Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Hitchhiker's Dream

Okay, so I realize it isn't really hitchhiking when you know the person, but yesterday was still a fun first. I took off from Gaithersburg at 6 a.m., 20 minutes later was touching down at Hagerstown, and just as I was finishing tying down the Tiger, Rich touched down in the Baron to pick me up.

We were soon racing back down runway 27 and away to NYC. We flew about as close to Camp David as non-military planes can get, and I tried to figure out which cluster of houses the Obamas occupy. I'm guessing the large ones by the lake.

Despite a light headwind, it was a near perfect day. Much to Rich's surprise, of course.

How the bad weather we encountered en route to/from the Bahamas, Boston and Montreal became my fault and not his is somewhat beyond me, but I like the nickname Strikefinder Amy, so I'm okay with being labelled the weather jinx. (A Strikefinder in a plane shows lightening strikes = thunderstorms = bad for small planes.)

It always feels like no time at all in the Baron and you've gotten from one major landmark (Susquehanna River, above) to the next one (first views of NYC, shrouded in mist were very cool, below).

We came into Teterboro airport in New Jersey only a tad on the late side and high-tailed it to the car service folks that were waiting on us.

After we got into the city, Rich went to inspect a job site while I went to visit with Adrienne and her girls for a couple hours.

Adrienne, Ted and I had managed a rendezvous at the Flying W airport resort last summer, but that was pre-Amy Goldthorpe, so it was really cool to get some baby snuggles in and to play with Elizabeth again. Elizabeth was being camera shy, but Adrienne managed to capture this next one while she was preoccupied with her Teddy Ruxpin.

When Rich and I met up near the NYC public library for lunch, it felt like we had accomplished a lot and it was only barely noon! (Not enough to make me want to get up at 4:30 every day, of course, but those 19 hour days do serve a purpose.)

Going home, I opted to start in the very back for the prim-o views of NYC as we were detouring slightly to go home via the Hudson River. I amused myself while Rich did his run-up and taxied out to the runway.

We were barely off the ground when the George Washington bridge came impressively into view. Going down the right side of the river, we were required to stay under 500 feet, and it was amazing!

To increase safety, Rich explained that pilots announce when they are over the George Washington bridge, the Statute of Liberty and the Verranzo-Narrows bridge, as well as observe strict altitude restrictions.

We crossed relatively low over the city on our way to Boston a month or so ago and it was beautiful at night, but my pictures didn't turn out, so I was eager to see it by day.

Rich lived in NYC for a couple years, so I got to sit back and listen to the audio tour as we flew along. It was as cool as he'd promised it would be, and I'm already looking forward to taking folks up in the Tiger. I may have to get a bit better with my NYC geography first, though. Or, I could offer the Amy Zen Hudson River Tours. No talking allowed. Although I'm not sure if my Mum will be able to abide that ... Just kidding, Mum!!

There were several aircraft carriers on the river, which brought scenes from Top Gun to mind as I snapped pictures and imagined what it would be like to land on a tiny strip of floating metal...

"[Strikefin]der, you're at 3/4 of a mile. Call the ball..."
Geeky, I know. Oh, well. The secret's out now. Ooot now?

Just like a good firework show, I quickly sensed that my tour was going to be over before I was ready for it to be.

However, also like a good firework show, there was a grand finale. I yelled at Rich for suddenly banking sharply just as I was about to snap a picture of a Canadian naval carrier, to which he replied, "You are probably going to want to see this."
She certainly was beautiful...

The Verranzo-Narrows bridge was our last announcement point.

We passed Coney Island, and Rich started turning southwards and homeward.

The Gateway National Recreation Area was a surprising reminder how close NYC sits to some really beautiful beaches.
Once out from under New York's Bravo airspace, I climbed forward and rode shotgun the rest of the way to Hagerstown. The Tiger was ready and waiting for me when I got there, and although it was a bumpier flight home with headwinds to boot, flying is flying, and it was a great day.


At May 22, 2009 at 9:37 AM , Anonymous Tamlyn said...

Fanatastic photos...I would love to do a NYC run with you guys. Call the ball...I'll be there :)

At May 22, 2009 at 10:54 AM , Anonymous Annemcmaster said...

What an amazing ride, amazing photos, and amazing day! You flying folk really do see this world from a different perspective!
Thank you for sharing the view!

At May 24, 2009 at 5:42 PM , Blogger Jude said...

I reiterate your Mum's remarks about the very different perspective of N.Y. City which looks absolutely beautiful.
Thanks for sharing the adventure.
Your photos of the countryside enroute are really lovely.


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