I bagged my Instrument lesson for today, Mary and I decided on heading north to KAVP, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania. A gorgeous day to fly, a new airport and time for us to be together. I have been running on empty the last few weeks with work, flying lessons and scheduled surgery so I decided we should get away. A great choice! We headed to the airport making one stop for some breakfast on the go from McD's. It was so good to see 679er, I could not wait to fly her again. I know, sounds bizarre but who cares, I love this plane.
I needed to top the tanks since I had left them below the tabs on my last return from flight, February 28th. Scott from Aeroways answered the phone and I said long time no talk to, he laughed and asked what was up. I told him I needed some go-go juice, the good stuff, pretty blue 100LL. When he finished laughing AT me he said he would see me at the plane shortly. I had finished my pre-flight when Scott pulled up and would just have to sump the tanks. 679er was thirsty as he topped us off and capped the tanks. We chatted for a bit while Mary was staying warm in the plane, actually she was unpacking all the electronic goodies for our flight. I completed the sump and locked the baggage door then climbed aboard. Mary and I switched seats and I went through my checklists. A few shots of primer and 679er was ready and willing to get moving. Not so fast, she needed to warm up the oil a bit.
I noted the ATIS info and made my call to ground for taxi clearance. Ok, I scribbled down the directions as I acknowledged. Taxi to runway one, via kilo, hold short rwy one for back taxi. We are off, I make my checks and move to taxiway Mike at Kilo for my run up. A quick call to the tower and I am back taxing for departure. I advise ready to go and start to roll. Airspeed alive gauges green and 679er is in the air. I was turned loose on course and I flipped over to Philly Approach. I dialed in my new squawk code and kept on trucking for 5500 and the ETX VOR. Today was like driving our Benz compared to the lesson plane. 679er holds altitude so nice and heading too. She reminds me of the cooking infomercial where you set it and forget it, that's our girl. A steady 80 knot climb to 5500 then level off and enjoy the ride.
Philly handed me off to Allentown then Allentown to Wilkes-Barre. I checked in with Wilkes-Barre, then had a slight brain fart. I was thinking (first mistake) about shooting an approach when approach came back and asked me my intentions. Flags went up, lights flashed....holy smoke did my mic stick and I blabbed my "shooting approaches" over the air? I had thought so, so I said no approaches will report field in sight. What a dope! I'm still getting a chuckle out of that. Anywho, I report the field in sight at 15 miles and get handed off to the tower. I made my call now that my brain trapped gas was gone and advised 14 to the south inbound full stop with (information) Oscar, I was cleared to land runway 4. Over the mountain and through the wind turbines it's down to pattern altitude we go. Yeah it reminds me of the over the river blah blah blah song too. An abbreviated base now turning final runway four is looking good. That big ole' drop off doesn't look to scary from here, standing next to it looking over the edge was a different story a few months ago while visiting the airport to learn about their EMAS system.
Nice soft landing with plenty of stall horn and an easy roll out to my left turn to the taxiway. I stayed on with the tower and followed the signs for the FBO, First Flight. Once on their ramp I flipped over to 122.95 and gave them a call. The lineman came out and directed me to a parking spot. Very nice guy, chocked the wheels and asked if we needed anything. Once 679er was secure we headed inside to check in. First flight has a courtesy van available so we signed that out and I ordered fuel. The van was in good shape and it served us well. We made the trip across the valley to Mom and Dads grave and planted some flowers and cleaned things up. I really needed to connect. Mary stood by me and gave me hug as we both said a prayer. My Pop was my strength, always there to listen and offer advice, I miss that something terrible. I wish I could hear him tell me that it will all be just fine; the hip, the flight lessons and everything else whirling around in this hard head of mine. I know he can't, but I have all the things he taught me to make it through.
We loaded back up and headed for the airport. A quick stop to fuel the courtesy van and a dash into the shop for water and a Pepsi. The folks at the FBO were really nice. The plane was topped off, our bill ready to go and just as friendly as could be. I had to make a pit stop as did my Bride and I know this may sound crazy but that place had some really clean bathrooms, that's always a plus.
We loaded up and I completed my pre-flight. 679er fired right up and as we warmed up I called for the taxi clearance. Ground asked our planned altitude and I offered 6,500. Ground came back with a squawk code and departure frequency for us, very cool! I taxied out and completed my run up then notified the tower. I was cleared to take off runway 4 right turn on course approved. And so we did, take off and turn that is. I was directed to contact departure and within a few minutes we were on our way home with the extra eyes watching out for us. The Garmin 496 interfaced with the Zaon XRX PCAS was great, traffic all around and this baby was right on the money showing me the targets. I would see them on screen the approach would call. Wilkes-Barre handed us off to Allentown and in turn to Philly.
I requested a descent from 6.5 to 4.5 and what a mistake that was, it was bumpy. I was already well past Pottstown and figured I may as well tough it out and call up Wilmington. I canceled flight following with Philly and indeed called Wilmington about 15 north. I was directed to enter left downwind runway one and advise midfield. I scooted around the TFR just to be extra safe then entered the downwind. I was number two and flowed through the landing checks as I got the girl slowed down. 679er ran super strong all day especially with the tail winds coming home. Short final, setting flaps for a fair landing. Some stall horn but a bit firm with a nice roll out for taxiway Kilo.
2.4 in the book and a great flight for my mind. I needed to reinforce my pilot skills after a few rough outings in the school plane under the hood. Mary and I will be meeting Rob and Becky for dinner, we are excited to be heading out with our friends.