern at 850'. Midfield downwind followed by right base and really short final has us on the ground and looking for our turn off to taxi.
With 679er secure, covered and unpacked we gather up our bags and head into the terminal. Our rental is waiting, (Chrysler PT Cruiser) and we load it up. The restaurant is not open until 11am so we decide to head to the Williamsburg Winery for a tour and taste test. Mary likes wine and I...well I just tag along, listen to the info and ask questions about the process. The whole relationship with the wooden barrels and costs per barrel and life span of each barrel peaks the engineer in me. We enjoy the tour and I even found a wine I didn't mind all that much. Of course we made a purchase of five or six bottles and had them boxed for the flight home.
We crossed the compound and decided to try the Gabriel Archer Tavern for some early lunch. We each ordered a roast beef with brie, I had sweet tea and Mary a glass of white wine. The service was excellent and the food just as good. It was now starting to rain, just a very light showers and it would stop as fast as it started. We loaded the latest booty into the PT Cruiser and headed east on Rt. 64 for Victory Blvd., in Newport News for the Hampton Inn. The check in was for one night only and then we would have to move to the regularly scheduled room. Reminder, we added Wednesday as a last minute deal due to weather. Needless to say the place was booked solid with some basketball tournament in town.
Check in complete with the Hampton we decide to round out the afternoon with a trip to the Virginia Living Museum. What a place! In 1987, the museum became the first living museum east of the Mississippi, combining the elements of a native wildlife park, science museum, aquarium, botanical preserve and planetarium. Some of the many attractions we had the pleasure of viewing are captured in the photos we have posted. Mary and I both fell in love with the Bald Eagles. I can not begin to describe the many native plants and tree's that are noted as you walk the grounds. Inside there are areas that describe all about Jamestown. You will also walk through a Cedar swamp display and have a chance to see the native birds in the State of Virginia. Mary just loved the newest addition pictured on the right, yes this little red fox would have come home with us if it was permissible.
Mary and I decided it was time to head back to the room and get cleaned up for dinner. I really could use a nap but we decide to head out and try our luck at a big juicy steak at the Texas Roadhouse. We finally catch up to Susan who has been trying to flip her "sleep" shift for our arrival. Susan is a Emergency Room RN at the Williamsburg Hospital, so she keeps pretty dang busy. It was so nice to once again share some time with one of Mary's best friends. We talked for what seemed like hours, enjoyed great steaks and due to weight and balance concerns we passed on the dessert. We call it a night, now passing 11pm and decide to meet up around 5:30pm Thursday evening for Italian dinner and the Manheim Stemroller concert at the Ferguson Center.
Thursday April 12, 2007
Mary and I didn't really sleep in all that late this vacation morning even though we had no pets to take care of. Speaking of pets here is a recap of our departure from home.
Maggie was scheduled to spend a few days at the local Animal Care center being loved by our friends who work there. Here she is dreaming about packing for her stay....ok, taking a NAP before her packing. Jake decides he'll box himself up for the trip but we were ready for him and he too will stay home with his three brothers to be spoiled rotten by Grandmom. I know it's really sick but we do miss our furry kids. Ok, back to our vacation...
I'm not really sure but I manage to talk Mary into a breakfast at the Waffle House. Hey don't knock it, I love those places. There is nothing better then an order of scattered smothered and covered....you figure it out. While enjoying our breakfast at the finest of places (insert smirk) it decided to down pour. Ahhh, no worry we're on vacation. We finish up and review directions to the Air and Space Center in Hampton, Virginia located just less then 30 minutes from our hotel and about 15 from the WH. We arrived early but still had to contend with all the school field trips. There had to be hundreds of 2nd graders!
We made the rounds checking out the various aircraft and displays. Mary decided to play "shooter" on a carrier deck and took hold of the signal sticks and gave it a go. She can launch me off the deck anytime! I had a chance to check out the Amateur radio station set up and view some very old code keys and equipment. One of my all time favorite aircraft is the F4 Phantom. I mean this baby looks bad to the bone and in my opinion is what a fighter should look like. The F4 Traveled faster than Mach-2 at 40,000 feet and the aircraft at the center has two confirmed MIG kills from the Vietnam War. Some of the other aircraft displayed are listed here on the Air and Space Center web pages. I will post a few of the shots Mary and I saved while walking around. We didn't get a chance to try our hand at the full motion sim, the operator for that attraction did not show up on time. We decided to stroll around town and take a few pictures. One neat attraction was the merry go round or the carousel as some call it. Mary got a few pics and the plaque explaining it's existence. A nice parting shot of the water front as we made our way to the roof of the parking garage (which was free)looking for the cross over exit ramps. Hmm, odd, there was none, we had to turn around and head back down which made for some interesting looks as you pass people around the turns.
After our tour of Hampton we once again made our way to Rt. 64 and proceeded west to Colonial Williamsburg. We made a quick stop to check on 679er since she went through some high winds Wednesday night. There was a tornado watch until 11am this morning. Our girl was safe and still tied down, anxious to get back in the air until I re-assured her we would be back Saturday morning bright and early. Mary and I finally had lunch at Charlys! The food was fantastic, service just as good and we had a nice sit down chat with Jean Waltrip, one of the owners. This lady is a class act, Mr. and Mrs Waltrip were inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame November 17, 2001. Larry and Jean are the first husband and wife team ever to be elected to the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame. They have owned and operated the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport since they founded it in 1970. They have also been recipients (in 2005) of the Captain John Smith Award. The award, given by James City County’s economic development division, is the county’s most prestigious award and is presented at Jamestown. These folks continue to promote GA at every turn. My hats of to you Jean & Larry!
Our lunch complete we once again climb in the PT Cruiser for a short hop to Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg was fairly busy this day. We made our way down one side of the street and back up the other, taking moments to snoop in the shops and take in the fresh air. I think today's stroll along the streets of Williamsburg is my tune up for Busch gardens tomorrow! We ran short on time since we needed to meet Susan and the group for dinner at 4:30 prior to heading over to the Concert at the Ferguson Center.
Once again pointed east on RT 64 we were underway for a non-stop to the Hampton Inn. I spoke to soon since we got caught up in traffic six miles before our exit. Arrggghh....a waste of 45 minutes as we funnel down to one lane and pass the accident mess. Just enough time to shower change and head downstairs....I'm needing a nap! Off we go again and Susan is doing the driving. I needed a break as we chatted and enjoyed the ride. We caught up with everyone at Luigis Italian restaurant located on Warwick Blvd in Newport News. The food once again was very good and the service just as great. We managed to pack in some home made cannoli's for dessert and I almost had to be carried to the car. I was full, fat and happy with left overs to take back to the room.
We arrive at the Ferguson Center and quickly find our seats in one of the boxes. Great seats! The show starts in no time at all and we are treated to a fantastic concert by Mannheim Steamroller presenting their Fresh Aire festival. The Music of Mannheim Steamroller is a concert tour created, arranged and produced by Chip Davis. In Fresh Aire, Davis created groundbreaking music that is an innovative blend of classical themes with pop elements that he calls, “18th Century Rock-n-Roll.” Mary and I really like their Christmas music but this was a nice change of pace. The concert lasted about two and a half hours with the finish presenting a taste of the Christmas favorites. Job well done ! We say our goodbyes to the group as we pile in Susans town car. The ride is soft and smooth, I could fall asleep in my seat, but decide I'm the co-pilot and should remain alert.
Friday April 13, 2007
Friday the 13th! Yes, friday the 13th and it shows it's ugly head early. We receive a call from Susan to tell us she will be running a bit late for our departure to Busch gardens, she locked herself out of the house. Apparently women change handbags, I don't know why and at the age of 49 know better then to ask. Us men never change wallets unless they fall apart, what's wrong with that ? Anyway, we get underway and make good time to the park. Traffic is backed up but seems to be moving along and all the drivers seem to be playing nicely with each other. We start our adventure at 10:30 am and the ladies walk my legs off until 7pm. We enjoyed a couple of shows along the way, I vote the Irish dancers were the best. We listened to some Irish band then went in the building pictured on the top left. We took some pictures along the way, here at he pot of gold Irish fountains.
Finally the rose between two thorns.....just kidding. We made a stop in Germany and had to take a picture at the fountains. The ladies fed me very well at the Smokehouse; brisket,ribs,chicken and carrot cake. We did manage a ride or two along the way. I will say the park was very clean and the staff was very nice to deal with. After a long day at the park we high-tailed it back to our room where I checked on the weather for my flight plan and checked into the POA flash chat. Mary passed out quickly and I didn't last long myself.
Saturday April 14, 2007
After a check on the weather last night and a look see this morning I decided to keep with the plan of a 7:30ish departure. We meet Susan at Cracker Barrel at 6:15am and enjoy breakfast without long lines or a crowd. You may think we're crazy but I didn't want any part of that front moving up from Texas to tap dance around for the ride home. We finished eating and made our way outside. It's always hard for Mary to say goodbye to her friend Susan. They have known each other for 33 years, shared a home and worked together. I have to say just flying to spend time with Susan and to see Mary's face light up when we get there was worth getting my PPL. We will return soon to catch some shows at Busch gardens since we purchased a season pass for each of us. Maybe in June depending who is playing.
We arrive at KJGG needing to return the rental and then preflight. I take care of the rental return and Mary uncovers 679er. Together we pack the bags, a case of various wines and aircraft essentials. Pre-Flight complete, door secured, a call for clear prop and 679er comes alive. Winds variable so runway 13 will be the calm winds choice. We taxi out listening to a Cardinal inbound for a full stop just entering the 45* for runway 13. I complete my run up and get ready to depart checking for traffic. I have the cardinal on downwind almost ready to turn right base. I announce departing 13 and roll out turning to the centerline and moving to full throttle. The Cardinal announces on final and unicom comes to life as the gentleman at the desk thanks us for stopping in and staying with them for the few days. I listen for the Cessna then acknowledge with a thanks for the hospitality and we'll be back soon.
Climbing out to TPA and minding my course of 180* for noise abatement I flip to Norfolk approach. I quickly pick up flight following and make way towards Cape Charles. Mary takes some nice shots of the fleet as we head out over the Bay. Norfolk advises the Restricted area is cold and offers a direct route. I thank him but advise we want the scenic tour CCV SBY direct to Wilmington. He acknowledges and gives me vectors to help shortcut my route and help him with his traffic. Smooth as silk this morning, climbing to 5500' and on a new heading of 70* crossing the Bay to then turn north 50* as vectored followed by getting cut loose at my descretion for SBY. The reflecting sun and clouds were really pretty today. Mary thought it was a bit hazy so she cat napped most of the way home. I was busy tuning my VOR route, looking for traffic and noting Tangiers, Acckomack, Ocean City, MD (in the distance), Salisbury and Georgetown. I was handed off to Dover and got a great look at the BIG BOYS (C-5's) on the ramp and a special bonus of one taking off to join in the fun. North of Dover I called out the traffic as alerted, it was getting busy. I had a jet on my six heading direct DuPont cleared by DOV for 3000' the same as I was just cleared and same direct to. I contacted KDOV to restate my five point five for three point zero and it was acknowledged. I didn't feel any safer. In a few minutes I was cut loose to squawk VFR and given the numbers for Philly approach. I was 17 south of Wilmington so I copied the KILG ATIS and made my call. I was told to report a 5 mile final for runway 1, seemed pretty easy with winds 280 5 kts. Mary was clicking off pictures of historic New Castle and a few shots of a Great Blue Heron acting as my wing man. As I am ready to call my 5 mile final I am directed to turn and follow the New Jersey shoreline and the tower will call my turn to right base. The tower landed a grumman then had a jet no. 2 with me no. 3 and another aircraft instructed to follow the Piper (me)no. 4 to land. Cool, pretty busy airspace today that takes some thinking and some looking around. As I watch the jet on final I get the call to turn for right base, which is a left turn from my position. You got it, right wing high for a steep left turn (I was almost parallel to the approach)and I lost sight of the jets touchdown point. Right base followed by a very short final has me adding the last notch of flaps now pushing heavy to the right of center and my airspeed going to hell. I add power with 5500 feet of runway in front of me and set 679er down. Still pushing right and slow to respond ending in a short burst of the stall horn, a drop in to the runway with a heavy chirp, short bounce/skip and then mains down again. It sucked! For the very first time I could smell some tire smoke and was landing on the right side of the centerline. Is this what wind shear or wake turbulence feels like ? Mary said the bounce wasn't that bad, I thought otherwise. The stall horn gave me a slight moan as I did set down but not as much as I like to hear. Tower has me stay on with him as I acknowledge my taxi to "K"ilo noting if I can count that as two. I know the guys in the tower and he says with a laugh, it sure would be nice if I could...at least Mary got a good chuckle out of that.
679er secured we finally head home. I have a little league baseball game in less then an hour and Mary heads out to pick up Maggie. Overall a GREAT trip! I'm tired, thirsty and tired of typing!