Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Piper in Winter

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
04 Jan 2014 N21481 SDC (Sodus, NY) - local 1.3 1239.0

First flight of the new year.

The region was still recovering from the ravages of single digit temperatures and over a foot of snow. Kudos to the team that plowed around the hangars; I was left with very little that needed shoveling.

Personally, I was recovering from the ravages of an illness. After several days housebound, I was finally ready to venture out...and aloft.

My objectives were no grander than getting back into the air and circulating hot oil through the engine. Taxiing was performed with care as the Warrior's thirty-five foot wingspan was frequently threatened by high snowbanks. As I gingerly made my way to the departure end of the runway, I envied the owners of stubbier-winged earlier Cherokees.

Every winter, I am delighted by the stark, crisp, monochromatic austerity winter brings to the landscape. I took many pictures on this flight. Soon enough, I will be longing for the return of green to the world.

In places, a substantial shelf of ice extended a false shoreline into Lake Ontario.

After a day of sunshine with temperatures well above freezing, the ice was breaking up in many places.

Ice floes migrating into open water from the ice sheet at the outlet of Little Sodus Bay.

Orchards and fruit farms along Lake Ontario form acres of dot matrix patterns below.

An example of the characteristic bluffs along Lake Ontario.

Check out that lens flare - just call me J.J. Abrams! Clearly, I need to clean the lens on my camera.

A warm, late afternoon solar glow reflected by the taller spires of Chimney Bluffs.

Sodus Bay was entirely frozen over.

The Sodus Bay pierhead lighthouse illuminated by golden, dwindling daylight.

The Williamson Sodus Airport in winter operations mode. Residual snow on the runway made my landing seem better than it actually was. I have no idea when the airplane transitioned from flying to rolling because I never felt contact with the ground.

I was greeted by this view when I turned off the runway. Some of those snow piles were absolutely huge.

Above, a case in point. After another careful taxi, I put the Warrior back to bed. Thank goodness for Yaktrax (and to Ray for recommending them in the first place).

Perhaps I was not so well recovered from my illness as I thought. One of my ears required the better part of an hour to clear after landing. Still, after a few days of doing little more than sleeping, flying made me feel alive again and the view was spectacular. it spring yet?


  1. Chris - I always enjoy your winter pics. The contrast is so dramatic. Harkens back to the days of black and white, and sepia-tone photography. Amazing how a spec of color, such as a barn or the chimney bluff, stands out from the surrounding areas. Your photos are also a stark reminder of why I chose to live in middle Georgia :-) Although, tonight's forecast of 14 deg F has me questioning if I need to move farther South! Thanks for letting us ride along.

    1. Thanks, Ed. 14F? It's not even that cold here! Well, today at least. Speaking of sepia, it almost looks like the lighthouse picture was adjusted to appear sepia toned, but I assure you that the effect is due "solely" to good ol' Sol!

  2. Ick, being sick is no fun. I was out of commission for a couple weeks in December. As someone who almost never gets sick, it was an eternity. I took that trip to San Diego in the middle of it and my head did not particularly thank me.

    Beautiful photos. Winter's such a cool sight from above. I remember the first time I flew out of Stewart after getting my PPL and could not find the damn airport on my way back. Turns out a grass strip covered in snow doesn't stick out against the surrounding area. It's easy to find these days with many more hours under my belt but I always smile when I think of that memory.

    1. Learning to fly in Michigan spoiled me for finding grass strips because all the public fields are outlined with yellow cones. Though I have seen this a few other places (Lock Haven, for instance), that practice is clearly not universal to other states (particularly New York). I learned that I needed to use other clues to find them outside of just looking for the yellow cones.

      With everything looking so different in winter, I can imagine that was tough the first few times. Even now, even with paved airports, I always feel like I go through a mental adjustment each winter where I reorient to the "winter clues" for pilotage.

    2. Huh, that's good to know! Stewart has cones as do many of the other grass strips down in these parts. It appears as though I've been spoiled in similar fashion.

      Looks quite nice out today now that it's stopped snowing. I think we've probably got 4-5 inches on the ground again here. If the Cub's on skis you can bet I'll be finding a time to fly again soon!

    3. I would love to experience ski flying someday. A friend of mine back in Michigan puts skis on his Luscombe in the winter. I need to find a time when I'm conveniently available for a ride!

  3. Beautiful photos. Fall used to be my favorite season for aerial photography but your photos make me want to go flightseeing this weekend.

    1. Thanks, Todd. You're right, winter can be incredibly beautiful. But I think fall wins because pre-flighting the airplane is so much more pleasant!