Our adventure starts on Thursday October 1st as we prepare to drop of Maggie and Rudder for boarding. We have our airline ticket/boarding passes ready and our bags are packed. I crammed in my mini laptop for flight planning, my electronic goodies to include the Zaon XRX PCAS and the Garmin 496. My brother provided the ride to Philly for this trip, it saved some $$ and we could leave on our schedule not the shuttle van.
We climbed in so I could knock out a few landings and get familiar with the plane. My first take off was fine but my climb out was a bit steep. I heard some stall horn sounding so I lowered the nose and cruise climbed at the book speed of 80 knots. Much better as 08Romeo did her thing. I came around for landing number one keeping the same thought process as the Archer 90-80-70 for speed on downwind base and final. I pulled the throttle to 1500 at midfield keeping the pattern tight and on final was still a bit high. I went full throttle and climbed out deciding to go missed. Hmmm…..not the best start but I got that out of the way. Went out towards a practice area since I now had a new problem to deal with, a headset cord was tangled in the flap handle. It was now Emery’s airplane as I worked to resolve the problem. I asked for slow flight so I could put in a notch of flaps, this solved the tangled mess and we were back in action. Remember, the key is to “fly the plane”. We split the duties and moved on, good outcome.
Saturday DAY 3
Our wake up call was for 7am leaving plenty of time to get showered and downstairs to the lobby in order to meet Bo and Sandra at 8am. At ten of eight the phone rang, our breakfast partners were here and ready to go. Great timing, as we were just heading out the door and making the final sweep through the room. It was a gorgeous day in Texas and I knew it would be a great day to fly. We loaded up our bags and headed to Mimis Café for some morning eats. The food was perfect, I had a cheese omelet Mary had eggs with a pumpkin pancake, Sandra had an omelet and Bo ordered French toast. We left Mimis Café needing to recheck the weight and balance. I started up 08Romeo and taxied to the fuel pumps, the ladies took the SUV down and Bo road right seat. It didn’t take long for Bo to ask why I taxi left of center. I was caught; it’s just something I always do since I started. I know better and should always align the taxi line right between my legs, thanks for pointing that out Bo.
Thanks Sandra & Bo for the great video!!
After I explained to Mary what I did she just looked at me, obviously we were both tired and not thinking straight. We loaded back up and departed for our final stop of the day WV62, Windwood Resort in Davies, West Virginia. The ride had been smooth until maybe twenty minutes prior to our fuel stop at HZD. There was an airmet for moderate turbulence but it was noted as higher altitudes. We continued on as I constantly looked at our ground speed and recalculated our arrival time in my head. It looked like we would be at WV62 right after the 7:05 pm sunset. I crossed Cooper Knob and into the Cannan Valley less than a few miles from our destination. I made a pass a bit lower then my 5,500 en route altitude and did not see the field. I was still on with ATC and asked that they stay with me so I could make another pass. If I didn’t have a visual I would cross the next mountain Balckbird Knob and pass over Jordon Run into W99, Petersburg, Grant County Airport. I just wanted extra eyes with me and ATC agreed. ATC asked if I would like vectors to WV62 and I agreed. We were turned to a 050 heading then left again to 035 degrees. There she is, almost entering the downwind for runway two four. It sure looked small from my view. I cleared with ATC and thanked him for his extra effort then switched to the CTAF at Windwood. I heard the POA pilots that were waiting for us. I had called in on the CTAF from 40 plus miles out just to say we’re inbound and I think I gave a guess on my time. Obviously they heard me and were at the ready for my landing attempt. I pulled the power to 1500 rpm and added a second notch of flaps. I had the pine trees on my mind as I turned final looking for a place to chop and drop. I cleared the trees and heard land at the gray house, the gray house, then another voice, chop it chop it. I was clear of the tress adding the last notch of flaps and pulling the power all together. We were riding it in, steady, wow it’s dark down here, nose up, rudder, nose up, hold it off, hold it off…stall horn screaming kerplunk on the mains and almost instantly followed by the nose gear making contact, we were in. Short lived joy as I crossed the gravel patch and it sounded like the wheels came off with a bang. I rolled out to the end turn around and back taxied for the ramp. Doc. Bruce stood on a runway light that was not illuminated to protect me from striking it and I followed the many folks marshalling us in. Man it’s great to have friends looking out for you!
I hung out and chatted with Rob for a bit then went back to the room. I crawled back in bed and figured I would get up and shower to make this sore body feel better. I was up and out early, working on my flight plan. By the time breakfast rolled around (plan was for 9am eats) Mary had wandered out to join us. I had a cheese omelet and I really could not tell you what anyone else had around me, I was hungry and a bit out in space. Prior to breakfast I called to let my family know we would be heading home in an hour or so and should be in, in less than two hours. My phone call also alerted me of some tragic news. One of the kids I coached for three years was killed in a tragic auto accident along with his father who helped out every practice and took over my coaches spot this season when I went in for hip surgery and his Mom, this year’s team Mom. One survivor, the 16 yr old daughter is recovering in the hospital. I was devastated, there are no words, there is nothing that I can even think about to make sense of it all. I could not shake the thought of not seeing this happy go lucky 12 year old and his father out on the field again, not hearing his voice or listening to his corny jokes and class clown infectious laughter and antics. I still had to fly home but my mind was two hours east on the baseball field reliving all the things he did to make me laugh and love the game we shared.
At this point I needed to take a deep breath and move forward. I had to get us home despite the sickness I felt inside my gut. I added this to my blog because it is so important, for many reasons. One being the importance of life and being happy, leaving it all on the field and letting the people around know how much they really mean to you. Second, the need to be professional in my duties as a pilot to fly Mary and I home safely. I dropped the ball on number two, I should have asked for help from the many friends and pilots that were staying at the resort. I didn’t, I decided to conduct my preflight and continue. I finished up and climbed aboard to get 08Romeo started so she could warm up the oil. I watched Rob and Lee preflight, Gary and Adam too. I was ready to roll for my run up when I heard someone on the radio tell me my left wing was still tied down. He untied 08R, I thanked him and rolled from the ramp.
The remainder of the flight was uneventful and I ended the adventure with a very nice landing at Wilmington. We taxied to our new tie down location and secured 08Romeo. It took a while to unload all the boxes of books and manuals but we got her cleaned out and tucked in for the night. Our new bird served us well and we owe her a good cleaning and wax, as soon as we get some rest.