Sunday, January 12, 2014

First Flight 2014

Passing over KILG
Finally, Mother Nature allows for a flight!

I haven't started up the airport car since our Lewes trip back on November 30th, that would be 43 days!  Mary was not feeling well, migraines all week including a trip to the ER on Thursday. She remained snuggled in bed and I took care of the zoo then headed out.

I swapped text messages with Mike B on Friday but he and his Bride were playing on the slopes, can't blame him for that.  I was hoping to knock out approaches today but it was not to be.  I sent a text to Vince to let him know the right seat was open and he acknowledged that he was available.
North of ILG looking E/SE down the Delaware river
I picked up Vince and we headed to the plane. Vince was telling me about joining the local fire house, always have to respect anyone that wants to run into a fire when most of us are running out. I commended him for his volunteer junior status and know he will be able to explain every piece of equipment and truck in no time flat. It was a quick trip, or so it seemed, the airport seemed quiet.

I did notice that 08Romeo was wet today, that soda can sweaty wet, you know when the temps are just right.  These are the temps that make for carb ice, I kept that in the back of my mind for todays flight. I had the heaters on overnight so the power plant was toasty, Vince confirmed this with a big hug for 08Romeo on her upper cowling.  Yes, it was windy and a bit nip this morning.

I parked the SUV in the hangar and we taxied the plane up to the pumps for fuel. I brought my fuel load to twenty a side and sumped. With a few shots of prime 08Romeo was ready to play. I made a call to Philly Clearance, by phone, for my IFR flight plan and despite my route of choice and 530 entry I had to make some changes.

A 3000/6000
F 124.35
T 1113
Sunlight through the clouds on the Delaware river (Fort. Delaware)
Sunlight reflecting off the Delaware Bay through the thick cloud layer
Winds were 30016G19KT so runway two four was my choice. I was in the air crabbing my way out to the noise abatement altitude then turned on course for MXE. Philly climbed me to 4000 and advised they would turn me on course after traffic cleared, two army helicopters. The rest of the flight went just as easy, I managed .2 IMC and would have added to that total if they would have given me 6000 like I planned for. Once we had the wx and Cambridge in sight I canceled with Patuxent approach and switched to CTAF.

The ramp was empty at Kay's but the parking lot was full, I had my choice of tie down location.  With 08Romeo secured Vince and I headed in for some eats. The restaurant was very busy with locals, always a good sign that the food is good. We each ordered up cream chipped beef and a sweet tea, the best sweet tea around.  A Cessna 182 taxied in and parked next to the Sundowner, really close, just about overlapping wing tips.  Once finished up we headed out to the plane and did a quick walk around. 08Romeo was ready to fly and my plan was for a VFR flight under R-4006 at 2800 which would keep me clear of the (KSBY) Salisbury airspace and remain below the restricted.

The tail wind was great heading east to Ocean City, we enjoyed 135 knot ground speeds and the ride wasn’t the smoothest but far from the worst. Ocean City seemed slow today and that was fine with me. I made a nice 45* entry for the left down-wind runway three two and flowed through my checks.  GUMPS again and added approach flaps abeam the numbers. I did extend a bit so I could get a good fix on the winds once turning final. I decided on just a second notch of flaps once turning base and rode it in from there. The winds played around a bit and I did have some float after I planted the mains. It was strange, the gusting wind felt like it lifted me up but once I retracted the flaps and kept my aileron correction in she settled for a solid taxi.
As I was installing the nose plugs to keep 08Romeo warm I heard an aircraft pour on the power. I looked across the wing and over to the runway in time to see a Cirrus SR22 roll to almost sixty degrees.  I could not believe my eyes, I was looking at the belly of the Cirrus thinking he is going to cartwheel this bird down the runway. I’m not sure how but he managed to roll almost level missing the trees and then with flaps and trim still set for landing he immediately climbed nose high.  I thought I was going to see this poor guy stall spin after making the most unbelievable save.  I could not help but scream push it over, level, level!!  That SR22 hung on the prop and somehow climbed/crabbed its way out and now gaining altitude. 
I did hang out to see if he made another attempt and sure enough he brought the bird back around. This time he was right on it, smooth as could be, mains planted with barely a chirp followed by a long roll out, he was down safe and secure.  I didn’t stick around to see who it was, I’m sure he didn’t need to see me staring or asking questions on how he pulled that rabbit out of his hat.
Vince and I headed out to the car so we could take care of business. There was that awkward silence for a bit and then we talked about what we just had witnessed. I think it really did a number on Vince seeing how close that pilot came to making a smoking hole and how fast things can go wrong and your life be over.  We uncovered  and started the airport buggy and went for a nice drive. The solar trickle charger did a great job and the cover was still looking good and keeping the Cabrio clean and dry. We did see a pair of Bald Eagles as we approached RT.50 and that's always an exciting catch.
Back to the Flight Line...

I did take on fuel to bring me back to twenty gallons a side so I needed to sump before we started up.  The Cirrus was parked next to us on the ramp and I did take a picture of it but we didn’t discuss it any farther.  The flight home would be VFR with flight following and I figured I would give Vince the flying time to help clear his mind.  The winds for departure were 30009G16KT, twenty off the nose.  We were off three two and climbing out for 3000 looking to pick up flight following with Dover approach.  Vince did a very nice job despite the bumpy ride.
RT. 90 Bridge and Ocean City MD
It may sound corny but I wanted him to get back to flying in order to soften what he watched unfold. Vince’s communications with Dover were rock solid and when he heard Dover talking to a flight of two F15’s he perked up and asked me to fly so he could take pictures.  Thankfully the pair did T&G or low approach at Dover and climbed out towards us. Vince had the camera up and snapped off a few shots, that boyish smile was back on his face. The remainder of the ride went well and he communicated with Wilmington Tower since they were busy with traffic on the ILS and we were crossing it.
The fun started as we listened to the ATIS at Wilmington, the winds were blowing pretty good from 30014G19KT.  Vince knew it was going to be a ride getting into New Garden.  I called out the field and made my position reports with the plan to enter on a left base for runway two four.  I was looking at sixty degree crosswinds that were blowing, but I do like the challenge. Base to final now and my altitude is good, as we cross the last ridge we get a solid bang from below coming over the top of the ridge that gets our attention.

Now approaching short final I have the valley to cross just before the runway, it’s always bumpy there. I cross with little resistance then get walloped just over the numbers, dipping the wing into that crosswind is not getting it done then the wind just feels like it dropped out. 08Romeo started to sink fast so I went full power and decided to go around. I set up for another approach, this time deciding to crab it in and kick it at as I cross the numbers.  A few dippity do‘s across the last valley and a kick over the numbers has me low and bleeding off what flight 08Romeo has left in her.
I made a decent landing that Vince finally commented on, having sat silent since turning final on the first approach.  He gave me a score of ten, said it was my best in the worst conditions, he liked it.  I should mention that my friend Charlie was at the airport and saw my first go around and of course said he would be scoring the next attempt on CTAF.  Charlie said it looked good on the second landing, I was a happy camper.

Three hours in the log book today and some good crosswind work.  I also managed a few ticks of IMC and it felt good to be "inside" while in the air.

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