Well it has almost been a month and I was getting a bit antsy about not being in the cockpit. I was scheduled to fly this Sunday October 18th, but there is a Nor’easter headed toward the Boston area. We just had one slide through yesterday …. so my only hope was to find an available aircraft and get out there this morning. So I rushed down to the airfield and booked an aircraft.  Back to working full-time is great but definitely hinders the flight time …. especially with such unpredictable weather lately.

I wasn’t exactly sure where or when the weather was going to move in, but sure enough the winds where already out of the northeast between 8 to 12 knots with gusts up to 15 from variable directions.  Luckily the winds were from anywhere from 40 – 70 degrees so there was not a lot of crosswind on runway 5.  But I didn’t really do any flight plans so I was going to stay in the traffic pattern and just practice doing some touch and gos.  I needed the work and every time through the pattern the ATC provided a wind check …. and I didn’t even ask.  They were doing that today for virtually every aircraft landing since the winds were so unpredictable.   The gusts from any and all directions were the most unpredictable. 

Well Runway 5 is not one that I use very often … so it was a good day to fly the pattern and get use to the nuances.  They had us doing right traffic all day and the runup has really tight quarters compared to the other runways here at Hanscom.  Well I got my fix and I hope next weekend I can go somewhere fun and enjoy the foliage …. of course after this nor’easter we may have no leaves on the trees here in Massachusetts.

Landing on RWY 5

Landing on RWY 5

Colleague Landing with clouds moving in

Colleague Landing with clouds moving in

Well, I am officially back to work so my flying will be moved strictly to weekends from now on. But I did get a chance to fly this week prior to starting my new job. Which by the way is pretty darn good.  I flew on Tuesday and if anyone recalls the day, it was a beautiful clear September day, but a front was moving through and the winds were shifting from west to north east and gusting.  There were clouds scattered at about 2800-3000 feet which I found annoying since I was flying from Bedford to Hyannis, across the Cape Cod Elbow to Chatham and then up over Wellfleet and on to Provincetown.   I flew for about 3 hours sometimes above the clouds where the air was a bit smoother and then other times below the clouds in and around the Boston (bravo) airspace.  Below the cloud layer was definitely bumpy.

My other challenge was flying the glass cockpit (G1000).  It was my first time in several weeks so it took a little bit getting use to … but it came back after awhile and I was feeling much more comfortable.  I really need to keep practicing with the avionics. 

All in all it was a great day.    Take a look of the view I had …. this is from a very bad camera phone.  Not to shabby !!!

P-Town's Race Point

P-Town's Race Point

 

 Next flight in a week.  I am going to check out a low-wing Piper Arrow with retracable landing gear.  I’ll be doing that with my instructore … should be fun.

Pilots always talk about the flights they take for that $100 hamburger … well, this week it was more like the $200 breakfast.  But even in this new economy, I must say it was worth the trip.  If you are in the New England area, check out the “Cockpit Cafe” in Sanford, Maine (KSFM).  They house the incredibly friendly Southern Maine Aviation FBO with virtually any service you will need.  The only change that is fairly recent to the airfield is the lack of self service 100LL, they use to have that but now it is basic auto fuel so you will have to use the FBO for fuel.  Not a big deal since they are so friendly … just have to be aware of their hours of operation.

I highly recommend this airfield and location.  They have two very well maintained runways over 3000 feet and the proximity to places like Ogunquit and Kennebunkport make it a great option for a southern Maine excursion.   Here are a couple of my very different neighbors where I parked as I had breakfast with the nicest people I have ever met.

 

How adorable is this little bi-plane

How adorable is this little bi-plane

Low Wing with retracable gear - maybe next

Low Wing with retracable gear - maybe next

Another beautiful “fall-like” day in New England, and of course every time I go out to fly I learn or see something new.  Today, after flying for 2 years out of Bedford’s Hanscom Airfield, the active runway was number 5 and I have never taken off on this runway.   This was great for my ultimate heading northeast, but there was little room for run-up and I was feeling rushed once again.  I really have to get over that and do my checklist exactly how I like.   So by the time I had completed my run-up, there was a small jet behind me.  I called the tower, asked for take-off straight out to the northeast.  I was cleared for immediate take-off and then asked to move to the right and turn out to the right for a short period of time so the jet could get off quickly.   So much for my nice straight out take-off.  Well I got back on track after about 5 minutes and I was off to the southern coast of Maine. 
 
Of course like any good pilot I was listening in on the emergency frequency 121.5, Boston Approach frequency and various airports along the way.  Then all of a sudden I hear something I have never heard before.  It was a military aircraft trying to contact a small plane.  Multiple times the military aircraft asked the plan to identify themselves and to confirm they were communicating with Boston ATC.  Uh Oh !!!  Sounded pretty serious and finally the small plane replied and the military guy basically said …. “I have been asked to intercept your aircraft, what is you tail number and are you in contact with Boston ATC”.     
  
I had a funny feeling someone was in big trouble.  They must have gone into the Boston airspace without clearance.  While it is a mistake it is NOT a good one.  Glad it wasn’t me !!!
 
Here are a couple of pictures I took on my way back to Hanscom.
Corporate Jet Landing @ Hanscom

Corporate Jet Landing @ Hanscom

KLWM from 4500 MSL

KLWM from 4500 msl

I’m back !!!  It has been over a month and I haven’t flown.  It was long overdue and the summer has been so busy.  So I headed to the airport this morning jumped in Cessna 1154G and took off.  My original plan was to fly to Hyannis and then Provincetown this week, but I decided against going anywhere south of Boston with the President in the area.  The restrictions are pretty widespread and all the waivers, procedures etc are just not worth dealing with.  No need to make a small mistake and find yourself flanked by a couple of F14s followed by a court appearance. 

So time to just spend a little time brushing up.  I was worried I would be a little rusty but in general it was just like I left it in July.  Preflight went well, during run-up I had to run lean to clean out the magnetos a bit since they were running a bit rough.  Other than that I took off with a 7 mph wind from 270 on runway 29.  Not much crosswind but I did discover a pretty bumpy ride around the traffic pattern.

My first landing was not pretty.  A bit flat and a hard nose wheel down, I then took off immediately before I made sure the flaps were completely up which caused a bit of swaying now that the crosswind had picked up.  No harm, I made adjustments and the rest of my touch- and-gos were pretty “sweet”. 

One of my biggest issues while in the pattern is feeling rushed.  When I hear things like “no delay”, “immediate take-off” , “short approach” or “start your cross-wind now” I have a tendency to rush things that I shouldn’t.  Like not making sure my flaps are up or telling ATC that I cannot comply.  Then again, it was a blast and I am back in the saddle hoping for some nice clear weather through September and October.