Yeah man!!!!!! MikeB shot me an email this morning at 8:17 asking if I was up and if so, if I wanted to fly, in his words, for as long as I could stand him AND my hip. After I got done laughing, I tried to reply so fast I couldn't type straight and before I could hit send he rang me up on my cell. I'll tell you, I was mighty quick with that crutch getting out of the office and out to the family room to answer the phone, truly a sight to see. Thankfully there were no pets running interference.
The plan was made, we would meet at 9:45 and head north to KIPT, Williamsport, PA. I got on facebook and left Ted a message asking if he wanted to catch up, then went on POA forum to leave him a PM just in case he missed the other. I watched the clock as I hopped up the stairs to shower, get dressed and most important check my flight bag. I was all set, now just watching the clock. I really didn't feel like making a stop for water so I chugged down three glasses of ice tea figuring that will hold me until Williamsport.
Mike was already starting his pre-flight when I walked out of the FBO and on to the ramp. We chatted for a bit then I tried to climb aboard. It was like getting into the SUV, I backed in, got on my toes and wiggled into the seat followed by some bizarre type of layout (tried not to exceed the hip angle) and got both feet in and tucked into place. Not to bad, no pain and in pretty good time. Mike finished the pre-flight and also climbed aboard. We discussed mounting the Garmin 496 and agreed on a center windscreen location just above midpoint to allow for spotting traffic but angled enough to read easily. We went over transfer of controls and decided that I would work the radios and Mike would fly. I had already noted the ATIS with my hand held radio and together we worked through the checklists. A little CRM working here as I called out the items one by one and Mike completed the checks. We were cleared to taxi to runway three two via taxiway Golf and Fox2. With the run up completed I called up the tower and we were cleared to take off three two and now rolling.
I could not believe how much I missed just the take off roll, airspeed was alive and we were soon climbing out. Right turn on course approved and we were on our way. Philly approach was dialed in and I made the call for flight following. It started out great.....Philly Approach Cessna 3525Uniform, they responded, I then gave the who what where, Cessna 3525Uniform, off of Wilmington 2,100 climbing 6,500, VFR Williamsport, India, Pappa, Tango, request advisories. No problem, they give us a squawk code and altimeter setting, they both get dialed in and I end my response with 679er. Yep, WRONG PLANE GARY. No fear, I did it two more times, old habits die hard and 679er is just an extension of me, I couldn't help it. This is where Mike should have slapped me up side the head, he didn't.
We cruised on along and eventually Philly kicked us to the curb and we were on our own. I flew for a bit testing the right leg for rudder pressure, it felt great, and making sure I could shake off the rust. I felt on top of the world, almost as good as when the doctor told me I could go full weight bearing. As we neared Williamsport Mike put in a call to NY Center as noted on the approach plate and we were vectored for the ILS 27. Mike put the foggles on and off we went. I worked the radio acknowledging each turn as directed and searched for any traffic. As safety pilot I am the eyes outside while the pilot is wearing the view limiting device. Mike took us down the glide slope and into IPT with a nice landing, fun stuff. I heard Ted make a call while we were inbound and I was hoping we could indeed catch up for lunch. When we taxied to the terminal Ted was up the far end of the airport but I did see him climbing around his Aztec. I didn't have his cell but I knew AdamB in New Hampshire did so, I called him. He mentioned that Ted did just get in, he tracked him on flight aware coming home from Virginia. Wow, what timing. I called the number he gave me and Ted had just left the airport, he turned the big Ford Excursion around and joined us for lunch.
Mike and Ted hit it off (fellow multi-engine guys hangar flying),we all enjoyed our lunch. The grilled Ruben was really good and the waitress kept the ice tea coming. As we were finishing up two guys walked in, pilots, they were carrying sectionals and flight bags. I looked over as they picked their table and sure enough there stands Capn'Ron from the POA forums. What are the chances? I introduce Ron to Ted and Mike and we sat at least another half hour talking. Ron has been on an unbelievable pace, I think he rattled off 10-12 airports in the last week or two that he has been to either ferrying planes or instructing. We finally drug ourselves back out to the plane and said our goodbyes. A fun time catching up with everyone.
I took a few shots of Bill's plane that he and Ron arrived in, a sweet LanceAir. Mike and I saddled up, I worked on getting my self back in the right seat while he completed a pre-flight since 25U was out of sight. We taxied out to runway two seven and launched for home. When you take off from runway two seven you have to turn right, maintain visual reference until established on 300° heading. Intercept the MIP R-318 and continue climb to 2500 before proceeding on course as noted in the Take Off Minimums and Departure Procedures. This is a good way to save your butt from becoming a monument on that big green hill on the south side of the airport, see the attached pictures or landing video. As soon as we cleared the ridge Mike transferred controls to me, the typical, your plane with my response being my plane, transfer complete. Yep simple but to the point and previously discussed and agreed to. I climbed to 7,500 to ride on top of the scattered layer with plenty of holes to descend through if needed. I took plenty of pictures as well as Mike adding to the collection. I was careful with my grip on the yoke and made sure the feet were working together with the hands. 25Uniform trimmed out real nice and we were tracking along with a tailwind at 136knots.
As we continued south we decided to look for the next hole to drop down through. As we avoided some build ups to the east and west there was a great big gap surrounded by clouds as if entering a stadium just ahead. Mike throttled back and we slowly lowered into the "stadium" at 500 feet/minute. Nice and easy like riding the glide path to the runway, super smooth. Once reaching 3,000 we took a look around us and it was indeed like sitting in the center of abig bowl of clouds, very cool to see this.
We ducked under the outter ring of the Philly Bravo airspace, avoided the Vice Presidential TFR north of Wilmington and was looking down runway one four at ILG. We transferred controls and Mike made the call to the tower reporting our location and intentions. They responded giving us a left downwind entry to runway three two. Hmmmmm...with the winds reported that would be a nine knot tailwind, why do that? Mike asked for runway one niner and was instructed to report a three mile right base, he acknowledged. We taxied to Atlantic and shut down. We both sat like, as Mike said, two little boys sitting out in Dad's car. It was a plane and we still are two little boys at heart when it comes to flying. Good friends, good food, GREAT flying....Geeezzz I love my life.
Special thanks to MikeB for asking me along, I really really needed that flight time. I now feel very confident about going up in the Archer tomorrow night with the CFI, I can still do this flying stuff!