Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gaston's or Bust

Well, it's official, Mary and I agreed that we want to head to Gaston's in Arkansas for the Annual Fly-In. June 5th - 8th will be penciled in the book at work tomorrow and I will call to reserve our cabin/room. We will fly into Ozark Regional (KBPK) as of this posting but who knows what 08 will bring.

And now for the rest of the news....

Does the saying it was the best of times , it was the worst of times ring a bell? Well in the middle of us searching online for fun activities like horseback riding and tours we received an email from our club/aircraft owner. This email was in response to us asking for the extended use of 679er even though we can with our club, but I always like to keep the owner informed. With the blessing of the owner (best of times) he informed us that he was given an offer for 679er and is considering selling our baby, but won't decide until after the annual in late November (worst of times). I have been miserable all night.

So, while trying to keep the happy face on I am faced with new issues. I am just about to start the flying portion of my IR and was looking forward to the cost savings with our club plane. The cold reality of renting also hit me like a ton of bricks and I just can't go back to $126 and hour. Needless to say the wheels have been turning. I sent an email for information about a PA28-140 and will be contacting a man about a Beech 19A Sport in New Jersey tomorrow. The Sport is ready to go IFR so that would fit my training but it would truly be a 2 passenger aircraft for Mary and I. Mary asked me to check out the Grumman for sale in Wilmington and I may just do that tomorrow also. I will ask a friend at work if he will take my 81 Corvette and park it on his driveway that gets a good bit of traffic, he sells a lot of cars.

Mary has been very supportive this evening and has even asked about starting our own club. It's an idea. This all may be for nothing if he decides not to sell, but, it's a wake up call that we need to really make a plan for our own aircraft. Time to surf the forums for aircraft pre-purchase information.

I'll be fine after I sleep on it tonight, but I just have to let it all soak in. As the famous Dr. Bruce would say...[sigh].

More to follow...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Susquehanna River Tour

I've been thinking about a trip "back home" to the place my family is from, Wilkes-Barre, PA. I have made this trip many times by land and air but never once following the Mighty Susquehanna River. I have been toying around with a few stops and planning a flight for a clear sunny day. I plan on heading west towards the Maryland Pennsylvania border then turning north to follow the river. I guess my inspiration is from reading about the Citabria gang , aka the Trunk Monkeys, fun days of slow and low over the tri-state area and forging lasting friendships.

Some Susquehanna River Info...

The Susquehanna River (originally "Sasquesahanough" per the 1612 John Smith map)the longest river on the east coast winds its way south from Otsego Lake near Cooperstown, New York, through the northern and central ranges of the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania. By the time it meets the Chesapeake Bay, the Susquehanna River has flowed 444 miles. With an average daily rush of 22 billion gallons of water, the Susquehanna is the largest contributor of freshwater to the Bay. The Bay was formed over 10,000 years ago when what was then the Susquehanna River was flooded by rising sea levels. The quality and quantity of waters from the Susquehanna and its tributaries directly affect the Bay's health and productivity.

In the mid-Atlantic states, it's called the "Mighty Susquehanna." It's the largest river lying entirely within the United States that drains into the Atlantic Ocean and the 16th largest river in the United States. The River's 27,500-square-mile watershed covers parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. This is about 43 percent of the Bay's 64,000 square miles of drainage basin..

I have listed the airports I would like to visit along my route. Of course it's just a tentative schedule for now as things can change once underway.

Donegal Springs Airpark (N71)
Elevation: 458 MSL
Traffic Pattern: All Aircraft: 1258 MSL;
Runways: (10-28) 3250X50; asphalt; PCL; tree ea end

Penn Valley (SEG)
Elevation: 450 MSL
Traffic Pattern Light Aircraft 1500 MSL
Runways: (17-35) 3800X75; asphalt; PCL; trees ry 17; tower ry 35

Bloomsburg Municipal (N13)
Elevation: 481 MSL
Traffic Pattern: All Aircraft: 1410 MSL;
Runways: (8-26) 2800X50; asphalt; LIRL (NSTD); road ry 8; trees ry 26

Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley (WBW)
Elevation: 545 MSL
Traffic Pattern: All Aircraft: 1546 MSL;
Runways: (7-25) 3376X75; asphalt; PCL; trees ea end (9-27) 2200X100; asphalt; ; trees ry 10 (9-27) 2200X100; turf; ; trees ry 10.

Total flight time non-stop to KWBW is 1.5 hours and along the flight plan pictured about 165 miles. I hope to make a day of it with the above mentioned airports for stops.

Mary has started to work week-ends with her new job and so I will ask a friend or two along for the ride. This might be a nice trip for the two project pilot students I am lucky enough to mentor. It should be fun! I hope to post a video when completed.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Salisbury Wine Festival

I have to at least post the sunny wx picture and trust me, that does not do justice for the fantastic day flying today. Mary and I made plans to visit her cousin Maureen and her husband Dan. Mary's Mom decided she was ready to try General Aviation and wanted to head south for a visit too.

We started our day with a stop to pick up Mom and then headed south for the airport. The morning temps were cool with a light breeze and the forecast high was for 77 degrees. We uncovered 679er as Mom watched, asking questions about the pre-flight as I finished up. Mary provided the passenger briefing for the outside and inside of the aircraft, she is so good with everyone that flies with us.

I climb in with the usual "piper roll" and Mom is number two to board. As I start my pre-start check list Mary reviews the 'inside' passenger brief. The only part I add to the briefing is the hand single for quiet if needed. I call 'clear prop' and 679er comes to life seemingly as eager as I am to get some flight time on such a cool sunny day. We get taxi clearance to runway two seven hold at 'M'ike. After completing the run up I am cleared to take off two seven and advised to watch for birds. As I acknowledge the cleared to go Mom asks, while the mic is keyed, what kind of birds. We all crack up laughing and Mom covers her mouth, I'm laughing as I type this still.

The flight was so smooth, like sitting in a chair looking out the window at home. I explained traffic advisories once we were on with Dover Approach and we all looked for landmarks along the way. It was so clear today that you could see the mouth of the Delaware Bay with Lewes and Cape May clearly in view. The white sands of Cape Henlopen were clearly visible from a few miles south of Wilmington as we climbed to 4500'.

I contacted (KSBY) Salisbury Tower and reported a 3 mile right base for runway two three. A nice landing and roll out to the taxiway and on to parking at the GA Terminal. The Lineman marshalled us in to parking and Mary's cousin was standing right there with him. He had brought her out in the van to meet us as we taxied in. I made arrangement to top off the fuel and then joined the ladies for the ride to the house.

Maureen and Dan have a gorgeous home. A new pool this year and everything landscaped as if we were walking into a better homes and gardens picture shoot, very nice indeed. It was great to chat and catch up. Maureen made crab cakes that were out of this world so we enjoyed a light lunch along with a salad of spring garden mix that had dried cran raisins, feta cheese and candied pecans (to die for). I had to pass on desert (full tummy) but had a taste of Mary's coconut cake that she had. Heck lunch alone was worth that trip, Phillips has nothing on Maureen and Dan's crab cakes!

We loaded up their SUV and headed to the Wicomico Autumn Wine Fest. There was a good crowd for a Sunday but the temps and sunny weather sure helped. We strolled in and staked our place in the shade for the picnic blanket, chairs and cooler. The ladies quickly headed out, wine glass in hand, while us men held the fort with our designated driver wrist bands securely in place. The wine tasting was unlimited so the ladies had fun, making a return to sit and chat as if to recharge.

Maureen and Dan's friends were very nice and I got to talk about aviation, which is always fun. One gentleman asked about the presidential TFR and how I made out going through it. Hmmmm...let me get this straight, a non-pilot understands about TFR but yet some pilots do not 'get it'. I digress, Yes, I acknowledged the TFR but said that particular one had ended yesterday, I then explained the why and why nots, how pilots check the status and what goes into a 'flight plan'.

We all sat and enjoyed the live band while eating cheese, crackers and grapes. There were many food stands but I was happy munching while drinking my Mountain Dew. I drank the last of the dew around 3pm and as of 8:30 pm (as I type) I am still wired. Mary, Mom and I said our goodbyes and Dan drove us back to the airport. Gezzzz, where did the day go? It's 4:15 as I pay my fuel bill and we walk out to saddle up for home. I complete a walk around along with sumping the fuel and we are ready to go.

We are cleared to taxi to runway one four number three behind a Cessna 150 and Citation Jet. The 150 has mic problems and pulls clear of the taxiway to let the Citation depart. We pull up for our run up but leave room for the 150 just in case. The guys in the 150 do not respond to ATC (at least not on twr frequency)and pull up to the hold short. they are cleared to take off and again no acknowledgement on the tower freq. It's pretty bad when my wife who is not a pilot understands what frequency to be on and the need to acknowledge, she mumbles nit wit as we watch them roll out for departure. We finally get cleared to take off and do so climbing out to 5500' and turned loose on course, all the while enjoying the clear view of Ocean City, MD and the coast.

We had some traffic call outs once handed off to Dover Approach from Patuxent. The tine in flight was about fifty minutes with winds aloft 320* at 20. Headwind on the way home but 679er galloped along wanting to take the bit as they say in the horse world. Once cut loose from Dover I started a slow descent into Wilmington (KILG). I crossed over pea patch island at 1500' and was at pattern altitude 1080' as we called out the right down wind entry for runway one four. We had traffic passing by from 1 to 10 o'clock about 1500' and acknowledged. Abeam the numbers I am cleared to land and squeak a landing in with a roll out for the first available taxiway.

A day in review...A first time General Aviation passenger, a great day with family and back home safe, life is good and I am thankful.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

10,000 Hits...

WOW!!! As of 7:18 pm this blog has seen 10,000 hits!

I hope all of the folks that stop in to read enjoy our travels and the updates. For those of you that are just starting the journey to your PPL and check out my posts from June 2005 on you must know that your not on that island all alone. You will see the frustrating times and the fun times but in the end you too will hold that slip of paper and hear the words....."Congratulations Pilot"!

Thanks for reading along everyone. Mary and I hope to keep posting as we spread our wings and extend our travels to new and fun destinations.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Flight Plan for KSBY

Mary and I will be attending the Wicomico Autumn Wine Festival this Sunday. The days events start at 12:30 and the fun continues through 6pm. It's a simple flight plan, Wilmington, DE (KILG) direct to Salisbury, MD (KSBY). Time en-route will be maybe 45 minutes and we will tie down at the Terminal Ramp and meet Mary's cousin Maureen and her husband Dan.

I am the designated pilot not that I like wine anyway, but Mary does enjoy different wines and I do like the winery tours. It's always a fun time to meet with family and a chance to fly makes the day even more special for me. I hear rumors that my Mother-in-law, really Mom to me, may decide to travel by air. I hope she decides to fly, it will be a blast.

More to follow....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cambridge-Dorchester Airport

A great day to be flying!

Mary and I decided we would try "Kays at the Airport" Restaurant located at the approach end of runway 16 at the (CGE) Cambridge-Dorchester Airport - Cambridge, Maryland. We arrived at Wilmington Airport about 9:45 and completed our pre-flight, waiting on Dassault Falcon Jet to top off our tanks. While we waited the Delaware Air National Guard had three Huey's nose to tail come in on runway 27 and head to the Guard ramp. It was an impressive sight and they sure do make a distinctive sound.

Cleared to taxi to runway two seven, we proceed with doors and windows open taking full advantage of the cool breeze. Run up completed we are cleared to take off on runway two seven and directed to proceed on course. I acknowledge and off we go. As we climb through 1200' I am advised of traffic at my 3 o' clock entering a left down wind for runway three two, the aircraft is at pattern altitude 1080'. I spot our in flight company and call out that Archer 679er has the traffic.

We pick up traffic advisories (flight following) with Dover Approach as we cross the C&D canal and make our way south west at 4500'. There is a solid haze the whole way but landmarks and airports are easily visible. Dover hands us off to Potomac Approach and Potomac soon follows suit handing us off to Patuxent. 15 miles (north) out of Cambridge I cancel flight following and descend to 3000'. CGE is busy with traffic which is fun for me but really takes see and avoid to a new level. Runway three four is in use so I plan my entry. I make a second call at 10 miles north east that we are inbound for a full stop, three four, Cambridge. There is traffic departing, a Navion inbound from my 3 o' clock and a Cessna to my 9 o' clock. The Cessna advises that she will overfly midfield and enter a 45* for runway three four at 2500'. I still don't see her so I advise I will overfly midfield at 3500' to reposition for a 45* for down wind three four. I finally spot the Cessna and she advises that she is turning out for spacing. I continue to overfly the field making my way in to a nice landing. I think the taxi to Kays was almost as long as the flight.

We decided on breakfast, Mary had two eggs with fried thick bologna and a monster mug of coffee and I had two eggs with scrapple with this super size mason jar of my favorite, sweet tea (may have been the best). As we placed our order I noticed a gentleman securing his RV and I thought it might be Harvey who works for the DRBA at 33N. Sure enough it was him and I waved as he walked in the restaurant. Mary and I motioned for him to join us and he made his way through the tables to our window seats. What a treat to meet a friend with no prior plan. We all enjoyed the company and the eats. The black twin pictured on the right that Mary clicked off is a Mitsubishi MU-2 (twin-turboprop).

Mary and I got a good look at Harvey's RV and Mary said it sure looks tight in there. I said yeah but they sure are quick! We loved the paint scheme and the entire look of the plane, Harvey did a very nice job on the build. After saying our goodbyes we saddled up for home too. 679er climbed out and to the north east enjoying the cool air as much as we both did. It was a non-eventful trip home with flight following through north of Dover, except for a C-5 that passed over us by a few thousand feet from our 3 to 9 o' clock. I ended the day with a smooth landing at KILG followed by a shorttaxi to put 679er back to bed.

Good company for breakfast and a great day to fly, can it get any better?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Visiting The Flight School

I decided to head to Brandywine airport today in order to catch up with my PPL Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). I also figured I would catch the helicopter airshow since there was a TFR in place, that's how I found out about the show. Bill was flying with a student so I parked it in an office chair and soaked up all the good vibes from the new students.

Bill walked in after just a brief wait and we shook hands. It's always great to see him, and I couldn't wait to update him on my flying. First words out after hello, was how professional I sounded on the radio while he had been to Wilmington during lessons. Man, that was really nice, it made my day. I in turn responded instantly with; well, I had a very good teacher, which I truly did.

Bill finished up with his potential 'new' student who was taking a discovery flight. The man mentioned that his wife gave him a gift certificate, of course I jumped in with what a good Bride she is. From the sounds of it the discovery flight gentleman was hooked, he vowed to be back again soon and inquired how he should schedule a next lesson. Like I said, soaking up the good vibes.

Bill and I discussed a few things that I wanted to get his opinion on concerning my flight to Myrtle Beach. Two topics, the first was my handling of lost comm's with Norfolk approach just outside of the Newport News Class Delta and the second was my fuel plan.

A quick review of the lost comm question had me just outside the Delta airspace at 3000' with a 1700' cloud layer between me and KPHF. I was about to request lower altitude when a stuck mic and the PHF ATIS bleeding through had approach all screwed up. I slowed and then immediately contacted Newport News tower to advise of my altitude and position along with my lost comm problem. I was given a new approach frequency and off I went. Norfolk approach granted the descend at my discretion which I did by holding over the Bay to get below the layer. Once at 1500' approach turned me over to the tower and I was to report a midfield left downwind for runway 7. I reported followed with a cleared to land. He seemed ok with this and reaffirmed, always fly the airplane first.

The second question was my fuel planning. The flight to Newport news is 1 hour and 37 minutes with a fuel burn of 15 gallons. I hit my first check point SBY on time 47 minutes. With a change in course came even a better tail wind and I was headed to checkpoint two (CCV) with a faster ground speed. So my fuel plan is good, I left with the tanks filled to the tabs, 34 gallons, and flight plan for 10gal/hr. After I landed and had the time to now replay the flight over in my mind, I gave even more thought to the "what ifs". I kept asking myself what if PHF conditions would have changed to IFR conditions and there was no way of getting into the area. I would have made the 180 and get back over the peninsula and look to land at Accomack County Airport (MFV), and IF that was now IFR? Back to Salisbury, SBY.

Bill said it very plain and very matter of fact. Why did I leave with fuel to the tabs? I responded because at the time I legally had plenty of reserve fuel and thought I would top off at PHF. He played out this scenario, Hmmmm....fuel is how much at ILG? and you may have saved .60 cents a gallon on maybe 10 gallons, so, your life is worth $6.00? When W&B allows for full fuel load and conditions warrant such, fill those tanks.

[sigh], I'll take some consolation in knowing I felt the same way after playing it out in my mind once secure at Rick Aviation and heading to our hotel. It's a license to learn and I added to my experience and decision making process. I mentioned to Bill I am ready to get started on my IR and that I have been working on the ground portion, he was excited and said it was a very good decision and it will make me a better pilot.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Angel Flight Application

I finally decided to volunteer my time to Angel Flight East. I filled out the "co-pilot" application since I do not have my instrument rating at this time (more news on the IR to follow). Mary and I are very fortunate to be able to fly and that we are in good health, well, minus a few metal parts for me.

I still think of everyday as a personal holiday since the day of my accident back in November 85. Maybe it sounds a bit silly but I still get a rush out catching a sunrise or sunset since I was able to walk out of the hospital 3 months after I was admitted.

What I am trying to say is, I think it's time I step it up a notch and give back to others in a way most folks can't provide and that is transportation by air. Pilots are good people and to volunteer their time and aircraft is a special gift, Mary and I want to be a part of this project, we want to help others if and when we can. Check out the web page and read the stories, it will warm the coldest heart just knowing a person can make such a difference and ease the burden for something most people take for granted, transportation. I'm excited to help out even if it means providing ground transportation, whatever it takes!

As I have posted many times (since January 07) I am working on the ground portion of my IR. I stop and start depending on work load, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University class schedule and life with my Bride. Yes, they sound like excuses to me too. I managed to hook up with a co-worker who is a Certified Flight Instructor, Instrument and he said we could work out a schedule. I may reduce the course load from ERAU and schedule more flight time. Sty tuned for updates!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Project Pilot

GA needs more dreamers!

We need more student pilots. You already know someone who has a dream of learning to fly: a friend in the neighborhood or at work or even a family member. Join ranks with your fellow AOPA members as an
AOPA Project Pilot Mentor and share your passion for flight by encouraging an aspiring pilot to learn to fly.

You are among an important and growing group of AOPA members who are supporting growing General Aviation. Being a Mentor is fun, easy and very rewarding! And, you don't have to be a CFI.

Ready to get started? Mentoring is as easy as 1-2-3.

Step 1 Is As Simple As It Is Important: Get Your Student Flying!Take a flight with someone you know who may want to learn how to fly. Once they are hooked, plan to take him or her to the airport to connect your student with a flight instructor and to schedule their first lesson.

Step 2 Is Just As Simple: Be There For Your StudentAnd that doesn't mean all the time or even a lot of time. A simple check-in with your student every week or two - a little more often at first - is probably all that's needed. Whatever works for you and your student.

Step 3 Is To Just Do What You're Doing: Find New PilotsKeep supporting GA by talking to additional prospects. You'll know who they are: they're the folks you know that are already interested in flying. All they need is little nudge from you to take that all-important first flight.

Moments in Time...

This is not aviation related but horses have always been a passion of mine. I often think of my two girls that have long passed, Ebony’s Precious Express a blue roan, 16.3 hand Tennessee Walker and Susquehanna Squaw a dapple grey Quarter Horse. Great trail horses and good friends.

Seldom does performance match excessive expectation.

Super Bowls are rarely super. Pay-per-view fights are hyped without money-back guarantees. And there's that old expression that applies so perfectly to horse racing: There's no such thing as a sure thing.

Then there was Secretariat at the 1973 Belmont Stakes.

He carried a lot more than jockey Ron Turcotte when he went to the gate a 1-to-10 favorite. He had the weight of Secretariat Mania on his back. The international buzz surrounding him was deafening. He was being counted on to win the race and become the first Triple Crown champion in 25 years -- the first of the television generation that had already put him on an unrealistic pedestal.

Secretariat's response went beyond unreal. He won by a jaw-dropping 31 lengths. His time of 2:24 for 1 1/2 miles set a world record many argue may never be broken.

Secretariat became so popular, Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated featured the horse on the cover the same week. The William Morris Agency booked his appearances the way it would for a hot movie star. At the time, no movie star was as hot as "Big Red."

Secretariat was born on March 30, 1970, at the Meadow Stud in Doswell, Va. He was the third offspring of 1957 Preakness winner Bold Ruler, the greatest sire of his generation, and Somethingroyal, who raced just once but whose breeding was of top quality. Secretariat was the brightest of chestnuts, deep-chested with the muscular quarters of the speed horse and the length and scope of the stayer.

In stud, Secretariat sired such future champions as 1988 Preakness and Belmont winner Risen Star and 1986 Horse of the Year Lady's Secret. But none of his offspring came close to matching the standard he set.

He remained a popular figure even after Secretariat Mania subsided. But his life ended tragically. Suffering from laminitis -- a painful hoof disease -- the 19-year-old superstar was given a lethal injection on Oct. 4, 1989, at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.

The Passing of a Legend....

John Henry wasn't the friendliest horse - far from it. However, his ability to turn a humble pedigree into the resume of a champion made him a prime attraction at the Kentucky Horse Park, where he spent his final 22 years. "We would always bring kids to John Henry's paddock and say, 'Here is a great champion,'" said John Nicholson, the park's executive director.

Grumpy yet beloved, the thoroughbred great died Monday after 32 years of defying odds - both in racing success and longevity. The two-time Horse of the Year, who earned more than $6.5 million before retiring as a gelding to the park where he became an icon, was euthanized Monday night in his paddock there.

He survived several illnesses over the years but never recovered from a recent bout with dehydration, in which he experienced kidney failure that forced him to receive intravenous fluids. The horse was rapidly losing weight.

"John's always been known for his biting and kicking," said Cathy Roby, barn manager at the horse park's Hall of Champions where he was stabled. "He had gotten to the point where he really wasn't trying, where he just wasn't John anymore. He was just tired and he was ready to go." Mike Beyer, the veterinarian who tended to John Henry until the end, said euthanasia was the only choice. John Henry was put down on Monday, October 8th.

John Henry was retired 22 years ago to the park, where he was beloved by the public and, along with stablemate Cigar, one of the park's biggest attractions. Foaled March 9, 1975, and an average runner early in his career, John Henry was the highest money-earning thoroughbred in history when he retired in 1985.

The gelded son of Old Bob Bowers out of Once Double won four Grade I races and Horse of the Year honors at ages 6 and 9, and collected seven Eclipse awards from 1980-84.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Scrub Orange County Flight

Mary and I planned to visit the Orange County Chopper facility today after making a stop for lunch at Rick's Runway Cafe' located on the field at Orange County Airport, KMGJ. As you can see with IFR conditions we decided a "no-go" was in order. Maybe next weekend we can get this day trip in or maybe visit Gettysburg, PA.

Work continues on the ground portion of my IR. I hope to get the flying portion completed and cert in hand by March of 08.