The weather was looking great here at the beach despite pilot reports from our neighboring Salisbury pilots and their terminal area forecast. Pireps from the Dash 8 drivers had reported ground fog with vertical visibility at seventy-five feet. It looks good here at the house but we shall see what Ocean City airport looks like.
METAR KSBY 250854Z AUTO 00000KT 1/4SM FG VV001 01/01 A3037
RMK AO2 SLP287 T00110011 51015 TSNO
We arrived to a sunny sky and no ground fog to speak of, we were a go. I had topped off the fuel during the week so I needed to sump and complete my preflight. Everything looked in order with 08Romeo and with that step complete I tugged her out into the sun.
Mary loaded up the dessert we were bringing to her brothers, and I locked up the baggage door before climbing aboard. The overnight preheats had oil temps just at the top of the yellow on the gauge and with a few blades 08Romeo was running at idle, ready to go. I had filed for the flight north just in case there was that morning fog or a low layer hanging out over the airport but we were good to go.
I launched from runway three-two with a good climb to three thousand feet for our cruise north. I picked up flight following with Dover approach and road along with them until about fifteen miles south of Wilmington. I thanked ATC for their service and wished them a Merry Christmas. When I crossed the C&D canal I made my call, ten south with information Zulu, level at three thousand, for a full stop going to FlyAdvanced. The tower cleared me for a straight in runway one and added a wind check.
I made a very nice landing and immediately turned off on taxiway Delta. I didn't hear a word from the tower so I motored right along to taxiway Bravo and Alpha then the ramp at FlyAdvanced. Tyler was working today and marshaled us in to our parking spot. Another lineman brought out our car rental to the plane and had the heat on, a very nice touch. Mary and I made the quick transfer after securing the plane and thanked the men with a Christmas gift for their services.
Our first stop was at my sisters house, my brother-in-law was on a Christmas ride with the local Harley Owner Group. We enjoyed home made cookies and hot tea, catching up is always fun. We decided we best get over to Mary's family as my niece Katie and her boyfriend Mike walked in. Always good to see them both, especially on the holidays. We made our way to the rental and as we were getting ready to climb in we heard Dave on his motorcycle. We chatted for a bit but then had to get going, we didn't want to walk in at dinner time.
It's just a short ride to Mark and Lynn's and we walked in ahead of the 1pm dinner time. It was great to visit with Mark, Lynn and one of their daughters, Laura. Mark is dealing with a hip replacement that doesn't want to stay in place so he wasn't feeling great, a gracious host none the less. Lynn prepared prime rib, with all the fixings and sides that one could possibly eat.
The only downside to living at the beach is not being located close to family but catching up is like we last saw them just a few days ago. Mark and Lynn shared the news that they were going to be grandparents! Their oldest Daughter Amy was due in late June, Great Aunt Mary was in tears. Amy and Hannah were in Texas visiting family but we look forward to congratulating them when they return.
I'm still not night current so I unfortunately had to remind my Bride that we needed to get in the air by 4pm. We ended up getting to the airport a little after four and by the time I returned the rental and walked out to the plane I would be landing twenty minutes after sunset.
Night: "The time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the American Air Almanac, converted to local time." That's the FAA's definition in FAR 1.1.
If you need to get night current to carry passengers, follow the definition of night as described in FAR 61.57(b), which is the "period beginning one hour after sunset and ending one hour before sunrise."
I know I have the one hour after sunset to be legal landing with a passenger but I wanted to make sure the beach didn't get that layer rolling in and block my return. I was a bit nervous as we said our goodbyes to Lynn and Laura who followed us to the airport to watch us take off.
We were soon in the air racing south and watching the sun slowly fall from the sky. Sunset today was 4:44 my arrival at Ocean City would be after 5:00. I normally run 08Romeo at 65% power, 2500 rpm, I don't like to run her hard. This evening it would be a different story, I ran no less than 2600 and locked in just below the red line at 2700. I watched the airspeed climb and we topped out at 122 with not much help from tail winds. Indicated hovered around 110-120 and ground speed pretty much the same, where were my tail winds?
Somewhere between Dover and Georgetown the sun had set. I continued on and after a weather check decided on runway one-four for my landing. I turned about a two mile final and got a look at the runway lights for the first time in a very long time.
My speeds were steady, adding the last notch of flaps at five hundred feet and rolling 08Romeo on the runway, it was smooth and quiet. Of course I broke the silence with a holy crap, I land better than during the day. Mary finally took a breath and even laughed a bit, I think me being nervous made her nervous. There was plenty of light, no cloud layer to deal with and it was pretty much a non-event. We were home and I was happy to get in well before turning into a pumpkin one hour after sunset.
Food for thought...
In order not to feel rushed when visiting family and friends in Wilmington we will need to board the dog. It's just not fair to Ziva making her 'hold it' for so many hours and us rushing to get home.
I really need to get and keep night current. I know I say it all the time, but, in order to fly this time of year it's a must.