Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eddie & Me

Rich found out last week that the kennel that usually boards Eddie was booked for the Memorial Day weekend, and he couldn't go with Rich to the Indy 500, so I offered to take him to Hudson. Apparently, the kennel later realized it had an opening and called to tell Rich as such. Rich thanked them, but said that Eddie was going to Canada for the weekend instead. So surprised was the employee that he exclaimed, "Your dog is going on vacation?!"

In Eddie's defense, he isn't any ordinary dog. More comfortable in a plane than most pilots, this trip was, however, going to be his first time in my club's Cessna 152. The Little Red Dragon (a.k.a. 883) is so tiny that Rich, Eddie and I exceed the weight and balance calculation, which is why Eddie couldn't come with us when I trained in her.

Like a pro, Eddie put his two front paws on the door opening and, with a small boost from me, was ready for the adventure to begin. We got away from Gaithersburg shortly after 8 a.m., and enjoyed a warm and hazy 1 1/2 hour flight to the Tri-Cities airport in Endicott, NY (KCZG).

With only a slight detour for an active restricted airspace near Harrisburg, PA, we made good time with a 15 knot tailwind. Of course, "good time" in 883 is about 110 Knots, but the whole point of taking the slowest plane in my club was to bank hours so I can reach 250 all the more quickly. (250 is the magical number needed to work on my commercial rating.)

We stayed low at 3500 feet and I enjoyed the views. Eddie destroyed the new toy I bought him and then slept most of the way. With his bed and enough room to lie down, he definitely had the choice location. We were quite the well-packed little airplane, however.

The folks at KCZG were very friendly, and after some water for Eddie, some caffeine for me, and some gas for the plane, we got back up shortly after 11 a.m.

A mere two hours later, we touched down in Massena, NY, which is beautifully situated along the St. Lawrence. Not your traditional airport, a TSA representative and a ground keeper helped me push 883 back to it's resting spot (which they didn't charge me for). Mum and Dad soon arrived, and we piled into the back seat where I got some snuggle time with Eddie.

Sunday Eddie and I got up early for a run, and I took him to the stream / nature reserve that runs through Hudson. Happy as a clam was he to splash first one way and then the other in the shallow, sandy stream. I didn't know whether I should laugh or scream when he later decided to lunge full-on into a muddy, stagnant duck pond and emerged covered in mud, pond scum and Lord knows what else. Before he could leap on me to truly express his glee, back to the stream ran we, and off he washed once again.

Tuckered out from all our early morning activities, we chilled in the backyard for most of the afternoon. How I love lazy Sundays in the country...

After a two hour nap, we got up and discovered that all the BBQ preparations had been taken care of by my darling Mum (timing is everything, eh?). Melanie arrived soon after, and we popped the first cork.

Tamlyn and Dino were next to arrive, and Gillian made her appearance while Tamlyn and I were taking Eddie for his pre-dinner walk. Eddie was mighty excited to see his faithful back-seat N5135Romeo companion again, and seemingly only a tad bit dismayed that Rich never made an appearance despite the increasing cast of characters gathering at 75 Oakland Avenue.

Monday morning's weather looked great until about Baltimore, so Eddie and I decided to see how far we could get. Mum and Dad dropped us off at Massena, and I pre-flighted 883 while chatting to some bored airport employee who clearly didn't understand why he was the only person required to work Memorial Day.

Fueling up and pre-flighting took longer than it should have, and it was after 10 by the time we got wheels-up. A tailwind helped us along, however, and we touched down at Tri-Cities again shortly after noon. Nestled between two high mountain ranges, I marvelled at how tight a base you can make in a Cessna 152 and yet how little runway is required before you've stopped.

The day was clearer than Saturday, making for pretty views of the numerous bodies of water we passed over. Only slightly regretting my decision to work on my pilotage skills rather than borrow a headset with an iPod jack, I amused myself by singing off-key, playing the "where would I land if my engine went out ... NOW?! .... NOW?!" game, and scratching Eddie while he snoozed.

As we approached Frederick, the Potomac air traffic controller was hopping to keep up with the weather system that was sitting, so it seemed, directly over Gaithersburg and causing no small amount of havoc. A few pilots had managed to get into Gaithersburg under VFR (visual flight rules, which I was flying), others were trying to convert to IFR (instrument flight rules), and others still were simply holding about 10 miles Northeast of the airfield and hoping the cell would move on before they needed to touch down and re-fuel.

Despite my alleged weather jinx aura, a clear bit of airspace stuck with me as I flew ever-closer to Gaithersburg. I kept in close contact with ATC, saw the airport 4 miles out, made a tight base, and got down just as the skies opened up and it downpoured in earnest. Eddie and I sat and filled out logbooks and packed away charts and equipment while waiting for the worst of it to pass. We finally decided to make a run for the car. Although the air smelt vaguely of wet dog, I assured Eddie that he could be my wingman any time.


At May 26, 2009 at 10:52 PM , Anonymous Fenati said...

what? no pics of Eddie covered in mud?

At May 27, 2009 at 12:13 PM , Anonymous Annemcmaster said...

We are so glad Massena is so close! Any time you (and Eddie!!) need taxi service to Hudson we'll be there!

At May 27, 2009 at 1:41 PM , Blogger Greg said...

Now THAT is a good solo cross-country. Congratulations on a great trip!

At August 25, 2009 at 11:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey i'm Joe..i work at PCT in the BWI area...and it's ironic that i stubled on your blog this morning...and as i as reading this May 26th entry i realized you are the one that i talked to on that TERRIBLE weather day around BWI and GAI. As you were approaching from the north in N883, i was holding 4 maybe 5 IFR airplanes all trying to get to GAI. We already had one A/C on the approach and everyone wanted to get closer to GAI but didn't know if they would be able to cancel which put us (PCT) in a huge bind...then a blessing in N883 said she was able to continue VFR to GAI while all the macho men in bizjets and SR22s where holding over EMI. When i passed along to them that they could cancel and continue vfr they one by one formed a 25mile final to GAI vfr thanks to your PIREP. You did have me a little worried due to the weather that was SO close but i could tell in your voice you were confident. So, sorry if i'm rambled here but i just wanted to say thank you from me and everyone in the BWI area of PCT for helping us manage that situation, and on behalf of those pilots that were holding also...thank you so much.



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