FL to MD Flight

01Fall01.jpgThe departure from Tavernaero was questionable for a time this morning as the rains fell and the ceilings dropped just as much. But by first daylight the rain subsided and the visibility was VFR to lift off although I had to get my IFR clearance prior to departure. Miami Center must have been busy as I sat on hold with the briefer for nearly 30 minutes. He finally comeback with a clearance as beautiful full double rainbow appeared . . . a good sign.
While the rain fell in clumps all around me, my path direct to NITNY was cloud and rain-free and I settled in at 7000' as the sun rose over Miami. The view that I had this morning over Miami is a rare treat as it is seldom that I get over this way at altitude. It was strange to look out the right side of the plane and see urban sprawl while the left side view was one of the Everglades. I must have been directly over Krome Avenue, line  of demarcation between civilization and not.
Approaching Cape Canaveral a storm developed along V3 forcing me to deviate but Orlando approach requested deviation over the Cape. Darn. I was forced to get an outstanding view of Kennedy Space Center, the launch pad and surrounding area then follow the coastline to Ormond Beach. Small to moderate pop up showers dotted the route but other than a few bumps the ride was good until just outside of SSI. There was a small harmless looking cloud. What a jolt: we registered 0 to 2.3 on the G meter. Upon exiting the cloud there was a very familiar looking bridge. Apparent that01Fall02.jpg span design was popular as it was identical to the one I passed just before the jolt. I had to look to make sure the jolt did not turn me back in the other direction!
While I had some time, I did a quick check of the weather. Although most of the way is VFR, I am sure there are going to be the pockets of clouds like I have experienced throughout the first leg of the trip. With the winds favorable at 7000', I certainly want to remain up here.
Stopping at Allendale 88J I was met by a kind gentleman who pumped my gas for me. What a bargain: $3.85 for full serve. I re-filed and was off in short order. The winds back up at 7000' were not quite as good as before.... Well, the wind was the same but my route made them not as favorable. But I was still clipping along at 144 kts so I was happy. I tried to wait a bit to start chomping on an apple for lunch. I got my handoff to Shaw Approach and promptly started chomping when they came back 01Fall03.jpgto verify my altitude. With a gulp, I gave them 7000'.
You have to love ATC (Shaw Approach) with a sense of humor. Cirrus 123CP called into Charlotte Approach to check in. Shaw responded "Cessna 123CP altimeter 30.25" N123CP responded: "30.25 and that's a Cirrus." Whereupon Shaw got the gig in: "Cirrus 123CP and this is SHAW Approach!" I almost choked on my apple laughing so hard.
As we continued past Fayetteville, the haze layer ascended to us and we picked up a few knots topping out at 151 kts. It is still a beautiful day other than the choking haze layer - the air is still smooth and it is 58 degrees aloft so the comfort factor is high. With one and one half hours to go, i heard music to any pilots ear "614WM would you like a shortcut?" Heck, yes, we want a short cut! I copied the new route. Hmmmmm ... I am not 100% certain that it is a shortcut for real but I will give ATC credit for getting me to bite without whining. I shortly saw what happened when someone squawked. Another plane was not as enthusiastic and I and he ended up getting a route amendment that must have taken 3 pages to copy. I like my "shortcut".
Soon I got a real shortcut as i was cleared direct MRB. That is the last leg getting into the DC area. I have less than an hour to go. By now the mountains are coming in to view. The greens of summer are stubbornly holding on while the yellows of fall fight for a presence with an occasional rogue red defiantly standing out in the crowd. The haze is very thick now and I am just below the top of the haze layer with the bottom layer of clouds floating on top. I should be able to get in on a visual approach. I start thinking about food again. That apple did not last long and there are so many of my favorite places to eat up here that I will have a hard time to fit them all in. But I will try!
The radio has been unusually quiet in this sector. While passing through Roanoke Approach, I almost called to see if they were still alive when a Bonanza beat me to it. Being handed off to Potomac Approach was not too much better. Other than getting my direct to it has been quiet. Time to sit back and enjoy the XM radio. By the time I get into Martinsburg area, I am sure the ATC radio will be hopping.
I finally got my descent instructions among others. DC was a mad house. I got down as far as 5,000’ then had to hold there for all the other traffic flying around the area. After passing Frederick, I cancelled and continued to land VFR. ATC sounded surprised when I even cancelled flight following. I only had 12 miles to go and I really wanted to be on the local frequency. The kicking west tailwind made the need to complete the descent that much more urgent. But by the time I was in the pattern, that kicking tailwind was down to a trickle and I dropped in for a nice landing without a problem.
Vern had called for a car that was already there waiting for me so I could get unloaded and off to business right away. 

Fall Fling

Fall Fling Photos

Mid-Atlantic Section Meeting
I was honored to be invited as a guest speaker for the Mid-Atlantic Section 99’s Fall meeting along with Heather Taylor, producer and director of Breaking Through the Clouds.02Fall01.jpg Friday evening was about the film.
A large crowd of 99s gathered for the showing of the film. This was the second showing, that I know if, in the area to local female pilots – the first being at the terminus of the 2010 race. About 40-45 ladies and gentlemen were on hand for the showing. I spoke a bit about the upcoming 2011 race and brought my scrap book from the 2010 race that included my flight book, and offered to leave it open to anyone wishing to see if for that weekend only. Thereafter, the Team Wild Mama race secrets are locked back in the vault!
The film was a success. Many of the ladies came afterwards with complements and also purchased the film. It was good to sit around and talk to these gals and hear their stories as we heard the stories about the flyers and their ships in 1929.
Saturday brought a full day at the Section meeting. It started with registration, the fly market and breakfast goodies followed by the Chapter 02Fall02.jpgChairs meeting then the business meeting. Susan Larson, 99s President, presented the Charter to the new West Virginia Chapter 99s. It was interesting to see how much is going on in other sections of the 99s as I usually only attend the SE Section meetings. There is lots of air marking, many new ratings and lots of fly-outs. Deb Dreyfuss even talked about her “sorry” chapter - sorry they were having so much fun; sorry they were women daring to be different – and she introduced the Deb Dreyfuss Dare to be Different Scholarship (or the “Double D-Double D” Scholarship for short). These ladies have a great sense of humor!
After a gourmet box lunch a panel of Rosie the Riveters came in to discuss their work during WWII. How interesting to hear so much history first hand. These ladies are still quite on top of their game and gave both and informative and entertaining presentation.
Becky was the nest presenter. She spoke about how to win scholarships – something near and dear to my heart at this point as I am headed in that direction so I can work on completing more aviation training in the near future. Becky is a commercial airline piliot and the winner of the02Fall03.jpg Amelia Earhart Scholarship and several others that brought her through her type rating and on to her chosen career.
Finally we heard from Erin, a pilot and scientist with the NTSB conducting cockpit voice recorder analysis. It was interesting to hear how the techniques for investigating accidents have changed throughout the time Erin has been with the NTSB as the technology and instrumentation of the airplanes has changed. She illustrated with several accidents, the most interesting to me being the Cirrus who “had a bad paint job” come to find out that his G1000 told a very different story of the “paint problem” and pointing to the fact that he most likely became hypoxic at 15,400’ without using oxygen, passed out and re-gained consciousness after spinning toward the ground. The “paint issue” was a stress 02Fall04.jpgfracture on the wing.
We concluded with a hangar party at the home of the DC-3 racers plane: more food and fellowship. Congratulations to the Washington DC Section 99s for hosting a fun weekend and many thanks for including me as your guest.

A project:  It is always fun to teach the young folks. While staying here in MD with my sister, my niece, Ashley, had to good fortune of having to do a weather project. Her topic02Fall05.jpg was cold fronts. She asked me what I knew about cold fronts and I was delighted to be able to teach her something. She completed her poster for her school project and, hopefully, has a better understanding of cold fronts!

03Fall01.jpgMD to TN via NC: My planned VFR did not materialize this morning. Although the weather was clear at Westminster, it was marginal VFR at various reporting points throughout the route and, to me, that is non consistent with a trip through the mountains, and it was too lowof a ceiling to go over VFR. Why did I care? Winds on the surface were light and variable. At 8,000' where i ended I was sporting a 35 kt headwind.
A red fox was sitting in the run up area as I was waiting for my clearance. He was OK just watching the plane until I did my run up then he03Fall02.jpg scampered into the corn field. The departure over the Shenandoah Valley was very pretty. From this altitude, the subtleties of fall are not as evident but i am hoping that will change as the ground comes a bit closer to my position.
The Smokies were living up to their name this morning, between the haze and the approaching storm. The ride over the mountains started out smooth even though it was slow. Wild Mama was only sporting a 30 kt headwind now but with that she will not see 130 kts of ground 03Fall03.jpgspeed. My 2.5 hour ride will be closer to 3 hours and maybe even a bit more if I have to shoot and approach. Right now, Ashville is reporting overcast at 2,400' and broken at 3,100'. Considering Ashville sits in the valley at 2,100', I would say there is a serious case of mountain obscuration this morning.
As the ridges along the west side of the valley crept up to my level, those hints of fall were starting to become apparent again. Crevices of color ran is small streaks down the hillsides while the tops were dotted with burnt oranges. It is always so much fun to fly this time of year. The fall colors are always the best but I like looking for corn mazes, trying to decipher the patterns that are cut into the fields.
About an hour into the flight, the mountains got noticeably higher and the ceiling got noticeably lower and a fine misty rain began to fall. We03Fall04.jpg could see the clear skies off to the west but our path was taking us along the ragged edges of the very large weather system moving up the east coast. We will clip just a small lit rain section of the storm then should be in the clear. Got to love a forecast. Thirty minutes later, the scenery all but disappeared and I found myself with my head in and out of the clouds and a thin layer of status clouds shrouding the view below. The thin layer soon turned into all out white and remained that way for the balance of the trip to Asheville.

I was given the GPS 34 approach to Asheville but had to go into a hold to let some jets in first. I took one spin around the hold and started the approach breaking out well above the ground. I had some business to take care of here so I will be on the ground for a while, having the option to leave today or tomorrow.

The scattered sun quickly turned to torrential rains on the ground. I could imagine that the air was no better. I start hearing about the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole 03Fall05.jpgcombining with a low creating a flooding situation. That was NOT forecast. Looking at what was forecast, I decided it would be best to finish the trip to Sparta tonight rather than wait for another botched forecast in Asheville.

The conditions were marginal to depart. I filed IFR and entered the clouds by the end of the runway. Knowing that the mountains surrounded Asheville, I climbed at 1200 feet per minute to be sure all were cleared and I out the terrain page up on the MX20. I was crossing the mountains in the blind. I remained on the runway heading and headed out through the valley. Once I got to 7,500’, ATC turned me on course03Fall06.jpg toward Knoxville. I remained in the clouds until about 15 minutes out of Sparta. By then the sunset was starting to overtake the area and it was time to land. I was tired after a long day.

Upon landing, I had a telephone message from niece, Ashley …. She got an A on her project!!!!!

04Fall06.JPGSoutheast/North-Central Joint Section Meeting  Being so close to the cabins, I could not see staying at a hotel in Nashville for the 99s convention so I opened the house to those who did not mind making the 2 hour drive with me in to Nashville and Mary Wunder and Diana Noll took me up on the offer. Diana, a LSA pilot, came up from FL solo in her little CT bucking 40 kt headwinds all the way for the 6.7 hour journey; but she made it without incident late Thursday afternoon; the sun was shining but the winds howled. Mary, on the other hand, hitched a ride with Judy Bowser, had killer tailwinds and lousy enroute weather for their beautiful calm wind, VFR arrival into Sparta. After a quick dinner and hangar flying session, we took Judy back to the airport so she could head on into Nashville. She had an early morning SE Section Board meeting. With calm winds Judy departed, leaving Diana wishing for a night flight. As a LSA pilot, she is prohibited from night flight .... but as her CFI, I can take her in her plane. We lifted off of runway 22 and headed over to the corn maze but it was already too dark to see clearly below. The night sky was aswsome: clear, cool, windless and full of stars that stretched out to finally blend in with the skyline of Cookeville off in the distance. Diana was thrilled with her first night flight but we landed all too soon to head back to the cabin for a nice roaring fire and more04Fall05.jpg hangar flying.
Two great sections, one Grand Ole Time was the theme for this weekend events and what more fitting than to start off with a trip to the Grand Ole Opry. Mary needed to go in Friday to the fly market, so Diana and I joined her there. There were a few Orpy tickets left unsold so we snapped them up and headed off to the Opry. This was only the second show since it re-opened after the great flood of this spring. The Opry House was beautiful and fully restored to its former luster. Deirks Bentley celebrated his fifth anniversary tonight performing along with Little Jimmie Dickens, the Ricky Top Band and many others.  By the time we got back to the cabin we were bushed and way too tired for hangar flying.
04Fall07.jpgSaturday morning came early as we had to be in Nashville ready for meetings at 0830. The morning was cool again and very pleasant. We got to the Double Tree hotel with plenty of time to spare and darted into the meeting room. Mary and I both had talks to give at the parallel meeting of the North Central section: Mary for the 99s Endowment Fund and I for Minnetta Gardinier for the start of the 2011 Air Race Classic in Iowa City. All meetings went well and we headed for an afternoon of speakers including Dr. Janann Sherman, talking about Phoebie Omlie, and another gentleman giving us a04Fall08.JPG lesson on the iPad and electronic flight bags. The evening ended with dinner and line dancing before the long drive home. Mary stayed on in with Judy so they could get an early start but Diana and I are staying a bit longer to enjoy the fall colors.
Sunday was supposed to be the mountain flying lesson day but the only lesson learned was that VFR airplanes stay grounded with low04Fall04.jpg visibility. Instead we opted for a ride into history on the Tennessee Valley Railroad. The short 6 mile ride took us to the turn table and maintenance barn for the old steam engines that still operate today. We headed back to the house after a detour to Fall Creek Falls and met "Madam X" as we will call her. MX is a soon to be pilot we met at the airport after the night flight. She has harboured secret aspirations of learning to fly but too the responsible route of raising her family first. Now with the nest soon to be empty, it is time to spread her wings. We talked for hours about flying, life and the little tapes that play int he heads of many women stopping them from realizing their goals in lieu of more "sensible" pursuits. We let MX know that now was her time and directed her to scholarship, AOPA, 99s, 04Fall02.jpgWAI and all of the other resources that are available so she can join us in the skies. We will keep tabs on MX and identify her in the Bragging Rights section when her time is right; but for now, she has asked to remain anonymous so as to keep the pressure off until she completes her CPA and MBA programs.
Monday morning brought tailwinds and clear skies after an initial early morning fog in the mountains. Diana has never had a real tailwind before so today was her change to04Fall01.jpg really fly. The CT skoots along at 120 kts airspeed; pretty good for the LSA; but today she reached a ground speed in excess of 140 kts! Diana departed first and I came behind her after the photo mission that I had to make. I caught her in no time, passed then told her what was coming along the way. We leveled off at 3,500' and maintained contact on 123.4 for the entire journey. We watched the fall colors slowly disappear and fade back into the greens of summer. We had many airplane lessons along the way: kind of an in flight ground school, getting the change to review things that you think about while flying then forget to ask when you land. My flight was 4:00 hours and hers was 4:40 - a far cry from the 6.7 hours that it took to get to TN.
04Fall03.jpgWe will all be back to TN, hopefully soon for a compass rose painting at the Sparta Airport. I have offered the house to the whole group of 99s who choose to participate - party at the cabin!!!! It will be a great time to hangar fly, inspire and encourage our own "next gen".