Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I like to pause every year at this time wish all my readers the best holiday season and New Year. This has been a year of incredible highs and lows for Gina and myself. We're both looking forward to spending 2012 as our first full year together as husband and wife!

Hopefully you and your families have a wonderful holiday... and I promise I'll get back to posting aviation-related content on here just as soon as I can. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Wedding

Our wedding day truly turned out to be as perfect and problem-free as one could imagine. Even though we spent 18 months planning and scrutinizing nearly every last detail, I still expected some little thing to go wrong. Both Gina and I were delighted that, at the end of the very long day, we could look back on it and say it all went off without a hitch.

She was up early - all the girls left in the limo to be at the salon by 9:00 to get their hair done. It was much easier on my side as you might expect. My groomsmen and I got picked up by the limo around noon from the hotel. We were at the church around 12:30 and had about an hour to kill before we started to get dressed. I enjoyed having some down time and can honestly say I really was not feeling nervous in any way all morning.

We exchanged gifts (Gina got me 2.5 hours in the Stearman!) via our siblings and then it was time we all were waiting for. Myself, my best man - and best friend - Rob, and our pastor - who has been Gina's neighbor since she was born - Judy all walked back to our perch in a room behind the altar about 2:45.It wasn't long before the music started at 3:00 and our grandparents and parents were walking down the aisle. Then the chimes rang out and the three of us emerged from behind the altar as Canon in D started to play from the amazing 3,700 pipe organ and our wedding party came down the aisle.

Then came the moment every groom plays over in his head a thousand times before the big day - especially if you have never seen the dress. The doors opened and Gina, my bride, looking more beautiful than words could ever describe, began her walk down the aisle with her dad. I'm not ashamed to admit my eyes welled up a little bit when I first saw her. Besides, there is photo and video evidence!

I feel like our ceremony flowed perfectly. Gina and I spent many hours over the summer writing and editing nearly everything that was said in the church. The blessings, the readings, our vows. Everything was special to us and I'm confident in saying it was 100% our own. After the first kiss and first walk down the aisle as the new Mr. and Mrs. we exited in quite the grand fashion if I do say so myself.

We took some great photos in downtown Detroit and eventually made our way to Henry Ford Museum for the reception. Again, words fail to describe how awesome it looked in there. The floral arrangements were spectacular, the food came out amazing, and it was just an all-around perfect night with family and friends. We surprised everyone with our first dance to You and Me by Dave Matthews and continued to have a great time on the dance floor as the night went on.

Those of you who are married understand that it always goes by too fast. Our wedding day was no exception, though I think we did a fairly good job taking a breath here and there to try and take everything in. We have received so many comments from our guests about what a great time they had; it has been so nice to hear that and know everyone had as good a time as we did. You have probably noticed that airplanes tied everything together so I have including photos of all those details in this post. Thanks again to all of you who have sent your well-wishes and congratulations as well... we appreciate it! :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Where two lives come together

Thanks to the magic of scheduled posts, this came online just as the organ at Fort Street Presbyterian Church in Detroit began playing Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring to signal the start of our wedding ceremony. Soon, my beautiful bride will walk down the aisle and we will be newlyweds. As she would undoubtedly say, "finally!"

We have both been looking forward to and planning for this day for over a year, ever since I proposed last April. And here we are; the countdown clock on our wedding website now reads 00:00:00. This should be an incredible day shared with family and friends.

I would be remiss not to mention how much we are looking forward to our reception at Henry Ford Museum this evening. We will be dancing our first dance together as husband and wife on a dance floor directly underneath a DC-3. The pilot in me is exceedingly happy about that... and Gina thinks it is pretty neat, too.

Thanks to all of you, many of whom I have met over the years through this very blog, who have sent us your kind thoughts and well-wishes for our wedding. I will share photos and video on here in the coming weeks as I know many of you will be clamoring for details! Until then, we are going to go start our new life together with a wonderful, luxurious week in the sun. Lobster for Thanksgiving, anyone? Yes, please!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Flying solo one final time

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I-I68-40I
Weather: Clear, 41 degrees, wind 200 degrees at 7 knots

Gina drove up to Michigan tonight for some last-minute wedding preparations and I was blessed with some beautiful fall CAVU weather. With the end of Daylight Savings Time there aren't many non-weekend opportunities to fly anymore so I jumped on this one. I left work a little early and drove down to Stewart to get in a little flying. Given all the things we have to do (and the aforementioned early darkness) next week this is going to end up being my final flight before our wedding next weekend.

It was almost three months ago that I took my boss and his kids flying in the 172 so I had to take the ol' Skyhawk up tonight just to maintain my 90-day currency in the airplane. Someone else was finishing up flying it when I arrived at the airport. Perfect for me since that would give me a warm, easy-to-start engine. A thorough preflight indicated that she still had a solid 18 gallons (two hours) of fuel, plenty for the hour I had left before sunset.

I figured some solid surface takeoff and landing practice would be a good way to spend my time, so I took off and flew the short seven miles to Lebanon-Warren County Airport. The pattern wasn't too busy - a helicopter based there landed and departed and one of the 150s from Stewart was also there practicing. I made three takeoffs and landings (one being touch-and-go, another a simulated engine-out) to help knock the rust off.

Well look at that - I can still fly circles around churches!

After that, I headed back to Stewart and stopped partway there to practice a couple turns around a point. The strong winds from the south made for great conditions for ground reference maneuvers. I flew them around a church I've used for similar practice in the past. They were ever-so-slightly egg-shaped but I'm pretty happy with them... especially considering it has been almost eight months since I last practiced TAPs.

So there you go - my days as a single aviator have come to a close. From here on out I might have to take a cue from Gary and start referring to Gina as my Bride! The best thing is she enjoys flying and has even taken a few lessons on her own over the past couple of years. I'm looking forward to many, many years of flying trips throughout our new life together... and even introducing our kids to airplanes one day!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.7 hours
Total Time: 209.5 hours

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rescuing a sweet Husky with Mike and Elizabeth

Plane: Cessna 182 RG
Weather: Partly cloudy, 58 degrees, wind 230 degrees at 6-8 knots

I still haven't had much time to fly lately. It's hard to be on the ground and miss this the fall colors this year but I watching the budget and planning a wedding tends to keep one out of the sky. Thankfully I have pilot friends and today Mike and his girlfriend Elizabeth had me tag along on another Pilots N Paws flight.

Today we'd be transporting Laurel, a very sweet and almost completely deaf Husky girl, from Waverly, OH to Fort Wayne, IN. We left Wright Brothers around 1:15 for the short flight down to Pike County Airport (EOP) in Waverly. The weather this fall has been windy and wet around here so a lot of the leaves fell off the trees before they had a chance to show their peak colors. Still, we passed over some pretty terrain as we left the flat farmland for the rolling hills of SE Ohio.

There was a little color left in the trees near Bainbridge, OH

This tree farm stood out against the rest of the trees

Passing over Waverly, OH

Entering the pattern - you can see the airport in the top-right of the photo

Turning final at Pike County Airport

As we taxied in, it was clear that quite a crowd had assembled to see Laurel leave in an airplane. One of the volunteers from the Pike County Dog Pound told us they were pretty new to transporting dogs through Pilots N Paws. I believe they said Laurel was the second dog to fly out of Waverly.

We talked both to the adults and kids for a few minutes. The kids seemed really excited to look in the airplane and everyone there was incredibly nice and friendly. Mike eventually loaded Laurel into the airplane with the help of one of the volunteers. It was clear she'd be a great passenger as she quickly got settled in the back seat.

Elizabeth talking with one of the volunteers

Laurel wasn't too shy and seemed happy before getting on board

A bunch of volunteers came out to see Laurel off!

Mike and one of the volunteers helping Laurel into the plane

Securing her harness to the airplane seatbelt

One last goodbye before we took off

Poking her head between the seats to say hi to me and Mike up front

Cuddling comfortably with Elizabeth while we taxied

Looking around the airplane before takeoff

The flight up to Fort Wayne was just under an hour. There were occasional light bumps but otherwise it was a perfect day to fly with great visibility. Laurel didn't move around too much and we all enjoyed the view out the windows. Surprisingly, we only saw one or two other airplanes - ATC called them out both times as we were on flight following.

Smith Field Airport was a bit interesting to approach. They have two crossing runways and the taxiways are closed for construction. So you have to back-taxi down an active, crossing runway. We didn't have any real issues but Mike and I thought the place might be a bit fun when he pattern gets busy.

A lot more green in the hills down near Waverly

One of the few times she stood up or moved around during the flight

The new Timber Road Wind Farm near the OH/IN border

The trees were a bit more colorful up in Fort Wayne

We were met by Kurt in Fort Wayne. He flew down with his dad in his Cherokee. They were taking Laurel the rest of the way to Grand Haven, MI to be with her new family. All of us talked for a couple minutes, then the loaded her into the airplane and were on their way. We grabbed a snack from the vending machine in the FBO (home of EAA Chapter #2!) before loading back up to fly home to Dayton.

Loading Laurel in the Cherokee for the second leg of her journey

On the way to her new family in Michigan

It was a beautiful day to fly over downtown Dayton

It's nice to fly in an airplane that cruises at 145-155 knots. With the decent tailwind we were enjoying, the flight home went by real fast. Mike flew the GPS Runway 2 approach to MGY, which took us right past downtown Dayton. We were back on the ground around 5:00. Not a bad way to spend a weekend afternoon!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File