Monday, September 30, 2013

Beach Flight From N57

Gary, Jo, Mary
Friday forecast was looking perfect so I decided on Thursday I would turn in some leave time and take advantage of one of the last excellent weekends at the beach.  We could have headed south on Thursday but we were going to take our friend Jo Ann with us. We always have a blast together and it's just not fair making anyone contend with the Dover race traffic going to or coming home from the beach.


We loaded up my SUV and headed to New Garden, this still feels very weird but I am dealing with it. Twenty five minutes later we were at the hangar and 08Romeo was peeking out into the sun. So nice to have a clean plane ready to go with just a pre-flight and tank sump.
Ziva loaded up on the left side wing with just a little help from me and her step stool, quickly settling in with Aunt Jo.  I am keeping one seat out for Ziva to have space and it saves me thirteen pounds on W&B. I'll need every pound as our Ziva girl continues to grow, she topped seventy pounds today, just a week shy of five months!
I taxied out to runway six making a stop just south west of the office so I could contact Philly Clearance Delivery. The call had some static but after a second try I had everything correct and was ready to launch. On Mikes recommendation I am going to use the short field technique to limit my time on a bumpy runway. I had filed for ENO EZIZI OXB but was given MXE ENO V29 SBY Direct.
The flight was smooth with hardly any traffic around us. Philly handed me off to Dover and as usual Dover handed me to Patuxent.  When I made my call to PAX I advised having the wx at Ocean City. Pax was working three of us, all heading into Ocean City.
There was a Saratoga who was VFR flight following and a Citation jet IFR. I was in and out of a few clouds working through a layer and alerted PAX I had the field somewhere around eleven miles out. The Citation was behind me closing fast and eventually swung wide to my right to enter straight in for left down wind runway three two.  I was landing on runway one four since winds were 050* at eleven knots. I cancelled in the air and switched to CTAF making position reports with the Saratoga.  The Piper fell in behind me and decided to turn out while I landed and the jet extended his downwind. I was calling out a 1.5 mile final when the jet called his base turn so I continued in.  The jet jock didn't sound happy but I was closer and lower. I advised clear of the runway and the Citation was on the ground as I turned from the stub taxiway to the ramp.
Saturday was a shopping day for the ladies in Berlin, MD and they had a blast.  I played a round of golf, went back to the motor home and showered then meet the ladies at the airport so they could return the rental from Don at Express.
We decided on heading north to Fenwick Island and eat up some Lobster cakes, good stuff!!  I'm not sure why, maybe a brain fart, but I went up the coastal highway right at the same time every rice burner car in Ocean City was heading to the convention center for the H2O International car show. Dinner was fantastic, I took the back roads back to Ocean City and our Motor Home.
We decided to head out for breakfast and make the rounds through Ocean Pines and check out the latest real estate listings. Our favorite breakfast restaurant DeNovo's was closed so we headed towards Berlin for breakfast at the Atlantic Hotel.
RT 50 Bridge
We selected a table outdoors and the cool air made for perfect dining. We all passed on breakfast and instead enjoy the lunch offerings. We finished up and headed back to the condo on wheels in order to pick up Ziva and close up shop. The wx was looking great as we headed for the plane. I uncovered and did my pre-flight while the ladies parked the car and covered out front on the land side.
We were started up and headed out to runway two, it's finally open!
RT. 90 Bridge
A nice and smooth roll with a notch of flaps had us climbing out quickly. I didn't file today, it was just to nice out to pass on flying the coast line home. We flew north along the shore line turning to follow the Delaware Bay home. I had to climb for the race TFR and get above 3.5 which put us right at the scattered cloud layer. It wasn't too bad as I descended towards Wilmington (ILG) mindful of their Delta airspace. I struggled to find New Garden, I just don't have a picture locked in my brain yet. Thankfully the Garmin 530 with the OBS dialed in for 240* and even more so the 496 with the extended runway got me to the down wind. I made an ok landing and taxied home. It was good to tuck 08Romeo in and get her all cleaned up for the next flight this week.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Trip Planning

Mary and I have been giving some thought to getting away for the holidays and doing some family visits in the Boston area.  I guess the Boston trip is pretty basic N57, New Garden to KBED, Laurence Hanscom Field in Bedford, MA.  Bedford is under three hundred miles and a non-stop hop.
Flight number two will be a holiday get-away back to warm weather. We are giving some thought to Jekyll Island but November-December temps look to cool. Instead, I think we will head deeper into the south, and warmer temps, to make our stand in Jupiter or Singer Island Florida.
Sadly I gave the airlines a look and while I could save almost an AMU in fuel money alone, I don't think dealing with holiday airport crowds is worth twice that.
Trip two will be from N57, New Garden (I'm still getting used to calling N57 home)to F45, North Palm Beach County General Aviation Airport in West Palm Beach, Fl.  This trip is around 810 miles and will require a stop somewhere along the way. Some quick planning shows the half way point as KCKI, Williamsburg Regional in Kingstree, SC. I'm still working out the hotels but it looks like a busy end of the year flying.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Maneuvers and Landings

After a really crap day at work I needed to get some left seat time to purge the mind from things that really don't matter.  I 'll leave it at that.

Mary had fallen and hit her head after getting tangled in the swinging baby gate for our Ziva girl. I rushed home and made sure she was ok and not showing any concussion symptoms. I guess by 4pm I was driving her crazy and she said go fly, call Mike, go, fly, eat dinner out.  Ok, I can take a hint.
I needed to fuel the plane for our Friday beach flight so I may as well get some practice in this evening. Mike and I swapped some text messages and were both headed to New Garden. It still feels weird pulling 08Romeo out of a hangar but it's nice to see her all shiny again and no rain water stains or bird droppings.
I completed my pre-flight inside, how nice huh?  Then pulled 08Romeo out on the taxi lane. After my neighbor informed of my hangar etiquette error I wanted to make sure I did the right thing. We did leave the doors open this evening but I now know to shut down on the taxi lane and push 08Romeo in vs turning away from my hangar and blowing dust in.
I started up 08Romeo and made the short taxi for fuel. With 40 total on board we were off to play. I launched and headed south for some air work in the practice area near 58M. Slow flight hanging on the prop, or so it seemed followed by slow flight maneuvers clean and with flaps. Next was steep turns and they needed me to shed some rust. The second round was much better.

Following the air work we headed to KEVY, Summit for some landing work trying to get my sight picture squared away for short narrow fields. Short and narrow compared to Wilmington 6000'x150'. Three touch and goes later I was feeling pretty good. Mike still wants more stall horn when I touchdown, I'll keep working on that.
We headed back to New Garden for another VOR approach. I made a lap in the Procedure Turn and the needles were steady and altitude solid. I descended to the minimum descent altitude of 1020' and drove to the field getting the call to remove my foggles at a half mile or so. I added flaps and made a smooth landing, not enough stall horn but smooth.
We followed up a good night of flying (1.3 hours) with Dinner at the Hartefeld National Golf Club Grille and Pub.
Thanks Mike, you're the MAN!! I really appreciate the work out and keeping me proficient.
Tonight's flight puts me over 800 hours!!

ASEL:                                 800.6
(1017 Landings, 217 Approaches)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lunch Time Meet Up

I was working in Cape May today and while monitoring contract progress I swapped a few text messages with Dave S (Dave's Flight Adventures). Dave flys out of South Jersey Regional and was looking for a destination, obviously taking advantage of the perfect wx we have been experiencing.  Since I was trapped at WWD I offered to meet up on the field at the Flight Line Diner.

Dave flew down in his freshly washed and waxed Piper PA28-235. Dave had a passenger, his friend Bob. It was nice to enjoy lunch with Dave and Bob, talking airplanes, old airports and the new airspace around Philly.

I went back to work while Dave and Bob took off to enjoy more air time, I was jealous. We did agree to get together and take our Brides out on a dinner flight, Mary and I are looking forward to catching up with Dave and Lynn very soon.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good...

A fun day today running back and forth to the new hangar. Mary wanted to see the plane in the hangar and get a feel for the drive. We also made a stop at Lowe's for a few essentials, a mandatory work area and a locked storage bench.  On the way home from the airport we made a stop for breakfast at one of our old favorites, Hanks. It's been a few years since we were last here but the lines are just as long and the food just as good.
The Bad...
After getting the plane detailed (by a young man at the airport)and putting the new work/tool bench together with Vince's help we decided to go fly. A clean plane and fuel in the tanks, what is a pilot to do? 
Vince pulled 08Romeo out and turned up the taxiway so we wouldn't blast any of the neighbors, since I left the hangar doors open. It was only going to be a few rounds in the pattern. More on the landings later. When we did finish up and taxi in I saw another neighbor at his doors, he owns a gorgeous cub. I taxi to my turn off and turned away from my hangar so I could push back. Bazinga....obviously that was a no-no.  The neighbor very nicely informed me that we close the hangar doors or if we keep them open we shut down like I started up so the prop wash doesn't blow debris inside. Remember the hangar bays are open. I apologized and thanked him for the heads up, I want to be a good neighbor.

The Ugly...

More on those landings. The take off roll was typical, rise above the tree line and really feel the winds change. I climbed out to 1200 before turning in the pattern per the noise abatement. Landing one was high, hot and a floater needing throttle to recover and save a massive kerplunk on the runway. I roll out to the end replaying it in my mind.

Round two is another good climb out and nice squared off pattern, trying to cut it even tighter. I chop the power earlier and round off this base to final in one circle to land motion, it's looking good. Vince tells me I'm high. I continue in and have to add power to clear the swirling winds in the drop off before the runway. With a bit of float I plant one pretty good.  There is no mistake, we're on the ground. Once clear of the runway I stop and remind Vince not to interrupt while I'm landing, I know where I was with altitude and I want additional space for the drop off swirling winds right before the runway, besides I can drop this plane like a rock if needed.  He notes the correction and we're back for another round.

Round three is another tight pattern, pulling power even earlier to get me where the numbers should be if there was any paint left out there. This one is better, still floating, but a bit smoother.  I need to spend some time with Mike B getting me back on track on narrow runways. I was spoiled by Wilmington.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

08Romeo's New Home

Last day on the ramp at ILG
Today was a strange day for me, a little bit of sadness leaving Wilmington Airport because it's the only home base I have been associated with. Yes, I'll miss the tower folks and the long runways but life keeps moving forward.

I had to file today with N57 reporting from KMQS 100'ceiling and 1/4 vis. Ok, I just left there 30 minutes ago after sweeping out the hangar, the sky was clearing. I advised ready to taxi and for the first time sat for maybe 15 minutes waiting for my release at Kilo and runway 19. Maybe a parting shot?


I wanted to make this update since Vince posted his 'Go Pro' video from our reposition hop.  I also wanted to show off Vince's excellent radio work on an IFR flight plan and capture the special flight to the new home.  Thanks Vince!!

Once I was in the air and heading to New Garden it all changed to excitement. I was anxious to shot the approach and make a nice landing and I could hardly wait to taxi my way back to 08Romeo's new digs. There was plenty of activity this morning as I made my way in on short final. I could see Mikes car parked by the hangars, two Cessna's waiting on my landing to take off, it was almost too much to absorb.

I made an ok landing at best and taxied to the last turn off. This is home, our new airport, new people to meet, the self serve fuel, that will be a new adventure I'm used to the fuel truck pulling up to my plane. There is life stirring along the row of hangars and a school plane is doing its run up as I wait to taxi past. Once the student passed I taxied to my new home, Hangar 209.
The lines painted on the floor worked fine for 08Romeo and I tucked her in for the first time. Plenty of room all around! My neighbor to the left is a Saratoga (turbo) and to my right is a super cub and I noticed a glider trailer tucked in too.  I need to pick up some rugs to put on each side to keep the interior carpets clean when we are in and out of the plane. I want to make a bench for some tools and storage for oil, an extension cord, California duster and cleaning supplies.
Speaking of cleaning supplies, I hooked up with one of the guys who details planes and cars. I'm getting 08Romeo washed, waxed and spiffed up. I'll give the inside a once over one night this week.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hangared Mouse

photo courtesy of
The time has finally come, I'm moving 08Romeo to a T-Hangar.  No, not at Wilmington at the outrageous price of $525, instead I'm moving 11.8 miles north west on a 320 degree heading to N57-New Garden in Toughkenamon,PA, for $285.

New Garden airport has really nice T-Hangars.  The hangar space reminds me more of a pavilion with sliding doors to close everything in. The structure is in excellent condition, the floors are concrete, there is very  good drainage away from the hangar doors, electric is included, there is water close by and there is GA life everywhere!

There is one runway, 6/24 @3700'x 50', bumpy as heck, non-standard low intensity lighting but slated for repairs and runway widening. Currently there is one VOR approach. The Airport plan is for GPS approaches once the runway work is completed.

There is a very active EAA chapter and the airport manager is a gem, really making things happen at this airport. The drive is about 30 minutes with light traffic, mainly country roads with one short hop on a major roadway.

I've been on the fence about the current approach available at N57. After more thought I'm comfortable with Wilmington, KILG and Chester County, KMQS both less than 10 minutes away if I need the ILS.

After going back through my log book I have only shot three approaches to minimums into Wilmington since getting my instrument rating three years ago. One on the way home from the beach, one on the way home from an oil change and the last because I wanted to log an approach towards currency.

I am scheduling a spa day for 08R to get her all spiffed up.  I wouldn't want my new neighbors to see her all dirty. If the wash/wax is done Friday I'll get her moved in Saturday Morning, if not sometime next week.

Pictures? Not yet but stay tuned for more New Garden info and pics.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Approaches and Some Night Flight

Late Yesterday I received a call from one of the local airports that I had added my name to their waiting list for hangars. This evening I called back and left a message that I was interested but had a few questions.  As  my flying partner in crime (Mike B) noted, I should ask about electric, check out the hangar location and condition before inking the deal.  I'm in total agreement, so after a conference with my Bride and some creative financing we both agreed we can do the hangar.  We shall see what the next few days will reveal.

With the thoughts of a hangar dancing around in my head Mike and I traded text messages that we should at least fly to the airport for the initial once over.  We both agreed to meet at 08Romeo. I did remember my headset and keys today, that's an improvement.

As I finished up my pre-flight Mike walked across the ramp and as is the custom followed with his own abbreviated pre-flight. We saddled up and taxied for runway niner at Wilmington. The tower cleared me for a 'right turn' on course to the 'west'...he said what?  The controller was busy with the Air Guard flights so once he cleared me to take off I requested a left turn on course and left it at that, the tower acknowledged.

I made my way to MODENA (MXE) and decided to try the only approach into New Garden (N57) the potential new home.   A review of the airport notes take off minimums.

AMDT 1 95033 (FAA)

DEPARTURE PROCEDURE: Rwys 6,24, climb runway heading to 900 before turning on course.

It was a cool night and the air was smooth as glass. I was plus/minus 150' on my approach to the procedure turn, flying like a discovery flight newbie.  Mike roll played ATC and I made mention of removing my head from its current location and getting it in the forward facing upright position and fly the darn plane. With all my parts now properly located and functioning as normal I took a good bite out of the procedure turn and made a nice tear drop entry.
It's pretty basic, decision height based on the Wilmington altimeter setting allows for 1020'. Not quite the selection that I have at Wilmington but for now this may have to do. There are plans for a runway extension and GPS approaches, one can only hope. As I settled in on the VOR approach I recrossed MXE and turned to a 230* heading removing the foggles at DH and searching for the airport. Wow, it's tiny and tucked along the tress. With the evening sun and shadows from the surrounding trees it took a few seconds to locate the runway, especially since your not aligned on final.  Not a problem, fly the needles and they will get you there. I make an ok landing and rumble along the bumpy runway to my turn off.

Mike and I taxi along checking out the new hangars on the south end of the field and the older T's on the north end. What really caught my attention was people, yes life at an airport, what a change from Wilmington.

We decided on dinner at Flying Machine Cafe' located at Chester County, KMQS. I launched for MQS and shot the GPS 11 approach. I was much better this go round after knocking some rust off on the last approach. 
I dialed in for direct DOVPY and was on my way. Mike switched it up and gave me vectors and as I was getting close to intercept he pointed at the GPS.  I gave a look over, nothing registered and I went back to tracking. Mike pointed again and asked how I was going to get established when I didn't make the switch to 'vectors to final' Ughhh...insert head slap. with a few quick strokes I was set up and turned final without a problem, I would have flown through it.
We enjoyed hot turkey and hot roast beef sandwiches at Chester County then saddled up for home.  I needed a couple more take off and landings to be night current so Mike said we will do them until I am proficient.
I made two into and out of Wilmington in between flights of the C-130's and I am once again current.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Forgotten 500

The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II.  (New American Library, August 2007) By Gregory A. Freeman

There is no better way to sum it up than for you to read the review by the author himself, Gregory A. Freeman.  This book is a home run from cover to cover.  I enjoyed finishing up this story about operation Halyard and the heroes that pulled it off as I lay on the beach in Key West. WWII was truly about the greatest generation of fighting men and the sacrifices they made for freedom.

From Gregory A. Freeman Web page -

One of the last untold stories of World War II is also one of the greatest - a story of adventure, daring, danger and heroics, followed by a web of conspiracy, lies, and coverup.

THE FORGOTTEN 500 is one of the greatest rescue and escape stories ever, but hardly anyone has heard about it. And that's by design. The U.S., British, and Yugoslav governments hid details of this story for decades, purposefully denying credit to the heroic rescuers and the foreign ally who gave his life to help allied airmen as they were hunted down by Nazis in the hills of Yugoslavia.
THE FORGOTTEN 500 tells the story of Operation Halyard in 1944, the largest rescue ever of downed American airmen. More than 500 U.S. airmen were rescued, along with some from other countries, all right under the noses of the Germans, and mostly in broad daylight. The mission was a complete success - the kind that should have been trumpeted in news reels and on the front page. (By comparison, the famed escape of allied prisoners from a German POW camp portrayed in the movie "The Great Escape" involved 200 men, and only 76 were successful.)

It is a little known episode that started with one edge-of-your seat rescue in August 1944, followed by a series of additional rescues in the following months. American agents from the OSS, the precursor of the CIA, worked with a Serbian guerilla, General Draza Mihailovich, to carry out the huge, ultra-secret rescue mission.

THE FORGOTTEN 500 weaves together the tales of a dozen young airmen shot down in the hills of Yugoslavia during bombing runs, and the five secret agents who conducted their amazing rescue. These are the stories of young men who were eager to join the war and fight the Germans, even finding excitement in the often deadly trips from Italy to bomb German oil fields in Romania, but who found themselves parachuting out of crippled planes and into the arms of strange, rough looking villagers in a country they knew nothing about. They soon found out that the local Serbs were willing to sacrifice their own lives to keep the downed airmen out of German hands, but they still wondered if anyone was coming for them or if they would spend the rest of the war hiding from German patrols and barely surviving on goat's milk and bread made with hay to make it more filling.
When OSS agents in Italy heard of the stranded airmen, they began planning an elaborate and previously unheard of rescue - the Americans would send in a fleet of C-47 cargo planes to land in the hills of Yugoslavia, behind enemy lines, to pluck out hundreds of airmen. It was audacious and risky beyond belief, but there was no other way to get those boys out of German territory. The list of challenges and potential problems seemed never ending: the airmen had to evade capture until the rescue could be organized, they had to build an airstrip large enough for C-47s without any tools and without the Germans finding out, and then the planes had to make it in and out without being shot down.

Could it really be done? No one knew, but they were going to try.

THE FORGOTTEN 500 takes the reader along on this suspenseful adventure, while also explaining how the Yugoslav guerilla fighter who made it all possible was betrayed by his western allies. THE FORGOTTEN 500 is the story of young men struggling to make it back home to their families, and their decades-long quest to acknowledge the secret agents and the foreign soldiers who risked all for them. Long silenced by the governments of several nations, the full story of Operation Halyard and the young men who risked everything for their fellow soldiers is revealed for the first time in this book.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fly -n- Golf

A few messages went back and forth on Facebook with the local pilots.  The Quakertown group was planning to fly out to 76N,  Skyhaven Airport located in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania.  I really didn't feel up to getting in and out of a 2000 foot runway in a new to me place having not flown in a few weeks.

Instead, I swapped text messages with Bob C and he was willing to join Mary and I in Ocean City for a round of golf. The plan was to meet up at the terminal around 10:30, at least we had a plan.  Mary and I got up early and hit our favorite breakfast spot, Angels. After breakfast we were ahead of schedule and made our way to the airport. Our clubs were at the motor home and we only needed to bring our golf shoes. However, with my SUV in the shop, small fender bender two weeks ago, and my airplane keys in the console, I found myself without keys to the plane and now tooling along I-95 SB.
Cape May across the Delaware Bay
Exit Wilmington, turn the bus around and head back home. Hmmmm...I guess the headsets would be good to bring along too. Finally we are back on the road with all the required equipment. It's a VFR flight this morning in the cool air, 08R enjoying the climb and my Bride falling asleep. I make my way into the pattern at OXB and make a nice landing on runway one four with winds 150 at 5 knots, easy peasy.
Cape May and Lewes, mouth of Delaware Bay
We meet up with Bob who was already on the ground and plane secured. I wanted to rent a car from Don, his deals are always the very best, but the airport removed the ATM machine. Don wasn't at the airport so I was going to leave cash, well, until there was no bank in the box.  We decided to all pile in the Cabrio along with three bags of clubs, yes it was cozy.

Bob shot a very nice round and in the end beat me by a stroke, Mary shot a good round too but we still battle for that consistent ball strike.

With the round completed we high tailed it to our favorite lunch stop along Racetrack road, Taylor's. We enjoyed a good lunch, Mary enjoyed a beer while the two pilots each enjoyed a refreshing coke and my tea/lemonade mix.
Bob and 09L
We each saddled up and plotted for the ride home. We were headed to KILG of course and Bob was just passing us heading to KOQN, Brandywine Airport. The ride home was smooth and I listened to Dover Approach as he called out traffic and worked a steady flow of flight following and instrument traffic.
Tail wind on the ride home (Salem nuke plant)
A fun day catching up with our friend Bob and we look forward to meeting up for dinner with his Bride Dru and daughter Mackenzie very soon!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Key West Visited

Thursday 9-6

After much debate it was decided to fly the 'spam can' (Delta) instead of taking 08Romeo to the Florida Keys.  As noted in my previous post the fuel cost was the deciding factor; approximately $1300 08R vs $699 plus tax (Delta). Ugghhh...we were off to the Philly airport.
I dread the security checks that are a necessary part of flying commercial. Typically I get pulled out of line after the scanner screams and sent to the penalty box for the full body grope along with the wand over every inch of me.  This afternoon was a bit different, there was a full body scanner waiting for me. Shoes off, belt off, everything out of your pockets and proceed like cattle to the slaughter.  Stand on the footprints, raise your arms and with a sweep of the scanner your clear.  In my case some poor sap in the room just lost their eyesight after seeing this body along with all its metal parts.
ILG and Twin Bridges
We were on our way to the gate in record time, I could get used to this....just kidding. It's been a while since I last flew and I think the last adventure was on South West.  SW provided very good service but I will say our experience on Delta was excellent.  We were settled in for the first leg to Atlanta, Mary trying to nap and me with my face stuck looking out the window.
climbing to meet us
The Atlanta experience was interesting, walk off the plane in one terminal find the escalator and take the 'plane train' to another terminal, like riding the subway. Next we boarded a regional jet for the islands, much smaller, cramped seats but doable. I have more shoulder and leg room in our Sundowner. Another short hop of an hour and a half and we are on final for KEYW. I forgot how short the runway is here until the reverse thrusters kicked in and I almost did a face plant on the seat in front of me.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
arrival sunset

Friday 9/7

I should mention that we were staying at the Sheraton Suites as recommended by Geoff on his blog, Family Flying. It was great advice, the room was perfect and service outstanding.
Today we decided to cross the street and enjoy Smathers Beach. Beach chairs were $10 each and the umbrella cost another ten, thirty bucks later we were finally settled in. The funny guy at the beach said if you leave early it will be an additional ten, with a perfect poker face. Funny guy, lets have the receipt.
The sun was really hot, much hotter than Ocean City MD, it felt good. The water was cool, clear and flat, no waves to speak of. We baked for hours enjoying the quiet and having some fun with one of the locals working with his dog renting paddle boards and kayaks.

Saturday 9/8 - Wednesday 9/11
Dolphin hot spot
Looking back most of the week is a blur. We visited Duvall street a number of times making stops at Coyote Ugly, Sloppy Joe's, a few jewelry shops and who knows how many other places. We did tour the Hemingway House and the Key West Aquarium during the week as we made many stops along Whitehead Street for museums and art collections.
We also took a Dolphin Tour, it was excellent. Dolphin Safari did a great job finding the dolphins and we were  treated to a mom and her calf that played around our boat as we sat with engines off drifting along. After that special treat we headed off to one of the islands and spent time learning how to snorkel and use fins. It was fun cruising along seeing all the sponges, tropical fish and baby lobsters.
lunch at Sloppy Joes
web cam sloppy Joes - Mary taking a picture of the band and I'm sitting at the table over her left shoulder
one of the many street stops
Mary and I celebrated her Birthday with a romantic dinner at Latitudes on Tank Island. Dinner is pricey but the food and service were amazing. Mary had the Butter Poached Florida Lobster Tail on creamy saffron polenta, asparagus, champagne beurre blanc, topped with caviar. I was in heaven with the Butter Poached Florida Lobster Tail on creamy garlic potatoes, asparagus and an 8oz Tenderloin filet cooked to perfection that melted in your mouth.  We both split a Key Lime pie that was the perfect ending to our evening.
The house was one of the first on the island to be fitted with indoor plumbing, and the first on the island to have an upstairs bathroom with running water, fed from a roof rain cistern. Also notable are a built-in fireplace, and the first swimming pool in Key West
Hemingway converted a urinal obtained after a renovation at Sloppy Joe's bar into a water fountain in the yard, where it remains a prominent feature at the home, filled with water from the large Cuban jar, and serving as one of many water sources for the grounds' cats
Thursday 9/12

Today was departure day. We had a 12:15 flight out of Key West and a connection in Atlanta back to Philly. The morning started out great with a light breakfast and an early shuttle ride to the airport. I was hoping the security checks would be easy and they were, another body scanner. As we waited for our Delta 737 to arrive at the gate we were entertained by a drunken idiot that made his rounds laughing like a fool and bothering the gate attendants.  This guy was a few sheets in the wind and we all were hoping he would not be on our plane. All I could think off was diverting to another airport and missing our connection.

It was finally time to board and Mary asked the gate person if we were going to have the 'happy' drunk on board, she said no. I was waiting to see this play out. The flight was full and we were pretty far back with a few empty seats around us, you wonder how that is. Well two groups that were in the terminal waited forever to board, thanks for making us late! Everyone was watching to see if the drunk boarded but he didn't, he was stopped on the ramp and pointed back to the terminal by the Sheriff....yay, one for the good guys.
company traffic landing at ATL
We arrived into Atlanta and finally made our way off the plane with twenty three minutes until our connection left the gate. I was updating on flight aware and that's a bit behind the actual time. Mary and I all but ran through the airport, thankfully we have no carry on luggage. I had plotted the route and we found the escalators to the plane trains and got to the platform as a train pulled in. It was packed and as the trading of the positions was completed we were underway. We needed the A terminal, the last stop before baggage claim on our route. The gate was switched to A19 from A11 and now I thought we had more terminal to cover. Off the train and up the escalator we come to A terminal, right would be gates 18 through something left turn would be 19 through 1, lets roll. Through the eatery area and to our gate when we here "at this time all zones boarding all zones at this time". We got in line and made the flight just in time.

Ocean City MD
We enjoyed a nice flight home and picked out a few airports and landmarks along the way. I was disappointed that Foreflight didn't work at our altitude on my iPhone, instead I had to look at the VFR maps and match up the view between the clouds. I did manage to pick out Punta Gorda airport, MacDill AFB in Tampa and Mary picked out Ocean City Maryland with no map. Its good to be home and back with our zoo. Ziva grew a few inches and pounds, I swear, and the cats....well they are cats and if they have food, water and Mom's lap to lay on they are happy little kitties.

Things I've taken from our Key West vacation....I've learned to love flip flops and I have a serious addiction to Conch fritters.