Sunday, October 25, 2015


Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
25 Oct 2015 N21481 SDC (Sodus, NY) - FZY (Fulton, NY) - SDC 1.5 1484.4

There's no story to tell today, just images caught with an iPhone. I was reminded of evenings over South Haven, Michigan many years ago.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
10 Oct 2015 N21481 SDC (Sodus, NY) - LKP (Lake Placid, NY) - SDC 3.4 1481.0

Last fall, I proposed and helped plan for a Williamson Flying Club fly-out trip to Lake Placid, NY. As luck would have it, the day was nearly perfect; clear and sunny with the land covered by foliage at peak color. Unfortunately, I was unable to go because of a last minute, but overriding commitment.

But in the fall of 2015, I had a second chance. Eight aircraft and 20+ people took to the sky for a repeat visit. The date, chosen somewhat arbitrarily based on people's schedules, was later than last year and we wondered if we would arrive in the Adirondacks to find them brilliantly colored or speckled with post-peak rust.

We flew VFR over the top to reach the mountains. I was concerned about the overcast conditions near Lake Placid as reported by the nearest weather station in Saranac Lake, but had back up plans in case the layer did not burn off as forecast. If worst came to worst, we were carrying enough fuel to simply return to Sodus.

While crossing over the Oswego County Airport, a fortuitous break in the clouds revealed the heart of the facility.

When the clouds did break, the colors below were spectacular.

As we neared Lake Placid, Saranac Lake still reported a 1,600 foot overcast. The partial ring of high peaks around our destination served as a basin trapping the clouds, with Whiteface Mountain projecting above the ceiling in the distance.

We got lucky. The ceiling broke up just as we arrived.

Spying the Olympic ski jump towers adjacent to the airport, we dove through a broad gap in the clouds.

The color was more spectacular than I had hoped.

We entered the pattern at Lake Placid for the third time this year. I must be overcompensating for missing last year's trip. This is one of my favorite shots, with Olympic ski jump towers in the foreground, the airport behind them, and Whiteface looming in the distance.

Six Echo Sierra taxied in right behind us.

Compared to Rochester, it was cold in Lake Placid with temperatures in the mid 40s.

Tony, Tim, and Don arrived in the 'Hawk.

Recently certificated pilot Tom brought his wife Alicia in One Delta Tango. It was his farthest flight to date and first time VFR over the top of clouds. Alicia's comment was that THIS was the best way to reach Lake Placid, not the 5.5 hour car ride that everyone else has to endure. I think she's sold.

John, Carol, Blayne, and Mike in Eight Five X-Ray were the first arrivals to Lake Placid. I think this may have been John's longest flight as Pilot in Command as well.

Between arrivals of powered aircraft, gliders were being towed aloft.

Lunch was at Lisa G's, owned by a Rochester native. The food was both eclectic and excellent.

I wondered if The Bear could handle all of this apple juice. I'm not sure where she put it, but it all disappeared.

Yup, still cold.

The whole crew! Photo courtesy of Tony.

The Bear thought this sculpture in front of the Olympic Center was cool. I agreed.

If you're going to visit the Adirondacks, you should sit in at least one eponymously named chair. These particular chairs were in front of the Adirondack Popcorn Company where we bought a small bag of gourmet popcorn for Kristy.

Anyone remember "Cool Runnings"?

Fastest Bear on ice.

Oh...I get it. Punny!

While we waited for the Trolley to haul us back to the airport, a Little Bear sat on my foot!

Back at the airport, the admonishment to look both ways applies equally to crossing the ramp as it does the street.

Denny's gorgeous Comanche. He bought it the same month I was born. I think it's aging better than I am.

"You'll put yer eye out!" That's right, this is the Red Rider BB Gun of headsets.

Tom departing in One Delta Tango.

Departuring runway 32 affords a fantastic view of downtown Lake Placid.

Obligatory photo of Lake Placid with Whiteface in the background. We decided to circle Whiteface before turning west toward Sodus.

In addition to its distinctive shape, Whiteface is easily recognized by the long knick on its southwest face, as though the mountain once cut itself shaving.

Rivers of deciduous color flowed down the sides of Whiteface.

From this picture, one might be inclined to think that I had just made one of my awful jokes. One would be wrong, however. The sun was simply in The Bear's eyes for much of the flight home.

Then this happened:

Me: "Syracuse Approach, Warrior Two One Four Eight One, four thousand five hundred."

Syracuse Approach: "November Four Eight One, radar contact. Confirm that you are a Piper Warrior."

Me: "Warrior Four Eight One is a Piper Warrior."

Syracuse: "Huh. They have you in here as a Bonanza."

My first thought was that controllers in the previous sectors must have been wondering why a Bonanza was cruising so slowly. Keying the microphone, I said "well...that's...something."

Syracuse (laughing): "Warrior Four Eight One, I'll fix that in the system."

Random Guy On-Frequency: "UPGRADE!"

This was not our first case of mistaken identity for the year. During our last visit to Michigan, Pontiac Ground addressed our taxi clearance to "Skyhawk Four Eight One". In the background, we heard another voice quietly (but not quietly enough) hiss, "WARRIOR!" and our controller corrected himself.

With the appearance of familiar scenery, we returned home, concluding the most spectacular sightseeing flight I have taken in recent memory.