Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cross Country Adventures

As previously posted, Mary and I will be attending the Gaston's Fly in located in Lakeview Arkansas. This trip will be our first true cross-country adventure (830 miles 7.5 hours flight time). This event is scheduled for June 6th through the 8th. I have a tentative flight plan and we are working on a horseback riding adventure and a short flight to Branson, MO for some extra activities. We plan to arrive Thursday June 5th with the main group coming in on Friday.

I have been reading on the forums about Sun-n-Fun in Lakeland Florida. My vacation time would allow for this trip with weeks to spare, Mary on the other hand is building time in her new job. I am considering making the trip either in our plane or catching a ride and splitting expenses with a fellow pilot. As of this entry I have no idea who that might be, so I guess I’m looking for another pilot to join me. Worst case scenario will be to fly into Orlando commercial, rent a car and stay somewhere in the middle of the Lakeland-Orlando commute. There seems to be plenty of rooms still available so that will not be a problem. I am working on Mary trying to lure her with a day at Universal and one at MGM agreeing to only spend a day at Sun n Fun. Also as of this writing, I have no idea if she will attend.

Some of the possible stops along the way could be KJGG in Williamsburg, Virginia for a quick lunch and fuel top off. We could also make our first stop at KLHZ - Franklin County Airport in Louisburg, North Carolina and set up a lunch visit with my cousin Annette and her family. Another great stop and at the limit of my comfort factor (fuel and the need to stretch) would be KCRE Grand Strand Airport in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The possibilities are endless and that in itself is the best part about General Aviation. Try and change your schedule while flying commercial, It's not going to happen. I must add at this point that the ultimate decision making tool for stops is the capacity of one's bladder not just the fuel on board. More posts to follow as this plan takes shape.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Change of Plans

Mary and I decided to make the short hop to KMTN Martin State, north of Baltimore, Maryland, both wanting to spend the day at the Inner Harbor. We went out to dinner last night with my brother and his wife and asked them to join us. They are finishing up in their house with waynescoat(?) and painting so they took a pass. Our meal was very good at Bertucci's and it was a nice night out. As we were leaving I bumped into friends from the corvette club that I haven't seen in years. It was so nice to see Scott and Lisa. Scott asked if I was still flying and I gave him the update along with our plan for today. It sounds like HE would love to fly but Lisa said she would be screaming the whole time. Of course my lovely Bride chimed in and said that's not a problem we'll unplug her mic from the headset. We both laughed, everyone at their table just had a blank look. I still have to chuckle when I think about it. Obviously I have been a very bad influence on her.

On to today's flight...

Weather pretty much looked like crap in Baltimore this morning and shot our planned early start in the keester. The "plan" was to get into MTN early, rent a car and then do as many attractions at the inner harbor as we could fit in, only taking a break to eat lunch at Phillips. I am not night current so I would plan our return to KILG by 4pm which would have us back ready to depart Martin State around 3pm.

METAR KMTN 291348Z AUTO 00000KT 1/2SM VCTS FG VV005 08/08 A3002
METAR KMTN 291409Z AUTO 00000KT M1/4SM FG VV000 08/08 A3002
METAR KMTN 291430Z AUTO 00000KT 3/4SM VCTS BR VV005 08/08 A3002
METAR KMTN 291451Z AUTO 00000KT 1 1/2SM BR SCT080 09/09 A3002
METAR KMTN 291512Z AUTO 00000KT 3SM BR SCT080 10/10 A3003

SPECI KILG 291303Z 28007KT 10SM SCT010 OVC050 09/08 A2999
METAR KILG 291351Z 28005KT 8SM BKN050 09/08 A3000

The first report was around 9 am and the visibility was a 1/2 mile and fog. It didn't start to clear up until after 10am and at that time it was 3 miles and mist scattered at 8000. We decided not to go and waste the day. Car rental was around $45 a day and since they closed at noon they would tack on the Sunday. One of the taxi company's said they would charge $70 round trip and pick us up on a phone call. I guess what it boils down to is spending that amount and not getting a full day visiting the many attractions. Mary and I will put this hop back on the shelf with the other "day trips"

Mary decided to get her hair done along with a pedicure and manicure, I decided to give my friend John a call and get some fly time in. We met at ILG around 11:30, BS'ed while we uncovered and pre-flighted together. I hope john decides to go after his LSA cert, he would be a natural. We finally climb in and I go through the check-lists for pre-start. I haven't been in the left seat since November 25th, it seems like forever. I dial up Wilmington ground and put Wilmington tower in the standby since I've already listened to the ATIS and noted the info.

me: Wilmington tower Archer 28679er at Red Eagle.
GND: Archer 679er your on Ground
me: Huh, well that's a fine start to my day, ground 679er at Red Eagle with golf, ready to taxi, vfr to the south east for Mike India Victor
GND: 679er, taxi to runway 27 at mike
me: 27 at mike, 679er

METAR KMIV 291654Z AUTO 31009KT 10SM SCT042 OVC065 11/07 A2997

I switched over to the TWR after my run up and was given the cleared for take off. A nice ride to Millville this morning with little turbulence. Millville was a busy place and as always Millville radio tied up the frequency with their endless traffic and wx reports. When I called at 15 out I added with current info and traffic report. Hehehehe Millville radio gave me the double mic click. John and I each laughed knowing we got em. As we turned final I picked up traffic coming head on but to my right who finally got a word in on traffic, alerting he was going missed while doing approaches for ILS runway 10. I held my position and advised I had contact and will remain runway heading. He simply acknowledged and we both continued on. If millville radio would have shut up I would have heard him sooner. See and Avoid, so no harm no foul, plenty of spacing between us.

We ate breakfast at Antino's/Cornerstone and walked out with full tummy's. I chit chatted with Jeff from Big Sky then we saddled up for home. I was going to do a few T&G's but there were 4 aircraft ahead of me for departure and thought best just to make tracks northwest for ILG.

A nice landing at ILG and a turn off on taxiway Mike has us at our tie down and turning to line up. On the money today on a rare right turn from the taxiway. I hooked up the tow bar and pushed 679er straight back and John locked the cable on the tail tie down. Only 1.2 in the book but a fun day in the left seat.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all our readers and best wishes for a Happy New Year ! To all of you that share our passion for flight we hope you enjoy the adventures that 2008 will offer.

Fly Safe!

Gary & Mary

A MUST READ for all pilots.....

The Night Before Christmas

Thanks to: Zach at "Behind The Yoke"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Places to go, Things to do

Can you tell it's the winter season and the wx has us stuck here on the ground? UGhhhh, Mary even acknowledges I need a flying fix, bad. Since the rain and wind have kept us locked up in the house we have been working on our short list of day trips, if you have been reading along they fall within the "ring of fun" as noted on the flight planning entry.

Day Trips on our short list include:

W05 Gettysburg Regional Airport in Gettysburg, PA to visit the Battlefield and do lunch at The Herr tavern.

Knoebels Amusement Park in Elysburg, PA taking advantage of the close proximity of N79 in Shamokin, PA.

Luray Caverns in Luray, VA, taking advantage of W45 Luray Caverns Airport. I have read some great write-ups about the friendly staff and available transportation to and from the caverns.

We still have Orange County Choppers on the list! A great day trip for some good eats at Rick Runway Cafe located on the field at KMGJ Orange County Airport in Montgomery, N.Y.

Vacations and 4 day get-away's

Some of our 4 day get-away plans include Block Island, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Mid-Coast Maine, Niagara Falls and of course Williamsburg, VA in the spring and Myrtle Beach in the fall. I guess if we have to rank them it would be mid-coast Maine and then Niagara falls. We shall see as spring time gets a bit closer.

Our flying/ fly-in vacation will be to Gaston's White River Resort in Arkansas this June to attend the Pilots Of America event. This should be fun, 830 miles and 7.5 hours of flight time.

We are always looking for new places to visit and interesting things to do. Please feel free to leave a comment with any great stops you have been to or have on your short list of "must see" places.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

679er Not For Sale

Whew, I just received an email about 679er and she is no longer for sale. Gary responded to my email today and confirmed that he decided not to sell her at this time. The person that made the offer would not continue the flying club and at a minimum the owner wanted to keep access to the plane, so did Mary and I! An interesting twist was added asking if we might be interested in owning 679er and want to keep the club going. Hmmmm, I am sure this will lead to further discussions. For now, I think I will go celebrate the good news, our flying family stays intact!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Flight Planning

I have read so many forum posts questioning flight plans, airport information and weather that I decided to recap what goes into my pre-flight plans. First and foremost is "The List". Mary and I managed to put together a list of day trips that we would like to do and fun get-aways (4 day weekends). Our range for the "day trips" seem to fall into the 1-2 hour max range which is represented by the "ring of fun" in the picture to the top left. We also put together a list of "must see" locations with no real limit on travel time. We each research our locations and compile a list of things to do and see.

Once we decide on a location I begin the plan. I use the AOPA Real Time Flight Planning (RTFP) software. Yes, there are a host of other free planners but this is the one I like, your mileage may vary. I then follow up by researching our airport locations for each stop and any additional stop as an alternate based on fuel, food, multiple runways, potential lodging and the all important member comments. One of the two sources that I use for airport info is Airnav, which provides all the airport specs from phone numbers, runway info, lighting, ownership, rental cars, you name it, it's in there. Yep, just like the commercial. The comment section is always a good read. Fellow pilots provide feedback about service, fuel prices and the eats.

My second source for airport info is the AOPA online airport directory. It provides a lot of the same information as Airnav and has a neat feature to print this out in a 'knee board' size sheet which really is nice for in flight info. Again, I read through all the member comments and search for anything that may not be on airnav. I also add notes to the knee board print out or high light info so it's easy to read while in flight. Some of the things I look for is noise abatement procedures (must keep the airport neighbors happy), traffic patterns (noting the right handers), FBO hours of operation and if there is a courtesy car available. If I remember I'll explain later the courtesy car to all the non-pilot readers.

Ok, the basic blueprint for the flight is completed, now comes the fun stuff. I monitor the weather (wx) a few days in advance for the day trips so that we have a rough idea if the flight will even happen. Once the extended forecast is looking good I will monitor a host of web sites that provide all the wx info a pilot could wish for. I will check in with the AOPA wx pages (not happy with the recent changes there)and various other sites such as Duats, Duat, Vansairforce, and the AOPA RTFP. I have included a few of the graphics that pilots use for planning.

Forecast Map and Flight Rules

Wx Prognosis and Surface Analysis

As you can see there is a good bit of info to review and digest, but I think it's what makes the flight planning fun. With the wx outlook shaping up I then decide to lock in our club aircraft through the online scheduler. This is the easy task of planning, look up your dates, point and click your departure and return times and your ready to go. If anyone is in a club I highly recommend taking advantage of the Online Scheduler, it's easy to use and keeps good records. Ok,wx is looking good, we have a list of places to visit and things to do once at our destination, the aircraft is scheduled and my charts and Airport Facility Directory are current and have been reviewed. After flowing through the process it becomes second nature and I approach each trip the same way. The night prior to our planned departure I review the electronic flight plan and all information I'll have on my knee board.

The morning of the flight I will once again review the flight plan, update and factor in the weather for my flight to include winds aloft, wind relative to my flight path, winds effect on fuel burn and wx at our destination. I make a call to Flight Services for a final live wx brief and file a flight plan.

Mary and I usually have our bags packed the night before so it's a quick load and go to our breakfast stop. Once at the airport we follow the same routine to uncover, and load with my pre-flight uninterrupted until complete. Once on board I begin my checklists and get things set up for our departure. When I am ready to start I make a final call to Flight Service and open the flight plan, then fire up and get taxi Clearance to depart.

That's pretty much what goes into the planning and departure for our get-away flights. I hope you enjoyed a quick glimpse into the "what goes on".

As a fellow pilot and keeper of a flight journal put it, "Trepidation over planning a trip to a new airport? Understandable. Concern over flying into an uncontrolled field? Understandable. But is it a justification for not going? No more so than planning a dinner at a new eatery on the far side of town. Like eating any pizza, you have to do it one bite at a time." Another great quote from Flights of the Mouse.

The courtesy car. Some FBO's have a courtesy car available for pilots or flight crews to use for a short period of time. As an example, I planned to fly into Bristol, CT to watch the Little League Baseball Mid-Atlantic playoffs. I inquired about a courtesy car and Interstate Aviation, Inc., at 4B8 Robertson Field had one. I asked about going to the ball fields to watch a single 6 inning game. I guesstimated about 2 hours or so and the man on the other end of the phone said no problem. So, that would have made the day by saving on car rental and pick up followed by drop off. The car is usually first come first serve and one should always top off the tank or at the very least put back what was in it. A word of caution, plan on driving something along the lines of your first hand-me-down car. Don't expect leather interiors, seat heaters, or a looks like it's wet paint job. Hey, it's free and it runs!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Take Time To Remember

Is this what I want to post on my web blog?

I struggled with this question and the thought of this post, but this is a part of life and flying, the part we least like to deal with. I hope to learn something from what happened today and take away a lesson in that what we do is fun and exciting but serious too. I have been told that I am a different person in the cockpit, that's a good thing. I am conservative, professional and always looking to learn from each flight, this is what pilots do.

Heading south on I-95 around 7:15 this morning and always sneaking a peak towards the sky I noticed a big plume of thick black smoke coming from the area of the Wilmington airport (KILG). You know when you get that sinking feeling in your gut and you just know that you know, unfortunately I knew. I made a call to co-workers and confirmed what I saw as I continued into work. I made sure our club aircraft was not involved and tried to go about my business as usual. My office phone rang off the hook this morning with co-workers calling to see if I had bagged a day off work to go fly. It's nice to know they care.

METAR KILG 041151Z 27012KT 10SM FEW060 00/M11 A2972

METAR KILG 041251Z 27018G23KT 10SM CLR 00/M10 A2973

We lost a "brother" today from the GA population at ILG. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the pilot, along with a thank you to all my co-workers and fire/rescue that responded to the scene.

News Article NTSB Report (Preliminary)