Sunday, July 15, 2018

Quick Trip to Kissimmee

So, keeping this thing up to date hasn't exactly worked out over the past few months. Things have been busy! I have a whole pile of posts to eventually catch up on, so now that things have calmed down a little I'm hoping to slowly get this back up to date.

Back in March, I got the chance to ride right seat in the HondaJet again for a quick trip down to Florida. I was able to get the day off of work, so I met Frank nice and early (6:30am) at the hangar and we got ready to go.

The early bird gets the HondaJet ride! We were the only ones at the airport that early; the sun was just starting to come up when we pulled the plane out of the hangar.

Frank fired up the engines, ran through the checklists, picked up our IFR clearance, called for release...

...and we were off the ground. The sunrise was really pretty, and we got a climb and turn to Greensboro (GSO) as soon as we checked on with my area's west side departure frequency.

A few frequency changes later, we were level at FL400 (40,000 feet) and making good time on the way to Florida.

There weren't too many other people in the air that early, so we spent the time sharing ATC and flying stories. Frank used to fly cargo in a variety of planes, so between the two of us we had plenty of stories!

I followed along on my iPad as we continued south.

At one point, I saw a circle rainbow below us on the clouds.

Traffic started to pick up a bit as we got further south. The center started sloooowly stepping us down reference a heavy jet a few miles ahead of us. I could see him from my side of the plane; it's a shame you can't use visual separation up in the flight levels, because it would have been a lot less work for everyone than the center stepping us down 1-2,000 feet at a time!

The center handed us off to Orlando approach, and we got vectored way out to the east side of the city to get away from all of the other traffic.

It seemed a bit like approach couldn't figure out what to do with us for a while. They descended us to 3,000, then down to 1,600, and vectored us all over the place for a while as they tried to figure out how to sequence us with a slower plane doing practice approaches.

They eventually started turning us back toward the airport, but did so with an awful heading, then told us to line up for a closed runway. I was unimpressed.

We did finally find the airport, though, and landed before they could change their minds and give us more dumb vectors.

I think that may have been one of the planes we had been following. Fun times.

We eventually made it to the FBO, shut down, and met up with Dave (the airport director) and his wife Kristi. They had been in Florida to help with some family medical issues, and we were bringing them back home to VA.

Frank had the FBO top us off and we all climbed back into the plane. Time to get out of here! The warm sunny weather had been nice, even if it was just for a half hour or so.

Frank picked up our IFR clearance and we were off the ground a few minutes later. Bye, Florida!

You could just make out Disney World in the distance as we climbed out. It seemed like they couldn't figure out what to so with us on departure, either; we got sent way out west, almost to the Gulf of Mexico, before they figured out how to cross us over the Orlando departures and got us back on course.

We did eventually get to make a turn to the north, and finally got a climb up to FL390.

One thing I always think is cool is seeing other planes when you're up in the flight levels. We saw quite a few of them pass by as we made our way back up the coast.

There was a fair bit of weather in South Carolina...

...but we were so high that it was no factor at all for us.

Dave came up to chat with me and Frank for a little bit as we cruised along. He grabbed this picture of me sitting in the right seat.   :)

Aside from talking to Dave and Frank, I mostly spent my time enjoying the views.


As we got further north, the center started to step us down and we had to say goodbye to the sunshine. We dipped down into the clouds as we started our descent, and wound up picking up a bit of ice as we passed through FL200. It was pretty neat to see; the plane automatically turned on all the deice equipment, and chunks of ice slid back along the windshield as we continued down.

We kept descending as the center handed us off to approach. Mark even briefly worked us for a bit, then handed us off to another sector so we could continue our descent. We popped out of the cruddy cloud layer somewhere around 5,000 feet.

Visibility wasn't exactly fantastic...

...but it improved a bit as we continued down. We canceled IFR and continued on to HWY (with a warning from one of my buddies at work to be on the lookout for a 'PLETHORA' of VFR aircraft between us and the airport, which I thought was pretty funny).

One wide traffic pattern to miss a helicopter later, we were on final for Runway 15...

...and a few minutes after that, we were shut down outside of the hangar. And holy monkeys, it was COLD. Like, flurry sleeting cold. Not quite the weather we had left behind in Florida! At any rate, though, it had been a fun flight, and it was neat to think we had made it down to Florida and back by lunchtime. We got everything unloaded, I said hi and bye to a few people, and headed back home to grab some sleep before heading in to work the overnight shift. It had been a really fun trip; I'm grateful I got to go!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Quick Trip in an RV-8

Back in February, I spent an evening airport hopping with my buddy Bob. I wound up taking so many pictures that I figured it should be its own post!

Bob occasionally flies his friend's RV-8. It won an award at Oshkosh a number of years ago, and I always feel lucky when I get to tag along for a flight.

Someday I will hopefully have an airplane with this label inside, too.  :)

The weather that day was absolutely gorgeous; you could see all of the ridges perfectly clear out in the distance. Bob put on some 70's funk music through the intercom, and we cruised off to the south.

Bob had planned a round robin flight that stopped at several airports along the way. First up was Louisa County (LKU). Bob ducked down for a touch and go, then climbed back out and turned to the east.

We flew down around Lake Anna. The air was perfectly smooth, and the sun reflecting off the lake was really pretty.

We eventually looped back up to the north and headed for Orange County (OMH). Aside from the skydiving plane that was climbing out with a sunset load of jumpers, we were the only ones around.

Honestly, everyone else was missing out. The scenery was fantastic. Bob ducked down for another touch and go, then we climbed out and headed north.

We stopped by Culpeper (CJR) for one more touch and go as the sun dipped below the mountains.

It was a pretty sweet sunset, especially from the air.   :)

We eventually finished up the loop and headed back to Warrenton. This was on final to runway 15; Bob definitely has the better view from the front seat. It had been a fun flight...I'm glad I got to tag along!

Friday, May 18, 2018

February Recap

I know...it's been a while. It's been a busy couple of months! I'm going to try to post a bit more often going forward, especially since I've been doing some fun things.   :)

A new set of days off means new people to work the overnight shifts with. One of the controllers in another area had this sweet setup in one of the break rooms so he could 'mitigate fatigue' on his break.

I wound up getting sick AGAIN. I swear, it's like I just can't build up my sick leave beyond a certain point. At least I had some company while I hung out on the couch and burned through my sick leave.

Since the Eagles were in the Superbowl, Mark and I figured we'd actually watch it this year. Mark made us a pizza from scratch...

...and we had some tasty drinks, too.

I finally wasn't sick and the weather finally cooperated, so I was able to sneak out and fly for a bit. This flight put me up over 1500 hours of total flight time, which was a cool milestone to reach. Now, on to the next 1500!

Mark and I have been watching a LOT of the Great British Baking Show, and we decided to start trying some of the recipes. We started with a Victoria Sponge, which was delicious...

...and moved on to creme caramel, which was a bit more work but also delicious. We had to make caramel from scratch, which was neat.


I think they turned out really well, especially considering we'd never made anything like them before!

Giz was starting to slow down quite a bit, and started having problems with stiffness in his legs. The heating pad seemed to help a little.

We got a few nice breaks in the weather; this was the sunset at work one night.

We made sure to take advantage of the stretch of nice weather by spending some time hanging out on the porch. Wembles liked to feel the wind in her fuzz...

...and Bacon and Giz hung out on one of our comfy outside chairs.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to spend much more time with Giz. He woke up one morning in a lot of pain and we knew it was time to say goodbye. It really sucked. There are just no other words for it. I still have a hard time thinking about it, and honestly, that's a big part of why it's taken me so long to update this.

From happier times a few years ago, hiking up in Shenandoah.

Part of what made it suck even worse is that a couple hours after it all, I had to leave to spend a weekend in southern Virginia for a workshop. I had been really excited about going, but it couldn't have worked out to worse timing and I had a tough time being excited about it by the time I left.

The EAA Sportair Sheet Metal Basics workshop started bright and early the next morning, and I threw myself into I so I wouldn't have to think about how sad I felt. We spent the first couple hours learning some basics in the classroom, then moved into the shop to try out some skills.

We had two projects to complete; the first one involved riveting some pieces of metal to a piece of angle...

...and the second one involved building a mini wing section. It took me right up to the end of the second day, but I finished it!

After I got back, Mark made us another Victoria Sponge. Zach had come with me to the workshop and hung out for a bit after we got back, so the cake didn't last very long with the three of us there.

Toward the end of the month, I finally wound up with a stretch of good weather and was able to do some flying. First up was a cross country flight through the SFRA with some friends.

We stopped at Easton, MD (ESN) for lunch; I had one of the best cheeseburgers I've had in a while.

After flying to lunch with my buddies, I wound up going up for another short flight with another buddy in his C210...

...then got to do a sunset flight with yet another buddy in an RV-8. That was definitely one of the best flying days I've had in a while!

Even better, some of the hyacinths were started to poke their noses out in our front yard. I was looking forward to seeing them all bloom.


I rounded out the month with a short solo flight in the local area. I figured I should take what I could get with the weather!