Friday, October 8, 2010

Moment of Zen

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
08 Oct 2010 N21481 5G0 (LeRoy, NY) - PEO (Penn Yan, NY) - GVQ (Batavia, NY) - 5G0 2.8 872.5

Earlier in the week, I mentioned to my friend Matt that I planned to take vacation on Friday to fly.  Because this would be a work day, Matt commented that it was a shame no one would be available to come with me.  When I shrugged without much comment, Matt nodded knowingly.

"Ah.  That's your Zen time."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Because the winds were forecast to be high after lunchtime, I decided that I would fly early and forgo any long trips out of the area.  Rather, I would stay in the Finger Lakes region and take some pictures starting with my house.  Above is a shot of the Rochester skyline as I traversed Rochester Class Charlie en route to my neighborhood.  The approach controller was very helpful this morning and it is a shame that his hard work did not lead to any decent photographs of my neighborhood.

I did, however, get this shot of Irondequoit Bay with Lake Ontario in the background.

I departed Rochester airspace to the east, dropped radar services, and cruised south along the western shore of Cayuga Lake until I reached the distinctive gorge concealing Taughannock Falls (above).  

A closer look at the 215 foot tall waterfall.  I really need to hike this gorge and see it from the ground sometime.

Next, I circled the nautical-themed corn maze outside Trumansburg, NY.

Penn Yan, NY is situated on the east branch of Keuka Lake.  I made a quick pit stop here.  It was my second ever landing on runway 28 with its significant downhill grade.  This time I was ready and I stuck the landing nicely.

Penn Yan is surrounded by a patchwork of contoured and striped fields.  I wish I knew what type of crop is light blue!

Another field close to the Penn Yan airport, also featuring some rather unusual colors.

I've been flying in New York for nearly five years and I am still struck by the diversity of shapes to be found in farmer's fields.

Just a nice showing of color.

A Republic RC-3 Seabee taxiing uphill for departure on runway 28 at Penn Yan.  This is quite possibly one of the goofiest looking mass produced aircraft out there, but I imagine it would be a blast to splash around in one.

This is the view southward along the east fork of Keuka Lake taken on climb out from Penn Yan's runway 28.

While I was at Penn Yan, a radio-silent Piper Cub was practicing in the pattern.  After departing the airport, I climbed to 4500' to photograph some of the surrounding fields and had the good fortune to catch the cub moments before landing.  The winds were steadily increasing and becoming sufficiently gusty that I was grateful for the higher wing loading of the Warrior compared to the lightweight aircraft below.  I imagine the Cub pilot had quite a work out, but he or she held that centerline like a pro.

Heading home, I crossed Canandaigua Lake and passed the Bristol Mountain ski resort (above).  I will certainly grant that the resort occupies one heck of a big hill.  But, "mountain"?  Unless this is relative to "Mount Holly", former landfill turned ski hill near Flint, I'm not convinced that this is truth in advertising.

I landed at Genesee County airport in Batavia to tie up a loose end at the shop from the recent avionics upgrade.  When I landed, the winds were running 16 knots gusting to 24.  Warrior 481 bumped through the turbulence with occasional aileron and rudder inputs from me to keep her on course.  A few feet above the runway, the Warrior was caught in a mild thermal from the hot asphalt.  From the strong headwind, my groundspeed fell to a ridiculously low value.  Warrior 481 seemed to hover, motionless, over the runway for a moment before gently alighting.

I am a leaf on the wind.  

Talk about a moment of Zen.
By the time I returned to Le Roy, the peak wind gusts were approaching 30 knots.  We descended toward the runway nearly vertically, continuously buffeted by gusts.  With a mild squeak, both mains rolled onto the pavement simultaneously just as gently as they would have on a calm day.

The only thing better than spending a beautiful clear morning above an autumn landscape is spending a beautiful clear morning above an autumn landscape and not ruining the experience by ending with a crummy landing.

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