Sunday, April 26, 2015

Williamson-Sodus and Oswego

It is late April and the first Sunday fly-in pancake breakfast is still weeks away. Looking for somewhere interesting to fly with my father I decide to head northwest to Williamson-Sodus, an active airport about 25 miles east of Rochester, NY along the shore of Lake Ontario. From there we could follow the shoreline east to Oswego before turning back south toward home.

Even with sunny skies, a northwest flow of Canadian air is keeping mid-day temperatures from rising past the upper 40s. This cool breeze also brought some bumps with good thermal activity south of the lake and a bit of a headwind to keep our groundspeed down on the outbound leg.

Apple's most recent update to iOS for my iPad carried with it a bug that prevents navigational software such as Garmin Pilot (which I use), Foreflight and others from using the GPS information from external sources. Since my new iPad mini 2 does not have a built-in GPS I have had to use my Android phone that contains a GPS and can also communicate with my Dual XGPS150. The plus side to this is that my phone stayed charged, I could see my panel around the smaller phone and weather radar and winds were visible on the map screen of Garmin Pilot through my data plan.

Garmin Pilot on a Samsung S4. Viewing the Navigation page. 

 One of the great things about flying along at only a couple thousand feet are all the interesting things that you come across. Look close, better yet, click on the image for a larger size.

From a distance the lake seemed to have a foggy look to it, as I got closer I realized it was a reflection of the cloud layer above rather than some low level atmospheric condition over the water. Departing Williamson a little later I found the atmosphere was clear enough to see the Canadian coastline across the lake.

As we returned to the plane after a cup of coffee, a gentleman pulled up in his car with a big smile and saying he has a 1964 Cessna 150. Ours is a '65. Both have 360 windows and a straight tail (the way God intended a 150 tail to be...) 
We talked about our planes and he took our picture.

Williamson-Sodus (SDC)

Chimney Bluffs just a few miles to the east.

Living on the edge!

Fair Haven Bay and the State Park on the left 

Looking east over Oswego


Me and my Dad 
(And yes, I am aware I need to work on a better face for the camera!)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Harris Hill

Saturday in a Iroquois Soaring Assoc. email someone asked if members wanted to assemble the club gliders on Sunday. That didn't happen but it was enough to put thoughts of gliders in my head. Our schedules lined up for a change and my partner in the Cessna, Kate, would be be out for her first flight of the year. She is a glider fan as well so a trip to a glider port would be a fun day for both of us.

Though nothing going on at Hamilton with ISA we still had a few options. Saratoga Springs, Dansville and Harris Hill in Elmira. I decided on Elmira. It has a very active club and there is always something going on there.

Sunday was forecast to be beautiful, with sunny skies, mild temperatures and light winds. By Sunday night things would be changing. The forecast has us heading into a week of clouds, rain and even a bit of snow here in Central New York. In Upstate NY, when the weather is good you have to go. No excuses.

Climbing out of Marcellus under a few cirrus visibility was more than 50 miles. My GPS showed virtually no winds as we climbed to 4,500 for the 59 nm 39 min cruise SW over the Finger Lakes. With the plane trimmed for level flight we settled into an easy cruise and enjoyed the scenery.

Kate and me

Between watching for other aircraft and enjoying the view it was a while until I realized I hadn't touched the controls in quite a long time. Smooth as glass up here. Only a gentle touch on the rudder pedals was needed to keep us on track.

The land is beginning to change from the brown and grey of winter to the green of spring. In protected spots in and along forests or gullies snow remains as a reminder that only a few weeks ago all was white here.

The Cessna is headed to the radio shop for static when transmitting that makes me difficult to understand, so I'm using a handheld. Approaching Elmira I am over their Class D airspace but within the ARSA. Participation in a ARSA is voluntary, but I'm flying directly over the airfield and want to descend into Harris Hill which is within the Class D. From 18 miles out I call only to find the handheld, using its small antenna, is fine for pattern work but doesn't work too well over any distance. With quite a bit of effort the tower instructs me to continue as requested and no other traffic.

Descending over Harris Hill we spot a couple gliders in the air. A Discus circling 1,000' feet above us in lift and an ASK-21 below setting up for the landing pattern. We wait for him, then land.

Harris Hill from the south. 
Elmira Regional visible in the valley beyond.

The smooth ride down, while nice for airplanes, means not much lift for gliders.
The airport was pretty quiet. Several rides were given and eventually the Discus pilot landed.

Pawnee towing the ASK-21

ASK landing. Our Cessna parked on the right

Discus on roll-out. He kept his wings level as he came to a stop where he was met out on the runway by ground crew that caught his wing and gently lowered it to the ground.

Harris Hill Club House

Taugannock Falls

South end of Owasco Lake

Frozen Ocean Raceway and Murphy's Airport

 Back home to Marcellus Airport