It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted—it seems the busier work and life gets, the less I get to write. At the same time, I’ve had numerous opportunities to fly, which helps in maintaining my sanity levels at work!
In early October, Michiko and I did a bit of a fall foliage flight, heading up towards Rutland, VT. It was a beautiful sunny day with not much in the way of clouds, although we passed over a few stragglers as we made our way. We got up to MA before turning around to head back—Michiko was developing a headache, possibly from squeeze pressure from her headset—but we enjoyed the beautiful colors. You could see the change as we left the greens of southern CT for more orange and reds as we worked our way into northwestern CT and MA. We did our turn around the monument atop Mt. Greylock, wagging our wings at the numerous folks at the monument and surrounding grass picnic areas.
A week later, I did a sunset and night flight to keep my night currency. Lifting off into the sunset, the Manhattan skyline was clear along the horizon by the time I hit 1,000 feet. I wandered around a bit along the shoreline and then headed out to Groton to do a landing there (still not official night) and then heading back to Bridgeport after official nightfall for a few more landings. Unfortunately, the GoPro filter darkened the video of the landings out at KGON and KBDR too much to be able to make out anything up close to the lights. I’ll try to rig the GoPro better next time—I’m curious to see how it works out at night.
The following weekend, in honor of my dad’s birthday, Michiko and I hopped over to New Haven to pick up my mom and dad at Robinson Aviation before heading out for breakfast. We had hoped to head up to Minuteman/Nancy’s Airfield Café (6B6), but there were some low clouds lingering towards the north, and I didn’t know how much my parents would enjoy actual instrument conditions. We decided on Block Island instead, knowing that we had a bit more open skies available to us. The airplane certainly didn’t mind carrying 4 adults at all, either at New Haven or out at the shorter, 2500’ runway at Block Island. The hours at Bethany’s Airport Diner had changed October 1 with slightly shortened hours, closing at 1:30 or 2pm. We hung out a little longer than that, but the waitstaff were very gracious, not hurrying us along at all… Dad did some of the flying, working on keeping us level but slowly porpoising just a little bit until Mom made him give the controls back to me!
A week later, I picked up Philippe and we did a quick flight up to Great Barrington (KGBR) and back. We were a bit pressed for time since Philippe had to be back by 4pm for his ground school session, so we ended up flying straight to KGBR, landing and rolling out, only to turn back around, back taxi on the runway and then takeoff again, heading directly back to Bridgeport. Philippe did most of the flying between takeoffs and landings and did a great job, learning to sight a landmark in the distance and then fly to it and then picking the next landmark and so on—basic VFR work, but harder to do than most folks realize. I ended up dropping him off right on the Blue Sky ramp at 3:50pm in time for his class, but I’m hoping the flying got him psyched for the book learning!
Michiko and I were hoping to fly out to Chicago for our early November vacation. The plan was to refuel/stretch at about Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport and then fly into Dupage. The following day, I was going to take my friend Lisa and her daughters flying to Wisconsin for breakfast so that I could color in WI in my map of states flown to/in. Sadly, the weather didn’t cooperate, even with an extra weather travel day built in, so we ended up doing a very long (but very fun) road trip to/from Chicago.
After returning from Chicago, Len and I went up to Minuteman/Nancy’s for another delightful breakfast. Sadly, I didn’t need gas, despite Don’s fuel being a full dollar cheaper than back at Three Wing. The flight was pretty uneventful in both directions with beautiful skies and seemingly not a lot of other folks sharing the morning with us! On the way back, Len did the flying for most of the way and then let me get in a GPS 29 approach to Bridgeport—although he teased me that it was almost too easy—direct to the Initial Approach Fix, a gentle right turn (no procedure turn) and then straight in to the runway. I still managed to bump down a little bit on landing, still chasing that squeaker of a touchdown.
Sunday, after procrastinating about flying on a beautiful Saturday (Pilates, errands, leaf-raking, etc.), I took advantage of Michiko’s gentle nudge to do some solo flying. The ForeFlight radar was showing icy precip to the north, but all of the METAR reports at the various airports were showing no rain/precip and 8,000+ foot cloud cover—so I’m guessing it’s just a vagary of the ForeFlight radar plots. I wandered up to northwest CT (my normal haunt), just enjoying the engine’s smooth hum, the silky smooth air and the peaceful view. Up in the corner of CT, there was still a solid dusting of snow on the ground, particularly on the hill tops.
On the way back, I spotted a little personal unmarked grass strip in a farm field, about 20-25 miles north/northwest of Waterbury Oxford, with a little yellow Piper Cub tucked in behind the barn. I should have circled and taken a photo but it was getting on to dusk, so I’m not sure how the photo would have come out. Heading back into KBDR, there was a bit more traffic around, including a couple planes that crossed in front of me, heading into Oxford, at almost the same altitude. Luckily, my eyeballs, the traffic monitor on the Garmin GPS and the ADS-B on my iPad helped me pick them out.
Bridgeport was likewise busy and I was directed to follow a Grumman joining the downwind—I had to slow down considerably to not overtake him in the pattern. As I was midfield on my downwind leg, a Cirrus called from the north behind me asking for priority to land because they had a “noise” coming from the airplane that they needed to check out. They didn’t want to declare an emergency though, so the tower controller was left with little choice but to slot them behind me, with another couple of guys on practice instrument approaches also coming in. So I volunteered to do a couple of left 360-degree turns over Charles Island (a landmark the tower uses a lot to the northeast of the field) so that the tower could bring the Cirrus in faster, which he did. My turns done, I was cleared in to land and did a fairly good landing in the dusk and taxied in. I told the tower they’d done a good job and got a couple of radio mic clicks in thanks.