I love looking back on all of my flights from the year and summarizing them for everyone to review. I was actually surprised that I flew as much as I did this year when I summed up all of my flights. We had a couple of big trips and really were able to use the capability of N111RW – our 1981 Piper Saratoga. I really learned a lot about our new airplane and have become more proficient in it. N111RW was also grounded for about 3 months (Aug-Oct) as well due to it needing its engine inspected after the prop was struck by a tug at the airport while it was tied down. Nothing significant was found and the FBO took care of all of it including an overhaul of the propeller and a new lower cowling. During this time they also gave me access to one of their Cirrus SR22’s which was a great experience learning to fly. On top of our vacations we also flew 5 rescue missions for Pilots N Paws. Of course I didn’t have nearly enough hours but I am grateful that I have the resources and support from my family to be able to fly such an excellent airplane! I look forward to 2016 to be able to continue to fly many more exciting trips.
Here is a summary of 2015:
2015 Hours: 76.2
Total Hours: 834.1
2015 Approximate Mileage: >8,000 miles.
New Airports: 9 – KCHS, N87, KGNV, KSRQ, KOFP, KFKN, KFDK, KFLD, KLYH
Map of all the flights made in 2015:
New States: No new states added in 2015. This map shows all the states I’ve landed a GA airplane to date.
Year in review: In January I only had one local flight with a quick stop in Wakefield to get fuel with my friend Mark. We had some decent weather in February so the family and I spent a weekend in Charleston, SC. I took the week off of work and assisted with the annual inspection for N111RW the first week of March and met up with some good friends Gary and Bob in Georgetown, DE the weekend after it was complete. Later in March the family completed our first Pilots N Paws mission where we helped “Lady” and her 11 puppies get from North Carolina up to Rhode Island. We flew the 2nd leg from Richmond, VA to Trenton, NJ. We had a lot of flying hours in April when we went to Florida for Spring Break. On our way down we stopped in Wilmington, NC for a night and picked up “Jack the Border Collie” who flew with us to Sarasota, FL on our 2nd Pilots N Paws rescue of the year. In May I had a bunch of flights but they were all relatively local to Richmond. I was able to fly with a few friends including a flight with my Kevin to Franklin for an EAA breakfast. Gary came down to Richmond at the end of the month and we took turns flying in each other’s airplanes and practiced a few approaches to update our currency. In June Bryan and I flew with Jake to the AOPA Homecoming Fly-In in Frederick, MD and surprisingly this was my only flight that month. July I would make up for it though with a flight to Michigan to spend the week with Lori’s family. Bryan and I flew over to Oshkosh, WI to spend a couple of nights camping and meeting up with our friends Frank and Bev. N111RW was grounded after we returned from Michigan so August I spent a few hours learning how to fly N544CD – A Cirrus SR22. Bryan and I flew with Kevin and his son Ben to Wildwood NAS for lunch and to see the museum in the Cirrus. Also in August we flew the Cirrus to Myrtle Beach,SC for a long weekend. September was a quiet month as I waited for the repairs to N111RW to be completed and then October & early November were just been local flights testing and working through a few issues with the shop after the maintenance work. In November I completed 2 additional Pilots N Paws missions. The first was with Jake where we flew the SR22 to Charlotte, NC to pickup Taco & Betsy. After Thanksgiving, Bob, Hannah & I flew back to Charlotte in our plane to meet the same people to pickup Snowflake, Butterfly & Smoki. On both of these missions we met other pilots here in Richmond for them to take the next legs. December has not been an active month for my flying this year either. On multiple occasions I had plans to fly but I was either sick or the weather got in the way. That’s okay though, in looking back I had a great year of flying! I look forward to 2016 where I already have my first flight planned for January 1st to go with Bryan, Kevin & Ben to Washington Dulles to go to the Air & Space Museum.
Here is more data for my pilot friends (2015/Total):
Landings: 53/1047 (Ask me how many of these were good….)
It is always a great day to meet-up with a bunch of other aviators and aviation enthusiasts and today was a excellent opportunity to do that. I had planned to attend this event for the last couple of months and was glad to be able to attend. The weather was decent and it looked like a few clouds and patchy fog might delay us but when I looked at the weather forecast first thing this morning I was confident that we wouldn’t have any issues. Bryan and I met a friend Jake L. at the Chesterfield County Airport (KFCI) at 7AM and headed north to Frederick in Saratoga N111RW. We flew up on an IFR flight plan but only encountered a few areas of clouds. As expect we had to deal with quite a few other planes as we got close to the airport and when we were handed off from Approach to Tower Control there was a little confusion because there was VFR traffic paralleling us in. We took the right of way and landed ahead of them as the Mooney in front of us was turning off the runway.
After parking and securing the plane we started exploring. Jeff & Bryan attended a seminar on engines while Jake checked out the vendor tent. After that Bryan got to enjoy the Kid’s area for a bit which was very well done with bounce houses and other activities. A quick tour through the vendor tent with a couple of interesting finds but without spending too much money is always good thing. We then met back up with Jake for lunch where a bunch of food trucks gave us a great selection. Bryan and I both had a piece of pizza and shared some tater tots. After lunch we explored a bit more and looked at the static aircraft displays. The Breitling Jet Team did a few flyovers and Mike Goulian performed an aerobatic routine which was very good. Here are the links to a couple of videos that I took of the Breitling Jet Team: Video 1, Video 2. We wanted to get good seats for Rod Machado’s presentation, which is always a favorite. He has a knack of having a humorous presentation that you still learn something from. After Rod’s presentation we spent a little time back in the Kid’s area and then returned to the main tent for the AOPA Town Hall which included updates from Mark Baker, president and CEO of AOPA, FAA Dep. Admin. Michael Whitaker and NTSB Chairman Chris Hart. They did a great job of succinctly updating us on the current issues they are all working together on including ADS-B and 3rd Class Medical reform. It was very interesting.
The last mission of the day was to enjoy the free ice cream! While eating ice cream I ended up having a nice conversation with Melissa Rudinger who is AOPA Vice President Government Affairs and one of the hosts of the weekly AOPA Live. Earlier in the day Bryan and I met Tom Haines’ who is the Editor in Chief and Sr. Vice President Media and the other host of AOPA Live. Both were very nice and I thanked them for the work they do for us.
We then made our way back to the plane, did a quick pre-flight and briefed the departure procedures. We would depart west VFR to the Martinsburg VOR and then pickup the IFR flight plan that I had filed from Martinsburg back to Chesterfield. Everything went as plan and we leveled out at 2000 under the cloud deck while we picked up the clearance. In short order we were cleared to 7,000 and direct to KFCI. We went through a few clouds but didn’t really get bumped around too much. I topped off the day with an ILS approach into Richmond Executive Airport with Jake as my Safety Pilot. We put the Saratoga back in the hangar, and cleaned the bugs off the cowling and leading edges. It was such a great day and I was glad to be able to share it with both Jake and Bryan!
We have already been home from Spring Break for a month but I wanted to make sure I wrote about our awesome Spring Break in Florida this year. We had such an enjoyable time and it was really hard to come back from. We left Richmond after the kids got out of school on Good Friday and flew to Wilmington, NC (KILM). We spent a nice evening seeing the sites from the city we used to live in. We saw our old house, went to Wrightsville Beach where Lori and I got engaged and had dinner at Flaming Amy’s, which was one of our favorite places to eat. The reason we went to Wilmington is we were planning to fly another Pilots N Paws mission on our way down to Florida. Jack the Border Collie needed to get to Florida and he would join us on our trip down the following day.
We woke early on Saturday morning, had a quick breakfast at McDonald’s and then arrived at the airport. Jack met us and we started our trip down the coast. The weather wasn’t bad but we did spend a considerable amount of time in the clouds over South Carolina and Georgia. I even started to pickup some trace ice over the Myrtle Beach area but a small altitude change and this wasn’t an issue anymore. We stopped in Gainesville, Florida (KGNV) for fuel and then made the quick 1 hour hop to our final destination of Sarasota, Florida (KSRQ). After saying goodbye and wishing Jack the best at his new home we made our way to Anna Maria Island which is off the coast of Bradenton. We had a house rented for the week that was a very short walk from the beach. We couldn’t have been happier with the rental house and the area was absolutely beautiful. The weather outlook for the week was also perfect with every day forecast to be in the mid-80’s, reasonable humidity and low probability of rain. We knew it would be a perfect week!
Sunday was Easter and somehow the Easter Bunny found us even though we were on vacation. After a relaxing morning we spent a few hours on the beach and Jeff & the kids enjoyed the water. The water was very clear and not too terribly cold – very refreshing. After lunch and getting cleaned up we explored Anna Maria Island. Not much was open due to the holiday but we made notes of places we would return to later in the week. We went to dinner at Swordfish Grill just off the island in Cortez and had seats out on the bay. A band playing, beautiful view of the White Pelicans and water and great weather. The atmosphere was perfect!
On Monday we headed into Tampa to go to Busch Gardens. We had previously purchased Busch Gardens season passes here in Williamsburg, VA that are also good for the parks in Florida – including Sea World. We had an excellent time and really enjoyed the rides and shows. The family enjoyed the flume and the Congo River Rapids. Hannah and Jeff rode a couple of the roller coasters together too that they really enjoyed. The Sheikra was very intense with a 200 foot vertical drop! The only rain we saw all week was a thunderstorm on the way back to the rental from Tampa. Tuesday was another beach day for us. We then spent time again exploring and shopping on Anna Maria Island. We went out to the Anna Maria City Pier and then had dinner at The Beach House.
We don’t like to stay in one place for too long so on Wednesday we were back in the Tampa area. Lori and Hannah spent a couple of hours on a tour at Big Cat Rescue. This happened to be very close to where Jeff lived for a few years as a child so he drove around seeing his old house and school. Afterwards the family spent the afternoon at Adventure Island which is the water park across from Busch Gardens. We had a great time enjoying the park! On Thursday we were on the go again and drove all the way over to Orlando where we spent the day at Sea World. We’ve already gotten excellent use out of passes that we purchased and now will have the rest of the summer.
Vacation time seems to fly much faster than normal time. Friday was our last day and we spent more time on the beach than prior days. The water was warmer than any prior day and it was a very relaxing day. We ended up back at Swordfish Grill for dinner as we had really enjoyed it there earlier in the week and decided this would be good for our last night in Florida. We were off early Saturday morning and after reviewing the weather Jeff had determined we could make the trip back to Richmond non-stop. Jeff filed for 17,000 feet and at the appropriate time all put on our oxygen cannulas. Jeff had the oxygen system filled the prior day and we had previously all practiced using oxygen at lower altitudes. We were prepared for this and it paid off. Less than 4 hours later we were landing at our home airport in Richmond and it was only lunchtime! Click here to see our track on FlightAware. At times we were getting ground speeds in the 180-190 knot range (210-220 mph). At one point we started to pickup a little ice at 17,000 feet but I utilized my de-ice boots and then descended to 13,000 to complete the flight and the ice was a non-issue
You know you have had a good vacation when you don’t want it to end. This trip was one of those times where we couldn’t have asked for a better family trip. We experienced near perfect weather, warm water, multiple beautiful sunsets, fun times in the amusement parks, and most importantly much needed family time. Time to start planning the next one! Click here to see all of our pictures from our week in Florida.
Lori and I have been talking for the last couple of years about getting involved with Pilots N Paws. Pilots N Paws is an organization that helps coordinate the transfers of animals to & from shelters or new homes. We signed up on the boards and were quickly contacted about a need to transfer a dog and her 11 puppies up to Rhode Island from North Carolina. We coordinated the transfers and the first leg of the flight was flown by Mark and his wife up from Lumberton, NC up to our home airport – Richmond Executive Airport (KFCI). Lori, Hannah and I loaded up the plane with “Lady” and her 11 puppies while Bryan went to his friend’s birthday party. Lady was very well behaved and a sweet girl. It was obvious that she knew we were helping her. We flew up to Trenton-Robbinsville Airport (N87) and met Mike and Eric who would fly the last leg of the trip up to Rhode Island. It was cold, windy & bumpy around Trenton but we made the quick turn and headed back to Richmond where the weather was gorgeous. It was really a rewarding day and a fun way for us to utilize the airplane for something good. We will definitely do more rescue flights and look forward to the next ones. Pilots N Paws is a very active organization and there seems to be a very high demand for the flights. Here are the pictures of our rescue flight.
The FAA regulations on aircraft inspections are very specific and rigorous. Regardless of how many hours flown in a year my airplane is required to have a detailed inspection completed each year. This inspection usually takes a full 3-5 days and consists of a detailed list of areas that need to be inspected and items that need to be serviced. This not only leads to increased safety and reliability of the aircraft but helps the owner uphold the value of the aircraft. I have been involved with assisting in the annuals for the past few years as it helps me learn about each plane but also be involved in understanding what issues. Click here to read my post from the annual completed in 2011. In 2012 I actually helped my mechanic replace the engine on N2893Z which was quite a learning experience!
This year would be the first annual inspection since purchasing N111RW. There is always a lot of unknowns going into an annual inspection which can lead to increased costs if something major is found. I had a thorough pre-purchase inspection done last June and I was confident going into the inspection that nothing major would be identified. I planned the week with Dominion Aviation a couple of months ago and asked if I could assist in the annual. Dominion Aviation is located right on the field at KFCI – Richmond Executive Airport where N111RW is hangared so it would be very convenient.
On Monday morning I arrived and met with my lead inspector Bill and we discussed the plan for the week. I told him I wanted to be as involved as possible but that I didn’t want to get in his way. Bill joined me in taking the plane out to the run-up area to perform the pre-checks to ensure the engine was creating power and everything was working properly. We then brought the plane into the hangar and performed compression checks on all of the cylinders of which all were 76/80 or better (good start!). I then got to work opening all of the inspection covers under the wings, fuselage and tail. I also removed all of the seats. Late in the afternoon I cleaned the spark plugs using the bead blaster.
I started Tuesday by getting dirty removing wheels, cleaning the bearings and repacking each of them. We then “swung” the gear and performed all of the tests which went flawlessly. Since I’ve never had a retractable gear before this was a new experience for me. Bill had completed the inspection inside the wings with only minor issues identified so I was able to close up most of the inspection covers. Wednesday I tried to stay out of the way as much as I could as the inspection and minor repairs were taking place. The biennial pitot static, transponder and IFR certifications were also due this year so another couple of techs started on that and completed on Thursday morning. These checks which are done every two years ensure that your altimeters and airspeed indicators are reporting accurate readings to both the pilot and air traffic control. I also spent time conditioning the leather seats and cleaning misc items on the plane. One of the line guys William did an excellent job using PBS stripper and conditioner on the boots which really produced amazing results. The boots look like new now! The remainder of Thursday I spent cleaning and vacuuming out the cabin and re-installing the seats.
I didn’t arrive until lunch time on Friday due to other commitments but when I arrived Bill had completed all the minor repairs and was putting the cowling back on the airplane. We then went for a check similar to the initial run-up we did and everything performed well. Bill would spend the afternoon completing all of the paperwork and putting a coat of paint on the back of the prop. I thanked everyone at Dominion for letting me be involved. It was a very good experience and I’m glad that I joined them in the inspection. Bill did an excellent job of explaining things in detail whenever I had questions and helped me more than once when I struggled with something.
N111RW is fully airworthy and legal for another year! Here are the pictures I took throughout the process:
You can also view all the pictures directly from my Picasa Web Albums using the following link: N111RW Annual – 2015 Pictures
The family had a long weekend for President’s Day so we decided to fly to Charleston, SC. This was a place that we had heard so many good things about but had never made the trip. We discussed going somewhere but didn’t finalize the plans until just a couple of days prior to leaving. Weather is always a factor in our planning but February is usually a very tough month to plan too far in advance. The outlook looked like it would be a little chilly but overall good for the trip down to South Carolina. We got up early on Saturday morning and made the familiar trip to the airport. It was a cold preflight but the engine heater had been on all night so the plane was ready to go. Lori said she wanted remote start and heated seats and I told her that we would work on that in future upgrades but for now this is was the best I could do.
The flight down to Charleston was absolutely beautiful. I had decided to fly at 12,000 feet to get some higher altitude practice with the family. We all put on our oxygen cannulas and the trip down was uneventful at about two hours and fifteen minutes. I had filed a route using victor airways but when I picked up my clearance the controller asked if I just wanted direct and I said “Yes!” We landed at KCHS – Charleston International Airport and Air Force Base. It is a good sized airport but fees were low and they waived overnights with fuel that wasn’t too terribly expensive. As soon as we shutdown the line guys had the rental car at the plane for us and assisted in unloading the luggage. Great service!
We had no plan and didn’t even have a hotel room yet but we headed into Charleston. When we arrived we went to the Visitors Center and were surprised how busy things were for February. The Southeast Wildlife Expo was happening and there were a lot of people in town. A Carnival cruise ship was also docked for the day which added to the business. I got on Priceline and was able to find a decent deal on a Holiday Inn Express just a few miles outside of the city that we would stay at. We then struggled a bit to find parking but finally found a garage that wasn’t full. By this time the air was warming up nicely and it was turning into a beautiful day. We spent the day exploring Charleston on foot. We went through the entire City Market and had lunch at Southend Brewery. We then walked some more along the pier, along Rainbow Row and then to the Battery. The wind had really picked up in the afternoon and we were starting to get tired so we made the trek back to the car. In total we walked over 6 miles on Saturday! We then found the hotel and then after a short rest we went to dinner at a The Green Goat not to far from where we were staying.
Sunday was another busy day for the family. We had a good breakfast at the hotel and then headed to the USS Yorktown. The temperature was forecasted to be cool and windy on Sunday. The USS Yorktown was a great tour that we enjoyed for a few hours. There was much more to see but some of the exhibits were outside and the wind was making it feel very cold. We also wanted to go to the South Carolina Aquarium as well. We crossed back over the bridge and went back into Charleston and spent a few more hours in the aquarium. We had missed lunch and were very hungry so we decided on an early dinner at Fleet Landing Restaurant. It would be an early night though as we had had a busy couple of days and we would be leaving early the next morning.
On Monday morning we woke early, got dressed and packed and had breakfast at the hotel. We then headed back to the airport. Winds again favored flying high so I filed for 13,000 feet. The plane did a great job climbing this high and we were cruising at around 180 knots (207 MPH). The trip back only took about 2 hours. When we got close to Richmond there were some layers of clouds that we had to go through on our decent and we picked up a bit of rime ice on the leading edges of the wings and the windshield. Nothing to really worry about but I did activate the deicing boots and most of the ice quickly popped off. It was very good experience but I will still be very careful when flying around ice as I don’t want to have to rely on these.
We had an excellent weekend in Charleston. As I type this it is a few hours after we landed and it is now snowing hard. I’m glad the weather held out for us and that we were able to enjoy the weekend. Click here to see all of our pictures from the weekend in Charleston. We already know that we will be back as 2 days in Charleston isn’t enough to see everything.
This year my flying was significantly different than in the prior couple of years. In retrospect there are a few reasons for that. For one, we moved to Virginia and many of my flights have been local or to closer airports getting familiar with the area. Secondly, I sold N2893Z and purchased a new airplane this year – N111RW – a 1981 Piper Saratoga. I had to spend a considerable amount of time locally getting training in the new plane since it has retractable gear, a constant speed prop and is high performance. My 3rd excuse is a very demanding year at work had the plane sitting longer than normal. All that being said I still consider 2014 a very successful year from an aviation perspective. I look forward to setting some goals for 2015 and really spreading our “wings” in our new and very capable airplane. The new plane will fly us faster and higher than we have previously had the capability to fly. This will of course get us to our destinations quicker but also allow us to get above some of the weather and be more comfortable since it has 6-seats.
Here is a summary of 2014:
2014 Hours: 57.8
Total Hours: 757.9
2014 Approximate Mileage: >6,500 miles.
New Airports: 10 – KRIC, KFYJ, KPGD, KAQX, KART, KHRJ, KEMV, KSHD, KMMU, KUNV
Map of all the flights made in 2014:
New States: No new states added in 2014.
Year in review: January and February I had just a couple of flights to places relatively close to Richmond. The family flew a very short trip to see Colonial Williamsburg on a beautiful day in early March. Also in March I flew up to Lancaster, PA to spend time with my Pap in his last days while he was in hospice care. In April the family spent Spring Break in Myrtle Beach with Jeff’s parents at their new beach house. N2893Z was sold in May and N111RW was purchased in June. On June 17th (my birthday) I flew N111RW from Punta Gorda, FL to Richmond, then to Watertown, NY and back to Richmond in one day. I wasn’t able to log all of this time as I flew with the prior owner from Punta Gorda up to Richmond and then picked up my instructor who spent time learning the systems on the way up to Watertown, NY. My first logged flight in N111RW was from Watertown, NY back to Richmond and it was quite a memorable experience! The next few weeks were spent with my instructor learning the new airplane. The family flew in N111RW for the first time in the end of July when we took an overnight trip up to the Shenandoah Valley. It was a very quick flight but a milestone for the family. In August we flew up to Morristown, NJ where enjoyed our good friend Bobby James’ wedding. We dropped the kids off in Lancaster, PA and they spent the weekend with Jeff’s parents. At the end of August Jeff flew up to Cambridge, MD with new friend Kevin R. to meet up with old friends Gary Mascelli & Frank Dorrin to show off the new airplane. In November Jeff flew up to Penn State University with his friend Jeff G. to pickup his son David for Thanksgiving break. Finally in December the family again flew to Myrtle Beach for a weekend trip over Christmas Break.
So even though I didn’t accumulate as many hours in 2014 we still got good use out of our airplanes. We are starting to plan our adventures for 2015 and look forward to a productive year.
Here is more data for my pilot friends (2014/Total):
Night: 1.5/59.9 (Didn’t even try to stay night current in 2014 – wanted to get more familiar with new plane)
Click here to last years update: 2013 Aviation Update
I look forward to this point every year where I can look back on the flying that I did throughout the year. It is fun to look in the logbook, remember the adventures and tally up all the hours I flew. I was again fortunate enough to be able to exceed my yearly goal of flying over 100 hours. I also barely exceeded 700 hours of total time which is a goal that I set for myself this year. The plane and newly rebuilt engine are doing well and I look forward to exploring the airports of Virginia next year as we have just recently relocated to Richmond, VA. As I review the logbook, 2013 was another great year of flying and family adventures! Here is a summary of 2013:
2013 Hours: 106.7
Total Hours: 700.1
2013 Approximate Mileage: >10,500 miles.
Map of all the flights made in 2013:
Notable flights: As you can see from the flight map we definitely got good use out of the plane this year. January and February flying was just relatively local flights from Champaign with trips to West Layfayette, Indianapolis and the Chicago area. In March Hannah and Lori went out to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for the week so Bryan and I decided to fly to Dayton for a couple of days to see the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Bryan and I even flew up to the Chicago area to pickup Hannah & Lori after their trip. Surprisingly the only flight in April that I took was a flight with my friend Jeff B. up the Chicago skyline and to Schaumberg to meet our other friend Jeff P. for dinner. In May I made a couple of local flights and the family took an overnight trip up to Allegan, MI to see Lori’s family. In early June the family flew to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to meet with Jeff’s parents and grandparents for the week. On this trip Bryan and I took my parents on a flight tour of the Outer Banks. We flew all the way down to Ocracoke Island and as far north as Currituck. We even made a stop a KFFA (First Flight Airport) and walked up to the Wright Monument. In July I made two trips to Detroit in two weeks. The first was a quick day trip with Bryan and our friends Jay and Caden G. to see a Detroit Tiger game. We flew up in the morning, met with my friend Bob for the game and then flew back in the evening. It was really fun to go up there with the boys. A couple of weeks later the family flew up to Detroit for Jeff’s 20 Year High School Reunion and actually kept the plane at KDTW (Detroit Metro Airport). Probably the biggest aviation adventure yet was mine & Bryan’s trip to Oshkosh for AirVenture 2013 at the end of July. Bryan and I flew in and camped for a few days, enjoyed the unbelievable show and met up with old & new friends. Right after we got back from Oshkosh, Lori and I flew over to Indy for the night to see Maroon 5 in concert. I then flew Lori’s Mom back to Allegan, MI as she stayed with the kids while we were at the show. In September Jeff and his friend Jay went on another adventure to see the Detroit Tigers play in Kansas City for the weekend. The two spent the weekend in Kansas City, went to 2 baseball games and enjoyed exploring a new city. In October we flew to Richmond, VA to house hunt for our new home. After returning to Illinois I put the plane in annual and my next trip would be in late November to relocate the plane to its new home at KFCI (Richmond Executive Airport) in Chesterfield, VA. The new airport is only about 10 minutes from our new house! Finally, I was able to take a couple of flights in late December in Virginia. One was to meetup with a good friend – Gary M. – and fly with a new friend Scott A. We met for breakfast in Cambridge, MD.
So even though there were some breaks in my flying this year due to weather and relocating to Virginia I was still able to accumulate a good amount of hours on some really big cross countries this year. I’m so happy that I get the opportunity to fly and I hope that I can continue to utilize this great form of travel! I’m looking forward to a productive 2014!
Here is more data for my pilot friends (2013/Total):
Night: 6.4/58.4 (Not enough – need to increase in 2014!)
IMC: 13.1/42 (Some really good IFR experience this year!)
Click here to last years update: 2012 Aviation Update
Jeff’s friend and instructor for his instrument rating Frank Dorrin and his wife Beverly flew to Champaign in their Twin Comanche the Saturday before AirVenture. The plan was that we would head up to Oshkosh on Sunday morning. The weather wasn’t VFR at Oshkosh so we decided to file up to Juneau, WI – KUNU where we both ended up flying an approach down to about 1000′ AGL. We landed at KUNU, got fuel and explored our options. Frank was able to get a slot reservation and filed IFR which worked out well for him. Bryan and I waited on the ground for about an hour and the ceiling had lifted enough for us to make the 30nm hop up to Oshkosh. There wasn’t too much traffic and we were able to easily navigate our way to Ripon and proceed on the VFR arrival. When we arrived at Fiske we were directed to “continue along the tracks to the gravel pit and enter a right downwind for runway 27”. My heart was pumping and I was excited and on downwind I was cleared to land on the orange dot which is about 1/3 down the runway and then asked to land on the green dot about 1/2 the way down the runway. After landing I quickly pulled off the runway and marshaled to the general aviation camping (GAC) area where we would spend the next few days. The next couple of hours we were busy meeting our neighbors and setting up camp. That afternoon we spent time exploring the grounds and caught up with Frank & Bev at their campsite where they had an excellent view of the planes landing on 36L&R.
Wednesday was another eventful day. It would end up being our last full day at Oshkosh so Bryan and I did a lot of shopping for things that we had seen throughout the week that we wanted to get. We ended up going through all 4 of the big buildings that had vendors from the aviation industry. We also spent a couple of hours in the EAA Museum but will definitely have to go back at some point when we have more time. On Wednesday night we spent the evening seeing the night airshow which was amazing. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and the fireworks at the end were awesome! Bryan went right asleep when we got back to the tent and I spent the last couple of hours with a few of our fun neighbors. They were from all over the place. Mike and his daughter Jeanette from New York in a Bonanza, Ron & Woody from Montana in an RV, Walt from Texas in a Cessna, and Pat & Aaron in a Piper Cherokee 180 from Oregon.
It only took 10 years but in July of 2013 I finally made my first landing on grass. The Sunday Morning Breakfast Club – SMBC was meeting up at Hartenbower Airport – 2v3. I called my pilot friend Jeff B. the night before and we met early at the Champaign airport on Sunday morning. The weather was beautiful and we beat most of the crowd to Hartenbower but within a short time there were a lot of planes all coming in to land at the same time. The field was in great condition and the landing was uneventful. We parked on the edge of the field and had a good breakfast. Jeff had to get back to Champaign for another engagement so we didn’t stay long. My soft-field takeoff wasn’t perfect but we were soon off the ground and heading back. We had planned to stop in Pontiac for fuel but luckily we realized prior to landing that the FBO wasn’t open and the fuel pumps were not self-serve so we continued back to Champaign. I’m looking forward to landing at some other grass strips now that I have finally landed on one. There are quite a few here in Illinois.