Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is It Winter, Yet?

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
18 Dec 2011 N21481 5G0 (LeRoy, NY) - FZY (Fulton, NY) -
SDC (Williamson, NY) - DSV (Dansville, NY) - 5G0
3.1 1008.9

After an unseasonably warm fall, winter finally arrived in Upstate New York yesterday.  Sure, it was just a dusting of snow, but the landscape was completely transformed.

I did not fly often in the last two months of 2011.  My most recent flight was the first week of December after a one month dry spell. The first landing that day was a bit...firm.  Pilots who have not flown in a while often talk about going aloft to "knock off the rust". I would like to think that first hard landing helped to expedite removal of that metaphorical rust.

When the opportunity arose to fly this clear, sunny morning, I jumped at the chance.  I visited Oswego County Airport (FZY) for cheap fuel, Williamson Sodus Airport to be social, and Dansville Municipal for lunch.  Along the way, I got to see the sights, practice in the patterns of multiple airports, and do some stalls, steep turns, and the usual airwork stuff.

Question: "How can you tell when it's cold outside?"

Answer: "When a 33 year old, stock Piper Warrior shows an indicated airspeed of 125 knots (1 knot shy of the yellow arc) while turning 2500 RPM at 3000 feet."


After the first snowfall, I am always astounded by how different the landscape appears.  This wonderment has a limited shelf life, however. After my first encounter with black ice on the ramp outside my hangar each season, I begin looking forward to spring again.

The dark effluent into Lake Ontario caught my eye.  Anyone care to try and model the fluid dynamics of this system?

Hmmm.  It looks like the aliens who created this crop circle may have been hittin' too much of the hard stuff.

On my way into the Williamson Sodus airport, the pattern was a bit of a circus.  So I stayed to the east and circled Chimney Bluffs while things sorted themselves out.

Someone sprinkled powdered sugar on the bizarre formations along the Lake Ontario shoreline and I oddly found myself craving dessert.

Flying south, away from the lake, found the landscape only lightly dusted with snow.  In the case of this golf course, residual snow accentuated every nuance of texture (this one really needs to be blown up to full size to appreciate).

I flew along Canandaigua Lake, noting wrinkles and crags in the nearby hillsides that usually lie hidden beneath a canopy of green leaves.

It was a good flight...good enough to hold me for a couple of weeks, if necessary.  Now that winter has finally arrived in New York, it's anyone's guess when I might be able to take the Warrior out for exercise again.


  1. Very pretty. I hope to go find some snow this winter for the family. We'll see what happens.

  2. Sunday was a perfect day to fly. I was able to get my long IFR x-c in from KBTV - KPWM - KBTV without a single cloud or bump.

  3. Great shots as always! Nice to hear you've made it up a little bit. Not looking like I'll have a chance again before 2012.

  4. @ Geoff - Good luck with your quest. When you live this far north, the snow comes to find YOU.

    @ Scott - Sounds like you're moving right on through the ratings. I noticed when reviewing the weather that conditions looked good out your way and momentarily thought about a trip to the ADKs, but did not have the time.

    @ Steve - Thanks. The snow really is pretty at first before it gets tiresome. But to paraphrase the Eagles, it's "already gone". Weird December.

    Best wishes to all for excellent flying in 2012!