Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why do we fly?

One of my favorite links is the web page by fellow forum member Frank Holbert. If you want to see a great collection of in flight videos, pour a cool glass of ice tea and pull up a comfy chair and load em' up.

One of the many reasons Mary and I fly is to enjoy all the scenery. Yes, it's pretty much flat out east but what a perspective from on top. I am just starting with my video collection of our flights and it takes some time to work out the kinks. Take a few minutes and watch Franks latest addition, flying into Big Bear with a detour to take in some of the finest scenery you can imagine.

Frank and his wife start off entering the Cajon Pass from the south, proceeding up over Lake Arrowhead and into the Banning Pass. The flight passed over Mt. San Gorgonio then on to Big Bear where they landed for breakfast.

ENJOY! Flying though mountains after a fresh snow fall

Cheese with that whine, over noise

Non- Aviation


I am so tired of hearing about the Philadelphia Airport traffic pattern noise issues. Good grief, you moved into the area knowing that aircraft fly overhead and still you all complain. My solution is pack up and move to Montana. The best line was on the local news this evening,"We understand the economic value of an airport," I use the airport personally and for business. But we don't need to be impacting people's quality of life if there are alternatives and we are actively seeking those alternatives." I say, show some stones and be the first to set a new precedence, don't fly out of Philly. Do your part to ease the air traffic and reduce noise.

I was born and raised here and have listened to airplanes all of fifty years. It's part of the scenery, no worse then all the traffic on our local roads. I used to ride horses up Naamans Creek (two lane country) road across Route 202 (four lane major roadway) and ride down the "valley" (A quiet out of the way DuPont owned properties running along the Brandywine River). Guess what, the roads aren't safe for vehicles to travel on since the roads are operating at capacity. The places I once road horses are now filled with homes and the familiar landmarks and business's are long gone. Can you say Progress?

I know some folks will say that I feel this way because I fly, WRONG! I don't fly into Philadelphia and the commercial operations are trying to put a squeeze on general aviation costing us more money when they clog up the sky. I guess it's a fact of life with progress comes growth and growth adds to urban sprawl and so the snowball rolls.

Our civic association complained about the Brandywine Town Center (Large mall that replaced a horse racing track) and all the noise and traffic problems. My simple answer after listening to the man ramble the preachings of the good of the association was to ask but a few questions. First, were you born here or did you transfer in? He transferred in. Second, do you own a car and drive it and do you shop or watch movies at the town center. The response, "yes I own and drive and do take my family to watch movies at the town center." Ok, maybe I'm way out there but that would mean you are part of the traffic problem and patronize the very place you are trying to close! He was speechless. I was very nice when I asked him to leave and not bore me again with such nonsense.

People, think before you talk. If you want to lead the charge be man or woman enough to make the sacrifice. It's painful to watch and read that you don't like it or don't want it but you sure do use it!


At least I feel better!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sun-n-Fun, The Plan Takes Shape

Mary and I still have our reservation for Gaston's, at least for now. I have a had a few people inquire about the cabin (bedroom cottage). We reserved cabin #11 and our deposit is for $109. If someone from the forums needs a cabin send us an email.

After checking out the local attractions Mary and I booked a room in Kissimmee, Florida for Sun n Fun. We will be staying at the Raddison Resort Celebration, all of about 2 miles from Disney. We want to visit Disney MGM, Universal and do the EAA show in Lakeland, Fl.

Mary is checking out SCUBA diving lessons, something she thought she would enjoy so that is on the agenda. Mary was also the one to get me to parasail, what an adventure that was. It looked great when she was in the air flapping her arms and pretending to be some bird laughing and having a blast. When they reeled her in and launched my butt to 425' it honestly didn't seem to be as much fun. It was quiet and the view fantastic but that little strap under my butt just didn't give me the warm and fuzzies. All I could think about was me slipping out of the harness and having to plunge into the water, not my idea of a fun way to check out. I was the typical engineer, I rechecked the harness and all attachments and decided if this is was my fate, so be it. I did enjoy the ride after I satisfied my 'once over' of the equipment. I must say that the guys on the boat answered all my questions a were very good about going over the rigging and explaining things prior to the launch.

The taxi ride from Kissimmee is $32 for an eight mile ride, I'm not happy. The car rental is $50 a day unlimited mileage. So far the plan is to rent the car at the airport, check in and unpack, enjoy some pool time and a good nap then make our dinner run to the place we went to on our honeymoon. We really fell in love with the Grand Floridian and Narcoossee's. A great place to stay and one of the really nice places to eat that is not formal.

Day two (Tuesday) we can use the rental to visit Universal and scout out a good dinner stop for the evening run. Day three (Wednesday) we or should I say I can go to Lakeland and spend the day drooling on airplanes and build a blister on the photo snapping finger. Day four (Thursday) we can free shuttle to Disney MGM for the day so that means no more rental car. Friday will be a day at the pool or whatever other activities we can fit in followed by a Saturday morning departure for home.

The google search continues as we fine tune the activities for Lakeland. Mary is very excited about getting away for the week and I am too. 679er will be going in for an oil change prior to the florida trip and get the once over from the shop to care of any squawks that my arise between now and then. I'm sure we will post more activity info and flight plan information as the date gets closer.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

KLHZ - Louisburg, NC

Mary and I decided to make a day of it in North Carolina. We had previously planed a get together with my Cousin Annette and her family. The added bonus was the chance to visit with my mom's sister, my Zia Erma.

I had logged 3.4 hours Friday evening making a run to KLNS-Lancaster, PA then to KSBY-Salisbury, MD and finally home to KILG-Wilmington, DE. In the process I finally got night current (see previous post, Night Current Again). Mary and I decided on Chinese for dinner as we curled up in front of the TV and watched the replay of Grey's Anatomy. We decided to hit the hay early knowing we wanted to be in the air prior to 7:30am. We were up and ready to go, the zoo fed and flight bags packed by 6:45ish. I had already updated the flight and made my call to Flight Service.

We made a stop for some snacks and drinks for the 2.5 hour flight. I had left 679er uncovered the previous night to save time but did not call for fuel. Dassault did not open until 8am so we were on hold. I had to clean the frost off the aircraft so that kept me busy and warm while my Bride stayed warm in the SUV. The fuel truck pulled up just after 8am and topped off the tanks, I then completed the pre-flight sump fuel check. Mary was snuggled up in her blanket with pillow in hand as I completed checklists, made my call to Wilmington ground for clearance and taxied for departure. I checked my watch it was 8:40, and acknowledged cleared for takeoff runway two seven.

It was a gorgeous morning! Mary was asleep with little airplanes circling to land in her head, no wait that's sugarplum fairies and that's Christmas eve, wrong story. My Bride was not feeling very good but decided to make the trip, she gets a big atta girl. I picked up flight following with Dover Approach and we continued towards Patuxent at 4500'. As we approached the Restricted area (R-4007) I was advised the area was "cold", no activity. I could have held my current altitude but requested 6500'. Dover handed us off to Patuxent, Patuxent to Potomac and Potomac to Washington Center. I never did get handed off to Raleigh Approach so instead I canceled flight following with Center and tuned Franklin County to get a feel for traffic. I had already tuned in the Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) at Franklin so I had the info noted. I made a call 20 out in case Annette and Rob were listening at the FBO while waiting for us to arrive.

It was very easy to spot KLHZ from 15 miles and we positioned for a 45* entry, right traffic pattern for runway five. We were number two to land behind a Cessna doing landings and slowed down adding a last notch of flaps early to provide for better spacing from our on final position to their touchdown and roll out. We taxied in, shut down and secured 679er. I ordered fuel and then we headed off with Annette and Rob.
Talk about a country setting, the ride to their home was very nice as we passed through the little towns along the way dotted with typical gentlemen horse farms. It was a welcome change not to do battle with four lanes of traffic just to run to the local store. It was a good twenty minute ride from the airport to the house but every bit enjoyable. Rob made a pass through to show us his shop where he fabricates corian and or granite counter tops, he's also a master cabinet maker and very modest when talking about his work. A beautiful home, landscaped as if in a picture and just as inviting as could be. We walked into the home and the smell of home made sauce took me back to memories of Sunday dinners at home and family get togethers in Wilkes-Barre, PA with all my Aunts cooking up a storm. Mary and I walked into the kitchen and gave my Zia Erma a big hug, it was so nice to see her. We also got to meet the new addition, Gus. Angus or Gus for short is part blue heeler, part Australian Shepard and a bit of Chow. He's a ball of energy and fur.

It was so relaxing just to sit around and catch up on what was going on in our lives. So many great memories came rushing back from my youth. I guess I can make that statement now that I'm fifty, good grief. Annette made antipasto, the traditional way for starting a meal according to the Italians. It was a mix of salad, olives, pepers, provolone cheese, salami, olive oil and, naturally, a good bread. The antipasto was followed by home made Italian cappelletti soup and ravioli's, this must be what heaven's like, yes, it was that good. What made it even better was the company and catching up with family truly made the day.

Time fly's when your having fun and our day seemed to zip on by. Mary and I really wanted to get back before dark and in time to get Maggie out. It was hard to say goodbye but we vowed to stop again and spend more time now that it is so much easier for Mary and I to travel. We headed back to the airport and thanked Annette and Rob for having us over and for all the great food. It was nice to spend time with family and see their new home.
We all walked into the terminal as I checked in at the counter to settle up my fuel bill. 679er took on 22.9 gallons for $97.33 at $4.25 a gallon, not a bad price considering what we pay at home. I got to snap a few pictures of the airport security, Baby the black Shepard and the real killer, snap roll a tea cup Yorkie. We saddled up and taxied out to runway five and departed to the north. I contacted Raleigh Approach for flight following and settled in for 2 plus hours of 3000' under the cloud layer. As we made our way north I could see the sky starting to clear. The sunlight was teasing me as it peeked through the clouds warming my face.
I wanted to get on top but could not find a large enough hole to climb through. Finally, just north of the James River I had an opening.
I had already been handed off to Washington Center and I was cleared to climb to 5500'. Mid climb I was handed off to Patuxent and checked in with the following, Patuxent Approach, Archer 28679er 4100 climbing 5500. Approach acknowledged and requested final destination, I advised India Lima Golf, Wilmington, 679er. I was handed off to Potomac and continued on towards Dover, Delaware. I managed to snap an over the shoulder shot of the sunset and it turned out ok. Mary does so much better with the pictures.

Mary cat napped along the way and I noted landmarks on the sectional (map for air travel). I managed a few pictures and spotted one Jet Blue around the COLIN intersection south of PAX VOR. I was handed off to Philadelphia instead of Dover which I found strange but it worked for me. I cancelled with Philly Approach about 15 miles south of Wilmington. With the Airport Terminal Information System (ATIS) noted I contacted the tower and advised of my position and intentions. I was directed to report a three mile left base for runway three two. Once cleared to land Mary captured a short video of our landing.
We taxied to the end of three two and exited on Kilo 6, we were finally home. Once secured I ordered fuel and waited to get 679er topped off. Mary and I then headed home to left over Chinese dinner around 8pm and parked it on the couch to watch Shrek III. After the movie we called it a day and it felt good to hit that warm water bed.

Night Current Again

Friday, January 11, 2008

My day ended early, ok, my work day. I got a call from a fellow forum member that needed a ride from KLNS - Lancaster, PA. At 2:15 I was ready to head home to pick up my flight bag. I'm not sure why I don't carry it with me, but maybe I should start. The nasty weather conditions finally cleared and Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions were now dominating the area. I put together a flight plan for KILG-KLNS with a return to KILG-Wilmington. I made my customary call to 1-800-wx-brief to confirm the info I reviewed, I was good to go.

The flight to KLNS was uneventful. I was turned over to the Lancaster tower from Harrisburg Approach and cleared to land reporting a three mile final. Once on the ground I taxied to Lancaster Avionics for the pick up.

A quick review on the Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) and we were ready to head out. The plans changed and we were now headed to KSBY. I topped off before leaving Wilmington so I was good to go on fuel. Upon arrival at Salisbury (like looking for a needle in a haystack, at night) I made three landings to finally get night current again, it felt good. I landed left of center line each time needing to make corrections. I had a hard time trying to see the center line stripe and the night vision was taking some time to dial in. On my last landing I taxied in for the drop off and fuel. I decided to top of the tanks for my ride home.

I asked for a progressive taxi because it was so dark and the taxiway lighting was very poor. To top the poor airfield lighting my landing light was out in the nose so I had to make do with wingtip lights. I taxied out to runway one four and held for traffic. Once cleared for takeoff I headed north to Wilmington. It was really nice checking out all the lights. As I approached Dover AFB I noticed the airbase got a bit blurry. I knew right then I had a cloud layer even if ever so thin between me and mother earth. I still had plenty of lights in view as I continued my trek north. This night ride taught me a few things.

This was an experience all of it's own as I got caught on top. I was heading north east on a 010* heading at 3500'. Looking back I should have requested a lower altitude with Dover but instead climbed to keep clear of what my strobes were now illuminating. I was approved to 5500' and off I went. As I made my way north past Dover I was now in the clear but quickly noticed there were NO lights off the nose, while looking for Wilmington. I was still south of the C&D canal so I was somewhat comfortable. I had been handed off to Philadelphia approach for the last 20 plus miles to KILG.

I canceled flight following with Philly as I approached Delaware City's oil refinery. I had my way out as the refinery lights were peaking through the layer below. I was just north of the canal which is around 15 south of Wilmington Airport. I contacted the Wilmington tower to report my position and was directed to report a 3 mile left base for two seven. Turning final I asked for the lights to be brought up to medium intensity and set 679er down on center but firm. Four night landings in the book and almost two hours of night flight, not to shabby. Total time for the trip 3.4 hours. As a side note my last night flying was during my training May 2006.

Lessons learned; Better strategy before making the decision to climb, remain night current and get more night flying time.

Positives; Keep flying the plane, always work your plan, know your outs (last known clear position and heading to return, Air Traffic Control (ATC) is there to help)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Another First Timer

Today Mary and I planned for a breakfast run if the wx would cooperate. It was not looking promising as of last night but we decided to hold off calling Mary's friend and co-worker Jaime, who was scheduled to join us for her first "small plane" flight. Jaime has many hours flying commercial including Japan, France, Italy, Ireland and a few others I'm sure I missed.

I started checking wx again this morning soon after I fed the Maggie girl and let her out. Once she was done I knew she would head right back to bed with Mary. The wx actually started to clear and the sun came out with the cloud layer lifting. I went right to work printing out my plan and performing a formal wx check with the AOPA flight planner and all the resources offered by the Vans Air force web pages. I gave Mary the go-ahead to call Jaime and I gave her directions.

KILG 061451Z 19004KT 9SM FEW013 OVC041
SPECI KILG 061519Z 23006KT 10SM SCT013 BKN041 OVC050
KILG 061551Z 22005KT 10SM OVC045 06/02 A3028
KMIV 061454Z AUTO 00000KT 6SM BR OVC039
SPECI KMIV 061512Z AUTO 00000KT 1 3/4SM -RA BR SCT024 OVC037
SPECI KMIV 061525Z AUTO 00000KT 3SM -RA BR FEW030 OVC037
KMIV 061554Z AUTO VRB05KT 7SM OVC050 06/03

By 10am it was a "go" decision at Wilmington but Millville had other ideas. For my personal minimums Millville finally was a go at 1554Z or 10:54 am. The timing really did work out well since we were ready to fire up at 11:30am. Mary completed the passenger brief as I completed the taxi checklist. Wilmington Ground cleared us to taxi to runway two seven at taxiway Mike. I acknowledged and off we went.

Once in the air I notified the tower of my left turn on course since they cleared me on course at takeoff. Some pilots say no need but I always like to give the heads up in case traffic is in the area and they get busy. The cloud layer was around 5000' as we climbed to 2800' and flew the outbound 140* radial from the DuPont (DQO) VOR. The ladies were chatting up a storm and Jaime was really enjoying the view. Mary pointed out Fort Delaware and the Salem nuke plant cooling tower. Wilmington approved a frequency change so I flipped over to 123.65 to monitor Millville as we continued inbound. How nice during my briefing that I confirmed Millville remote was out of service, maybe we could have some quiet in the area so "PILOTS" could exchange position reports. Runway 14-32 is still closed for runway improvements so after noting the ASOS info I set up for runway two eight.

A World Wide Jet was waiting to depart so I held my altitude and headed over the field to reposition for a 45* entry to two eight left down wind. On our way in we heard Jeff from Woodbine in his slick looking Mooney. I landed behind a Comanche who scared the bejesus out of me when he also reported a two mile 45* for two eight. I quickly asked his position and confirmed mine as the same. I then saw the Comanche enter the downwind for two eight, there was no 45* about it. No harm no foul, see and avoid, I advised I will follow him in No. 2 to land.

The ladies went in to grab a table at the Cornerstone while I met Jeff and checked out his Mooney. I have to say it was sweet, every gadget imaginable and a solid IFR platform. It was all I could do to keep myself from drooling on his plane. Yes, I want a ride in that baby. Jeff joined us for lunch but admitted he had been in earlier for breakfast so he only had a soda. Mary had Shrimp roll up, Jaime had a cheese steak while I had, you guessed it, a breakfast quesdilla. As always the food was fantastic and the service very good. We sat and chatted for a good bit while Jaime entertained us with her engagement airplane Florida/Paris France episode. I must say I almost choked from laughing. I also have to tip my hat to her husband, what a class act and a master planner to pull this off. Jeff was entertained and said he only wished his wife was there to hear this story. Jeff provided some really good info on the Sun-n-Fun trip and pretty much sealed the deal for Mary. I offered up our Gaston's reservations on the POA forum when we got home. We all decided it was time to head home when Jaime snatched the bill. She "went to ask for a soda" at the counter, I can't believe I didn't catch that. Ok Jaime you got us this time, but we owe you. Thanks for buying our breakfast.

We finally cleared out and headed out to the plane. Jeff took some shots of us and I took a few of the ladies as they adorned 679er. We said our goodbye's and saddled up for home. By this time the sky had cleared, the sun shinning and it was absolutely gorgeous outside. I wish I reserved for longer but we had to be at Mom & Pop's for a 4pm dinner. As we climbed in I heard two aircraft circling to land on two eight. As they passed overhead The lead plane looked like a spitfire and the second an unmistakable corsair. We sat long enough for both of them to taxi by us. It was worth the wait. Mary also managed to get a shot of the P-47 in the hangar as we taxied by.

ASOS info noted we taxied out for two eight and our northwest heading home. Run up completed I announced and rolled out for our departure. 679er climbed out and we held the runway heading climbing through the traffic pattern altitude. I had the DuPont VOR already ID'ed and ready to go so I adjusted the heading bug to 320* and sailed on. The ladies were chatting up a storm so I switched to Isolate in order to hear traffic and the tower when I switched to 126.0. I always program the GPS so I have good numbers for reporting my position. I occasionally double check with our DME equipment and they are both dead on. I noticed while tracking the DuPont VOR I was straying off track on the GPS. I quickly re-entered direct to KILG and in doing so noticed I had punched in KIL something while on the ground. Lesson learned, check all guidance equipment after run up.

It was a nice flight home, smooth as could be. I called the ILG tower and he gave me a right downwind for 19 and I confirmed and stated my position again. He asked southeast? I confirmed and he gave me left down wind for one niner. I thanked him and said he had me scratching my head on that one. I made a nice short field landing with a first turn off on taxiway Kilo.

Jaime was a great passenger, she seemed excited and really had a good time. I hope she and her husband can both join us for a beach run or Inner Harbor day trip in the Spring.

I've added a few more shots of the Spitfire and the Corsair that were taken by Joe Clemente. Joe always manages to get the good shot and his collection of aircraft photo's is extensive.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Lunch Run KTHV

Today looked to be a perfect day, no wind, NO RAIN and some big shinny thing giving off a warm glow in the sky. Ok, it was a tad bit nip but I still refused a jacket, instead a favorite sweatshirt, Brandywine Airport ball cap and beat around the house jeans. Ah, true comfort.

Mary is working 8 to 5 so she had to take a pass for today, We were planning on a nice lunch run tomorrow just to get some flight time but the wx may not cooperate. I happened to email Jeff who flies a sweet 66 Piper 180 out of 33N (Delaware Air Park) and mentioned I was thinking about flying. I attached my cell number just in case. I don't think the email was more then 1 minute old and my phone rang. Jeff was already planing to fly so we agreed on a location and time. I went through my "I want to fly" list and contacted a co-worker that happens to work Operations at KMIV. Joe had to pass due to a prior commitment but was excited that I called and said he would love to go another time. I hung up and dialed up my long time friend, more like my second brother, John. His wife was going horseback riding and given the option of standing around in a cold barn or flying he said what time shall I show up. We planned to meet Jeff at KILG, Red Eagle aviation.

METAR KILG 051551Z 21004KT 10SM CLR 03/M06 A3039
METAR KTHV 051553Z AUTO 28004KT 10SM CLR 03/M08 A3036

I had just called clear prop and fired up 679er so her oil had time to warm up. I dialed in the tower to listen for Jeff's arrival and there he was,no not landing, walking up to my vent window. Gezzz, he must have been in stealth mode. We both were cleared to taxi to runway 27 at mike. I was first off and Jeff had to hold for traffic. I guess we were spaced maybe 5 minutes apart. Jeff picked up traffic advisories with Philadelphia and I decided to pick up with Harrisburg approach when I was a few miles east of the Susquehanna River.

York was really busy today. I have to say that was the most traffic I have ever had to deal with at one location. Jeff was a mile or so behind me and we had a Cessna below us at 2000' while we cruised along at 3200' to overfly the field and set up for the 45* for left down wind runway three five. The Cessna decided to enter on the crosswind for three five, to much traffic for me to go that route, I didn't want to get center punched. Once crossing the field I made a descending right hand turn to pattern altitude (1500') and called my 2 mile 45* for runway three five, York. I spotted an aircraft on very short final,thinking it was the Cessna, but it was a low wing. The lady flying the trailing low Cessna then called out her turn to final and I extended my base. Once she passed abeam our position I added a second notch of flaps and turned base. I watched the Cessna land and turn to the taxiway. I added the last notch of flaps and set 679er down a bit long knowing Jeff was soon to follow and I din't want to have to taxi long and slow.

We all climbed out and to my surprise Jeff had a co-pilot on board, his daughter Hannah. Well if this child didn't just melt your heart, what a lil' cutie and just so polite. Hannah seemed to enjoy the flight and with that hot looking red headset she was good to go. So nice to see children that are so well behaved.

We decided to hold off checking out each others aircraft until or tummy's were full. The food was good and service too, especially for how busy they were at Orville's. We chatted flying and both agreed on the need for the Instrument Rating. It seems we both have the same goals for 08, more flight hours and our IR.

My cheeseburger and fries were good and the cup of hot tea hit the spot. We made our way to the ramp and checked out each others planes. We watched an older Piper Aztec taxi in and shutdown and we both commented on the price to gas that baby up.

METAR KTHV 051653Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM CLR 05/M08 A3032
METAR KILG 051851Z 15003KT 10SM CLR 04/M05 A3032

We saddled up for home and completed the checklists. A call of clear prop and 679er is ready to roll. I followed Jeff out to the run up area as we were waiting on traffic so we could take off. Jeff decided to make a direct route to 33N passing through the speed ring of the ADIZ and we went direct to KILG at 4500'. Harrisburg approach was really busy. I called for traffic advisories and by the time he ID'ed me he said I was leaving his area and passed on the info to contact Potomac. I ran the remaining distance (30 miles) to Wilmington, monitoring Harrisburg Approach then switching to the tower at ILG at 20 miles out. With the current ATIS noted and now 12 miles or so west of ILG, I contacted the tower for landing instructions. I was alerted to two aircraft, one a tomahawk, passed out in front of our nose right to left and the other was a Civil Air Patrol traffic watch flight. Cleared to land runway nine I acknowledge and complete my landing checklist. A nice landing if I do say so myself followed by a short taxi to tie down rounded out the day.

The video is blurry at times due to a dirty wind screen or an auto-focus problem. I'll have to re-fill our spray bottle and clean off the water spots or read the book that came with the video camera.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

I guess we all must look back on 2007 as we say goodbye to the year gone by. If the annual reflection is called for I can say it was a good year. The last six months of 06 I accumulated 30 hours of flight time post check ride in July. I set a goal in 07 to double that number for my first full year but I fell short by eight hours, totaling 52 for the year. December rains and IFR conditions did not help, but it does motivate me to finish my IR.

2007 did provide some fun flights. Three trips to our favorite spot Williamsburg, Virginia to visit our friend Susan, catch some shows at the Ferguson Center and hit Busch Gardens. Our longest trip of the year to Myrtle Beach, SC for vacation, adding new airports Newport News (KPHF) and Grand Strand (KCRE). Of course we made multiple northward treks to Wilkes-Barre, PA (KWBW) to visit family and take care of my parents grave.

We attended the Wings BBQ at KLOM by aircraft this year also attending the Lancaster and Reading North East Flyers get together's (so much more fun then driving). I picked up a nice plaque from the Wings BBQ fly In as the newest pilot (hanging in my office).

Most important on the look back into 07 is the lessons I have learned while flying to our various destinations. I really enjoy the pre-flight prep work and that has helped when going into new airports. I have worked on setting my minimums, being consistent with my go/no go decisions and learning to interpret weather and feel confident with what I read, see and hear.

Top learning experience: Our first leg on the Myrtle Beach Flight (KILG-KPHF) provided a few tense moments as Norfolk Approach had a stuck mic and cloud cover prevented my descent to pattern altitude if I continued on course. I took care of number one and that is to fly the airplane. I was stuck at 3000' over the Bay at my last approved altitude. I held there at altitude taking advantage of circling about a point ( the poor guy in the sailboat must have thought I was nuts)then flipped to the PHF Tower which was already dialed in. I advised tower of the stuck mic on approach and advised of my position and altitude. Tower gave me a new frequency to dial in and cut me loose. The new approach frequency was loud and clear as they cleared me to descend directing me to now contact PHF tower. A call to the tower had me enter left downwind runway 7 and I was home free.

Looking ahead to 2008 I have set a few goals. The first is to knock out a "real" cross country, ok more then 3 hours away. Mary and I made plans to attend the POA Forum, Gaston's Fly In. This will be 7.5 hours flight time and around 830 miles. There is also talk about Sun-n-Fun as I've previously posted. The thought of MGM and Universal(two places we didn't get to last trip) may swing Mary to make the trip, I have some time to work on her. My second goal is to break 60 hours and secretly I would like to post 75, we shall see. Third on my list and most important is to complete my Instrument Rating. The IR will really open up more flight time and provide a comfort factor while traveling.

I wish all our readers a safe and Happy New year. For those of you who do fly, I hope your 2008 adventures provide fun times, great memories and new friendships within the aviation community!