Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crew Scheduling Called

"Send the new guy to Atlanta!"

It might be a bumpy ride for Brother Baker this evening. . .

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pond Branch Flyby

It was a nice two day adventure:  Sarasota, Atlanta, and Norfolk on Wednesday; Atlanta, Detroit, and back to LaGuardia on Thursday.  Almost banker's hours; but not quite.  My Co-Star---the guy tasked with keeping me out of trouble for two days---was young Jason McKiernan.  Jason was a late substitution.  The original First Officer called in sick Tuesday evening.  Since Jason was next in line in the "typing pool," he got the part.  That was my good fortune!  Not only is Jason an excellent aviator, he is also a pleasure to be around.  I was delighted to see his name on the sign-in screen Wednesday morning. 

The ATC preferred routing for flights on the New York to Sarasota Run, is down Jet Route 75.  J75, as it is depicted on the High Altitude Aeronautical Chart, is a collection of VOR stations that stretch from New England to South Florida.  It is the "Mother of East Coast Airways," and my personal favorite.   Cloudless days present fantastic sightseeing opportunities along J75!   Philadelphia and Washington, DC are particularly spectacular from 34,000 feet.  Likewise, the Shenandoah Valley; especially in autumn.  But that is only the half of it!  Our very own Jellystone Air Park lies just twenty-two miles west of the changeover point between Greensboro and Columbia.  And while we are on the subject; twenty miles west of the Columbia VOR, sits that most revered of all places---The Center of the Universe---Pond Branch Airfield!

Young Jason knows all about Pond Branch Airfield.  He has heard the stories, and seen the pictures, on previous babysitting adventures.  He was not surprised when I attempted to contact Brother Price (on the number two radio) as we passed over Columbia Wednesday afternoon.  Of course there was no answer---no warning was given.  I made a mental note to let Eddie know I would try again on Thursday.  We continued southbound.

Flight 1903 from New York City touched down at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport at 1:20 PM.  The next airplane to land on Runway 32 was a B-24 Liberator.  Not something you see every day.  Nor did we; as our view of the runway was blocked by the terminal building.  But we knew it was on the way.  We heard it check in with approach control when we were twenty miles northeast of the airfield.  As we were turning final, a B-17 Flying Fortress checked in with the tower.  Wow!

Shortly after completing the shutdown checklist I was out on the ramp, camera in hand, hoping to catch a glimpse of the B-17 landing.  Sadly, all I could see from my vantage point (behind Gate B-4) was the Fortress on roll-out, north of the intersecting runway.   The ramp service agent told me the airplanes were part of the Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom Tour 2013.  He said they would be in Sarasota for three days, along with a P-51 Mustang.  I suspected as much.  So did Brother Baker; after I sent him a message about the whole deal.  My pictures from out on the ramp were awful.  I deleted the whole lot.  I did keep the one that I took from inside the terminal building.  Just so I could prove to the Brethren I was part of the show!

Charlotte, North Carolina

The flights up to Atlanta and Norfolk were delivered as published:  Smooth and on time!   Even the landings were good.  Jason rolled his on in Atlanta!  He's still collecting Attaboy's for that one!

I've done the Norfolk to Atlanta Run enough to know Thursday's flight plan would probably run us down over Florence and Columbia, South Carolina to connect with the CANUK RNAV ARRIVAL to Atlanta.  Big D would rather we used the more direct routing over Greensboro, North Carolina and Foothills VOR (Toccoa, Georgia) but the Air Traffic Control folks usually don't agree.  After dinner Wednesday evening I sent a message to Brother Price.  I told him to have his radio tuned to 122.9.  We were going to make another pass at Pond Branch Airfield!

Eighteen miles east of the Columbia VOR I made the call, "Pond Branch Airfield, 926 Delta Lima."  Two seconds later, "6 Delta Lima, I read you loud and clear."  "Pond Branch, 926 Delta Lima is 15 DME East of the CAE VOR, Westbound at Flight Level 360."

"6 Delta Lima, I have you in sight.  The runway is clear, you are cleared for the low pass at Pond Branch Airfield."

. . . and because she is going to ask.  No Mom, I did not make a low pass down the PBA runway.  Jason was there to prevent that from happening!

Eddie said he was using a 250 mm lens when he took these photos.  I think they are amazing!

Four legs down; two to go.  After a 2 1/2 hour sit in Atlanta, we are on our way to Detroit.   We have a completely full boat---149 passengers, 5 flight attendants (two are jump seating) Jason, myself, and a cockpit jump seat rider who is asleep, actually snoring!  It's my leg; Jason is working the radio.  Indianapolis Center is surprisingly quiet.  I have my chair slid back, and my left foot is resting on the lower panel footrest.  The sun is setting over my left shoulder.  This is the time of day that I love the most when I am at work.  The time when I am the most thankful for all that I have.  The time when I think of my family, my friends, and my colleagues.  It is also the time when I mourn those who have gone before me.

Thanks for riding along.

Thanks for keeping me out of trouble, Jason!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Louis & Rick

"Is it true Rick?  Brother Baker has forsaken his Luscombe for an Airbus?"  "That's right Louis.  I think this is the beginning of an interesting friendship!"

Friday, January 11, 2013

Jetway Views

DFW at sunrise.  The start of another big Texas day.

Milwaukee at midday.  Same old 500' overcast. . .  They might see the sun again sometime in April.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Interesting Observation

Brother Baker had a four day break in training.  He spent much of that time polishing 43 Bravo.  She really looks nice!  Of course that brings up the age old time management question:  What do you like to do?  Fly or polish?  You can't do both.

Feeling only slightly guilty; Brother Barbeau and I decided we like to fly.  Sorry Joe.  She looked so nice and shiny sitting there yesterday.  We couldn't help ourselves!

Interesting observation:  Since Brother Baker added felt to the cowling access door seals a few weeks ago, the cowling hinge line is slightly different when viewed from the right seat.  I noticed it when Gary was making his first landing.  I thought the nose was going to be a touch right of straight, but his touchdown was perfect.  Thinking about the geometry, it makes sense.  The felt was added to the forward edge pulling the hinge line slightly outboard and more in line with the longitudinal axis.  It might not seem like a big deal, but in the tail wheel world, a little change can mean a lot!  Can you hear the Sky Gods laughing?

All seven landings were really nice.  Gary's were exceptional!  He did four from the left seat and I did three from the right.  If only our instructor had been there to see them!

Jellystone Air Park neighbor, Gardy Wilson, was tinkering with his Bird Dog yesterday afternoon---fixing a leak in a fuel tank.  He said the first one hundred and thirty-four screws came out fairly easy.  It took a week's worth of penetrating solvent and an impact screwdriver to remove the last six!

Jellystone Air Park sunset.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ski season is officially open in the Adirondacks!

That's the news from Will Payne in Old Forge, New York.  His 1949 Cessna 140A is dressed for ski season.  This just looks like so much fun!
Rigging the skis.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Aloha 2013

As she opened the package, my wife said: "You did NOT give me a Dashboard Hula Girl for Christmas!"

I don't know what the fuss was about.  It goes with just about everything!