|Date||Aircraft||Route of Flight||Time (hrs)||Total (hrs)|
|19 Apr 2014||N21481||SDC (Sodus, NY) - OYM (St. Mary's, PA) - SDC||2.7||1265.1|
"Last one downstairs is a rotten egg!"
A challenge fit for Easter weekend, one delivered by The Bear to signify her readiness for a trip to the airport. She beat me downstairs, too, though I think she issued her taunt when already halfway down.
Though our commute began under clear blue skies, we soon rolled beneath a 2100' ceiling hovering over the Williamson-Sodus Airport. We slipped low out of the area in the Warrior, found a large hole in the deck, and climbed on top. While climbing, I realized that this was exactly the scenario for which I earned my instrument rating.
Why didn't I file IFR?
A simple but inadequate answer: old habits die hard.
A skittish wind at our destination in St. Mary's, Pennsylvania led me to flip-flop runway choice at least twice as we closed in on the field. Once I finally committed to runway 28, the rogue breeze shifted to a quartering tailwind such that we floated, bounced lightly on contact with the ground, and floated some more before settling solidly on the runway. I was tempted to log it as two landings.
Once seated in The West Wind, I ordered The Aviator (a skillet of sausage, mushrooms, scrambled eggs, cheese, home fries, etc) and The Bear ordered pancakes and apple juice.
The vat o' apple juice that the waitress placed before her was large enough to possess its own undertow. The Bear was not only extremely proud of this massive beverage, she also drank it all. As I contemplated the flight home, I wondered if there were any old diapers stowed somewhere in the airplane because that was a lot of juice to be contained inside one little girl.
Magnificent pancakes, flecked with chocolate chips, served as sustenance and treat both.
Meanwhile, the weather at home had lowered and Rochester was declaring marginal VFR conditions. From the flight south, I knew that temperatures below 6500' were well above freezing such that icing was unlikely to be a concern. I filed IFR for the return trip, choosing an airway route suggested by ForeFlight. Within moments of filing, the iPad binged to announce that I should expect my filed route.
Instead, Cleveland Center cleared us direct to Williamson-Sodus at 5000 feet. Under clear skies, the aggressive terrain of northern Pennsylvania made for a rough ride home at this altitude. As the FlightAware track above demonstrates, I held my course well despite nearly continuous displacement from heading by staccato jolts of turbulence. Frankly, it was good practice to hand fly in such conditions and The Bear was entirely unperturbed by the rough ride.
Closer to Rochester, we logged 0.2 hours of IMC, punching in and out of the clouds. The Bear loved this part. For me, it served as good practice in transitioning on and off instruments. Williamson-Sodus was reporting clear skies and, once within fifteen miles of the airport, we cancelled IFR and landed.
"Last one to the car is a rotten egg," The Bear uttered her challenge while already charging off down the airport sidewalk. I quickly overtook her and reached the car first.
"What I MEANT to say was, last one IN the car." The Bear is a master of Calvin Ball and routinely switches the rules around to best suit her situation. But I had the upper hand. As The Bear struggled impotently against her locked car door, I strolled to my mine, clicked the key fob once (to unlock my door only), and slipped inside.
There was no way that I was going to wind up a rotten egg this time, even if that meant cheating just a little.