Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 in Review: Year of the Cross Country

With 2011 nearly over, it's time to reflect back on the year's flying and share some of my favorite images from the logbook.

Middle Falls, Letchworth State Park, NY
("Backyard Flying")
I flew a total of 115.1 hours in 2011, my second most active year since I started flying in 2001.

Lake Ontario near Sandy Creek, NY
("St Lawrence Sunset")

I spent 79.6 hours engaged in cross country flying in 2011 (defined for these purposes as landings at airports greater than 50 nautical miles straight line distance from the point of departure).  This is the most cross-country flying I've ever done in a year.

When I first bought my airplane, I used to make A LOT of 1 hour flights.  Over time, it seems as though the frequency has decreased while the duration has increased.  So, not surprisingly, the number of take-offs and landings per hour flown is considerably lower than past years (down from a six year average of 1.8 to 1.2).

The Florida Everglades
("A Bear's Odyssey, Episode 4: Marathon")
For me, the top three trips of the year were:

1.  Family cross country flight to Florida ("A Bear's Odyssey").  This is the longest aerial voyage I have made to date and it was made all the more wonderful by having my family along with me.

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Outer Banks, NC
("The Pilgrimage That Almost Wasn't")

2.  Pilgrimage to the Wright Brothers Memorial in North Carolina ("The Pilgramage That Almost Wasn't") in celebration of surpassing 10 years since my first solo and reaching 1000 hours.  At 9.6 hours, it was also the most flying I had ever done in a single day.  Remarkably, I completed the trip without a trace of fatigue.

P-47 Thunderbolt, American Air Power Museum, Farmingdale, NY
3.  Flight to Long Island, NY to visit the American Air Power Museum ("Republic") at Republic Airport, the third busiest airport in New York behind JFK and LaGuardia.

Southeast of Le Roy, NY
I had the pleasure of flying with twenty-two non-aviators outside of my immediate family, half of them kids.  A few of them had flown with me previously, but for many, it was a first flight in a general aviation aircraft.  Thanks to Kasia, Dan P., Greg, Chuck, Haley, Natalie, Bill, Stacey, Devon, Dan S., Rachel, Liya, Laura (from France), Kent, Ellie, Ben, Jay, John, Jack, Sara, Kate, and Laura for flying with me in 2011!

Oswego County Airport, Fulton, NY
2011 was also a big year for The Bear.  In the course of logging 41.4 hours, she took her longest journey ever in the Warrior (Le Roy, NY to Ft Myers, FL, "A Bear's Odyssey"), graduated to flying right seat without Kristy around as support crew ("New Copilot"), and experienced her first night flight.  She explored 21 different airports in 10 different states.

Sunset near Richmond, VA
("The Pilgrimage That Almost Wasn't")

Sunset near Richmond, VA
("The Pilgrimage That Almost Wasn't")
I logged a total of 7.3 hours at night, the most I have ever spent aloft after sunset.

US-1, Florida Keys, FL
("A Bear's Odyssey, Episode 4: Marathon")
We established a new southernmost point of landing on Marathon Key (MTH).  By the end of 2011, I had landed at a total of 131 airports, cumulatively speaking.

South Florida from the Gulf
("A Bear's Odyssey, Episode 4: Marathon")
I landed Warrior 481 at airports in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.  2011 was our first year in either of the Carolinas.

Oregon Inlet, Outer Banks, NC
("The Pilgrimage That Almost Wasn't")
 I explored some new sights in states that I had never visited before...

Chimney Bluffs, Huron, NY
("Is It Winter, Yet?")
American Falls, Niagara Falls, NY
("The Zoo Trip")
...and visited some old favorites close to home.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, GA
("A Bear's Odyssey, Episode 5: The Bear Goes Over the Top")
I was invited by a friendly air traffic controller to fly directly through the center of one of the busiest Bravo airspaces in the world at 4500 feet.  And it was good.

Lake Ontario near Watertown, NY
("St Lawrence Sunset")

For me, my humble little airplane is the perfect platform from which to witness the magnificent glory of nature.

Niagara Falls
("(Comparatively) Speedy Return")

On a more "practical" note, it can serve as a speedy means to visit my hometown in Michigan, which happened twice in 2011 by flying directly over Canada and the always-spectacular Niagara Falls.

North Shore of Long Island, NY
Whether the flying was done in the unsettled air of spring...

Adirondack Mountains Near Lake Placid, NY
("Mountain Escape")
 ...the haze of summer...

Fawn and Sacandaga Lakes Near Lake Pleasant, NY
("Quiet Celebration")

...over a scarlet autumn landscape...

Little Sodus Bay, Fair Haven, NY
("Is It Winter, Yet?")

...or in the winter, 2011 was a great year to fly.  Well, except, perhaps, for fuel prices.

T6 Texan flown by Kevin Russo
("The Greatest Show on Turf, 2011 - Warbirds")

Even when not flying, seeing other airplanes fly was a definite treat.

Above an Overcast Layer Near Rochester, NY
("The Pilgrimage That Almost Wasn't")
Looking ahead into 2012, I think it's time for a new challenge.  Given some of my experiences in 2011, instrument training makes a lot of sense.  So, in the near term, I anticipate some panel upgrades for the Warrior so that she can fly in the system in a manner more closely resembling the state of the art (, again).  And, obviously, this means training for me.  Let's call it a New Year's Resolution.  I'm still figuring out the details; we'll see how it all goes.

See you next year...


  1. What a great year y'all had! I like your New Year's resolution. Let me know if I can be of any help. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  2. Thanks, Geoff. I am open to any and all advice or suggestions you might care to offer!

  3. Awesome year, Chris - wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Safe and Happy New Year.

  4. Great year, wonderful photos, and nice job enjoying the air time and flying safe! Merry Chistmas!

  5. Thanks for sharing those photos, Chris...they are uniformly beautiful. Joy of the Season to you and best wishes for a healthy, prosperous and safe 2012.


  6. Thanks, guys. Best wishes to all for a wonderful Christmas and a happy 2012!

  7. Always a pleasure looking at your pictures. I really need to start taking my camera and not use the iPhone for pictures.

    Always proves the investment by knocking down at least 100 hours, great job! Looking forward to your instrument entries, not much chance for pictures with foggles on ;)

    Merry Christmas! and a safe and Happy New Year in 2012.

  8. Enjoyed your year in review. I still have a bit of flying left to do for 2011, but look to cross 75 hours PIC for the calendar year as I inch closer to 200 hours PIC. My trip to Kitty Hawk in July was the highlight of the year. But that was surpassed only recently by the opportunity to be PIC of the lead aircraft in an 11 plane conga line that did a fly-over of the Wright Memorial on 12/17 in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation.

    I look forward to seeing how your instrument training goes - your photographic logbook is now a must see site.

    Regards and Happy New Year.

    Raleigh, NC

  9. Gary and Dave - Thanks! We'll see how the instrument training goes. Panel upgrades of some kind WILL be necessary - I'm trying to decide on specifics (and - gulp - cost). I probably won't start working with an instructor until later in the year and I'll start off with some home study.

    Dave - A conga line, eh? Sounds a bit more organized than a "gaggle"! :-)

  10. It was very well organized. 2 Civil Air Patrol C-182s (led by me in N727CP), 2 C-172s from Elizabeth City State University, a L-17A Navion in Navy colors, an open cockpit Fairchild PT-19, a T-28A Trojan, a flight of 3 WWII era trainers: 2 SNJs, 1 T-6 and the massive C-54 "Candy Bomber" from the Berlin Airlift. We staged out of Manteo and launched at 1 minute intervals, with the exception of the PT-19 which was slower. Weather cooperated enough to get it done. It was a lot of planning for what amounted to 7 minutes of flying - wheels up at MQI to touchdown at FFA.

  11. Dave, that sounds like a blast!

  12. It was some of the most interesting and exciting flying I have done as PIC. Lots of attention to detail to make time on target. We missed our hack by about 15 seconds - bit more wind than anticipated. It is only a 6 mile flight from MQI to FFA, so a lot was packed into a short period of time.

  13. Absolutely stunning photos. I have not flown around New England much and I have to say I'm surprised at some of the sights out there in NY. Happy belated 2012!

    1. Honestly, I was surprised at how beautiful the area was when I moved here six years ago. Happy 2012 to you, too!