Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Hop

Mary and I started the day heading to the airport to get some power flowing to the Reiff heater system.  I got the chance to use the new generator we purchased earlier this year and hooked it up to get the oil temps up prior to my engine start. We completed the engine pre-heat hook up and headed south another fifteen minutes to the Veterans Cemetery.

Mary and I met up with her Mom and her brothers family to place a wreath and American flag at her Fathers grave site. It's hard to believe its already nine months since he passed. We all miss Pop and I especially miss our conversations and laughs.

Mary and I headed back to the Wilmington airport so we could fly north to my parents grave site in Wilkes-Barre,PA and place a wreath there too.  I called to see if my sister Denise wanted to go for the ride but she was making cookies with her granddaughter Brooke. Instead my brother-in-law David joined us. We all met up at the Red Eagle ramp.

I filed an IFR flight plan and picked up the following clearance with Wilmington ground.

C- Cleared to KAVP
R- Fly runway heading, radar vectors to PTW then as filed.
A- Altitude 2000, expect 6000 in ten
F- Frequency, 119.75 (Philly)
T- Transponder 4621
We were soon wheels up and enroute for Wilkes-Barre, KAVP. Of course I forgot my camera and only had my iPhone for pictures today. There was no snow covered ground shots but I did have plenty of clouds to contend with. Mary gave up the front seat to David and curled up in the back with a blanket. Normally the Sundowner is toasty but today the temps outside at altitude were a tic under 15 degrees, Brrrrr...that's cold. 08Romeo was keeping it in the high 60's inside. Philly kept us at 4000 and that was fine with me as we punched through cloud after cloud bank. We finally broke out south of Allentown.  When Philly handed us off to Allentown they gave me 5000 which put us in the clag for a short time. Yes, pitot heat on and an added watch for ice was part of my scan. We broke out south of Wilkes-Barre's TRSA airspace and enjoyed the view of the mountain lakes and Blue mountain and tunnels.
Once handed off to Wilkes Approach I was vectored left 340 degrees for the ILS 4 approach. The first step down brought us just into the tops but it seemed like we were vectored just enough to avoid the clouds. As we got closer I was turned right to 350, maintain 4000 until established, cleared ILS RWY 4, I acknowledged and was handed off to the tower. I entered the approach just outside the Final Approach Fix, JISAG which is guarded by a few monster towers on a mountain top. Sometimes it's better being in the clag and not seeing whats there, kidding.
Big Boulder Ski Resort
I think this is Camel Back Ski Resort
Once on the ground we taxied to the FBO, Saker Aviation. I ordered fuel and Mary secured the courtesy van. It's a quick trip across the valley and with one stop at the flower warehouse we picked up tomorrows dinner table centerpiece and a wreath for the grave site. From the warehouse it's but a short drive to the cemetery. I placed the wreath and said a few prayers, apologizing to Mom for no white Christmas that she loved so much. I wondered what my Father would have thought about flying to/from Wilkes-Barre instead of driving all those years, I think he would have loved it!
Southbound, SW view
As fast as we got there we saddled up for home. I put a few gallons of gas in the courtesy van and we made a quick stop for lunch at Arbys. I squared up my fuel bill with the FBO and got 08Romeo started following the fuel test. By the time we were ready to roll there was not a cloud in the sky so I decided on a VFR trip home. I should have filed but who knows what possessed me.

I was cleared to take off runway 4 and climbed out with a right turn on course approved. Wilkes ground had given me a squawk code for flight following and asked for an altitude, looking back over my knee board notes I asked for 5000. Over the mountains we went enjoying the view and watching the ski resorts make snow. Once handed to Allentown the controller asked, "is there a reason your 5000 vfr"? Ahhhh....Hmmmmmm..I keyed the mic, no, climbing to 5500, thanks. He responded, "no problem". I started to laugh then keyed again and said Approach I'm so used to filing its second nature.
The trip home saw a constant 130 knots which made for a good time. We were eventually handed off to Philly then turned loose for Wilmington. Another nice landing and taxi for Red Eagle. Just over two hours of actual air time vs almost 5 hours of drive time, flying works for me!

We ended our day with dinner at one of our favorites, Culinaria, with Mary's Mom and my brother Joe and his wife Janice. We ended our day with a tour of the Christmas light displays in our local area.

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