Tuesday, November 17, 2009

N31 - 69N

The weather has been lousy. It was already bad before the remnants of Hurricane Ida pushed north and damaged the Jersey shore. I had hoped to join the Northeast Flyers for a lunch at KLNS, but flying was out of the question for me and I just wasn't up for a rainy day drive. It wasn't until mid-day on Sunday that I finally saw the Sun.

Monday morning looked good; blue skies and moderate winds with temperatures close to 60, and when a late afternoon conference call got canceled I decided to call Wings to see if the Cirrus was available. It was all mine for the afternoon.

My objective was to visit some old 'haunts'. The very first entry in my (now well worn) logbook was a local flight out of Slatington (69N). I was asked if that flight included two wings, goggles and a leather helmet, but the truth is it was a grass strip with one hanger and an airplane I would later fly did have to be prop started. My instructor used Kutztown (N31) as 'checkpoint' before letting his students solo. It was noted for the large hump in the runway. I guess he figured if you could land there then you could handle 80% of the runways you might encounter as a student.

While this was essentially just a daytime tour, I wanted to get some practice using all of the systems so I set N31 as a way-point and used 69N as my final destination. All ground procedures went well and I felt very comfortable in the cockpit. I waited at the hold short line for an Eclipse Jet to land and clear the runway. Autopilot was set for a climb on course Heading (060) at 900 fpm and target altitude of 4500'. Passing 1300' I dialed in North and announced my departure. With everything "green" I switched to the map on the MFD, confirmed that N31 was my next on the GNS430, hit direct/enter/enter and engaged GPSS with the Nav button. A slight turn to the left and I was riding on the purple line...pretty slick.

The plane leveled at 4500' as programmed, I checked the gauges and completed checklists and enjoyed the ride. I loaded an approach but had no intention to activate it. I just wanted to mentally brief what was needed and do the set up. It was about this time that I remembered to turn on the hand-held to get the picture at the top of this post. (I'll have to make this a part of my preflight checklist.) A right turn at N31 and off to Slatington. (I didn't see Kutztown since I was right on top.) I switched to Allentown Approach to listen in and when close gave them an advisory that I was in the area. 69N is right on the northern boundary of the Class C and I wanted to sight see just a bit. They now have a paved runway, about a dozen hangers and a bunch of airplanes tied down. They grew up.

Unfortunately Kutztown didn't. I found the airport on the way back and was sad to see the big yellow X's down the runway. The diner is still there, but no cars in the lot. I don't know when the property will be developed.

A quick turn around my house (still there), and time to return to wings. I hand flew it the rest of the trip and found KLOM to be pretty busy with two in the pattern and 3 more entering from the south. They gave way to me and I entered on the 45 to RWY 06 without any problems. My pattern was a bit tight, speed a little fast but a nice landing (on center-line) and easy roll out. As I started back a helicopter announced he would be landing on the taxi way. A brief chat confirmed he would land well clear of me as I told him I would take the throat up to the terminal.

A nice flight.

Time = 1.2 hours

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


It had been awhile. The last time was more of an after thought as I was running out of currency in the Tiger. That was then. Now, this flight was important to me. I've been so focused on flying the system, I needed a chance just to fly, to enjoy the freedom of being alone in the airplane.

The weather was good, but as I have come to learn living in the Northeast, it is always a factor. A low overcast had many of the airports to east listed as marginal VFR, and as I watched the clouds from my office move in I wasn't sure I would be able to go. By 2:00 it looked a little bit better so I packed my bag and started the 45 minute trip to Wings.

As I walked out to the airplane my instructor was helping another student with his preflight for a Cessna. Only a brief greeting as I focused on the work at hand. Preflight, start, taxi and run up were all normal, although much quieter. My confidence level was very good and I was actually quite relaxed. Take off and departure were fine, and I did use the autopilot for the climb and level off. I flew north and dialed in Butter Valley (7N8) to let the airplane fly by my house (it was still there), disengaged for some hand flying, easy turns, climbs and descents, and then headed back to Wings.

I got the weather, listened for traffic and entered via the 45 for a full stop RWY 06. Very good speed control, nice pattern, but landed left of center line. A familiar voice keyed "nice work" from the Cessna at the hold short line.

It had been over three years since the last solo flight. All who read this take note...don't wait that long.

Time = 0.8 hours.

*Note: It took less time for this entire evolution (out and back) then it took to drive out to the airport.