Saturday, February 16, 2008

KMGJ - Orange County, NY

Today started Mary's first full weekend off in four weeks. She said we're going flying! She was correct, the North East Flyers planned a trip to KMGJ, Orange County Airport in Montgomery, NY. It's been a few weeks since we had a forecast that look so promising, so we were excited. I finalized plans last night only needing to add the updated weather information. Today's trip for us was to include a flight from Wilmington, DE (KILG) to Montgomery, NY (KMGJ) followed by a stop at another new airport for us, Factoryville, PA (9N3). Mary and I wanted to visit our friend Pete and his wife lori (the expecting parents). From 9N3, just north of Wilkes-Barre, PA it would have been an hour flight home to Wilmington.

We made our customary stop at the local service station/food mart for cash and bottled water for our flight. Mary was excited and I was happy to finally have her flying again. We parked the SUV in front of the plane and uncovered 679er for the start of our pre-flight. I had called for fuel Thursday and had the tanks topped off so that detail was taken care of. Pre-flight completed we saddled up and got 679er started for her warm up. It was Brrrrrrr cold this morning and 679er took eight shots of primer to get started. She begrudgingly fired up as if wanting to go but not liking that early morning chill. I kept the rpm's at five to six hundred until I saw some movement on the oil temp. I then bumped up to one thousand and punched in my flight plan.

The plan for today was pretty basic, KILG-PTW-BWZ-HUO-KMGJ. This flight plan had us take off and turn northeast to 016* and tracking to the (PTW) Pottstown VOR or for a better visual the cooling towers of the nuke plant. From PTW I would turn to a heading of 056* to intercept the (BWZ) Broadway VOR. From BWZ I would track to (HUO) Huguenot VOR followed by a turn to 080* outbound for 15.9 miles and the Orange County Airport. That's it, the plan in a nutshell.

We were cleared to taxi to runway two seven at mike and post run up announced ready to go. Wilmington tower cleared us for take off and approved our on course turn. Mary and I were away in no time climbing for our planned altitude of 5,500 feet.

I switched to Philadelphia approach on 119.75 and was immediately handed off to Philly App. on 124.45. This contact was short lived as we were again handed of to Philly App at 128.4. I look over at Mary and she is already nodding off, she didn't even make the first checkpoint which was only 22 minutes out of Wilmington. Mary did manage to point out a balloon that was lost and climbing fast through 5500', obviously there is a child some where north of Pottstown in tears having let their shiny new blue balloon that escaped.

Philly was busy but cleared us through the Bravo airspace and they were pretty good about calling out traffic. No sooner then we were settled in for the ride, we were handed off to Allentown Approach on 124.45. Allentown was along for the ride for just a short time then they handed us off to the first of three NY approach controllers. Off we went to our first NY Approach as I dialed in 128.55. Our first traffic contact was for our 9:00 same altitude a Hawker jet. Eyes peeled and looking for traffic I rock the wings in hope of the jet seeing us as I continue my scan. Sure enough the jet calls traffic in sight as I see him 2 miles or so at my 8:00 now passing behind me. We were handed off to 27.6 and finally 32.75 before being cut loose to land at KMGJ. There was traffic at MGJ but everyone was making good position reports and that made life easier. I positioned for a 45* entry for the right down wind runway two six. We had departed Wilmington at 8:45 and were on the ground at 10:05. We were the first to arrive with James in his Cessna a very close second.

On the trip to MGJ we passed a monument that was noted on the New York Sectional. The name of the area is High Point Park. The High Point Monument is located in Montague Township at the highest point in the state of New Jersey. From the parking lot, 1,803 feet above sea level, or the observation deck 220 feet up you can see for miles around. On a clear day you can see New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Quaint little towns are nestled amid the forests and farms of the New Jersey Skylands. There is camping, swimming, fishing, and other recreational activities in the 14,000 acre park which is mostly deserted outside of summer. So this is a great place to get away from it all and think. The park was designed by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York's central park.

Our first time to Rick's Runway Cafe' and it was worth the trip. The folks there were very friendly and they were set up with two tables reserved for our group. Everyone came in and introduced themselves and we ordered food around 11am. I had the cheese omelet and Mary had pancakes, both were very good. We had a nice turn out today with I think 17 total counting DrBob and guest with a late arrival. Delaware was represented by Jeff and his daughter Hannah out of 33N, Delaware Airpark and Mary and I out of ILG. Scott (Scooter) flew in from JYO - Leesburg, VA taking the greatest distance at a ballpark guess of 210-220 miles? Shortest distance traveled was by Howard from KPOU, Dutchess County Airport Poughkeepsie, NY.

Mary and I decided that since we didn't have to head to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area to meet Pete and Lori (they headed south to the Philly area)we would take a taxi ride to the OCC Motorcycle shop.

The taxi ride was interesting to say the least but I guess most are, in their own way. We first headed to the OCC shop but it was closed. We then headed to the retail shop after I had to give our driver directions off a sign that was posted in front of us on the building. After our driver got turned around she followed our directions and got us to the store. This place was packed with motorcycles that we have watched them build on TV. Not only is the fabrication work outstanding but the paint/artwork is truly amazing. We decided to make it a quick shop session and headed back to the airport with newly purchased booty in hand. It was too nice not to be flying today so we headed back to MGJ. I have to add that our taxi driver felt the need to take us on the scenic tour back which was nice to see the area but we didn't need to see the Super 8 motel or the Truckstop.

I went into the terminal (next door to the Cafe') and asked to get the tanks filled on 679er. We paid our bill and were on our way in short order. I did a fuel sump and pre-flight then locked the baggage door and climbed in. 679er fired up and I reviewed my flight plan and communications. Once the oil temp was up we taxied out to runway two six. Run up completed we were checking the pattern and moving into position for takeoff. (Pictured -taxi to parking at MGJ, Lake Hopatcong, NJ and Martins Creek power plant, PA)

I had dialed in the Broadway VOR (BWZ) and turned to a heading of 224*. I made the following calls.

NY Approach, Archer 28679er off of Orange County, 2,300 climbing 6,500, VFR to India Lima Golf, request advisories.

Archer 28679er NY Approach squawk 0314 and Ident, alt 3029.

Squawking 0314 Ident, 3029 for 679er

Archer 28679er I have you 3 miles SW of Orange County, confirm altitude 2,700.

2,700 for 679er , and off we went headed for home. (Philadelphia pictured on the left)It was a nice flight home direct from BWZ to KILG. I got to pass through Philadelphia's Bravo airspace at 6,500 until south of the airport and asked to descend maintaing VFR. I was vectored to stay clear of traffic which was pretty neat then turned back on course.

Once Philly handed me off to Wilmington I made contact and was directed to advise 3 mile right base for runway two seven. I had a traffic call out while on base but it passed behind us no factor. I was a tad bit high on final but settled in and lined up on center for two seven. I had to add a touch of throttle after my initial flare to prevent me from dropping in like a stone. I honestly flared a bit to high but corrected for that butt sink feeling and set 679er down without the thump.

Mary and I secured and covered 679er and headed for home. Mary always drives when we get home, it gives me a break after flying. It really helps me relax and I can chug down cold water, in this case the water that we left in the truck! As we left the airport we both decided on a quick dinner and a stop to rent a few movies. We exited I-95 at the last exit in Delaware before entering Pennsylvania. The choice was made for KFC, hey, it was quick and easy and on the way.

I checked my messages as we drove north on the intersate and picked up Bob's (AOPA forum member Rmciottijr) call. Since Bob and Dru could not make the fly in today they asked about doing dinner. Not bad timing we thought as Mary pulled off in the mall parking lot so we could return the call before passing KFC. Plans were made and we headed home to freshen up, feed the dog and head back out. We met at Carrabbas Italian Grill and had a great time. I had the lobster ravioli and Mary had the Chicken Picatta. We unanimously agreed that we would plan for a flying trip to mid-coast Maine in August, it was not only a dinner night out with great friends but a very aviation productive evening too.

Today was a great day. I spent time with my Bride, flying wx was fantastic, the flight was smooth and kept me busy with approach control handoff's, looking for traffic and we wrapped it up with dinner out with friends. It was a home run today, I honestly don't know how it could have been any better. I mentioned to Mary on the way home that in just 19 months of being a private pilot our adventures and friends we made have more then balanced out the cost of learning to fly.

Gallon of 100 LL $4.81
Cost of PPL $$$ (to much to think about)
Adventures and friendships PRICELESS

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