Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Old Friends

I spent the weekend catching up with "old" friends. Readers that I grew up with may know Nancy and Matt. Our families were all part of a close knit group that spent a lot of holidays and time together. Nancy and Mat have recently reconnected, married, and are moving to the DC Area! It was amazing to catch up with them and get to know them as adults (I hadn't seen them in years). Turns out that Matt is a big "car guy"... and we joked about trading rides in one of his old cars for rides in our plane. We had a great evening and I look forward to seeing more of them both.

Sunday, Husband and I caught up with another "old" friend (ok, not so old!). We went flying with M, our old flight instructor. We've been trying to get together with M for a while, but every time our schedules coordinate, the weather's been bad. So we met up Sunday morning for a flight to JGG for lunch. When we arrived at the airport, a fellow pilot alerted us to a couple of potential problems. Apparently there was an unmanned rocket launch NOTAM for right over our route-- and the clouds were decreasing at a much faster rate than anticipated. Hearing this, I figured I should check out the NOTAMS and get the information for myself. I searched and searched, but never could find the notice about the rocket launch. After conferring with Husband and M, we decided we'd go ahead with our planned flight-- but would make sure to get flight following to help keep us out of trouble (always a good thing, anyway).

It was strange flying with M again. Husband sat in the back on the way out, so M handled the radios for me while I flew-- and kept accidentally starting to use his call sign (Wisconsin) to begin/end radio calls instead of ours (Cessna). We all got a chuckle when the controller heard one of these slips and said "Gee, Wonder what your day job is?!" The flight went pretty smoothly. We had to descend from our desired altitude of 6500 feet because we encountered precipitation (and it was -2C outside-- definite icing potential), but the air was a balmy 2C at 4500, and the precipitation didn't do more than spit on the windscreen. Landing at JGG is always fun. Near the water, the winds always seem more variable-- which translates to more challenging! And JGG is right traffic for 13-- the runway of choice. On the plus side, the runway is a healthy 3200 feet long, and there's really good lunch waiting at the other end! Somehow, after all the landings with M, I got nervous on this one. But still managed to get the plane down reasonably well-- and without embarrassing myself in front of all the people watching from the restaurant!

We had a great lunch-- who can resist their homemade bread and great sandwiches! Though not as busy as in the summer, several planes came and went while we sat outside. We struck up a conversation with a guy that's in process of buying land to make his very own grass strip. Husband was pretty fascinated. We also checked out a group of ultra light planes that later left as a flock. We laughed to see one of them put on a helmet and start the engine while standing outside the plane. Not giving us warm and fuzzies for flying with him! Maybe it was for protection against potential bird strikes!

During the trip home we quizzed M about his new airplane job. Sounds like he's really having a blast. He described his panel and the avionics in the planes he flies. It's crazy to think that in some ways, we have more advanced avionics in our little 2550 lb airplane than in his $40million dollar plane.

All in all, a most excellent weekend!

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