Destination: New Bedford Regional Airport (KEWB)
Sight Seeing Route: KEWB-KPVC-KMVY-KEWB
Souls on Board: 2 going, 3 coming back
Airplane: 2012 Cirrus SR22T
Total Flight Time: 20 Hours (this includes the trip there and back, plus a sight seeing trip around Cape Cod)
Cape Cod is beautiful. This was my first time seeing The Cape and it was gorgeous, both from the ground and from the air. All the inlets and sail boats dotting the landscape with all the green forests on the land added up to a spectacular landscape. We were able to take a day to fly out over Cape Cod, then down to Martha’s Vineyard for dinner, and that is a must do flight. Truly splendid.
We departed West Houston airport (KIWS) on a bright, hot, sunny June morning. The weather was mostly good over our route. There were some rain showers forecast over Virginia, Washington, DC, and New York City, but as a whole, the weather was pretty good. The owner of the plane is a VFR pilot, so the goal was to try and do the whole trip VFR. I was backup just in case we had to fly through some clouds.
We flew down the I-10 corridor before being turned north outside of the Houston Class B airspace. We then headed for our first stop, Hamilton, Alabama (KHAB). We found a quiet airport out in the boondocks in Alabama (that is probably said of a lot of Alabama airports). The runway was long and wide, and the desk guy was very nice. He gave us directions to a BBQ joint, that was not quite as good as he made it sound. The fuel was cheap, though, and we were happy.
Our next stop was Luray, Virginia, about 100 miles southwest of Washington, DC. This was our planned point to begin our route around the DC airspace. The Luray Caverns airport (KLUA) is surrounded by beautiful terrain and is nestled in a valley in the Appalachian mountains. We were the only plane for miles around. It is a very quaint, but very well kept airport. I highly recommend it.
KLUA, Luray Caverns Airport
From there, we went north to go around the DC airspace, flying to the Altoona VOR (AOO), then east to the Sparta VOR (SAX). We got close enough to see some of New York City, but there was a massive thunderstorm over the City and ATC kept issuing wind shear advisories, so we didn’t have a great view. The thunderstorm was pretty cool looking.
By the time we were past New York, the sun was starting to set, so we weren’t able to take in the full beauty of the countryside. New Bedford is east and a little bit south of Providence, Rhode Island, so we flew over the Greenwich Bay and into New Bedford at night.
The next day, we flew out over Cape Cod, landing at the Provincetown Airport (KPVC) and the Martha’s Vineyard Airport (KMVY). If you get a chance to go up to the Cape Cod area, this is a must fly route. It is beautiful. There is a picturesque light house on the very tip of the land just west of the airport at KPVC. Flying down along the Cape, you are able to see a lot of very pretty real estate and scenery. We ate dinner at Flatbread Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard that was really good. They have their own root beer on tap!
Provincetown, MA Lighthouse on the tip of Cape Cod
The following day, we set off back south, leaving the pleasant temperatures, bound back for the Houston summer. We were keeping an eye on the weather during our first leg to the Upshur County Airport in Buckhannon, West Virginia (W22). Storms were forecast for the evening in Houston, so we decided to spend the night in Norman, Oklahoma with some family. If you ever do make it to Buckhannon, West Virginia, eat at CJ Maggie’s Restaurant downtown. You won’t regret it!
The original plan from W22 was to stop for fuel and the bathroom at KCRX, Roscoe Turner Airport in Corinth, Mississippi. With our destination change for the evening to Norman, we decided to point more north and settled on Dyersburg, Tennessee, KDYR. We probably had our least helpful line guys at this stop, but they were still a lot better than some. From there, it was on to Norman, KOUN, and a homemade pot roast. KOUN is a nice airport with very helpful tower controllers. There is a relaxed cafe inside, but be warned: those Okies aren’t kidding when they talk about their wind.
We left the next afternoon on our final leg, KOUN back to West Houston, KIWS. The air was clear, but we could definitely tell we were back in the south (hello heat!). Thank goodness for airplanes with air conditioning, right? We skirted the Dallas Class B airspace and before you knew it, were back home.
Cape Cod Sunset
All in all, the trip was a blast. It was a lot of flying, but the countryside was well worth it. Plus, when we got out of the plane in New Bedford our first night, we were shivering! In June! Well worth it if you ask me.
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Appalachian Mountains from the Air
How it Started
One of my best friends in high school, (Doug Gray) was a private pilot. He offered to take me up for a flight in a 1967 Cessna 150, N6228S. We took off from Calhoun, Georgia, and he took me on a scenic tour of the area, I was hooked. I later found out that my English teacher, (Jan Haluska) was also a flight instructor and the school was offering a ground school course the next year, which he taught, along with flight training with the goal of becoming a private pilot. I managed to talk my dad into funding the training, at the time the total cost was right around $500. Cessna 150 rental rates where $12 an hour, and the 172 we used for cross country was $15 an hour including fuel.
It started August of 1977. The fall semester rolls around, and I am enrolled in ground school, and if memory serves me, we met twice a week. First came the paperwork for my student pilot certificate, which at the time was included with the 3rd class medical. I loved ground school, especially learning navigation, plotting courses on the sectional, again this was before iPads and GPS, so we did a lot of dead reckoning and VOR navigation for cross countries. At the end of the course, I made an 83% on the Private Pilot written exam, remember this was before we had the question-and-answer books that on future test I would consume before taking a written.
The fun really began on August 22, 1977, it was my first flight. To my surprise we used the same Cessna 150, N6228S that my friend Doug Gray had taken me for a ride in. The Cessna 150 had a standard VFR instrument panel, with one NAV/COM, and one VOR CDI. No intercom, so no headset, at the time I didn’t know what I was missing. I didn’t get my first headset until I started my instrument training in 2003. I was a big guy, I was 6’ 4” and weighed 245 lbs. but I do not remember being uncomfortable in the 150 even with the instructor in the right seat.
First flight lasted .8 hours, and we accomplished orentation, shallow turns, stability, and effects of flight controls. Over the next few months we added steep 720’s, slow flight, stalls, turns around a point, S-turns, emergencies, landings, (short field, soft field and normal).
At this point I want to talk about a training experience that still stands out. We were close to solo and were practicing takeoffs and landings. Turning base to final Jan got very upset at the way I was cross controlling the aircraft. Cross control is when you are in, say a left turn, and use opposite rudder to line the nose up with the runway. So, he had me depart the pattern and head east to the practice area, and climbing up to 5500 feet MSL, he had me slow down to just above stalling speed, start a left shallow turn and add right rudder. As the airplane stalled I had the strangest sensation, no roller coaster has ever come close, instead of blue sky in the windscreen I was looking at brown ground, and as far as I could tell we were upside down, through the terror of the moment Jan talked me out of the spin, controls neutral, oposite rudder, pull slowly out of the dive. As we leveled off he asked me what altitude we were at, as I remember it was around 2,800 feet MSL. Then he asked me what would happen if I experenced this on base to final in the traffic pattern. The answer was obvious, I would be a pile of wreckage off the end of the runway with a very short-lived aviation career. Needless to say this cured my cross-control tendencies.
Another training event the sticks out in my mind was the first time we did takeoffs and landings at the High School runway. The runway was 1,500 feet long, not sure of the width, but it seems like we had about 5 feet on each side of the wheels when on the center line of the runway. Landing from the south you also had to go between a cutout in the trees to be able to stop in time on the runway. After getting confortable landing here every runway since seemed huge. I remember landing at Chattanooga (KCHA) on a night cross country and commenting to Jan, that I felt like I could of landed sideways on the runway, it felt that large.
Very soon after this I started wearing old shirts to all my flight lessons, the reason for this occurred on February 8, 1978. The lesson that day was stalls, takeoffs and Landing. As we were taxing back in Jan told me it was time for my first solo. I was very excited, and after some last minute advice from Jan, including watch for floating on landing the plane will be light with him not in the right seat, complete 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop. It was a blast, and at the end of my shirt was shorter in the back because Jan cut the tail out of it signed and dated my solo [an aviation tradition]. Total flight time accumulated on the day of my solo was 18.1 hours. I was now officially a pilot with solo priveleges.
In my next article I start cross country training, when Jan decided that it would be best accomplished this in the 172. Checking out in N5970R was like moving into a 747, this started a love affair with one of my faviriote planes to date. Since this time I have flown over 900 hours in many different models of the 172 and feel like I am stepping into an old friend every time.
More about Randy here: https://www.flyhpa.com/team/randy-delong/
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