Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Sentimental Journey

As we exited the Piper Museum we overhead a young teenager on her cell phone, "I flew! I really Flew! Just now. It was great! No, I really flew in an airplane!"
I would say it was a pretty successful flight.

The event really lasted four days, but I couldn't get away from work. We planned to depart Butter Valley first thing Saturday morning, spend much of the day in Lockhaven and return home in the mid-afternoon. The weather forecast was good so we headed out to the airport for preflight.

Suddenly the urge for Cotton Candy.
Sally was in good shape. I spent some time cleaning her this week so at least the wheel pants and leading edges were bug free. I also got a small step ladder so that I can reach the VOR antenna and the top of the vertical stabilizer with my Waxall spray cleaner. Heavy winds and thunderstorms moved through with the cold front last night and dust and straw covered everything, so Kathy grabbed the plexiglass spray to polish the canopy while I checked the engine and listened for the burp. (50 pulls). Out of the barn, we completed the last checks and climbed in. She made all of the ground radio calls on our way to takeoff. We slowly climbed out to the west and I decided that 6500' should be a smooth ride. It was like glass and we both enjoyed the beautiful Pennsylvania views.

Control Tower really help to control the ground ops.
Flight Following was busy but helpful. Harrisburg was particularly busy and it took a number of trys (stepping on each other) to check in. I have found it helpful to tell ATC that we are a Light Sport Airplane when identifying our type. Spelling out C_R_U_Z just seems to delay the process a bit, and I still get called a Cherokee to other traffic. As we were leaving his area, Harrisburg Approach wished us a good day at the Fly-in, we liked that.

Little puffies were starting to grow at our level so at about 20 miles out I started a gradual descent. .  When approaching from the south the airport his hidden by a high mountain just before the river. What a beautiful sight to see the airport once over that final ridge. We had been listening on the common frequency and arrived at a gap in the traffic. Paul, a familiar voice, welcomed us to the event and said he would be at the museum. So many little yellow planes were parked down there! Established on final a Warrior decided he could wait no longer and jumped onto the runway to depart. I had separation, but slowed a little anyway, vigilant of what might happen and ready to abort if I heard a hiccup. No problems, I rolled to the end and turned off onto the grass. The makeshift tower instructed us to taxi to row 3 and a linesman directed us in. This was a well run event.

We parked and unbuckled, but before we could get the canopy opened had some onlookers checking us out. So Kathy and I got out and started answering questions, mostly about the airplane but also about Light Sport in general. Members from the flying club were there, having camped out for the event. One wise guy wanted to ask me about the canopy pull down handle, and as I started to explain my reluctance about the useability he smiled and introduced himself. Richard! The truly great thing about blogs is finally meeting people you have corresponded with through the electronic media. I really look forward to flying with you Richard!

So, we did the Fly-in 'thing'. Ate some burgers, wandered through some booths, marveled at the airplanes, etc. The J3s were by far the star of the show. To see so many taking off and landing on a pretty grass strip is just an awesome experience.  We took the tractor ride down to the museum and enjoyed learning more about Piper's history. But I missed Paul! My one regret of the day.

All too soon it was time to depart. A few more questions answered before we strapped in (and a nice compliment from a young lady that Sally was the prettiest girl at the ball) and we were ready to go.

So, over the mountains and up to 5500' for the trip home. The bases of the clouds looked to be at about 7000' so I tried to find the smoothest air available underneath.  The good news was we had about a 10 Kt tailwind but that still meant about a 45 minute trip. This was a great outing.

I remember passing by Lockhaven on my way to and from Penn State. I would wonder what it would be like to land there. Well, its good, especially on a day like this.

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