Weather: Scattered clouds, 78 degrees, wind 270 degrees at 5 knots
I was volunteering this morning at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center and couldn't stop myself from longingly gazing at the clear blue sky. We didn't have any plans to fly today but it was simply too nice not to go somewhere. Crazy as it sounds, it had been over ten (!!) months since I last logged any cross-country time. Gina also liked the idea of an impromptu dinner flight. I reserved the plane for 3:30 and drew up a simple flight plan down to Portsmouth.
It wasn't completely random, mind you. I've had the Skyline Family Restaurant on my To-Fly-To list for quite some time now. We just hadn't managed to make it there for various reasons. Today would finally be the day to add Portsmouth's little airport cafe to my list of $100 Hamburgers!
This might be a first for me - literally our entire flight to and from PMH is captured below
Even though it was gorgeous out, it wasn't completely perfect flying weather. We flew outbound at 3,500 feet and the ride was somewhat bumpy. There was one occasion where a good jolt rocked the plane into a 30 degree bank almost instantaneously. Still, it didn't make much sense to climb to 7,500 feet to get above the clouds for the short, 71-mile flight.
We touched down on Runway 36 around 4:45 pm. It was another reminder of why GA can be a wonderful way to travel. The 45-minute flight would've been a 2:15 drive - at a minimum.
Dinner was unquestionably home-cooked and quite tasty. I had the Sunday special - homemade noodles with beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and a soft roll. Gina had a seriously massive cheeseburger and fries. The service was good, fast, and the whole thing only set us back around $20. Ignoring the airplane rental, of course. Pilots always ignore that part, right? Right.
I had been listening to the CTAF on my handheld radio while I pre-flighted to keep tabs on traffic. With a light wind blowing directly across the runway, it seemed inevitable that airplanes arriving and departing wouldn't be using a consistent orientation. Nobody was around as I started the engine and taxied down to the end of Runway 36. The aforementioned inevitability struck just as I stopped at the hold short line; an arriving airplane called in saying he was entering the pattern for Runway 18.
Thankfully, us pilots tend to be a nice bunch. We sorted it out over the CTAF in short order. He was just crossing midfield and would extend his downwind by a couple miles since I was ready to go. I offered to turn on course directly after takeoff to clear his approach path. Both of us agreed that was a splendid plan. I quickly departed and, once we were a couple hundred feet off the ground, turned on course to the northwest just as I saw him turn base. Yay for teamwork! ;-)
All in all, it was a rather efficient - and scenic - dinner trip
The ride home was surprisingly smooth. Whatever rising air that had made the inbound flight bumpy had subsided in the hour we were on the ground. We enjoyed the rolling hills while cruising at 2,500 feet. I landed at Highland County Airport on the way, taking the opportunity to add another new airport to my map. Our flight path literally took us directly overhead so it was an easy pattern entry, touch-and-go, and climb back on course. Other than the fact that I couldn't spot it until we were nearly on top of the place - oops.
We landed back at Stewart less than an hour after taking off in Portsmouth. All told, we covered about 150 miles, two new-to-me airports, and three landings in 2.0 on the Hobbs. I'll take that kind of Sunday any day of the week.
Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 2.0 hours
Total Time: 228.3 hours