Thursday, April 11, 2013


My wife and I needed a beach vacation but really couldn't afford to spend a lot of time away from work. We settled on a 48 hour getaway to Ocean City, Maryland. The plan was to leave Wednesday morning and return late Thursday afternoon or evening. We wanted to get as much beach time as possible and enjoy some delicious sea food. Gary has spoken so often of his adventures there I just had to see what it was like.

The people packing was easy, just an overnight bag and some beach gear. I filled one wing locker with Sally's stuff; canopy cover, chocks, plugs, etc. Our shared suitcase fit behind our seats and the beach gear (towels, blankets and shoes) went in the other locker. I had about 11 gallons in each side for what should take a little over 6 gallons to get there. We would be pretty close to MTOW. Weather planning for the trip out looked great, but the Thursday return could be interesting. A massive cold front was due to come through which would make conditions IFR. I needed to keep an eye on that.

I pulled Sally out of the barn to load the bags and noticed a rubbing sound from the left main gear. Low tire pressure. Fortunately I keep a little compressor in the car (conveniently calibrated to Bars). No obvious leaks but something I needed to keep an eye on. I packed the compressor to take along with us.

The Reserve
All ground operations were good. The low voltage problem seems to be solved and I found no other abnormalities. We took off to the north, departed to the west before finally coming back on course to the south. Philly approach provided Flight Following and gave us permission to enter the Class B airspace. About the time I was getting settled at our cruise altitude of 5500' Philly asked me to come right 30 degrees. They were a bit busy so vectored us away from the airport final approach course. That was fine with us, no hurry this morning as the air was smooth and somewhat hazy. Smooth air is good. Once cleared on course I punched the necessary buttons to let Sally take us south and sat back to monitor our progress. An uneventful trip, that's good stuff.

Ocean City Municipal
The lady at the FBO is Nola. What a treasure! She gave us great advice on where to eat, where to stay and how to get around. The hospitality was just great. First stop was the Sunset Grille for crab cake sandwiches. We sat upstairs looking out over the marina with fresh breezes coming in through the sliders. GREAT(!) sandwiches. Next over the causeway to find our hotel and hit the beach. Beautiful sand, wonderful ocean but just too cool yet. Maybe that's why we had the entire beach to ourselves? After about a half hour we gave up and headed back inside to get warm. The sun was inviting but the air just wasn't 'summer' yet.

Wild pony at Assateague
We had a car so went out to explore. This must be a very busy place "in season" but is nearly deserted this early in April. After driving up and down the main strip we headed back across the causeway to see what might be on the bay side. Kathy saw the sign for Hwy 611 pointing to Assateague Island, a place we had always planned to visit to see the wild ponies. So off we went. By now it was getting close to sunset and the views looking through the wilderness were beautiful. After awhile we stopped the car hoping to possibly hear some horses, but nothing. We turned around to leave the park. Just prior to the exit we saw the two ponies. Cool.

By now we were both hungry but most places don't open until Friday in the off season. So I was pretty certain we were headed back to eat at the hotel. Suddenly Kathy pointed to the right and shouted "PGN"! That's one of the places Nola had recommended. Of course it was fantastic! Jumbo shrimp which were indeed really jumbo. (It says on the menu 6, but it really serves like 12.) Kathy had silver dollar sized broiled scallops...yes, they were outstanding. And southern sweet tea, oh yea.

Sunrise at the beach
We slept well. Thursday I checked the weather and wasn't pleased. Beautiful here but a stationary front lay right over Philadelphia and the ceilings north of it were low. MVFR around 2500' with that strong cold front moving in from the west. Time to go.

Kathy didn't want to have breakfast at the hotel, said we should find something local instead. So I spotted Layton's as we traveled south on Philadelphia Avenue. I went with one of my favorites, biscuits and gravy, while Kathy had pancakes. (and we had a cinnamon stick donut for an appetizer...the diet was on vacation too.)

Saying Goodbye
Back to the airport to get ready for departure. The weather forecast was the same, I got another 6 gallons just in case we had to divert and we went out to preflight. The left main was low so I pumped that up. It will be on my list for Harry to look at, probably get some new improved tires this time. Everything else was normal so we loaded up to start our departure. We headed north then east to fly out over the beach to see where we had been staying. Beautiful and empty, I'm sure it won't be that way much longer.

Cruise checks were done at 4500' and I punched the buttons to let Sally take us home. Smooth air is good. It was uneventful until we approached Philly. When Dover cancelled Flight Following I had all but decided to just fly VFR beneath the Class B shelf, but that little voice in my brain said check in. So I announced that my Pipersport (C_R_U_Z) was descending to 3500'. The immediate response was stop the descent and maintain 4000'. Sure enough a Piedmont commuter was off my right wing coming underneath us. Nice to have another set of eyes helping out. I was cleared into the Class B to maintain 3500'. After passing the final approach courses for Philadelphia I asked and received 2500', and then altitude at pilot's discretion. Just south of KPTW we were down to 1500' and my "plan B" was to land there. We maintained VFR, dodged some virga and traveled the final 15 miles at that altitude. We landed without any problems, it was good to be home.

1 comment:

  1. So much to see and do! Sounds like you had a good time, now if the temps were a bit warmer that would have been perfect.

    You can't find a nicer airport and staff to work with, what a great bunch! Nola is tops! She always takes care of our Maggie girl with plenty of treats when we arrive.

    Mary and I will have to try the restaurants you mentioned. We have been to two on the waterfront just north of the airport but I cant remember their names.

    Mary and I are looking at homes in OC, we want to retire there. Actually, Mary said lets get on the hangar list at OXB, such a good Bride.