Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Starting the new year off right

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I-MWO-40I
Weather: Clear, 30 degrees, wind 200 degrees at 3-6 knots

It's a bit of a Stewart tradition, to begin with. I first became aware when we were down there to fly the 150 on New Year's Day in 2009. I heard a noise and looked up. What I saw was something uniquely Stewart - the Stearman, a Cub, the 150, maybe a Champ all in formation. For years, they've flown a bunch of their airplanes to breakfast before they open on January 1st.

So, morning person that I'm not, I thought it would be fun to take part when Tommy texted me the other day. We booked the 172 and met at the (very cold) airport just after sunrise this morning. They already had the preheater hooked up to the 172 but it still took me 20-30 minutes to clear the frost off the wings. For the non-pilots, a tiny bit of frost might seem like no big deal. It is. Even a small amount can reduce lift by 30% or more. So it has to get brushed off!

Our eclectic collection of airplanes on the ramp in Middletown

Wings clean, engine running warm, and everything checked, we took off and joined the other three planes in the sky. Tommy was flying the Fly Baby, Jamie the T-Craft, and Steve (and his wife) his own Cub. We flew in formation (ranging from loose to relatively close) to Middletown, where a Big Boy is conveniently located near the end of the runway. Part of the tradition, it is.

Enroute to breakfast after meeting up in the air

I followed Jamie and Tommy broke off and joined Steve as we neared MWO. They were all using the grass runway, or so I thought. I was on final for Runway 5 when I saw Tommy touching down on Runway 23. No biggie - I went around and made a short field landing on Runway 23 behind Steve. Hit the first turnoff (750 feet past the threshold), in fact - not bad for a 172!

We all enjoyed a tasty breakfast at Frisch's - I had eggs, hash browns, and toast - while chatting about (what else?) airplanes.

In loose formation with Jamie and Steve on the way home

Jamie snapped this shot of us from his vantage point

I stayed on Jamie's wing all the way back to the airport

We were back in the air around 10:00 for the short, 13-mile flight back to Stewart. I made a low pass as Jamie landed then circled back around the pattern. The winds had kicked up and there was a decent crosswind as I touched down on Runway 26.

Flying, friends, food, and family. I'd say that's a great start to 2014!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.8 hours
Total Time: 301.0 hours


  1. Frisch's? Everyone knows that Elias Brothers' is the REAL Big Boy. :-)

    Looks like a great morning ride and brings back very fond memories of flying off to breakfast with the "South Haven Tribe" (a bunch of Cherokees, a Stinson 108, and a Super Decathlon) in mismatched "formation" (gaggle) back in Michigan. Good times...

    1. So true, Chris. So true. It's honestly not that great - we've never had anything beyond an average/acceptable meal. But it's tradition and all that. And one of the few places open on 1/1.

      Good times, indeed.

    2. Kristy and I once stopped in Ludington and had omelets at the Big Boy across the street from the Mason County Airport. As I recall, it really hit the spot. Of course, that was an Elias Brothers', so... :-)

    3. Sounds about right. The folks down here manage their Big Boys about as well as they handle driving in the snow, which is to say... neither very good nor very Michigan-like!

  2. could throw newspapers for Australia at the Newsagents' Olympics. But it's the 5% of his throws which don't result in a good, solid 'thud' which have prompted this little posting about hedges and front gardensvinyl fence installation