Saturday, December 27, 2008

2008 in Review

It’s that time of year where once again I choose to look back and reflect on the year gone by. It’s been busy at times with our crazy schedules and making it through to Fridays is more and more of an accomplishment then it really should be. Maybe it’s the fact we’re getting older I’m not sure but where does the time go?

Mary and I have lost some dear friends this year and that always makes one think of their own mortality and what have we given back to those around us, what legacy have we left. So many things to ponder as the year end draws near.

Our year of flight has been busy, more so with my Instrument rating then fun trips but we did manage to make a few. In 2007 I racked up fifty two hours and fell short of my goal of sixty by just eight hours. For 2008 I wanted to break sixty and secretly would like to have knocked out seventy five.

We started off the New Year with a new airport (KLHZ) destination and flight to visit family in Louisburg, North Carolina. It was a great trip, quality time spent with family and some great cooking by my Zia Erma; wow do I miss her cooking!

Another airport was added to the list as the North East Flyers invaded Orange County (KMGJ) New York. Good friends and a gorgeous flight.

Mary and I joined this generation and purchased iPod nanos. Mary now has entertainment while we fly and I can listen to podcasts related to aviation when I want to kick back and relax.

This month we added yet another new airport, W29 Bay Bridge. Along with the fun flying there was also the bittersweet sale of my 81 corvette in order to finance my Instrument rating; I started my IR the very next week.

Sun-N-Fun! Yep, we made it to sun-n-fun although it was not in the Archer but a US Airways flight. It was a fun vacation and great to be back in Disney. One of my favorite nights of the year was sitting in Narcosees' restaurant with Mary watching the fireworks display as we did on our honeymoon while enjoying lobster and fillet.

The North East Flyers “No Guts No Glory” tour of Millville Airport aircraft collection of Mr. Tom Duffy, truly a highlight of the year spending time on a private tour with chief pilot Terry Rush and the one on one time with Mr. Duffy himself.

Yes, IFR lessons continued and I was making progress. This month was busy with flying, besides the lessons we had a purpose to our missions. My Goddaughter Nichole was married in Ocean City, MD the Saturday before Memorial Day so Mary and I flew to the event, so much nicer than driving.

On Monday, memorial day Mary was feeling under the weather so I teamed up with Jeff from Delaware Air park for a fun day of flying to the Aviation Mecca, First Flight! What a blast!

This month was mostly Instrument lessons and hours spent reading in prep for my written test. Mary and I did manage to get a fun flight in and catch up with our friends. The North East Flyers were headed to Block Island for a fun day of good eats and time spent with friends.

More Instrument lessons and study time. We did manage to squeeze in a road trip to Lewes Delaware for beach and relaxation. We also added another new airport W05 Gettysburg, PA. It was a North East Flyers Gettysburg tour. Mary and I also got to spend some time with my Goddaughter and her husband, yes, the newlyweds.

August was more training and I knocked out my Instrument cross country, a fun flight and I learned some good stuff.

Mary and I also managed to get some flying in as we headed to Ocean City Maryland for the weekend. It was fun to spend time with our friends Pam & Ted and even looked into buying a condo right next door. This month also had us making a special run to Georgetown KGED for a crew car and crab run to Lazy Susans with my brother and his wife. Lazy Susans, really good eats and just a short hop from the airport.

Many events to attend to this month. The Gettysburg meet up with Purple Board for Pilots creator Kim and local PB’ers was fun and great to put faces to the forum members. I attended the Wheels and War birds show at (KMIV) Millville, NJ. Always a great time and thanks to our op’s (Joe C) I got a front row seat out on the flight line in the op’s vehicle, very cool.

I also added another new airport N31 Kutztown to the list. This was a diner stop to meet up with Bob and Rob from Wings. This airport is on its last legs and I think it will officially close in January 09, what a loss for General Aviation.

What a fun month. I had the chance to finally take my sister Denise flying. She really seemed to enjoy it and next time my brother in law Dave will have to join us, he had to work. Mary and I knocked out a few more airports with our vacation to Nags Head, NC. KMQI, Dare County in Manteo was our destination and they provided great service. Nags head was a blast and we will be returning in 2009. On the day of our departure we headed south to (W95) Ocracoke for a lunch stop, worth the trip. This place is also on our four day get away vacation list for 09.

A few highlights this month. I finally got the chance to take Paul (co-worker) up for a flight. Paul's dad was a bombardier based in Italy with the 15th Army Air Division, Paul shared some great stories. What a nice day to fly and relax, I hope we can do it again soon. I was also involved in 679er’s annual over Thanksgiving week, what a learning experience! I can’t wait until next year.

Wow, what a month! Our first trip for the month had us flying over New York Bravo airspace heading for Hyannis, MA. A great flight and landing at KHYA Barnstable Municipal just at sunset. Mary and I met up with Adam and Marisol for a nice dinner out then we all spent the evening at the Anchor-In. In the morning we all made the short hop to KACK, Nantucket to partake of the “Christmas Stroll”. A fun weekend and two new airports added to the list.

It gets even better. For the last flight of the year Mary and I met up with Becky and Rob for the Christmas in St. Michael’s parade and shopping. A nice flight to and from Easton (KESN) made for a fun day.

My most important “Lesson learned” for this year was on one of the first flights of the year. Once cleared for takeoff out of Salisbury (KSBY) 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 its 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.

Lessons learned: Fly the Plane, work your plan, know the situation and your outs,remain night current and get more night flying time, ATC is always there to help and of course...Get the Instrument rating!

Now for the numbers…
Total flight time – 269.3
Flight time for the year – 114
Cross country time – 50.9
New Airports – KACK,KHYA,W95,KMQI,N31,KMGA,KLHZ,W29,W05

Goals for 2009 - Expanding our flights west of Pennsylvania and finish up the North East States(ME,VT,NH).

I wish all our readers a safe and Happy New year. For those of you who do fly, I hope your 2009 adventures provide fun times, great memories and new friendships within the aviation community!


Jeff said...

Great year Gary! I was reading and we met up quite a few times this year. York, Orange County, Millville, Bay Bridge, and of course our trip to First Flight! It was a good year. N9526J went in for a 2.5 month annual and repair so I was grounded for a bit. For me I only had 44 hours in 2008. Check out my log book at

It was great to meet you and Mary in 2008. I look forward to more good times in 2009!

Steve said...

Congrats on the aviation-filled year, Gary!

Seeing as I got the PPL there can't be any complaints from me, but I'm still pretty jealous of all the awesome trips you were able to take this year. Can't wait to start doing some of the same myself.

Anonymous said...

Hey there Gary! I continue to read your posts on getting your IR, very good info. I used to live in Maine and I heard that flying the coastline is amazing! Have a great New Year!