After a full month of crummy weather and very little flying, October started off bright and sunny. I wasn't about to let that go to waste, so I loaded up the C172 for a day trip up to NJ.
I packed up a few plants I had for my brother, filed my SFRA flight plan, did my preflight, and...
...I was off!
I picked up my SFRA code with no problem, and passed some time sightseeing in the airspace I work every day. It's always nice to get on the other side of the scope. :)
I was picking up a pretty good tailwind as I made my way to the northeast, and it didn't take long to reach the Chesapeake Bay and exit the SFRA. There were a couple big ships making their way through the bay as I flew overhead.
I switched over to monitor Easton's tower frequency as I neared the Eastern Shore. They were fairly busy, but I was high enough to be well out of their way.
I spent the time sightseeing over the bay...
...and over Delaware...
...before eventually reaching the Delaware Bay, a little bit north of Dover.
I always like checking out the scenery as I cross into New Jersey; there's so much marshland.
This is just part of it! It continues for quite a while.
As I got closer, I started to descend so I could stay below Philly's airspace. They've changed it a bit since I moved to Virginia, so I always make sure to keep a close eye on where I am so I don't bust anything.
Descending also sets me up well...
...to ask for my ride from the airport. Anytime I fly up to NJ to visit, I let my mom know right before I start up in Virginia. An hour and a half or so later, she knows to start listening for me. I'll drop down to 1000' and fly circles over the house until I see her come outside and wave at me; once I see that, I waggle my wings, then break off and head over to Cross Keys (17N) to land. It usually works out perfectly where I've just finished fueling and I'm tying the plane down as she pulls into the FBO parking lot. :)
And oh man, what I landing I had this time. I somehow didn't realize how windy it was until AFTER I had (finally) touched down. I floated nearly halfway down the runway, then hit the open patch near the dropzone and the wind dropped out from under me. I slammed down onto the runway twice, HARD, then finally got it stopped at the second to last turnoff. It was one of my top five all-time worst landings I've done as long as I've been flying. Thankfully, nobody in the FBO saw it (and believe me, I asked everyone hahaha).
I topped off the plane, caught up with a flying buddy I hadn't seen in a long time (which was a really nice surprise!), then my parents and I headed out to lunch.
One of the best parts of flying up to NJ for lunch is the delicious Italian food. We usually go to Carollo's, and their food is always really good.
After lunch, we stopped at their house for a bit. I gave my brother his new plants, and he showed me his collection.
He has some pretty neat stuff!
We hung out for a little while longer, then Zach and I made a quick run to Lowe's and Home Depot to check out their plant selection before it was time to say goodbye and head back to the airport. I caught up with my buddy Mark again for a few more minutes before I left, then finished my preflight, fired up, and took off.
A broken cloud layer had formed while I'd been on the ground, but it was high enough that it wasn't a problem.
It did make for some dramatic scenery as I approached the Delaware Bay, though.
I crossed back over the bay north of Dover...
...and flew over Delaware Airpark (33N) as I made my way south. It looked like they were building a new taxiway; for all the times I've flown over this airport, I've still never landed there!
The clouds started to break up a bit as I continued south, so I climbed up above them and managed to pick up both a smooth ride and a nice tailwind. Not bad!
I flew over Ridgley...
...and Easton (ESN)...
...before making my way out over the Chesapeake Bay. I hadn't filed an SFRA flight plan for the trip home, so I made sure to stay well clear of that airspace.
The sun was getting a bit lower by the time I rounded the bend near Patuxent and started heading northwest toward home. I wound up landing with 3.6 hours of flight time for the day, which is one of my fastest times yet for the trip thanks to tailwinds both ways. It had been a really fun day! :)