The North East Flyers, the few not attending OSH (Airventure09), descended upon Cape May , NJ for brunch and a chance to play at the shore. Yes, Delaware has the beach and New Jersey has the shore, we must not confuse the two. The wx at Wilmington was looking pretty good with the typical hot wx haze and for lack of a better term gunky blah type overcast looking stuff, ok that was term(s). How hot and muggy was it? Check out Marys hair as it turned into Shirley Temple curls.
Mary and I really needed a day away all to ourselves with no medical stuff, no pets, no things to do around the house. We decided to get up early hit Angel's for a light breakfast and get motoring to the plane. This was our first flight together since sometime in March, it's been that long ago. Somethings you do become routine and it was good to see we really still clicked on getting the plane ready to fly. Great teamwork had me finishing up the preflight with a fuel sample/sump. I decided that since my left tank was at the tab and my right about half way up the tab we would burn off fuel on the right side and have good balance and plenty of fuel when we land at Cape May. This eventually worked out just fine since we took on 15 gallons at Big Sky Aviation later in the day.
We climbed aboard and got the big fan turning to cool things off, it was going to be a scorcher. I was cleared to taxi to one nine as usual and hold short. I completed my run up, closed the door and window scoop and received clearance to take off with a left turn on course approved. You can tell the FAA is moving a lot of trainees through Wilmington when the controller asked if my direction of flight is north east. No, not going to "The Cape" I thought to myself and politely responded no sir, that would be south east, whiskey whiskey delta, he confirmed. I make it a practice on initial call up to ground to always state VFR, direction of flight, and destination followed by the verbal/phonetic alphabet.
It was a nice cruise climb out of Wilmington, turn left or south east into the muck. I was looking back north towards the Twin spans crossing the Delaware river so my visibility was 5-7 miles and a glance to the south looking at the Salem nuke cooling tower would confirm about the same distance maybe stretching to 8 miles or 9 if I was feeling generous. I leveled off at 2,500 to take a good look south east and the trip seemed doable, so I continued on climbing to 2,800 or there abouts maintaining a comfort level with my visibility. I had the shore of NJ along the Delaware Bay to follow just off to my right but at times had a hard time establishing contact with the Delaware shore line across the bay. Millvile was reporting IFR conditions as we continued south with a very low layer over the airport, we could see this as we went by noting the ground mist/ foggy patches along the Maurice River. As we passed between Millvile (MIV) and Dover Delaware (across the bay) I could see the Bay followed by the land mass that sticks out where Cape May was located. The wx was spot on with Atlantic City and Cape May calling out VFR conditions. Granted, there was still plenty of hot humid air hanging around, it didn't just change to clear and sunny, see forever. Millville eventually cleared around 11AM.
I would have loved to have a video heading into WWD but my lovely co-pilot was sound asleep for this trip. We were up early and the dogs kept waking us last night so I flipped the radios to isolate so she could have some quiet sleepy time, it worked. I once again announced my position updating to five miles north inbound full stop one nine. An aircrfat announced he was going to back taxi (NOTAM read taxiway Bravo is under construction) on one nine and I replied I had him in sight. He taxied clearly alongside the center line which made it easy to pick him out. I started doing S turns and slowed 679er down to give him plenty of room. I was maybe down to a mile or so when he called wheels up and he thanked me. I said no problem, efficient use of the runway, have a great flight.
We taxied into Big Sky and our rental car was waiting. The lineman tied our aircraft down and gave us a lift to the office on a golf cart, he also helped us with our cooler (for the crabs later on). The car was ready and waiting, cold air blowing and feeling good! Mary and I were off to Cape May! First stop was the shops at Washington Street Mall and get my bearing on the restaurant we wanted to stop at later this evening. We strolled around the shops for a bit and I found a seat in the shade on a nice bench with the sun creeping towards me. It was just enough to light up my white legs and work on getting some tan or any color for that matter.
The clock was working its way towards 11AM and we needed to head back to the airport to meet the rest of the folks flying in. In order to get back on the main drag you have to circle around a bit then pick up the road out of town. I remember my way around pretty good and get the turns right 'this time' and before you know it we are going over the bridge out of cape may. A few left turns later and we are on Sandman Blvd and just a few minutes out of WWD. As we pulled in Dave (M35 on the AOPA Forum) was parking his bike so we walked in the terminal together. Inside we meet up with Jeff and Jeanette, chatted for a few then walked in to secure a table. Don and Rosemary soon joined us to make seven. The place was packed for lunch, it was good to see the Flight Deck doing so well. We decided to order and hope Dave and his family would make it in. When we left the house there was no change on the forums. Sadly we did not take any pictures of the group gathered around the table, we were just to darn busy gabbing. The ladies seemed to enjoy the company and the men talked flying. Dave had me almost in tears telling me about he and Adam Z's flight in his Bonanza when the right seat PTT switch was not hooked up and Adam continued to try and announce position going into Wings field.
It was soon time for us to get rolling. Mary and I had to catch the Cape May - Lewes Ferry over to Lewes Delaware so we could pick up a few dozen crabs at our favorite place, lazy Susan's. Dave pedaled back to his boat (at least five miles more like eight I think), Don & Rosemary, Jeff and Jeanette were headed to the Wildwood NAS Museum on field. As we were getting up from the table Dave walked in. I felt bad we didn't get to catch up but he was going to take his family into Wildwood for the day, the kids would have fun.
The boat ride to Lewes was great, cool breeze blowing through the car deck and Mary and I passed out in the car taking advantage of the windows open and shade of the boats upper decks. Mary did snap a picture or two of Cape May fading away and one of yours truly catching some Z's. You know what they say about paybacks.....I'll get a few shots of her sleeping in flight. When I finally woke up I called and ordered 2 dozen crabs for a 3pm pick up. I thought we were covered. As soon as we got off the boat we headed to the restaurant to pick up our order, they didn't even start to cook it until we physically walked in to pick it up. They wait until you show up. Great, so much for having time to visit the "On the Rocks Grill" that I just completely revamped on one of my projects. It took 25 minutes to steam those jumbo crabs and it cut our time to almost a half hour until departure back to cape may. We pulled through the ticket booth in time and soon boarded.
Once again we were in a great spot tucked away in the shade of the boats upper decks. This trip however had no sea breeze, none! It was hotter then hell and the car was filled with the smell of freshly steamed crabs. Yeah, great for us but it also sent a SOS to all flys in and around the Delaware bay to try and help themselves to our crabs. It was an interesting ride back to say the least. Thankfully our cooler was locked down tighter than dicks hat band and our crabs were safe. We were glad to get off the boat and head out to the fresh air. As we drove off the Ferry, Mary snapped a shot of a good size group of Bikers heading aboard for the next crossing, there were some really nice bikes in that group. I had made a call for wx and the possibility of thunderstorms was growing. We left late on our return trip to cape May so we decided to pass on the Oyster Bay restaurant for dinner and instead head home. We did call Mary's folks to let them know not to eat dinner, we were bringing home fresh crabs, they sounded excited.
We wheeled into WWD and returned the rental car, yes, we left the windows open to sufficiently "air out" the steamed crab smell. I settled up my fuel bill, we took advantage of the lil pilots and co-pilots room then saddled up for home. For the pilots reading this, of course I did my preflight and sumpped the fuel since we topped off...wanting to get home and even being a bit hot and tired does not relieve me of my duty. With that said, it was Darn spiffy to get that fan turning!! I did my run up near the operations building adjacent to the terminal and a Cessna followed suit to my left. With the taxiways under construction and the direction of the wind we were all going to have to back taxi on one nine. I had noted one aircraft inbound and asked for his position update. I was good to go for a back taxi and so I rolled out on the runway. I hate to back taxi at an uncontrolled field, heck any field for that matter. I hustled 679er down the runway and got us turned into the gusty wind. Density altitude was 1,700 so I added one notch of flaps since I was full fuel and wanted the extra safety margin. 679er jumped off the runway in a short distance, we were going home. I called out my crosswind and downwind departure and we pointed 679er to track the DuPont VOR radial set on 330*. It was really yucky out there on the ride home, I know such a technical term, but thats the best description that fits. The radio was quiet, not many folks flying in this stuff today and we will be glad when were back on the ground at ILG. I called the tower about 20 out to let them know my position to the south east and that I had the current ATIS with the intentions of a full stop and going to red eagle. I was directed to advise left downwind one nine. I did manage to snap a shot looking west with the Salem towers in the background of the beginning of today's sunset. We were almost home. I had a good look at the ILG tower and pointed just left of it as I set up for my downwind entry. I turned to downwind as the DME clicked under two miles and announced position as advised. I got the cleared to land runway one nine with a wind report. Left base and a smooth turn to final adding the last notch had me touch down on the numbers and riding a wheelie for a bit then lowering the nose, a nice smooth landing. I retracted the flaps and let 679er roll towards taxiway Kilo needing just a touch of throttle to make the first turn off.
Mary and I were both tired and needing a cold drink of water, we were both wanting to get on the road. Mary drove us to her Mom and Dads where we got busy on the crabs. I sucked down two glasses of ice tea as did my Bride. I had four of the jumbo monsters, Mary had four and Mom ate three, dad passed, he doesn't care to pick crabs at all. We called it a night and cleaned up the kitchen then loaded up the remaining crabbies for Sunday. When we walked in the door the pups were happy to see us. The furry kids had a ton of energy to burn off as we got them taken care of and decided to head up to bed. It was a fun day and always a great to meet up with fellow pilots and their spouses. Mary and I needed this one, now we're both getting anxious for our trip to Maine.