Friday, September 4, 2009

Live Free or Die (or Something to That Effect)

Date Aircraft Route
of Flight
Time (hrs) Total
04 Sep 2009 N21481 5G0 (Le Roy, NY) - LCI (Laconia, NH) 3.1 758.5
06 Sep 2009 N21481 LCI - GFL (Glens Falls, NY) 1.0 759.5
06 Sep 2009 N21481 GFL - 5G0 2.1 761.6

Kristy, The Bear, and I took to clear skies on a calm morning to visit our friends Ann and Greg in New Hampshire.  We had planned to go a few weeks ago, but the weather would not allow.  It was our second annual pilgrimage to their home in the White Mountains.

Over Syracuse, we observed these short cloud streets running orthogonal to the main cloud formation.

The air was significantly less humid than our trip last year; even distant mountain peaks in Vermont were visible with reasonable clarity.  This photo was taken at 5500 feet with full (12X) optical zoom on the camera.

This photo was taken looking northeast while on approach to Laconia Municpal Airport (visible as the grayish stripe at frame right).  The body of water in the foreground is Winnisquam Lake.  Beyond is the expansive Lake Winnipesaukee.  The White Mountains can be seen in the background.  Lots and lots of water in this area - it reminds me of the aerial view over Oakland County, Michigan.

This capture from Flight Aware shows our actual radar track on the trip.  Occasional bumps and wiggles along our flight path show where we deviated around minor cloud buildups.  Once east of New York, we communicated primarily with Boston Center and, for the last bit of the flight, Boston Approach.  At one point while talking with Boston Center, the controller asked another pilot, "can you do Mach 0.8 or is that too slow?".  We didn't catch who he was talking to, but it was obviously not us.

After a couple of days with Ann and Greg, it was time to head back to New York.  We took this picture of Lake Winnipesaukee while departing from runway 8 at Laconia.  Love the color.

Lake Winnipesaukee reminds me of the Thousand Islands area of the St Lawrence River.  There are islands scattered everywhere!

More islands in Lake Winnipesaukee seen from a higher altitude; a truly beautiful sight.

This is the Ragged Mountain Ski resort, photographed shortly after we leveled off at 6500 feet for the flight home.  Can you say, "off season"?

As we crossed into Vermont, the terrain became more mountainous.  This ridge stood out because it was bare, as though someone had shaved it of trees with a giant razor.  In the distance is Mount Ascutney.

Another shot of Mount Ascutney.  This mountain is best known as Vermont's only monadnock ("lone mountain" - enhance your word power!).  Though its peak only reaches 3,143 feet, its isolation makes it stand out from a distance.  I think the town in the foreground is Windsor, VT.  Yay for situational awareness!  Ok, so I cheated and used Google after the flight was over.

More Vermont Mountains south of our route and immediately east of the New York border.

We stopped for lunch at Glens Falls, NY.  Glens Falls lies in the green valley pictured here.  This photo was taken looking north from just north of the airport.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport in Glens Falls is a terrific place to visit.  It is active, well maintained, friendly, and home to "Carol's Airport Cafe".  All of Ann's talk about the best cheeseburgers in New Hampshire predisposed me to craving a cheeseburger.  Carol's makes a great cheesburger with the bun toasted just so.

We called Ann and Greg to tell them we had arrived at our lunch stop in New York and they were stunned.  "We just got back home from dropping you off at the airport!" Ann exclaimed.  I did not point out that New Hampshire and Vermont are tiny little states, but rather, allowed her to be impressed with the tremendous velocity at which we must have hurtled through the air.

The stop at Glens Falls was not all roses.  While sitting in Kristy's lap, The Bear's diaper leaked, which led to a quick change of clothes in the restroom after I rooted through Warrior 481's baggage compartment to find something sufficiently clean for both of them to wear.

As we left, our waitress presented The Bear with a little Styrofoam airplane.  The Bear was delighted with the little airplane (above, photo by Kristy), but managed to tear it in half before dozing off for her afternoon nap at 8,500 feet over the Adironacks.  She awoke during the descent into Le Roy and was quite displeased with the lack of toy airplane.  We bought her an unbreakable one on the way home from the airport as a consolation prize.

Our experiences with air traffic control that afternoon were varied.  From his responses, it seemed we caught the Griffiss controller napping with our initial call-up (surely not true, he was probably distracted with a landline call or some similar task).  From Syracuse, syllables tumbled through the radio so rapidly that I feared that I would not understand my own tail number.  Then, we were handed off to Rochester.  Though he was reasonably busy, the Rochester approach controller cautioned us about the NOTAMs at Le Roy for the nearly complete runway extension project.  I assured him that we were familiar with the NOTAMs, but was nevertheless very impressed that a moderately busy controller would take the time to provide extra information.  It was above and beyond the call of duty.  Thanks, to whoever you are.

Landings at Laconia and Glens Falls were nice, perhaps some of my best in recent memory.  Even though our landing at Le Roy was not quite as nice, our audience (Darrell and Neil) offered a score of "10".  No arguments from me.

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