Thursday, January 1, 2015

Ringing in 2015 with an octet of airplanes

Plane: Cessna 150 
Route: 40I-MWO-40I 
Weather: Clear, 25 degrees, wind 240 degrees at 15 knots gusting to 26

For the second year in a row, we took part in an old Stewart tradition - flying to breakfast on New Year's Day. Compared to last year, we doubled the turnout; eight airplanes flew this morning. I'm pretty sure that every one of Stewart's airplanes not currently in for annual took to the sky.

We lucked out, too. Although it was cold and windy there was not an ounce of frost, so we all avoided a lengthy deicing. Tommy hauled the preheater around the field to warm everyone's cylinders and all the engines were turning by 8:30. Within minutes, three Cubs, a Champ, the Arrow, the Fly Baby, and the 172 were airborne. We departed last in the 150.

We both got new Halo headsets for Christmas! :)

We were the eighth and final airplane to depart Stewart

Joining up with everyone else shortly after takeoff

Following a couple Cubs to Middletown

The third Cub, off our right wing

Entering the pattern at MWO in trail of all three Cubs

A different angle - us following the three Cubs from the ground MWO

Gina was quite excited that we could finally order some food

All eight planes on the ground in Middletown

I'm sure our eclectic formation was quite a sight from the ground - at least if anyone else was crazy enough to be up so early, looking skyward. We had a hearty headwind so the short 13 mile hop took nearly 25 minutes from takeoff to touchdown. I followed the three Cubs, landing last, with an absolute greaser in the shifty, gusty winds. The wheels touched so softly you could barely tell we had landed and I made the first turnoff. Definitely a good way to start to the new year!

Everyone parked on the edge of the ramp and walked through the gate to Frisch's next door. I'm not sure the staff expected 16 people to walk in together but our waitress was extremely cheerful and somehow kept our orders straight. I had an omlette and Gina had eggs and French toast; along with the coffee, it all certainly hit the spot.

We spent about an hour in the restaurant before heading back through the fence. I quickly preflighted the 150 and hopped in. I was slightly worried about the engine firing after spending an hour in the cold, gusty winds. Thankfully, she fired right up after three shots of primer. I taxied to the end of Runway 23, completed a runup, and was the first to depart. Everyone followed quickly behind and I soon joined up on the pack of airplanes flying eastward.

Flying back to Stewart at 2,500 feet following our hearty breakfast

Caesar Creek Lake, partially drained for the winter

In some spots, nearly all the water was gone

Even a small river has tremendous power to clear everything in its path

Foundations are still visible from buildings that were demolished when the lake was built

One final look at the low water on our way back towards the airport

Tommy and I were talking last night and he'd mentioned how low the lake was. They usually drain it in the winter (so there's greater capacity in the spring to hold snow melt and rainfall) but it seems even lower than usual this year. He said you could see some of the old foundations from the buildings that used to lie in the valley before it was flooded in the late 1970s when the lake was built. I hadn't seen that before so we continued east after the formation reached Stewart. As you can see above, it was definitely a unique view. Without question, it's a view that can only be truly appreciated from above.

Tuning in the AWOS at Wright Brothers, I checked the winds and noted that they had continued to pick up. They were gusting up to 25-30 knots but were at least only 20-30 degrees off the runway heading. I turned final for Runway 26 at Stewart and had to stay very active on the controls all the way down. Kicking in a little left rudder to counter a wind shift just as I was rounding out, I touched down very softly on the grass. Two for two to begin 2015. I'll take it.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.1 hours
Total Time: 324.5 hours


  1. What a great way to start the year! I look forward to a pirep on the new headsets.

  2. Congratulations on the first successful foray aloft for 2015! Like Gary, I also look forward to your PIREP on the in-ear headsets. I am intrigued by them, but only know one other person using that style.

    Your first photo brought back memories of renting the 150 out of Three Rivers - I had to bundle up for winter flying like you and Gina are in the picture. I couldn't quite decide if the heater in that airplane did not work at all or if it was just too wimpy to make any kind of real difference.

  3. Thanks, guys. Regarding the heater, it's far more of a nice theory than a working prototype. One perk of said new headsets, however, is the ability to wear a winter hat in the cockpit!

    I know quite a few folks who have purchased the Halos (at least a couple on my recommendation, in fact) and they've been satisfied with them for years now. In my one flight with them so far, I'm a fan. Block plenty of noise, no annoying head clamping, and the audio quality is better than my old headsets. I certainly will post a full PIREP after a few more flights.