Thursday, April 5, 2012

Flight to Florida

Finally, an opportunity to add a post to the SoarCNY blog! Wednesday morning just as I was falling asleep after a long night at work, my phone beeped with an incoming text message. I had forgotten to turn down the volume as I usually do each morning. It was odd that a message would come at that hour so I got out of bed to check it out. It was from my friend and flying buddy Jeff who had moved to Virginia last fall asking if I was interested if ferrying a UTM Lambada motor-glider from Melborne Florida to Indiana.

For a change, it didn't take long for me to decide I wanted to do this. I wrote then called Jeff, got out of bed and started planning. Jeff was headed to Florida with Larry Stahl the manager of Petersburg, WV airport (W99) in a Cessna Hawk XP and there was room for me. Needless to say there was no sleep for me that morning. Between working out details of the non-flying transportation, packing for the trip which included a couple days camping at Sun-n-Fun, and flight planning for the Melborne - Hunterburg, IN flight I was busy right up to the point when my wife Sharon and I began the 8 hour drive to Petersburg.

En route I called the Fort Hill Hotel in Petersburg and confirmed that we were on the way. We wouldn't arrive until about midnight, but they made arrangements for our after office hours arrival. The room was very reasonably priced and clean. By the time I climbed into bed I had been up about 36 hours and fell asleep instantly, sleeping soundly until the alarm woke me at 6:30 and in time to meet Jeff and his son Warren for breakfast in town before heading to the airport.

N5323R was ready to go in the hangar at W99 and we loaded our luggage in the back and next to me in the back seat.

The winds were blowing about 20 kts on the ground as we departed and there was a "rotor cloud" stretching N-S and hovering just to the west of the airport. I was expecting some serious turbulence downwind of the hills and had my belt and shoulder straps clinched tight as we departed. Larry who has flown this area and towed gliders here for many years, turned the plane shortly after liftoff away from the promise of a wild ride in the vicinity of that rotor. We missed most of the bumps as we climbed SE into the cool clear morning air towards cruising altitude.

We did however benefit from the 50 kt winds blowing across the mountains. As we passed diagionaly through the "up" portions of wave downwind of the hills our climb rate soared. Look at the Rate of Climb indicator in the lower center of the instrument panels visible portion. It shows 2,000 feet per minute climb as we approach 8,500'! Of course, in the "down" areas of wave we barely climbed or even descended...

Larry Stahl

Jeff Shingleton

Leaving the Shenandoah Valley behind we pass the James River as it flows out of the hills towards the Chesapeake Bay.

Rockingham Speedway in NC

Waycross, GA. (AYS)
This is the place to stop on the way to or from Sun-n-Fun. For the entire run of the event the airport welcomes transitioning pilots with a choice of barbecue sandwiches or hot dogs, chips and soda or sweet tea. FREE!

From my position in the back it was difficult to see forward, but the view out the sides and back were just fine...

After a long day down low in the haze we reach our destination. Here we are downwind at Winter Haven.

At Winter Haven Airport with the line crew ready to tow 23R to its tie-down. Larry's son Alan was waiting for us when we arrived.

With the sun sinking low we discovered that the Winter Haven airport was set up for camping for pilots going to Sun-n-Fun. There were bathrooms and showers, a fire pit and a 5 dollar shuttle to Lakeland Linder Airport leaving and returning many times during the day. We decided that it was a better idea to set up right here at the airport than later in the dark at Sun-n-Fun. The airport staff was wonderful. We stayed 3 nights at Winter Haven.

In a few days I'll have photos from Sun-n-Fun and after that the flight to Indiana...

1 comment:

Yo-There said...

Larry--You still have it--Thanks for all of that you did for me a long age. I think of what would you do every time when it gets hard for me. You have made many people in this life a better person.
Gordon Seeton