We all enjoy the freedoms our soldiers paid the price for. Lets us all remember the families left behind, the lives left unfinished, the future left wanting those bright minds and loving hearts that answered the call.
Sint Maarten, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is a country on the southern part of a Caribbean island shared with Saint Martin, a French overseas collectivity. Its natural features span lagoons, beaches and salt pans. The capital, Philipsburg, has cobblestone streets and colorful, colonial-style buildings lining its Front Street shopping area. The port is a popular cruise-ship stop.
Vacation plans are made and airline tickets purchased. It's that time of year when Mary and I like to get-away. This year we are going to meet up with friends Pam & Ted, the same couple we vacationed with in Hawaii last year. Pam found a gorgeous home south of Dawn Beach and just north of Red Pond, the place is amazing, 4000sf of perfect relaxation. Two large kitchens and three master suites.
I am already planning some time at Maho Beach, yes, the place where planes buzz the beach on very short final. No, I'm not going to hang on the fence, I'll sit at the local watering hole and observe the crazies. I will absolutely take plenty of pictures. There is plenty of great snorkeling locations and the neighboring island, Anguilla, has a swim with the dolphins experience.
We will be following up this get-away with our annual BAC Fest activities in New Bedford, MA. August and September will be a busy couple of months, but we're excited!
With the gusting winds yesterday we decided to wait it out and moved our flight to this morning. The plan was to be in the air by 9am, somebody didn't get up until then and it wasn't me. Not saying names or anything but...
We got to the plane and went through our routine. Mary hasn't flown with me since December 2016, but, she flowed right through the preflight. I completed the airplane checks and tugged 08Romeo out of the hangar. Once I disconnected the tug Mary drove it back into the hangar and hooked up the battery charger. We both think it moves a bit to fast since it's only one speed, but it makes moving the plane easier on my body parts.
I got the fan turning and taxied out to runway one-four. I did do a video for this flight to Summit (KEVY) but it doesn't due justice to the gorgeous day with unlimited visibility. I picked up flight following with Dover approach since it seemed busy in the area. We were going to be flying almost directly overhead and it's always nice to play well with others in the busy airspace.
We were treated to a C5 in the pattern for Dover, which took the big fella out over the Delaware Bay. The C5 turned inbound towards us and passed behind and below. We managed a few shots but mostly just enjoyed the view. The one picture I am posting is busy with flight. You will see the C5. my wing, a large bird and the C5's shadow, Its a shame it didn't turn out better.
Dover had me squawk VFR and cut me loose. I thanked then for their service and switched over to Summit's CTAF. I made my typical calls and set up for a landing on runway three-five. I should mention it was pretty bumpy today but still a fun flight. I made a last call on short final, keeping a close eye on the Cessna holding short. Maybe its just me but I like to let the short final traffic know I have them in sight and am holding short, just eases some tension.
I made an ok landing, left of center, but, I was down and heading to the terminal. I usually don't leave so much after landing footage but I did this time to show the jet Chris N from the Beech Aero Club was flying right seat in. Unfortunately we didn't cross paths. I saw his Facebook post of the jet (2008 EA500 Eclipse)and told Mary he was standing where we were parked. Small world.
We took on ten gallons of fuel and then used the courtesy van to make the run to the Veterans Cemetery. The trip is less than ten minutes from the airport. Mary picked up flowers at the local market and cleaned off the grave plaque. Everything looked nice and clean and we both know Mary's Dad, Dan, would want it kept so. We sure do miss our folks, next week we are headed to KAVP Wilkes-Barre to do the same for my parents.
We topped off the courtesy van then headed back to the airport. I sumped the fuel then did a walk around to check the plane. Everything was in order so we saddled up and taxied out for home. Departing runway three-five making a nice smooth climb out and down wind turn to depart the area. The ride was much smoother going home and I once again picked up following with Dover Approach.
I made my calls for Ocean City, dealing with very light traffic and enjoying the view. I was a bit low on final but put some power to 08Romeo and had the correct lights white/red. Somehow I managed to land on the center line and greased one in, double bonus.
Mary and I made a stop on the way home for lunch at the Full Moon Saloon. My bride ordered a bacon bleu burger with fries and I had two huge fish tacos. Haddock was the catch of the day and I had it blackened, yummy. Mary also had a salted caramel martini and she loved it. Excellent eats and service!
This morning Charles and I swapped text messages, agreeing to meet at a mid-point airport. We selected Ridgely (KRJD). Ridgely recently changed ownership and has a freshly paved 3200' runway. I was interested in possibly moving 08Romeo there while the T-hangar taxiway work was ongoing here at OXB, but, the drive is an hour and a half and that would make for a long day.
After running errands with my Bride I scooted out to the airport. I met the fuel truck, having 08Romeo topped off to 54 gallons for todays work out. I used the new tug to pull the plane out and it worked well, however,it will take some getting used to. 08Romeo soon came to life and I sent a text to update Charles, I was on the go. Charles confirmed he was rolling too.
I motored along at 2,000', below the scattered clouds getting my butt kicked. It was really bumpy and I needed the work out. I made position calls at ten and five miles out from Ridgely. Runway of choice for today is three-zero, I entered on a left base. Saving brakes I rolled out full length on the new pavement, it was smooth and the markings were jumping out at me.
This is where the happy ended. I followed the signs for the ramp despite it looking like a well worn tractor path. Trust me, I'm being nice, what asphalt remained was filled with potholes and bits of hot mix waiting to ding my prop. I pointed the nose into the grass enough to avoid the some of the holes and as I rounded the bend, around the tractor, I swear, there were cones blocking the path. Crap!
I made a u-turn and headed 08Romeo back to the main parallel taxiway. There was another route to the ramp and it was in better shape. As I turned off Charles was landing, good timing. I shut down in front of the fuel island and Charles shut down in the grass just off to the side of the fuel ramp.
Once Charles climbed aboard we did a quick brief on control exchange and got the fan turning. I climbed out and we swapped control so I could put those God forsaken foggles on. First up was the RNAV GPS 12 approach.
I reminded Charles that I was very rusty and at anytime he thought there was an issue just call 'my plane' and I would be hands off. I had 08Romeo pointed at the initial fix ANAYA at 2000' holding altitude and course. The weather check was confirmed through Easton and the GUMPS check completed. A Malibu checked in shooting the opposite GPS 30 approach, and with a little coordination we each broke off to our right keeping plenty of space between us. Next up I was going to shoot the practice GPS 30 approach and I set us up for the initial fix, ORLOE. The decision height was for the LNAV was 660', I made a low approach only, going missed and climbing out to DAKEY for a loop in the hold. I was once again instrument current, at least until the end of June.
I added some video I shot of us flying back to RJD so Charles could pick up his plane.
Charles and I each departed Ridgely Airpark. I watched his Piper climb away from the runway as I exited the area on the down wind for three-zero. I thanked Charles for his help, bid him a safe flight then switched over to Dover approach. Once passing Delaware Coastal (KGED) I switched to Potomac approach then a final flip to Ocean City to monitor traffic.
I announced my position for Ocean City at ten and five miles. I was number two for the field following a Cessna. Winds were 200 at 7 knots and the Cessna was landing on two-zero. I was headed that same route but once he cleared I decide on a straight in for one-four. I need some cross wind practice so why not have at it. I crossed the numbers and with a slight wing waggle softly set that right main followed almost immediately by the left, a very nice landing. I actually felt I could still do this pilot stuff.
I gave 08Romeo a good cleaning since she was covered in sacrificial bugs. Once clean I hooked up the battery minder, squared away the cabin and closed up the hangar, I was tired and headed home.
I have a total of 4.4 hours for the year, seriously depressing, but, there are some flights planned and I could always use some basic air work. I have plenty of time to fly and for now I'm enjoying the fact that I can finally just climb aboard and get in the air.
Dave sent me a text last night and advised he would be arriving around 8:30 this morning to deliver the tug I purchased from him and Adam. I was up around 5am to feed the zoo and then went back to bed. I woke up around 7:45 and figured I best get my butt moving. I still have to uncover and unplug the ranger pick-up and get that out of the way then open up the hangar for Dave's arrival.
When I arrived, I noticed the Ranger's cab cover was blown all out of whack. I guess between the howling winds and torrential downpours I should be glad it's still hanging on the truck. I heard the jump plane call in 3 minutes to jumpers and figured I would take a look on flight aware to check on Dave's progress.
I managed a few frames of the meat bombs coming into OXB and heard the jump plane circling to land. 519Pappa-Hotel showed up in the pattern, entering on the cross wind for runway three-two. The jump plane fell in line number two for the field. Dave taxied into the hangar F complex and made a U-turn in front of my hangar.
Dave unloaded the tug and we put it together. I had purchased two new batteries for the unit and the cost was deducted from the total. With the hook up complete we gave it a try, it worked perfect. It's a bit quick at one single speed but if one is careful it should work just fine. We rearranged the wheel chocks so that 08Romeo could move a bit deeper into the hangar and allow me to keep the tug hooked up to the plane. I guess I had about 18" to spare when the hangar door was closed.
I need to make a run to Tractor Supply to purchase an enclosed battery box and a few terminal connectors. I want to secure and protect the batteries and mount the charger permanently on the unit. I'm working up my parts list and will get some pictures to document the process.
I had planned to fly today and knock out a few approaches with Charles from N57. By the time Dave and I finished up my foot was starting to hurt. Doc says when it talks to me pay attention and get off of it, so I bagged flying and headed home instead. I swapped text messages with Charles and he said we should try for during the week, that sounded great.
FINALLY! My return to the air. I decided that today was the day, I was going flying. I didn't care if I had to hook a tow strap to my SUV I was breaking 08Romeo out of jail. I took my time having to uncover the Ranger pick-up and then unhook the battery tender before parking well clear of the hangar. I then did a very intense limp around to inspect 08Romeo and deem her fit to fly. Everything looked great, the fuel samples were big gulps and all were clean and free of any water.
My next task was to drag her out of the hangar. I attacked this by taking baby steps, I mean itty bitty steps and exerting most of the pulling on my right leg. It was slow but steady. My foot was already getting tired but the pain was minimum for now.
I tossed the step stool aside and climbed aboard as any pilot should, hey, it sounded good at the time. I still had some difficulty folding the foot in but got all the parts tucked in nice and neat. I updated my airplane log book with the new data card expiration and crossed of the last ancient VOR check date. Wow, my last flight was on new years day.
I went over my preflight checklist in great detail, reading it over then performing each task. Normally I perform the task and use the checklist to review. It was time, a few shots of primer and about three blade turns but no start. Ok, try number two, this time 08Romeo comes to life on a single blade and purrs along, she sounded great. I taxied from the hangar to the taxiway and waited for the oil temps to come up well into the yellow just shy of green. Avionics sounded ok and everything functioned as it should, it was time to taxi to the runway. I did a few brake checks and the foot felt great. Once at the runway I completed my run up and made my call for departure, I was doing this.
I had butterflies in my gut as I was on the roll but I calmed down once climbing out. The pilot stuff kicks in and we do what we were taught to do, fly the plane. My first pattern was sloppy, altitude up and down and speeds a bit fast. I made my turn from base to final and I was waaaaay high and fast. I chopped the power and made it down to 400' before going around, yikes, I am rusty.
The second go was better and I squeaked one on with stall horn, it was even pretty much on center. I made this a full stop and taxied back for two more. I took the time to turn on the VIRB with the audio cables finally hooked up correctly. Here is the ride along for the next two rounds.
All in all a great first time back in the air. I still have plenty of rust to shed but I'll get some fly time the rest of the week and this weekend. I also need one approach to extend my IFR currency to the end of June, so that's a priority. Besides, it will be good to get some hood time and shed the IFR rust too.
I'm out of my genre for sure on this one but there is a back story, there's always a back story. I first met Chris when we were teens, ok he was in his teens I just busted into my twenties. He was a Philly kid, Italian, funny, stood up for himself and what he believed in. He and I immediately hit it off while working on a horse farm. Many good memories and laughs back then. I eventually moved on and obviously so did Chris.
Fast forward to 2016 and I find his name on Facebook while researching a friend request from another person we had worked with back in the day. I didn't accept that friend request but immediately sent a request to Chris. He responded and since then we have traded posts and messages. I now follow his blog about sailing, cruising to be more exact, and all it entails.
The book is a quick read and one can almost put yourself in his shoes. Tired of the job and wanting to chase more, there has to be more, there is always more. My outlet is flying, again hello captain obvious, but I still have that adventure in me, I think we all do. Chris and his bride, Melody, decided to take a leap of faith, they went all in, and changed their lives forever. In his book Chris chronicles the process, the good the bad and the ugly. It was a great read and I'm happy that they are both happy, and enjoying what life has to offer.
Chris has a new book out What's Up Ditch, detailing the ins and outs of cruising the Atlantic intracoastal waterway. Its on my list to read. If you're into sailing and exploring new locations please check out their web page Vacilando. I added the link to my favorites.