Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflection 2015: By the Numbers

Reflecting back on flying in 2015, what struck me the most were some of the numbers.

131.9: Total flight hours for 2015. That's the most I have ever accumulated in a single year.

81.1: Hours of cross country flight time (flights with landings 50 nautical miles or more from the point of origin), my highest to date.

27: The number of people who shared Warrior 481's cockpit with me this year (not including Kristy and The Bear). Thanks to John C (safety pilot), Max B (1st GA flight), Rob L (WFC member), Dave P (safety pilot), Mike B (checkout in N9855W), Kent A (nostalgic trip to HAI), Mom, Tom H (flight review), Bill E, Penny B ("Granny", 1st GA flight), Nathan S (2nd GA flight, his first was with me several years ago, and he is now pursuing certification), Dave S (1st GA flight), Mike S (1st GA flight), Lee S (WFC member), Marv S (final flight, WFC member), Pat N, Marilu N (1st GA flight), Dan A (safety pilot), and nine passengers flown during the Williamson-Sodus Airport Apple Blossom Festival Breakfast in N9855W.

10: The number of years between landings at Monroe County Municipal Airport in Bloomington, IN. Prior to 2015, my last landing there was on the return from Florida in June of 2005.

9.8: Hours of flight in actual instrument conditions, my highest to date, boosted significantly by my first flight entirely in IMC from departure (KPTK) to landing (KSDC).

8: The number of new airports explored in 2015, spanning a geographic area from central Indiana to coastal Maine. Two of these, Alton Bay and Burke Lakefront, had long been on my aviation bucket list. These airports were:

7: The number of live lobsters my high school buddy Alex had for our backyard lobster bake after we flew to coastal Maine.

4: The number of flights to Oakland County International (KPTK) in 2015, one of the reasons for the high cross-country time, despite not having ventured too terribly far from home base.

3: The number of visits to one of my favorite destinations, Lake Placid. Occurring in winter, summer, and fall, those three visits generated a lot of spectacular photographs.

1: The number of FAA-approved ice runways that I used in 2015 (Alton Bay).

1: The number of wheel pants I ruined after flying for hours in the rain.

Flights in 2015 as generated by MyFlightbook and Google Earth

It was a good year to fly, with the exception of ruining that wheel pant. Clearly, though, I was able to exercise the instrument rating, which pleases me to no end. This includes doing my first localizer backcourse approach into Oakland County International. This was not only a first for me (the LOC BC part), but the first time the entire family got to experience an instrument approach in honest to goodness IMC (descending through clouds from six thousand feet to about 900 feet).

2015 also saw Warrior 481 upgraded to comply with the FAA's 2020 ADS-B mandate and, on the last flight of the year, the new gear came in very handy.

Here are my favorite flying images from 2015 (presented in no particular order, just scrambled for variety):

Marv, Lee, The Bear, and me
("Final Flight")

In August, I had the privilege to fly with Marv, a pilot and long time Williamson Flying Club member. Marv lost his battle with cancer in September of this year. His time in Warrior 481 was not only his final flight, but also his last time at the controls of an aircraft.

Lake Ontario (foreground) and Sodus Bay
("Living the Dream on Alton Bay")

N21481 at the Liberty Air Museum, Erie-Ottawa International Airport (KPCW)
("Tales of the Tin Goose")

Ultra-short final at Williamson-Sodus Airport in a Champ with Mike S
("Hooded and Champin'")

Sunset seen en route to Williamson-Sodus from Lake Placid
("Stark Winter Beauty")

Over Rush, NY looking north along the I-390 corridor toward Rochester.

Ice accumulation at the base of Niagara Falls
("A License To...")

Olympic ski jump towers (foreground), Lake Placid Airport, Whiteface mountain (background)

Chimney Bluffs, Lake Ontario shoreline

Crossing the border between Canada and Michigan
("Nature's Power Washer")

N21481 parked on frozen Lake Winnipesaukee, Alton Bay, NH
("Living the Dream on Alton Bay") 

Landing at Alton Bay was particularly exciting for me. This had been on my list of things to do for years and all the variables finally lined up just right for it to happen.

Sunset over Lake Ontario

Adirondack Mountains
("Stark Winter Beauty")

Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks

Ontario, Canada
("A License To...")

Approach to runway 27R, Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, OH
("Drew Carey Was Right (Cleveland Rocks)")

As a destination, Burke Lakefront was another goal that went unrealized for many years. To my mind, it is the closest thing left in the United States to Meigs Field.

Olympic ski jump tower at Lake Placid
("Stark Winter Beauty")

Adirondack Mountains in the summer

The Bear with Warrior 481 on the ground in Williamsport, PA
("Future Memories Made and Captured")

Warrior 481 and two WFC aircraft on the ramp at Lake Placid

Thunderstorms over Cleveland viewed across Lake Erie from Canada at sunset.
("Tourist Empire of the Inland Seas")

Rochester, NY looking south along the Genesee River
("Old Haunts")

Eastbound out of the Williamson-Sodus Airport

Late afternoon haze over the western Adirondacks
("Stark Winter Beauty")

"X" marks the spot of the Oswego County Airport, Fulton, NY

For me, these images still inspire passion and serve as reminders of how fortunate I am to behold such wonders on a routine basis. They are why this blog exists and I am looking forward to the images of flight that next year will bring.

See you in 2016!


  1. Not a bad 2015 at all, sir. Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year to you, too!

    2. Great numbers for the year and excellent pictures!

      Having stood alongside of the Falls that picture is impressive. I wonder what you could see from the tunnel below and behind the falls.

      Here's to another year of fun flights and new adventures. Happy New Year

      While we have Steve's attention, when are we going to set a date for a meet up. I'll even make sure we drag Jeff Frey out to join us.

    3. Yeah I know I've been rather absent this year - so much travel! Keep me in the loop; I certainly hope to be able to fly and see folks more in 2016.

  2. Thanks, Gary! Sounds like a great idea! (maybe we'll manage to pull it off this year)