Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

Thank you to those that have served, those protecting this Nation today and their families that have sacrificed so much.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Valley Run

After many weeks of planning and scrubbing this mission, Mary and I finally accomplished our task.  Mothers day we were going to take care of my Brides parents at the Veterans Cemetery near Summit airport, KEVY in Middletown, DE. Following that short hop we were going to then fit in a run north to Wilkes-Barre, PA and take care of my parents. That fell through when I tried multiple times to land at KEVY, the gusty cross winds chased me home.
Since I was a kid the family tradition has always been to visit the graves of family members and attend a memorial service for those who laid down their life for this country. Honestly, I haven't been to a memorial service in some years but I never have missed taking care of family.
Every year I think back to a simpler time as we make this trip. It was easy and fun as a kid growing up surrounded by family. These days time seems to be a blur. I often thought today how my Dad would react to flying upstate versus all those weekend trips driving. It always seemed like there were long lines on the North-East extension and backups at the Lehigh tunnel. Today we flew over that roadway and tunnel. Two tunnels now, multiple lanes each direction.  Mary was snoozing and communications were set on isolate as to not wake her. I cruised along with many a road trip memory running through my head.
We had launched from Ocean City after I had to call for Op's to clear a family of Canada Geese from the runway. My run up didn't do much to motivate them but when the Ops truck came by they waddled their butts across and eventually lifted off for the empty field across for the airport.

The ride north was smooth and we enjoyed the tail wind. I didn't pick up my IFR clearance until riding along with Dover Approach on flight following. I went through a series of hand offs with Philly and got to help out with an ELT signal that was sounding. A few commercial flights reported and then Philly asked me to give a listen. I heard a faint signal about seven miles south of Pottstown Heritage Field Airport, KPTW and as I passed overhead it was screaming. I reported both distance markers and then was thanked and handed off to Allentown.
Allentown was quiet and I listened for the ATIS at Wilkes-Barre. Allentown eventually handed me off to Wilkes-Barre Approach and I was crossing the mountains enjoying the view when I spotted the Francis E Walter Dam in
White Haven, PA. First time I noticed this structure.
I cleared the last ridge line and gave the wind turbines a good look to my left then descended for the traffic pattern. I was cleared to land runway two-two. I made a nice turn, base to final and followed with a smooth landing. It was a short taxi to the FBO, Aviation Technologies. We were given the use of the courtesy car and in turn took on twenty gallons of 100LL for 08Romeo.

The run across the Valley was quick, despite some crazy drivers. I'm not sure what the rush was today but 'they' were out in force. Mary spotted a new garden center just off the cross valley, Ed's Garden Center. We really liked our usual flower stop but we always had to make a second stop for mulch. This place was the jackpot! Beautiful plants and flowers, a small petting zoo and great service, our new go to place.
We planted flowers and placed mulch at my parents grave site and dressed up a few other family members. I was happy to clean off my Uncles service plaque, the headstone was already done by my cousins. My Uncle Murph and Aunt Balty, Moms sister, are buried right next door...sounds weird, I know. The joke was that since the whole family was in that area it would be one big party on the other side. Strange the things that stick in your head from childhood.
Most will think I'm nuts but I enjoy talking to Mom and Dad while I landscape. I also get to chat with my Aunt and Uncle right next door. So many good memories, I wish they were all still with us. Many aunts and uncles are buried here along with both sets of my grandparents. It's a quiet ride for me as we head back to the airport. Mary and I decided to grab some lunch along the way at The Cafe' on RT. 315.  Good eats and service!
The last stop before the airport was for a quick gas and go. We returned the car with a full tank and squared up our fuel bill at the desk. We were ready to head south.

I filed for this leg to KEVY.  The sky had build ups and I wanted to make sure, if I had to, I could plod along IMC if needed. I picked up my clearance with WB ground and was given the Scranton Five departure. Say what??  I'll have to look that up. Read back was correct and we taxied for departure. Ground advised the Scranton Five was runway heading to five thousand feet. I quickly brought up the SID on my iPad noting 224 heading, climb to five thousand then radar vectors. The regional jet departed in front of me and we eventually taxied into position and launched. Next stop Summit, KEVY.
The build ups were indeed setting up shop. I had filed for six and was thinking I would take four and ride under. I wasn't going to out climb what was right in front of me with a full belly of fuel and DA of 1600.  Once past the front line I advised I could do six thousand and be good to go but Wilkes approach was ready to hand me to Allentown so I was kept at four. I managed .3 IMC and bumped along just into the bottoms but not low enough to have any ground contact. I eventually broke out and by the time we reached Allentown I was comfortable riding under the buildups.
Crossing the C&D Canal, final for RW17 at EVY
Allentown handed me to the first Philly sector and they turned me direct PTW (yes, the ELT was still singing) and then direct KEVY. We paid the price for the nice tailwinds heading north and now bumped along at 102 knots. I cancelled IFR with the last Philly sector and pointed down the runway for one seven at Summit. Another nice landing and we were marshaled into a front row parking spot.
At Summit we took on some fuel and were given the use of their courtesy car.  The drive to the Delaware Veterans Memorial from the airport was six minutes. We did have to make a stop for fresh cut flowers so it was maybe twenty minutes total. The Veterans cemetery was covered in flags, despite the reason why, it was a breathtaking site. We cleaned up the service plaque and placed the flowers Mary picked out. I always like to talk to Pop and Mom L...I even told her Mary made a great dessert for me just the other day. Mom L ALWAYS made me was our inside joke to tease my Bride.
We returned the courtesy car van, and squared up our fuel bill. It was really hot walking across the hot mix ramp. Once we got the fan turning we kept both doors open on 08Romeo. With forty gallons on board we lifted off and pointed south. No flight following just quiet time. I made my position calls heading into Ocean City and made another nice landing on two-zero. I tucked 08Romeo in her hangar and spent some time cleaning all the bugs off her leading edges, it was loaded and gross. She's all clean and I'll stop by tomorrow to hook up the battery minder and give the inside a quick clean.

For the rest of the weekend we'll get some beach time and stay close to home. Maybe even some additional fly time.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Finally Flying

I woke up to a gorgeous day! That big shiny thing was in the sky, I think it's called sun.  We haven't seen sun for over a week, but we have seen plenty of rain. So much rain that my project is shut down this week and I'll at least have some time to fly. Time to fly if sun stays out and the rain stays away.

Speaking of flying... I thought I would drag 08Romeo out of her warm hangar and we could have some fun flight time. Mary was feeling better so we decided to head over to Easton, MD (KESN) and grab breakfast at Sugar Buns.  From Easton we would head north to Summit (KEVY) and use the courtesy car to head over to the Veterans cemetery and place flowers for Mary's Mom and a new flag for her Pop. I also packed a towel to kneel on and WD40 to clean the marker plaque.

METAR KOXB 081353Z AUTO 26007KT 10SM CLR 20/14 A2969

After taking on 18 gallons of 100LL we climbed aboard and got the fan turning. I listened to the AWOS and instead of leaving it on I cut the broadcast off after the altimeter setting. After making my call for departure 08Romeo climbed out, but was not her normal self. I had a good fuel load this morning, 50 gallons. Everything looked normal; EGT and CHT temps, rpm's, oil pressure and temp. Nothing out of sync in my run up either. I toggled comm 2 back on for the AWOS and the density altitude was just over 1200, that was my slightly different feel. When you know your plane you notice the slightest change in sound or performance, everything was good as we continued on for Easton.

METAR KESN 081445Z 31010G18KT 10SM SKC A2977

It was a slow flight dealing with 25 knot head winds. I have to say it was also a pretty bumpy ride. There was an airmet Tango now showing on my GPS and the Easton ATIS was advising Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS) through Flight Service. Just peachy.
I made an ok landing at Easton, a little bit of stall horn, then needed power, then it ended up kind of flat. We were on the ground and clear of the runway and 08Romeo would fly again.
Sugar Buns was packed. We had a short wait for a table and a little longer wait for our food. Everything was very good and of course we got two Sugar Buns to go.

On to Summit...

I picked up the current ATIS and contacted Easton ground for my taxi clearance and headed to runway 33. The flight to Summit was very bumpy and once again some winds that would change direction. At least this leg I was getting to see 105 knots. I listened to the Summit AWOS and much like Wilmington's that I listed, the gusting winds were really changing. As we approached, each time I checked Summit a new wind and gust factor was presented.

METAR KILG 081651Z 32022G29KT 10SM CLR 20/01 A2976
METAR KILG 081551Z 30017G25KT 10SM CLR 21/06 A2973

I lined up for runway 35 and only added the first notch of flaps. The winds were causing me to tail slide like I was alternating pressing full on the rudder pedals. We got a good bit of wing rock that shook the plane and the lower I got the more crazy the winds seemed to get. There wasn't wind shear noted but it sure felt like it. As I crossed the numbers I could not hold alignment and keep wings level. I powered up, cleaned up the one notch of flaps and decided to go around. On my second approach I extended my final and hoped that would give me more time to figure the winds and work my way in, it only got worse. I had actually broken a sweat on the second landing attempt and I noticed I was breaking the squelch with heavy breathing, it was a work out.
We're outta here! I called Unicom and let them know I wouldn't need the courtesy car but thanks for holding it. I said we're heading back to the beach, I'm not trying those winds again.
The headwinds were now tailwinds and I enjoyed 130 knots on the ride south to Ocean City. I picked up flight following with Dover approach and settled in to enjoy the ride. It was bumpy at times but nothing like the first two legs.

METAR KOXB 081653Z AUTO 32016G25KT 10SM CLR 23/09 A2973

The winds were down the runway so I was feeling good about getting home. There was a coast guard helicopter at 500' just off shore heading south to north. I gave my position report and I asked him how the ride was just off shore at that altitude, he advised not to bad at all. I crossed the field and entered the left down wind feeling the push from the gusty winds. Pulling the rest of the power out but ready to add it when I turned final I made my position calls. You could feel the gusts but it was all power management at this point and I made a sweet landing with a long taxi to clear the runway. We were happy to be home.
No more long gaps in my flying...I don't care what time I get out there but I will get seat time. We will head back to Summit and on to Wilkes-Barre this week to take care of both of our parents cemetery plots. It would have been nice on Mothers day but later this week will be fine.