Mary and I made plans during the week to head to Wilkes-Barre, PA to take care of my parents grave. I gave my sister Denise a call and asked her if she wanted to join us, thinking Dave (brother-in-law) was riding the motorcycle on Saturday. The scheduling worked out since Denise and Dave were off at the beach all week and Dave did plan on attending a run Saturday.
Friday night and Mary gets a call from her Mom that she would like her help with a few things around the condo, Mary drops out from the flight. Denise is still on so we make plans to head to the airport around 9:30. Winds were 30-35 knots out of the north west so it was obviously going to extend my flight time north, I called for extra fuel. We arrived at the plane as the fuel truck was finishing up. The fuel guy filled to the slot in each tank plus five gallons. which gave me a total load of fifty.
I completed my pre-flight and we saddled up for the first leg. I saw speeds of only 100-105 knots heading north but I knew i would ride the wind coming south this afternoon. Not much traffic today with maybe two or three call outs with one Cessna passing by within 500 feet high 3 o'clock to 9 o'clock (east to west) with a call out updated by ATC. Philly handed me off to Allentown approach and they handed me off to the Wilkes-Barre Approach and they in turn to the tower when I reported the field in sight and the current ATIS information.
I did get one strange change to my flight plan while south of Pottstown. Philly ATC gave me direct Solberg SBJ VOR (the change is in red). I extended the view on my iPad and had an idea of the location but not the direct heading. With a quick scan I picked up the VOR identifier SBJ and the frequency. I plugged it in the 530 and was turning north east. As I was explaining to Denise about the odd flight plan change ATC came back on and asked if I was heading from new york. I responded, negative, India Lima Gulf, destination Alpha Victor Pappa, Wilkes-Bare, PA. The sound of brief confusion then a "standby 08Romeo". "08Romeo direct RITTY, that's in your clearance?" Affirmative direct RITTY, 08Romeo. We were back on track, the green track.
The leaves had already changed so we missed the peak time but the colors still looked great. I had the chance with my routing to fly over the Pocono Race track and I did manage a shot or two with my cell phone. That's about it for photos, we both forgot our cameras. Over to the tower and a smooth landing on runway two two. Once on the ground at AVP I taxied to Saker Aviation (formerly First Flight). I took on ten gallons and secured the use of the courtesy van. It was a short hop over to thye flower market and the cemetery. The mums were planted, the leaves cleaned up and few silent prayers said along with my favorite Mom and dad comments. Heck, for that matter I spewed out a few comments from all the family buried in the adjacent plots. I really think the family planned this so they could have one hell of a party all in the same row. I miss them all and they are in my thoughts, I can hear each one and they bring a smile to my face and warm my heart.
I decided to take advantage of the tail winds and gorgeous day and just fly VFR home. I launched off of Wilkes-Barre with a squawk code dialed in for flight following and climbed over the wind turbines on my path south. We had a few traffic call outs but it was pretty much smooth sailing home at 6,500 holding 125 to 130 knots. Once I descended to 3,500 entering the Philly Bravo airspace the ride got bumpy. Denise did pretty good and I asked her if she gets motion sickness. As if I should expect any less of an answer from my family she said "I guess we'll see." Well let's hope you don't since I have to land and if you yak I'll follow suit....everyone was fine. A fun day and a chance to pay respects to my parents. I'll make this trip again in May 2011 to clean up and plant flowers for memorial day.