Monday, May 2, 2016

Flight to Slatington PA and short hike on A.T.

A couple months back I was thinking ahead towards adventures to take when better weather arrived. Looking over  topographic maps of the Appalachian Trail I found an airport in Pennsylvania that was about a mile from a trailhead. It was at the Lehigh Water gap at the town of Slatington.

Originally the plan was to fly down then hike along the A.T. to a designated campsite where I would spend the night. The following day I would hike back and either fly home or spend the night in town. However on the dates I had planed for this and taken time off from work, a storm system with rain moved through the northeast.

This time with only the day to do it, this was a scaled back version of the original plan. Fly down, hike, and fly home.

I got an early start and was in the air about 7:30 am. The flight down was smooth in the morning air, but haze made photography difficult from my cruising altitude of 5,500 feet. There was a slight tailwind allowing me to get there in about 1:40.

From the left seat looking east over Binghamton, NY. Sunlight and haze. Returning home in the afternoon the sun would again be on my side looking west. Perhaps I should sit on the other side?

 Passing Sky Haven Airport. I would return to this field in the afternoon for fuel.

On the ground at Slatington Airport. The mechanic based on the field gave me a tour of the facilities and a ride across the runway to a campsite along the river. 

Walking along a rail-trail to the Lehigh Gap Nature Center ( and the trailhead for the Appalachian Trail several swallows perched on the fence allowed me to get quite close before taking to the air.

From the rail-trail on the way to the Nature Center. The Appalachian Trail crosses the river on this bridge then returns to the ridge top.

This area was once a Super-Fund site. Pollution from a Zinc smelting operation just downwind of the ridge resulted in toxic and acidic byproducts funneling through the gap killing plant life and leaving the area devoid of any life. Through the efforts of a conservation group considerable progress has been made in revegetating the area which will keep toxins from continuing to wash into the river or be ingested by the returning wildlife.

A view from the top across the gap

The zinc smelting operation in Palmerton

Slatington Airport and the Lehigh Gap

Returning home with 'maybe' enough fuel for the flight back, I stopped in at Sky Haven for about 10 gallons of 100LL. Watching fuel gauges approaching empty seems to take the fun out of flying...

Sky Haven had no fuel, but they did offer a car and gas cans for a ride up the street to a gas station. My other option, which I took, was a 10 minute flight over to Seamons where there was fuel. With a straight out departure I passed over the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct at Nicholson.

The flight home was uneventful. The small tailwind on the way down, became a headwind slowing my return. Going down was about 1:40, returning 2:20 for a total flight time of 4:00.

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