Sunday, May 11, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
11 May 2008 N21481 5G0 (LeRoy, NY) - FZY (Fulton, NY) - 5G0 2.7 609.8

Every year in the north, spring arrives so abruptly that the rapid greening of the landscape seems to be accompanied by an audible "pop".  This year, the effect seemed even more pronounced because spring came while my airplane was tucked away in the maintenance shop.  But with work on the airplane finished and a shakedown flight completed, it was time to take the family out for our first fly-in breakfast of the season.

At 8:30 am local time, we were transiting Rochester Class Charlie airspace en route to the Oswego County Airport.  During our time on-frequency with Rochester approach, every general aviation aircraft that contacted Rochester was Oswego bound.  This obviously did not escape the notice of the controller, who responded to all aircraft that did not immediately declare a destination with a "going to Oswego? " query.

At a cruise altitude of 3500 feet (chosen to minimize the impact of an easterly headwind), we crossed over the southern portion of Rochester and took in the remarkably lush landscape that had popped since mid-April.

We flew just south of the University of Rochester, the campus nestled in a bend of the Genesee River.  Though I count some U of R alumni among my friends, the most memorable tale of the university came this past January from someone I had just met.  I was on a business trip in Boston.  Upon hearing that I was from Rochester, one of the people I had gone there to meet mentioned that he was a U of R graduate.  He went on to declare that the distinctive rotunda on the main library building (visible above) was referred to as the "Nipple of Knowledge" by the students (I suppose this is better than IU's Borg Cube).  It was, at the very least, an interesting comment with which to make a first impression.

Oddly, that was not the only time I heard about U of R on that Boston trip.  Boarding a commercial flight home from Boston, I found myself sitting next to the only faculty member from the U of R that I know.  In the course of chatting about his work and my work, I discovered that (1) he vehemently disliked flying and (2) he was completely unaware of the U of R main library's anatomical nickname. 

Approaching the city of Rochester, we flew over the Cobbs Hill Reservoir.  This reservoir is capable of storing approximately 150,000,000 gallons of water for use by the city.  It is also quite distinctive from the air at night, recognizable as a kidney-shaped ring of lights southeast of the city.

Once outside of the Rochester metropolitan area, I notified Kristy that passengers were free to move about the cabin.  The Bear took this opportunity to press her nose against the window to survey the farmland passing below our wings.

At Oswego, the winds were picking up: 18 knots out of 130°.  There were five aircraft in the pattern, so we adjusted our arrival time by flying over the field and turning back for a left downwind entry to runway 15.  By delaying our arrival slightly, we entered the pattern during a lull in the traffic.

On the second Sunday of every warm weather month (warm by upstate New York standards, of course), EAA Chapter 486 at Oswego County hosts an impressive fly-in breakfast.  Eggs to order, pancakes, french toast, sausage, ham, and homemade doughnuts are highlights of the menu.

Ignoring the various real airplanes on the field at Oswego, visiting children are much more taken with these pedal-craft (this Ford has an unpictured Mustang counterpart).  With her arm placed jauntily on the side of the airplane, The Bear took this Ford for a spin.  I'm sure the EAA folks who provided this bit of diversion were pleased to witness the participation of such an enthusiastic young aviatrix.

Unfortunately, The Bear was completely unable to reach the pedals, so Kristy provided the thrust necessary for forward movement.

With The Bear's check-out in the EAA's Ford completed, we started back home around 11:00 that morning.  When we reached Le Roy, the winds had increased significantly from the calm conditions that prevailed when we departed.  With a 50° crosswind of 13 knots gusting to 22, the first attempt at landing was not shaping up particularly well.  We went around and, on the second try, I determinedly stuck the right wing down and pressed the left rudder nearly to the floor.  The resulting landing was very nearly a greaser.  At the very least, it was sufficiently gentle that The Bear did not awaken from her slumber until I cut power to the engine at the fuel pump.

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