Friday, December 23, 2016

Reflection 2016

The Good and the Not-So-Good

I always enjoy my time in the air (well, almost always) and because of that, it is hard to be disappointed by a year where I was privileged to log 112.8 hours in control of an aircraft and visited some great destinations. Still, 2016 will be remembered as the year we lost many beloved public figures including celebrated aviators Arnold Palmer, Bob Hoover and, most recently, John Glenn.

I will also specifically remember 2016 as the year Warrior 481 required a cylinder replacement, her most significant maintenance challenge since we started flying together in March 2004. 2016 was the year I made plans to earn my tailwheel endorsement with a well-regarded instructor only to have my plans scuttled by an earlier-than-anticipated engine overhaul on a J-3 Cub in Michigan. Most importantly, 2016 was the year that I encountered an unexpected and violent atmospheric phenomenon aloft that shook my self confidence for months to follow.

But there was good in 2016, too. 2016 marked the occasion of The Bear's first air show, our first flight to Boston, and the sampling of a few truly outstanding $100 hamburger destinations from Vermont to West Virginia. Though the numbers are not as impressive as last year's, they represent a lot of good experiences in 2016.

The Numbers

2: The number of instrument approaches I flew in actual conditions to get into IFR destinations (Williamsport, PA and Luray, VA). Beyond the satisfaction of earning the rating, I am pleased to actually be using it! Aside from approaches, numerous flights involved departures through thin overcast layers that would have prevented a VFR-only pilot from safely reaching the intended destination.

112.8: The number of hours I logged in 2016, including 3.0 hours in new-to-me club aircraft N701DT and 3.8 hours in actual instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). I surpassed the 1500 hour milestone in January and accumulated over 1600 hours total before year's end.

9: The number of states visited in 2016 - Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia. It was my first landing in Massachusetts. If I can contrive good excuses to land in Rhode Island (Block Island?) and Delaware, I'll have landed in every state on the eastern seaboard.

Google Earth / MyFlightBook representation of flights in 2016

31.4: The number of hours I flew with my favorite copilot, The Bear, in 2016. Often it was just the two of us exploring new (to us) places.

2: The number of different grass runways I used in 2016 (Grimes Airport, Bethel, PA and Basin Harbor Airport, Vergennes, VT). Not having been based at an airport with a grass runway since 2005, it's always a pleasure to land on high quality turf again.

7: The number of new airports visited in 2016.

22: The number of people who flew with me in 2016. Thanks to prospective flight students Barb K-F, Max K, and Ed C; Sonja K; Darrell, who braved the first flight in Warrior 481 with a new #3 cylinder; frequent safety pilot and fellow "submariner" Dave P; Mike B, who provided a check-out in N701DT in preparation for the Williamson Apple Blossom Pancake Breakfast charity flights; the twelve trusting members of the public who flew with me in One Delta Tango; safety pilot Joe E; fellow aviation blogger Steve D; and colleague Patrick P for joining me in the air.

The Photographs

Here's the good part: a randomized sampling of my favorite flying images from 2016.

This is why I fly.

Over the clouds on Victor 2 between Rochester and Buffalo

The whole family hopping down to Knoxville, TN for Easter
("The Easter Hop")

Departing Piseco Airport in the Adirondacks on the day I surpassed 1500 hours
("Kerosene Milestone")

Pennsylvania farm country
("Flying the Spectrum")

At the Golden Age Air Museum, Bethel, PA
("Flying the Spectrum")

Rochester, NY near sunset
("The Odyssey")

Sunset over Lake Ontario observed from over Fulton, NY
("Golden Hour")

On the ILS-24R at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport
("Hello, Cleveland!")

Cloudscape and landscape
("Flying the Spectrum")

Sitting left seat in the Air Zoo's 1929 Ford Trimotor
("The Flying Bear Meets the Tin Goose")

Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park. Surface temperatures were 5°F.

Night landing at Canandaigua Airport
("Dichotomous Night")

A glory observed after climbing through the overcast
("The Easter Hop")

One of my favorite little airports, Knoxville Downtown Island Airport (KDKX)
("The Easter Hop")

The Bear arrives at the Oswego County Airport ready for pancakes!
("Bumpy Breakfast")

Middle Falls, Letchworth State Park
("Here There Be Monsters")

The biggest runway I've ever landed on: Griffiss International Airport, Rome, NY (KRME)
("That Old Autumn Magic")

Mist pooling in valleys near the Tennessee / Kentucky border
("The Easter Hop")

Night currency flight at the Canandaigua Airport
("Dichotomous Night")

Cloud cover in retreat from Buffalo, NY

Warrior 481 framed by the wires of a WACO biplane at Grimes Field, Bethel, PA
("Flying the Spectrum")

Clear air, crisp clouds, bumpy ride
("Bumpy Breakfast")

I-94 slices through civilization  near Chesterfield, MI

About to ride through a narrow band of clouds somewhere over New Hampshire

En route to Luray, VA from Latrobe, PA
("Clan of the (Flying) Cave Bear")

Wind turbines southeast of Dansville, NY
("Digital Community")

Warrior 481 at the Oswego County Airport near sunset
("Golden Hour")

The Adirondack Mountains in winter
("Kerosene Milestone")

After sunset over Western NY
("Clan of the (Flying) Cave Bear")

Overcast near the Shenandoah Valley
("Clan of the (Flying) Cave Bear")

The Adirondack Mountains in autumn
("That Old Autumn Magic")

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (KBUF)
("The Odyssey")

Preparing Warrior 481 for a flight to Michigan

See you next year!


  1. Chris,
    You always provide an interesting recap. I feel I have to bust the magical one hundred hours each year, glad to see you did.

    Many beautiful pictures posted, we are truly blessed with a view when we fly. However, some people seem to capture it better than most, great job, and thanks for sharing.

    Delaware Coastal (GED) is just a ten minute hop north of me. Maybe your family can work in a beach weekend here at ocean city Maryland while knocking out my neighbor, the first state.

    1. Thanks, Gary.

      I still have that 100 hours in my head from over a decade ago when that was widely considered the crossover point where ownership started making financial sense. Of course, the joke's on us: owning never makes financial sense! It makes sense for other reasons that I value more highly, though.

      Good plan for a beach weekend - though looking out my window right now, those seem like a long way off!