Weather: Scattered clouds, 71 degrees, wind variable at 3-5 knots
Gina got a call from some friends of ours on Friday as we were driving up I-75 to Michigan letting us know they'd be in Ohio on Monday. One friend got a new job and had training for three days in Delphos, which is a little over two hours north of us. They were curious if we wanted to meet up for dinner somewhere. I looked at her and said, "we could fly up and meet them if a plane's available!" and called Stewart to check. The 172 was reserved until 6pm so I took the 150 instead - slightly longer flying time but it would get us there all the same.
I left work just past 4pm and Gina met me at the airport about 30 minutes later. She helped me clean the windshield once I completed the preflight, then I taxied over to the fuel pump and topped off the tanks after the Stearman pulled away. All systems were good to go as I rolled onto the grass and pushed the throttle in to quickly launch into the sky. It was a bit warm and we weren't too far under gross so the 150 took her time in climbing. Winds aloft were out of the north so I elected to fly at 3,500 feet where we had the minimal headwind. A scattered cloud layer was up around 6,000 feet so we had light bumps most of the way.
Tuning to Dayton Approach on 118.55 quickly made it clear they were working a lot of traffic today, probably as much as I've ever heard on that frequency. I made two calls and heard nothing back. We were nearing WPAFB's Class D airspace as well as the outer ring of Dayton's Class C and I started a turn to the east so we would remain clear since I had not been able to establish two-way communication. About that time, Dayton finally was able to contact me but it still took a minute to square things away because people kept stepping on the controller's transmissions. We finally cleared up my callsign and destination and they gave me a squawk for flight following; I turned back on course and proceeded into the Charlie airspace.
Our flight track overlaid on a Sectional chart
There's not much other than farms once you pass downtown but it was a pretty day to fly nonetheless, with the green terrain slowly passing by. Dayton gave me a new squawk and handed me off to Indy Center as we left their airspace - somewhat of a rarity that I definitely appreciated. Every other time I've left Dayton's airspace to the north they've cut me loose and I had to contact Indy on my own. I was flying a VOR course (with my GPS and Sectional as backups) since the straight-line path took us almost directly over top the Rosewood and Allen Co VORs anyway. Gina and I both enjoyed trying to spot and then seeing the little white cones pass underneath us. We continued past Lima and were handed off to Toledo Approach, but they couldn't see us on radar yet and said to call back in five minutes.
By the time I was ready to contact Toledo, I was only 12 miles away from our destination so I advised ATC we could cancel as the airport was close by. They had me squawk VFR and I began our descent shortly thereafter. It was hard to spot the airport even though my GPS said it was right in front of us. I was pretty sure I saw an airport but I'd say we were only four or five miles away before I could confirm that I did indeed have Putnam County in sight. A biplane was departing Runway 27 as we entered the pattern on a 45 but he turned right just after takeoff and flew at what looked like 200 feet AGL over farm fields.
On final there was a light crosswind from the right so I transitioned into a sideslip. I had a brief brain disconnect on short final when we were right of the centerline and left rudder wasn't lining us back up. After what felt like too long, I realized that I needed to reduce my aileron and brought us back over the center of the runway for a soft touchdown. We turned off, taxied to the tiedowns, and shut down as we saw our friends waiting for us at the airport fence.
They drove us all into town to the Red Pig Inn, about five miles away. I had found out about the restaurant on Adventure Pilot and we were all in the mood for some BBQ. Needless to say, I understand why they've won so many awards. I had the ribs (1/3 rack) and brisket combo with baked beans and cheddar mashed potatoes. Gina had the pulled pork sandwiches with homemade chips. The food was simply delicious, with a perfect hickory flavor from the smoker. I even read that the restaurant will come pick you up from the airport if you call when you land. Suffice it so say that we'll definitely stop by again in the future!
Given our somewhat tight schedule (no lights at Stewart, so you have to be back by sunset) we managed to be in and out of the restaurant in 45 minutes. It was about 7:45pm when we arrived back at the airport and I went to preflighting the 150 while Gina packed up some wedding/bridal magazines her friend had brought for her. We got everything loaded into the airplane, started the engine, and I ran through the final checks as we back-taxied to the end of Runway 27. The wheels were off the ground a couple minutes after 8:00pm and I waved our wings at our friends as we climbed away from the airport.
Most of the clouds had dissipated and I wanted to take advantage of the now-tailwind so I climbed up to 6,500 feet. The air was much smoother as well and I trimmed us for hands-off flight. Somewhere past Lima we were approaching a scattered layer that looked to be at about 7,000 feet. I wanted to maintain cloud clearance and couldn't tell at that point how far the layer stretched so I descended to 4,500. Ground speed was hovering around 90 to 95 knots as we made our way south. I hadn't called for flight following from Toledo or Indy and instead waited until we were closer to home and called Dayton Approach. The controller was really friendly and I only ever heard three or four other airplanes on the frequency - a marked difference from the earlier congestion.
He cleared us to descend at pilot's discretion when we were about 15 miles from Stewart but called out traffic shortly after at 12:30 and five miles at 2,500 feet. I didn't want to descend into anyone and Gina was the first to spot the white airplane crossing right-to-left in front of us. Traffic now in sight, I began our descent and advised ATC we had Stewart in sight. He canceled flight following and bid us a good evening and I said the same to him in return. That controller's a familiar voice to me and he's a really nice guy.
The wind was still light out of the north, so a direct crosswind for either runway. Given our arrival path I entered on a 45 for Runway 8. No traffic was in the pattern and I wanted to land long to shorten the taxi, so I pulled the power to idle abeam the hump in the runway - about 500 feet past the threshold. I made the simulated engine-out descent and brought in the flaps slowly, reaching all 40 degrees when I was established on a short final. We touched down softly on the grass past the hump with the stall horn blaring.
This was another one of those fun evenings flying that showcase the utility aspect of general aviation. Even in a lowly 150, we made what would have been a nearly 2:30 drive each way (from Stewart) in about 1:15 outbound and 1:00 on the return. Had we driven to meet them from my office we would have arrived in Ottawa around the same time we landed but wouldn't have pulled in the garage at home until after 10:00pm. Add in the delicious barbeque and seeing some friends we don't often see and it was an excellent trip. Sorry, no photos or video because the camera batteries died!
Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 2.5 hours
Total Time: 153.9 hours