Saturday, December 06, 2008

Nantucket, TFR, Finally Home

What a great evening with Adam and Marisol last night. I've said it before and I'll say it again the cost of learning to fly has been worth every penny spent when we can spend time with friends. As the TV commercial puts it.....and I'll relate to aviation.

Cost for PPL - $$$$ To much to think about
Cost of fuel (100LL)- $4.38 gallon
Spending time with friends - PRICELESS

I'm not sure who fell asleep faster, Mary or yours truly. The rooms were very clean and comfortable. The bed was soft and the room heater worked very well, we were not only toasty but snuggled like two bugs in a rug. I woke up at 3am, sat up, and said holy crap I forgot to put the cowl plugs in the plane, my poor Bride. With that thought stuck in my head I tossed and turned for a bit and once again fell victim to the sandman. I was up by 6am looking over the wx and reviewing my flight plan for home. The forecast was calling for snow and scattered showers moving in around 4pm and I wanted no parts of the white stuff or the poor visibility that comes with it. I also had the Presidential TFR over Philadelphia to deal with. The Dell computer I received (early) for my birthday is great for travel and fits in my flight bag, so flight planning is a snap.
The Anchor-In had a very nice set up for the continental breakfast. Mary and I made our way to the kitchen area around 8:30 I think. We had bagels, I had cereal and Mary had some mixture of yogurt and dried cranberry's, healthy stuff I would guess. I had called Adam around 7:30 and gave him the update and news that we would be leaving Nantucket by 12:30 due to headwinds and wx. Adam and Marisol soon joined us for breakfast as we all sat along the large glass doors that overlooked the pool and harbor. The sun was warm and felt great, the bright blue skies gave hope of a fun day ahead.

We loaded up the grey beast and checked out. Adam got us back to the airport in no time at all. It was a different route that I came in on but never the less it worked and was much quicker. The folks at griffin were really nice to deal with. Adam and I each preheated our planes and had the task of toweling of frost, it wasn't to bad. Where were the ladies you wonder? They both were warm and toasty in the FBO no doubt chit chatting and waiting for their rides to be made ready. 679er took on 14.5 gallons so I had to sump the tanks as part of my preflight. The preheat charge was $20 and it was worth it. It was time to saddle up and head for Nantucket so we started up and called for our taxi clearance. We were cleared to taxi to the run up area and then call ground when ready. There was an Island Air Cessna 421 doing a run up to my far left and Adam's Beech Skipper to my immediate left. We all completed our run ups and I followed the Island Air Cessna out taxiway 'A' to runway 33. The island Aircraft turned off for the terminal so I was now number one to go. I was cleared to take off and climbed out with a left turn on course approved, Adam followed suit. We had decided to follow the south coast of Cape Cod, cross over to Martha's Vineyard then turn to Nantucket. It was the long way but provide some great views and gave us the added protection of more land vs water.

I flipped over to Cape Approach and heard Adam call for flight following. I called multiple times and got no response, oh well I'm on my own in this busy airspace. Mary and I both were eyes outside and heads on a swivel for traffic. I knew Adam was a short distance behind me so I would listen for any traffic call outs he got and search from there. We crossed MVY and turned to Nantucket so I again tried for flight following, no go. I was wondering if Nantucket tower would take me with out being sequenced in by approach, I would soon find out.
Nantucket tower Archer 28679er 11miles west inbound full stop with (current ATIS). No problems, radio IS working and I am directed to enter left down wind runway 33. As I get closer I hear Adam directed to enter a right base for runway 24 and I get changed to a right base for 15. I receive clearance to land and set 679er down slow and smooth. My directions are to make a 180 and hold short runway 6-24 for traffic landing, I acknowledge. I watch a jet land then I am cleared to cross in front of Adam now on final. I scoot across the runway and now the fun begins.

The taxi diagram I have shows me all I need to know but ground directs each aircraft where to turn. You get something like....Archer 679er proceed taxiway ?? left turn ??? right on ??? to park in the grass. No problem right? One problem, that's the wrong way! Ground had me do a few 180's since he didn't know his right from his left. Meanwhile, Adam landed and taxied off now holding short for some guy doing donuts on the taxiways...(me). Adam gets instructions to follow the Archer to parking but then gets an opposite turn like I did. It was crazy, someone needed to show that ground controller how to hold both hands up, extend the thumbs and see which hand makes the correct 'L', I was getting dizzy. We finally got parked and took the shuttle ride back to the terminal, he didn't get lost or turned around, there's hope.

I had the tanks topped off since we were going to be into the headwind all the way home. I took only six gallons, two of that burned on the ground following directions, ok that's my last ground controller jab. The taxi's were lined up just outside of the building where the pilots had to check in. Things seemed to move very quickly and with order, good job to the gal's behind the counter. The van would take six but the group was a bit larger since we met the Grumman gang folks and a few others. The taxi ride was short to the waterfront and all the Christmas stroll activities. Once we all piled out the smells of the food tent lured us in. Shopping was put on hold so that we could all get our fill of Lobster salad roll. Good stuff, I could have eaten a few of them but thought better of myself not wanting to empty the pots. I think a few folks in the group had soup which smelled fantastic, it was a whole new high for this foodie.
The shops were all decorated and Christmas tress lined the streets as we made our way up the cobblestone streets. Well, most of us did, Marisol had to stick to the brick crosswalks so her boot heels didn't get stuck or twist an ankle. I will say she was pretty good about scooting across on her toes when she did hit the cobblestones, I don't know how you ladies do that. The ladies hit the first shop and Adam and I passed on entry, however, that plan really had no affect on their shopping. It was worth a shot. We crossed the street and soaked up the sun watching the crowds pass by and wondering when the ladies would emerge from the stores. Adam had commented that maybe somehow the stores connect and they'll come out up the street. Obviously us men have been subject to women shopping way to long, we're starting to try and rationalize how they shop and move about. The scary part was they did come out at the other end of the block and the stores were indeed connected. I still think it's a whole new strange shopping cult with interconnecting tunnels and addicting shopper specials that always advertise with the key cult buzz words, sale - reduced - going out of business, I may be wrong but, I'm thinking not.
No sooner then we got started it was 11:45, time to head back to the airport. I wanted to stick to my 12:30 departure time with the forecast dancing in my mind. We said our goodbyes and hopped in a cab. Mary and I both wanted to spend more time with our friends but we had to go. We checked in at the airport and settled up my fuel bill. Last potty stops for the three hour flight completed we jump on the shuttle for the quick trip to the grass tie down area. The main ramp was packed with every jet you can think of, there wasn't much space left for the folks arriving late. I called for an updated wx briefing and filed my VFR flight plan for the Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) entry into Wilmington (ILG).

Preflight and briefing complete we saddle up and get the party started. Ground gives us taxi clearance to runway 24 and we're off. Run up completed we are directed to hold for aircraft landing. We patiently sit and watch a hawker jet followed by a king air. I am directed to position and hold (I hate sitting on the runway) and do so, waiting for the king air to clear. Archer 28679er cleared for take off runway two four. I acknowledge and push the throttle forward. We are climbing out enjoying the view with a planned altitude of 4,500 to buck the least headwind.

Across the Block Island sound and pointed towards Groton, CT we shadow the coast. I was dodging cloud layers from 3,500 to 4,500 and didn't bother to think over the top at all since it looked worse. The time clicked by meeting our checkpoints real close to our planned times and trudging along west. Cape approach handed me off to Providence approach then on to New York approach multiple times. I decided on taking the north route around the NY Bravo airspace and even though it was a longer route it was shorter time at my altitude. The headwinds were much stronger at higher altitudes.

Finally we cross the Hudson river and I start my turn to the south west and eventually south towards Allentown (KABE). Our flight path crossed the active flight path into Newark's Airport (KEWR). I watched heavy after heavy cross overhead and dodged a few corporate and regionals too. It was a serious head on a swivel trip. I was finally handed off to Allentown approach and given the super duper secret squawk code to enter the TFR around Philly. Life was good or so I thought when less then ten minutes along ATC calls, Archer 28679 I have some bad news for you. Great, I'm thinking we are not getting home. Sure enough Philly told Allentown no more VFR traffic into the TFR. Approach inquired as to what my new plan was. I advised our new destination would be Chester County (KMQS) and I'll worry about transportation later. Approach said he would work on Philly, I thanked him. He was the man of the hour, as he let us know we were good to go the TFR had ended, turn on course direct ILG contact Philly on 124. something. Yeah !! I thanked him for all his help and wished him a good day. I called Philly and advised three thousand level. I was cleared into the bravo and to proceed direct to ILG, advise airport in sight. I advised about eight miles out that I had Wilmington and he turned me over to the tower. It was so good to hear the controllers I knew and see runway one nine dead ahead over the nose. I reported a four mile final as instructed and greased my landing, it's good to be home.

We taxied to our tie down and I dialed up Aeroways for fuel once we left taxiway Kilo. We didn't have to cover 679er this evening (getting cleaned and repaired) so it won't take long to secure. As I pushed back and Mary locked the tail tie down cable it started to snow. What timing, light flurries as we are finishing up. Mary left in her car but brought my SUV in for me first. I wanted to check on the fuel load and my calculations, 679er took on 27 gallons. Not to bad fighting that headwind and only burned 9 gallons an hour.

A great trip, fun time with friends and a safe return. We look forward to vacationing on cape Cod next spring or summer.


Rob said...

at 6:40,... you have no other transportation? You have my number right :-)

Anytime, give a shout on my cell.

Good find on the ATC recording. Very nice of that controller to keep trying. Let's hope this weather pushes through for this weekend, otherwise, we're ready to go.

Gary said...


Thanks! A very nice offer and Mary and I appreciate that.

The 'no transportation' just came out of my mouth but I followed it with, we'll work it out. LOL...

My plan B was to go park it at MQS if I had to, it would have just been a PITA. Thankfully it all worked out just fine.

wx is looking great for saturday, sunny and 45*

Steve said...

Excellent write-up as always, Gary!

You guys take so many cool short trips. I can't wait to be able to do that myself. I suppose that means it's time to buy a plane...

Gary said...

Or find a club! That's what we did, it's been great.

Steve said...

Except what I've found around here seems to cost more than the rentals - I'm lucky how dirt-cheap they are.

Here's the local club...