Sunday, March 20, 2011

Susquehanna River Tour

 Finally!  The Susquehanna River Tour is completed!  The thought for this trip started way back in October of 2007 and it never came to be. I did revisit the possibility of flying this tour in September 2008 only to once again put it on the shelf. I guess the stars aligned, the wx looked great and Mike and Vince were available to join me. 
black/green-proposed  -  black/red actual

right cross wind departure rwy 9
First some background on the plan. My inspiration for the flight is two fold; reading about the Citabria gang , aka the Trunk Monkeys, and their fun days of slow and low over the tri-state area forging lasting friendships made it sound like to much fun to pass up. The second reason I wanted to do this flight was the fact that this would be a trip back home of sorts. My family is from Wilkes-Barre-Scranton area. Now you have to understand I have made this trip more times than I care to remember by land and Mary and I have made the direct flight by air more than a few times. I never once got the chance to follow the Mighty Susquehanna River, I would do that today!
I'm still pretty sore after washing and waxing the plane yesterday but it's to nice not to fly. Vince and I met at the plane and Mike arrived shortly after we had climbed aboard. It was a quick review of the plans and Mike entered the info on his iPad and the 530, I had the 496 set. I forgot to note the Harrisburg VOR frequency but looked it up on the VFR chart on the iPad, quick and easy.

going missed at Donegal Springs

We taxied out for runway niner and departed for the right down wind departure as directed. The first stop is Donegal Springs - N71. Runway length is 3250' which is plentry of room for the sundowner to get in and out. As we approached I cancelled flight following with harrisburg and listened to a busy frequency, trying to squeeze in my location and intentions for Donegal while listening to multiple airports all on that same unicom.  I crossed the field and circled around right to enter on a 45* for the left down wind runway one zero. As I entered the down wind I heard the jump plane make a call, Vince and or Mike had already pointed out the traffic above, no factor. We swapped info and I decided to really cut my base leg close in order to get in prior to dropping the meat missiles. Mike had warned not to rush myself, he was right. I had a bit to much speed and did not get wheels down just prior to the half way marker I selected on down wind, why force something that could cause an over run, on a runway that slopes at a heck of a rate, downhill. I powered up and went around, taking out one notch of flaps and climbing away from the airport.  I let the jump plane know I was going to return when his jumpers were all on the ground. I circled north north east of the field around two thousand feet until I got the all clear then returned.
jump plane pics
The second landing attempt was much better followed by a back taxi on the narrow runway. There wasn't much room to turn around so I taxied to the ramp and repositioned for the taxi out.  The jump plane had lost another crazy person jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, we watched this one float down to a perfect landing. This is where I roll my eyes, again, and make the statement, noway - nohow, I ain't jumping out of a good airplane.

Hills of PA near R5802

The jump plane lands and makes his way directly towards us.  We swap info, let him turn around on his small pad to pick up jumpers while I then taxi past. A short back taxi and a call to local traffic, 08Romeo is in the air and heading for Penn Valley, KSEG. My plan was to fly direct to the Harrisburg VOR but I guess I didn't communicate that very well to Mike in the right seat. We ended up on the north east side of Harrisburg pinched between the R-5802 restricted space and Harrisburg class delta (see the map chart above).  We managed with out any problems and once clear the restricted space we once again picked up following the river to our next location.


hold it off.....

our wheels at KSEG
Some of the buttonology the Garmin 530 provides, allowed a course to the runway. With Penn Valley -KSEG selected as the next point (our destination)and a OBS button selection coupled with a turn of the CDI to a 350* heading, the runway center line was now extended.  The 530 OBS selection with the CDI is now working like a GPS approach, intercept the course and track in.  This is a neat feature if you're having trouble finding the airport among all the surrounding terrain, not to be substituted ever for an approach in instrument conditions.
departure rwy 35, through the valley

MUIR AAF Fort Indiantown Gap
I made a good landing and use up some brakes to make the first turn off, Mike rides me a bit since I usually let 08Romeo roll out to save the brakes.  I told him I wanted to polish up the rotors! We taxi to the ramp and the FBO asks us if we needed any services. I asked the fuel price and agreed to take on some 100LL and inquired about food. The man gave us his truck to run into town since the courtesy van was already out, it doesn't get any better than that.  We noted the directions to town, a short hop, and then loaded up for lunch.
Applebees was close to the airport so that's where we decided to go.  The place was packed but food and service was very good. Mike insisted on buying lunch since he got to go for a ride, thanks Mike!  We loaded for the quick trip back and once at the airport I drove on to the ramp, this got a few looks.  Hmmm...maybe I should turn around and park out in the lot, yeah, good idea. I returned the keys, paid for the fuel and thanked the man for the use of his vehicle. I did mention that I saw the Marines emblem on his back window and asked if he served, he proudly said his son did, multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. I asked him to pass along a thank you to his son for providing the very freedom I am enjoying today, he agreed.
I did an abbreviated pre-flight checking the tanks and sumping fuel, we were ready to go. A slight change in plans, we decided to head back to Wilmington and I would shoot an approach so I could meet the instrument requirements for being current, I needed just one more approach. It was a nice flight home at five thousand five hundred, taking in all the pretty sights.  Vince and Mike were picking out airports and I was hands off flying in the smooth air just enjoying the ride and the peaceful view.

more crazy jumpers
As we passed Chester County-KMQS off to our left I contacted Philly approach and requested the RNAV GPS 19 approach into KILG.  The winds were favoring one niner so that would work out great. I started a descent as directed to cross JIGUP at or above two thousand coming from the Modena (MXE) VOR.  As we got lower it got bumpy, it made for a good work out under the foggles. I kept the course centered well and with the bumps fought with the power to maintain altitude. At JIGUP I made a right turn to a heading of 195* for final and descended to 1,900 as the approach calls for. I passed CUBBE and started down for 880 feet at HIKPO then down to the minimum descent altitude of 480, call it 500 feet. Foggles up and I was slightly left of center but was in great shape to land.

2.9 overall and .3 simulated instrument under the foggles.  I knocked out all but two of the airports I wanted to stop at even though I have been to WBW, Wilkes-Barre many times.  I hope to knock Bloomsburg-N13 out the next time I am coming home from AVP or WBW.

Thanks to Mike and Vince for sharing my river tour! Thanks for the pictures Vince!


Steve said...

Very nice photos, it's awesome you finally got to check this trip off your bucket list.

I'm quite jealous of the guy with the Cub...

Victoria said...

Love this idea. Now the Susquehanna river tour is on my flying "to do" list :) Thanks for sharing!

Rustedgranny said...

I'm making note of your flight and thinking when I get out that way I'll take a look at the Susquehanna. Like the way you describe flights.