The forecast called for 40 degrees today so I knew I had to get some air time in. I finished up work at 3:15pm and headed straight to the airport. I had 35 gallons on board 20 left tank 15 right which would carry me around the area with plenty to spare. I left my SUV in the lot and walked to the plane, normally I drive in get everything ready then go park. I really wanted to get in the air and not waste any time. I pulled the cover and left it in a pile behind the tail, that's a first for me. Picture the addict on TV needing that fix and getting the shakes, well ok, not that bad but you get the picture. I was as excited as a little kid taking his first ride all over again. I unlocked the cabin and baggage, climbed aboard and removed the gust lock and picked up the check list. I haven't used the check list on the pre-flight walk around in ages even though before start I review the list.
Ok, with checklist in hand I perform every item, it's been a few weeks and I know I am charged up to fly so I take the extra time and flow through the checks. I climb into 08Romeo and strap in. Cockpit organized, the before start checks completed I reach for the primer. Seven shots on a cold start and fuel pump until pressure comes up. Maybe three blades turn and 08Romeo comes to life, I have missed that sound.
I pick up the current ATIS and wait for oil temps to come up before I start to taxi. Brakes released and I'm on my way. I roll to the edge of the Red Eagle ramp and call ground for taxi clearance. Wilmington tower, Sundowner 6708Romeo at red eagle, with Mike (ATIS info), VFR North East. I am cleared to runway two seven at intersection Mike. I complete my run up and call the tower for release, it's almost time to dance. The tower instructs another aircraft landing on three two to hold short of two seven then turns me loose. I am looking for the arriving traffic to my left but do not see it. 08Romeo is climbing out at 1200 feet a minute loving the cold air and the chance to fly.
I dial in the Modena VOR and start heading that way with the plan for a landing or two at Brandywine, KOQN. I set up the Garmin 530 and 496, plugging in the VOR A approach to OQN. My VOR tracking skills are still sharp and 08Romeo is running along about 120 knots. I announce my position for Brandywine traffic and fly the pattern. Base to final and looking at the narrow runway with snow on each side. It looks black full Length and I'm hitting my speeds very nice. Short final pulling the power rounding out looking down the runway and I hear the mains chirp. Sweeeet....gezz that felt good. No need to use up brakes, let it roll to the end and taxi back. I take comfort in knowing I could have turned off mid field but just enjoy the roll instead.
I am off again this time headed towards the Wilmington practice area just south east of Elkton Maryland. I turn up the XM radio and sing along with the hits of the seventies. The sky looks gorgeous and it's smooth as could be today. I am watching the time since Mike said he would be leaving work around 5pm and meet me at the airport. I play around with some steep turns, take a few pictures and decided to head back home. I pick up the ATIS info and contact Wilmington to advise position and intentions. I am directed to enter a left down wind for three two and acknowledge. I begin to let down from 2,500 and point the nose towards ILG. I scooted in quick at 135 knots, slowing upon entering the pattern at altitude. I kept my turns tight practicing the circle to land inside of 1.3 miles rolling out aligned with three two and adding flaps. Another nice landing in the book, I am feeling good!
Mike walked through the gate around 6pm and climbed aboard. I was already tucked in right seat ready to play safety pilot. Mike needed some air time and the distraction of flying tends to blank everything else out around us. The plan was to shoot an approach or two and enjoy the break in mother natures cruel weather. We launched off two seven and headed towards KEVY, Summit Airport. First up was the RNAV GPS 35 approach. We were pointed to WENDS, did the procedure turn and headed inbound. An experimental RV was also knocking out a landing or two and we coordinated easily with that pilot.
One down and in the book as we keep rolling and depart to shoot a few laps in the missed approach. Mike was on it tonight and made the landings look easy, I hope to get my night landings there too. Back to Wilmington for two landings followed by a full stop and taxi to red eagle. We tucked 08Romeo in knowing the snow was on its way. We met at Cheeseburger in PAradise for dinner and flight review. Always a good time with Mike and a learning experience. I am going to start my commercial with Mike when the wx breaks, it should be fun!