Sunday, June 12, 2016

Nags Head, NC

The Plan
Mary and I planned a quick get-away weekend since our calendar was free.  On Tuesday I called our favorite hotel in Nags Head, NC., the Surf Side, with the hope of finding a room with an ocean view still available. We were in luck, one room with a king bed and a balcony view of the ocean, sign us up!

Wednesday after work we headed to the airport to give Ziva some play time and I could ready 08Romeo.  I took on fuel to bring the plane to fifty gallons, checked oil and completed a preflight. With 08Romeo good to go I just needed to watch the weather and put my flight plan together. Our normal plan is to fly along V139 to Cape Charles then fly the coast line to First Flight and cut across the bay to Manteo, MQI.  That's what I filed for and that's the email I received confirming ATC's routing.

The Flight

I bugged out of work early and Mary had the pets boarded and our bags ready for me to load in the SUV.  We packed a bag with cold drinks and snacks then headed for the airport.  I tugged 08Romeo out into the sun and did another pre-flight then saddled up for our flight, we were both excited.
The clearance
I contacted Potomac clearance delivery and my routing had a slight change.  We would fly to Norfolk (ORF) then Stay on V139 to SUNNS to V266 ECG then direct. Not a big deal but we would have preferred the coast instead.  We launch and track a 270 degree heading as we climb out until Patuxent confirms our position. Once ID'ed, we are turned direct Snow Hill (SWL) and we're on our way.

ADS-B is tracking multiple targets heading the opposite direction but I have no visual yet. At this point Patuxent turns me to a 180 degree heading, I acknowledge and make the heading change.  As soon as I'm established on the new heading ATC then directs me to intercept the 060 degree radial inbound to Snow Hill. Honestly, that caught me off guard, but I quickly checked to see exactly where I was in reference to the Snow Hill VOR. I hadn't set up the Garmin 530 nav yet, I like to keep each VOR dialed in, in advance.
I did have Snow Hill set up on number two nav, the Collins 351. One nice feature of the Collins is the ability to track the radial so with a flip of the switch I noted crossing the 053 degree radial. I spun the CDI for nav two to 060 and then immediately set up the 530 for Snow Hill and Cape Charles. I watched both nav's count the radials as I crossed until 060, then I started my right turn inbound. At this point ATC asked if I was inbound, I guess they prompt you just in case. I acknowledged already turning inbound on 060.
Direct MQI
It was good to shed the rust and get on my IFR game. Having not flown much since I went back to work it was good to see that the muscle memory kicks in and you just do that pilot stuff without trying to think it through. We crossed Snow Hill and could see Wallops pass by followed by passing over Accomack. Patuxent handed us off to Norfolk approach and we road along for a short time when, without asking, we were given direct Dare County (MQI). Nice!
I pointed 08Romeo to her new heading and we were soon heading out over the ocean. Hmmm... I haven't been this far off shore and as we crossed the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay at only six thousand I had concerns of making land. I didn't hear any funny noises or 08Romeo didn't feel any different but as pilots we are always looking for an out, working our plan, staying ahead of the plane. At the very least with the strong tail winds pushing our ground speed to 150 plus and hitting a high of 160 knots I figured I could climb and make the south side of the bay, maybe even land at Oceania NAS...(insert eye roll).
Mary and I enjoyed the coast and we were treated to an F18 passing just off the nose and nine hundred feet above. It was an awesome view of the worlds finest as we watched the aircraft streak by and out of sight.  After that treat we were handed off to Cherry Point approach and continued towards MQI. I did manage a good shot of First Flight off our left wing and continued my descent for the pattern at Dare County. I canceled IFR at five miles out and switched over to unicom to announce my position and intentions. I was following the jump plane in as I watched him turn final when I called out a two mile forty-five entry for the left downwind runway five. I exchanged position reports with a helicopter giving rides and made a nice landing coming over the water and across the numbers, always a beautiful view.
First Flight
Mary secured the rental car as I secured the plane. I can't remember the last time I used the tail cover or the plane cover, we usually put 08Romeo in a hangar, even when on the road. With the ac cranked up we hit the road for Nags Head. So much has changed since our last visit back in 2011. We really like it here, always have, and the people are so friendly. Off to our hotel to check in then time to scout out the area.
We made our rounds noting locations and all the new construction. We eventually decided on dinner at Millers Waterfront, great food and service, we would eat here again. Yes, we got our desserts to go and had them back in our room.


Our loud neighbors were up and down the hall yelling at kids and playing. Really, 7:30 and you're all this loud? I got up and opened the door, it was like ringing the school bell at Catholic school, everyone froze. I looked at the parents, grandparents and the little kids, they looked at each other and then everyone looking at me said good morning. Grr...I nodded my head and shut the door. We didn't hear a peep after that.
We grabbed breakfast at the hotel then headed out to the beach.  Today was all about relaxing and enjoying the sound of waves crashing and the seagulls squawking.  We decided to rent two chairs and an umbrella ($32) then settle in for the day. I managed to get this blog started and catch a few Z's in between.
A sand crab ducking in and out of a hole in the sand.
Jennette's Pier in the background
I was treated to a biplane making multiple passes up the beach every time they gave a ride from the airport. We saw a few dolphins swimming up the coast and pelicans flying low over the water in perfect formation. A Robinson helicopter made a few passes as it gave rides up the coast, business seemed pretty good today. I really got a laugh watching the banner tow planes as they turned north up the beach after crossing the shore line pointed east. Each plane pretty much turned around and pointed directly at the beach and had to crab their way along the shore line, not a fun ride for them.
After deciding to call it a day we packed up and headed back to our room for some rest and showers. We dressed for dinner and headed out early so we could hit a few of our favorite shops. The final stop was dinner at JK's Steaks and Seafood. Mary and I both agree that JK's is by far the best steaks we have ever had. The owner stopped at our table and chatted for a bit as he does with all his guests, a nice touch for his patrons.

With full tummys we headed back to the hotel with desserts to go in hand. We both settled in and watched some TV then passed out.


Did you hear that, I asked. Mary said hear what, the sound of silence, I said. Our neighbors were very quiet this morning. Big evil grin.

The plan was to head to the beach for a few hours then clean up, pack up and head home.  That plan didn't last long after I suggested getting in the air early and heading home so we could dump the bags, grab a couple of chairs and head to the beach club at home. We were packed and checking out in record time. Breakfast? We ate the blueberry cobbler from JK"s with the vanilla ice cream. Yes, we got a few strange looks from the other guests in the breakfast room but neither of us really cared.

We arrived at Dare county and passed through the security gate and parked in front of 08Romeo so we could load the bags. I usually climb on the wing and fold up 08Romeos cover, today my Bride decided she would do the wing thing. As she climbed up she struck her ankle on the flap, it was loud and I thought for sure she was coming off the wing. She did manage to hold her balance but the ankle did not do so well, thankfully no cut. Like a trooper she stayed the course and folded the cover and rolled it up for storage.
I finished up the pre-flight, adding oil, and getting everything secured in the baggage compartment except one bag so I could put my sump away and oil spout. I did have to clean the windscreen, it was really dirty. I grabbed the pledge and a clean microfiber towel from the baggage area and climbed up on the wing. When finished the one side I needed to rinse and repeat for the other. As I came off the wing I tripped backwards on the bag I left out and took a real header landing on my left forearm and elbow. No skin loss just a massively bruised ego.

I joined Mary in the air conditioned car and we headed back out the gate to settle up the fuel bill and hand over the rental keys. What a start to the trip home.
I departed runway two-three and climbed over the Croatan Sound in a left hand pattern. I heard the jump plane give a warning for time to jumpers away as we crossed the Roanoke Sound just north of RT 64. I contacted Cherry Point Approach and requested flight following, now reporting three miles south of First Flight I punched in the squawk code, advised my cruising altitude and fought the headwinds through the climb to six point five. Oh how we pay the piper for the most excellent tailwinds we had heading south on Friday.

I was handed off to Oceania then two sectors for Norfolk and eventually Patuxent when closing on Accomack. According to the AWOS the winds had picked up at home, 280/11 G22. I cancelled flight following and switched to Unicom to make my position calls at five miles inbound for midfield left down wind runway three-two. It got bumpy when we got below three thousand and even worse at pattern. Once turned final I set up for a nice crab and worked the throttle for a smooth landing, we were home.
I tucked 08Romeo in the hangar and I will get back out the airport tomorrow night to clean her up and plug in the battery minder. With a pat on her cowl I thanked her for getting Mary and I home safe. Lights out and locked up we were heading home.


Diggerdavid said...

Fantastic! We would love to make this trip with you guys some time! Sounds fantastic!

David & Lynn

Chris said...

Sounds like a perfect weekend getaway by General Aviation. Though I have to say, scaring other families, Gary? That seems so unlike you!

I'm also glad that you and Mary both survived the pre-flight preparations for the ride home!

Gary said...

Dave, we would love to catch up. Nags Head is a great get-away!

Gary said...

Chris, with the consulting gig we could only do a quick turn and burn. We did give some thought for me to call in sick.

I never said a word ....I was still half asleep. :) if you saw this guy open the door with Mohawk looking bed head you would freeze too ;) It worked, all quiet on Sunday.

Great flights and 08Romeo was flawless.