Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Triple Play

Three flights in three days. If storms hadn't of prevented our flight to Montreal, it would have been four in four and then I could have called this blog "Four Play."

Alas, sometimes there is a downside to having the call sign Strikefinder.

Flight #1 was our much anticipated, annual overnight trip to the Flying W (N14) in Lumberton, NJ. After arriving at KGAI on Saturday last, we decided to fly boyz v. girlz, so Danielle and Mila came with me in the Tiger, and Rich took Jason and Anthony with him in the Baron.

The race was on from Gaithersburg. Richard needed to stop and get gas, but he took off first, and his Baron is a good deal faster than the Tiger, so neither of us had the clear advantage.

I hailed Rich twice once I was clear of the SFRA on our agreed-to frequency, but got no response. As we were approaching the Delaware River, I heard him call me, "Strikefinder, do you copy?" The Baron was passing over the Chesapeake bridge, so we had a comfortable lead. I had actually been hoping he'd catch me, however, as it would have been cool to come into the Flying W in formation. After all, flying is not a competition.

Except that the girls won.

We found two tie-down spots on the crowded airfield, and some folks made a quick change into their bathing suits while others mistakenly dropped the towels that were shielding them, and we were off to the pool.

The competition had been going on since 8 a.m. and continued until around 6 p.m. We watched the competitors doing loops, hammerheads, Immelmans, and barrel rolls, as we drank, lounged around the pool, swam, got peed on by Nick's kid, played volleyball, and ultimately made our way back to the planes to change for the night time bar and dance scene. A rocking good band, Sloppy & The Joes, entertained us for the second year in a row. They even professed to remember us -- although how could they not with Rich wearing his Sloppy & The Joes t-shirt ?? -- and gave us a shoutout on their blog afterwards. All too soon, however, it was time for a 2 a.m. swim in the pool, and the long taxi ride to our hotel (the Flying W lost our hotel reservation).

I was up early and decided to be that annoying person who makes a lot of noise until others wake up. We stumbled downstairs for breakfast and then taxied back over to the Flying W. It was nearly 11 by the time we rolled in, so I decided to file and fly home to meet Laura and her sister, Rachel, and two of Rachel's boys, Will and Josh, for their much-anticipated flight in the Tiger.


This was only my second time flying little people, and they were as wide-eyed as Aiden and Madeleine had been when I flew them. I explained as much information about the flight, the air space, and the scenery as I could think of as we flew along. Rachel helped by asking questions when I ran out of miscellaneous fun facts for kids. Josh and Will mostly just listened.


Will started to feel a bit motion sick as we flew along, so we circled over Harper's Ferry and then headed back to Gaithersburg. I hit the ground running, as I was hosting a BBQ back at my house and I was already late. (Which seems to happen a lot when I make plans post-flying.)


After a fun night of entertaining both friends and family, I headed to bed. I awoke at 2:30 a.m. with thoughts of flying jumbled in my head. My alarm went off at 4 and I did one last weather check before calling and cancelling my bosses' and my commercial tickets. I emailed Jerry that we were a go from Gaithersburg, showered, filed and fell out the door shortly after 4:30. I was pre-flighted by 5:30 and sat on the tarmac by the Tiger and watched the sun come up. I haven't watched the sun come up over Gaithersburg since my flight training days with Richard. I dare say, I think I've actually missed it!

Jerry arrived at 6, and we were wheels up by 6:15. As we crossed over the mountains, the early morning light on the haze made for a beautiful sight. I explained the basics of heading, altitude and attitude to Jerry and then let him take the yoke. Like a good pilot, he kept his eyes on the horizon as I took a quick picture so that he would have bragging rights back at the office.

Jerry did a good job of holding heading and altitude for nearly 15 minutes. It was an easy flight out to Elyria, Ohio, and we touched down at 8:30. With a courtesy car ride from the folks at the FBO over to our destination, we arrived only minutes behind co-counsel who had "gone commercial" from DCA. We completed our witness interview by 1, had lunch, and were back at the airport and in the air by 3. There was convective sigmet activity in the area and more approaching from the West, so I kept my eye on the clouds as we high-tailed it East over the Ohio River and beyond.

I hailed Cleveland Approach shortly after take-off and requested flight following. The controller surprised me with his reply. "What are you from Canada or something?" he asked. I confirmed that I was. "Oh, well," he said. "I guess I'll give you a Bravo Clearance anyway. I don't suppose you also want to go direct to Gaithersburg?" I laughed, and agreed that I would.

In short order, Jerry and I were flying directly over Pittsburgh International airport at 5,500 feet (mind the 747s, eh?) and then the city of Pittsburgh was off our left wing. We were home on the ground shortly after 5, and the Tiger was tied down and tucked in by 5:30.

As Jerry was leaving, he commented that there would undoubtedly be another trip to Ohio in our near future. He paused for dramatic effect, and then informed me that he would fly with me again.

It was a Viper saluts Maverick moment, if ever there was one.

As an added bonus, when I tallied my logbook later that night, I realized I had crossed 200 hours of flight time. Onward and upward!


At August 25, 2009 at 2:26 PM , Blogger Greg said...

Nice job impressing the bigwig! Flying for work's the best.... One thought -- maybe "hit the ground running" isn't the best turn of phrase for a flying blog, eh?

At August 26, 2009 at 3:03 PM , Blogger Amy said...

If any flight you can walk away from is a good flight, then wouldn't running away make it a great flight? At the very least, I can tell you that running away into the swamps of Miami International Airport after an emergency landing (complete with chutes and fire trucks) en route from Cuba to Montreal makes for an exciting flight...

At September 1, 2009 at 12:09 PM , Anonymous annemcmaster said...

Are private pilots required to have any sleep between flights?!
Just kidding....
I especially loved the photo of downtown Pittsburgh, our home long before you were in this world,Amy...
These wonderful voyages make for such great reading for us ground birds!


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