Saturday, June 30, 2012


"In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright conceived by genius achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith."
The AOPA Flight Planner said it should take about 2.5 hours to travel the 280 miles. A slight tail wind would help us out on the way down, which was good. As always, I was worried about weight. Two adults, one small suitcase, airplane covers, chocks and tie downs, and fuel.  We would be heavy.

We got a good start in the morning. Preflight went as planned, but I inadvertently clicked the autopilot switch when checking the lights, and turned it off immediately once I had realized my mistake. This would be a lesson learned. All ground checks were normal, and although the take off roll was a bit longer than normal we were easily off before my abort point and climbed easily on course. 6500' and level, I engaged the autopilot, or at least tried. Annunciator said "AP ERR ERR". I guess I had UN-calibrated the servos during my preflight and now I would have to HAND FLY the airplane for 2.5 hours (OH the tragedy!) How long has it been since you kept a scan going that long and kept it to PTS proficiency? It was a good workout and I'm convinced I should do it more often.
Dare County Regional

Dare County Regional is a busy place. Sky Divers, banner towing, biplane rides, all combined with General Aviation. Just 15 miles from First Flight, it is a GREAT stopping point to begin the exploration of the area. FBO was very helpful and provide super service. Rental car right up to the plane with no hassles. Use these guys for your trip, you'll like working with David.
The First Flight

The Memorial
First stop was to check in at the B&B. They weren't ready for us. So we went off in search of lunch. Sugar Creek Restaurant just over the bridge had GREAT scallops! Kathy enjoyed a salad with crab meat and we both guzzled down the southern sweet tea. Next we headed up Rt 158 through Nags Head to Kill Devil Hills and turned left into the Wright Brothers National Park. The parking lot was busy for a hot Wednesday afternoon and we were happy to see a good crowd in the Visitor's Center. We walked out to the first flight exhibit and wondered how they must have felt after the success of the fourth flight of the day, when there was absolutely no doubt they had achieved successful CONTROLLED flight. We went back into the Center for an excellent lecture on the Brothers and viewed a full scale model of the original Flyer. This a "First Class" event and I think every pilot should fly in, you won't be disappointed.

Exhausted, we headed back to Manteo to check in to the B&B and go look for some dinner. We got some directions to a sandwich place and enjoyed some crab cakes and cold beer. We also learned a little bit about Virginia Dare (Google it) and the Lost Colony. I never heard about this in history class.

Thursday was beach day. The B&B breakfast just didn't cut it, so we went looking for something on the beach, and Kathy found "Stack'em High Pancakes" on Rt 158. The biscuits and gravy (w/home-fries) were fantastic. Go there! Then we hit the beach. Its a very nice beach and we lounged for about two hours.

Sally and me at KFFA
Signing the registry
Dehydrated, we decided to go for a small lunch. The Life Guard recommend the local Stop & Shop so we refueled there, then drove the beach road north to check out the community. Then to Wally World for trinkets. Still the hottest part of the afternoon, we decided to drive south to find the light house at Hatteras. It was under scaffolding for painting, so not very photogenic right now. By now the afternoon heat was dissipating so we went back to the beach there. Just wonderful. OK, for you folks that see them all the time, it is probably not a big deal but to everyone else: Pelicans are phenomenal. Cartoons have made them into some ugly, ungainly silly kind of bird which is completely unfair. Kathy and I watched them all day and were delighted with their skill and grace.

Sunburned and sandblasted we made our way back to the B&B and decided to try and make the evening performance of "The Lost Colony" out door theater. A little problem with mosquitoes, the play was very good (stage craft fantastic) and I would give it another good recommendation.

KMQI to KFFA. Video here!

Friday was back to KFFA, but this time we flew in.   We secured the airplane, took a breath and looked at the 'mountain'.  We went into the ofiice ("Squawk VFR and hit the # key for access".) I signed the register and came back out onto the front porch. Slowly we made out way to the base, looked at each other and Kathy said "Let's go!" Its a long haul to get up there but we are both glad me made the climb. Its all part of the experience and the views from there are beautiful. Pictures taken, we came back down the hill and prepared the plane for the flight home.

We back taxied for take off position, talked with a helicopter flying down the beach and made our departure to the north. Planning had slight headwinds this time and the estimated the trip at 3 hours. I planned a fuel/rest stop at KGED. Level at 5500' I again went to push the autopilot button and found the annunciator "AP TST TST". I had failed to run the test procedure after the reconfiguration and now would have to hand fly for three hours, or until our stop at Georgetown. Calm but very hazy, hardly any horizon at all. But the winds were better than forecast so at SBY I decided to skip the stop and go straight home.  I updated ATC with my decision and he put our new destination into the system. I cancelled when we passed the Philadelphia Class B and began my descent just south of PTW. We landed at Butter Valley with 3 gals in each side.

An amazing trip, and one that we would like to repeat. Only spend more time enjoying the southern hospitality.

1 comment:

  1. Great airport(MQI) and great place to vacation. Mary and I really like the little shops along the waterfront, a fun place to stroll along. Sugar Creek is top notch, we also really like Darells on the way to nags head. The best steak house is JK's near first flight......dang I miss eating there.

    Great write up! Glad you both enjoyed the trip.