Thursday, December 27, 2018

Reflection 2018: The Commuter

A Well-Worn Path

2018 was an interesting year to fly, if not a good year to explore new places. Instead of visiting new airports, I pressed the Warrior into service as a commuter between Michigan and New York. Flying the same route twenty four times between my current and childhood homes highlighted how weather can twist the same path into a very different experience each time, requiring me to manage darkness, rain, turbulence, IMC, thunderstorms, and icing. Even the routing varied according to the whimsy of ATC. Until I had this experience, I would have never suspected that flying so many trips between the same places would have been such a rich learning experience.

The Highlights

In no particular order, the most significant flying experiences of 2018 included:

The Numbers

156.9: Total number of hours flown in 2018, my highest annual total ever. I completed 2018 with 1904.0 total flight hours logged. Since buying the Warrior in 2004, I have targeted 100 hours per year.

11.1: Total number of actual IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) hours flown in 2018. This is also my highest to date in a single year. I now have a total of 46.4 hours in IMC.

66.8: Hours spent commuting between Sodus and Oakland County International (KPTK), 43% of my 2018 flight time. This time does not include the two rides I flew out of Pontiac, nor our post-Thanksgiving stop at KPTK on the way home from South Bend.

Clearly, this is quality time

50.7: Quality hours spent with The Bear on board Warrior 481. The Bear completed 2018 with 451.0 total hours logged since birth. When it comes to General Aviation, she is a well-flown bear.

7: The number of states and provinces visited in 2018 (IN, MI, NH, NY, OH, Ontario, PA) with no new additions to the list, sadly. Alaska does not count because I did not fly myself there.

3: Only three new airports visited in 2018. Is it any wonder that I've ended 2018 itching to visit some new places?

25: The number of people that came along for the ride in 2018. Thanks to Tom C, Ed C, Jamie O, Dave P, The Bear, Kristy, Mom, Max K, Lesly J-L, Dougall (dogs are people too, right?), Chad M, Ken F, Brenda V, Tre'vyon, Lee S, Paula S, Armelle F, Madalenn F, and seven others from the community who rode with me in One Delta Tango at the Apple Blossom Breakfast. Particular thanks to Tom C, Ed C, and Dave P for acting as safety pilots during instrument practice this year.

The Photographs

I have always said that a sizable portion of my fascination with flight is visual. Here's the proof, my favorite images from 2018.

Final, runway 10, Williamson Sodus Airport (KSDC). This is what coming home looks like.

The Bear modeling her stylish David Clarks somewhere over Canada

Upstate NY obscured by a thin veil of mist
("Opportunistic Breakfast")

Outlet of the St Clair River in Lake St Clair
("Celebrating Normal")

Flying along a moraine of the Knik Glacier northeast of Anchorage, AK
("Alaska 2018: Seaplane Excursion")

Warrior 481 and crew at the Billy Bishop City Airport in Toronto, Ontario
("Father's Day, International")

Eastern edge of Lake St Clair near sunset
("Sudden Autumn")

Diverting around a storm near Buffalo
("Dust of the Stars: Part 3")

Niagara Falls
("The Human Chain: The Forever Home")

N21481 somewhere over Canada (98 nautical miles due east of Pontiac, 8,000 feet, to be more precise)
("Dust of the Stars: Part 3")

Over the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, AK. Photographed from a helicopter operated by TEMSCO.
("Alaska 2018: Of Helicopters and Glaciers")

Riding back seat in Mike's Champ, landing runway 28, KSDC

On the ramp at St Marys parked behind One Delta Tango
("The Patron Saint of Gallinaceous Digits")

A Beaver in Ketchikan, AK as photographed from the balcony of our cruise ship
("Alaska 2018: Gratuitous Beaver Shots")

Club members Brad R and Paula S taxi Eight Five X-Ray at Lake Placid with Whiteface Mountain in the background
("Annual Placidity")

The Bear back on the controls for the first time in 4+ years
("Bear Versus Airplane")

A World War II era Naval SNJ advanced trainer at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum
("Lair of the Black Widow")

Our TEMSCO helicopter parked on the edge of the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska
("Alaska 2018: Of Helicopters and Glaciers")

Warrior Four Eight One back home after returning from Michigan
("The Human Chain: The Forever Home")

Overflying Ontario, Canada
("Sudden Autumn")

A seaplane departing Lake Hood Seaplane Base, the busiest seaplane base in the world
("Alaska 2018: Alaska Aviation Museum")

The southern coastline of Canada

Low clouds hover immediately over the cold water of Lake Ontario - it was -2°F at the surface
("Square Peg")

Harvest colors seen from over Ontario, Canada
("Sudden Autumn")

Flying along the end of the Knik Glacier in a Cessna 206 seaplane
("Alaska 2018: Seaplane Excursion")

On approach to Billy Bishop Toronto City Centre Airport (CYTZ)
("Father's Day, International")

Lake Ontario Shore west of Sodus Bay
("Polar Bear Flying")

Thunderstorm over Buffalo with Grand Island in the foreground
("Dust of the Stars: Part 3")

Sunset photographed over Rochester, NY
("Sunsets and Plow Trucks")

Headwaters of the Knik River north of Anchorage, AK
("Alaska 2018: Seaplane Excursion")

Canadian highway 401 between London and Windsor, Ontario
("Sudden Autumn")

The Adirondack Mountains
("Annual Placidity")

A partial glory cast upon a thin cloud near Canandaigua, NY
("Fragments of Glory")

Short final to runway 01 at the Alton Bay Ice Runway (B18). Photo by Ed C.
("Ice Runway Pilots")

Interchange of I-490 and I-390 west of Rochester, NY

Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park
("Polar Bear Flying")

East of Lake St Clair at Sunset
("Sudden Autumn")


  1. Wow, what a year! I've really enjoyed reading of your travels. I was sorry to read of your mother's death. Best wishes for a great 2019.

    KIOW flyer.

    1. Thank you for the kind words! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  2. I have been having trouble publishing comments on a few blogs, not sure what's up.

    A very busy year indeed for you and Warrior 481. GA once again provides transportation when needed, doing the family thing. Absolutely amazing pictures, as always, what a view. Thanks for sharing your trips, pics and thoughts along the way. Best of health and many exciting adventures in 2019.

    Gary -

    1. Thank you, sir! I'm looking forward to seeing what 2019 holds for both of us!