Saturday, May 6, 2023

Dinner and a Show


"Cherokee Four Eight One, Cleveland Center, what's going on in Bradford tonight?"

Kristy and I were flying among the first third of a line of ten aircraft bound for the Bradford Regional Airport.

"We have dinner reservations!" I responded cheerfully.

First Foray of the 2023 WFC Activities Committee

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
06 May 2023N21481 SDC (Sodus, NY) - BFD (Bradford, PA) - SDC 2.4 2612.7

Our excursion was the inaugural event organized by the 2023 Williamson Flying Club Activities Committee. The Bradford Regional Airport is home to the Runway Bar & Grill that makes excellent meals and is staffed by wonderful people. They are particularly known for their prime rib, which is only available on Saturday nights. Portions are as tasty as they are massive.

This year, we had twenty-two people attend in ten aircraft, most of them Cherokees, but also a Bonanza and a pair of Cirruses (Cirri?). Ten aircraft all going in the same direction almost always rouses the curiosity of air traffic control.

As we neared Bradford, we overheard Cleveland Center warning a commuter airline flying to Bradford about us. "I got a gaggle of airplanes inbound to ten of them." Shortly thereafter, I received the query about what had so many aircraft flying to the same destination.

On reaching Bradford, we followed Ed and Stacey in their Archer II on a midfield crosswind pattern entry. From 1000 feet above the airport, I watched Ed's plane float across the runway numbers and chastised myself for not having the camera ready.

"I thought that I was in for a slow night!" remarked the lineman at Bradford, clearly pleased about having something to do as more WFC aircraft alighted on the nearby runway. He marshalled Tom and Alicia to park next to us in their Cherokee 180, Two Six Romeo.

Steve flew his Bonanza and Simon brought his daughter and father in a Cirrus.

As we accumulated on the ramp, Alicia wandered over to comment on how ATC often seems to ask me what's going on whether I am flying the lead aircraft or not. I had not thought about it before, but she had correctly identified the pattern.

Brad and Nikki made the trip in Two Mike Sierra, affectionately known as "The Cirrus".

Scott, Mike, and Mike's son arrived in the club's Bold Warrior, N32816.

Paula and Steve in their immaculate Cherokee 180. I wondered if the name "Rudolph" was ever considered?

Gilead and a friend arrived One Delta Tango while Dan P flew Eight Five X-Ray with Alan and one of our newer members, Dan V. After joining those of us gathered on the ramp, Dan P commented, "Has anyone noticed that ATC always asks Chris about what's going on when we fly places as a group?"  

Too funny.

The whole group of 22 WFC members, friends, and family.


Dinner was excellent, even though Kristy and I committed the sacrilege of not ordering the much ballyhooed prime rib. (I have had it before and it is excellent, but I was in the mood for something else.) Sometimes, that $100 hamburger is actually shrimp fettuccine alfredo. 

As she was passing out our bills, our waitress informed us that several members of the staff were waiting around to watch us depart. Apparently, we were a spectacle! I am not really used to being part of a spectacle, but as we did preflight checks on our aircraft in the dark, a small crowd gathered outside the restaurant to watch us depart. 

It was dinner and a show...only we were the show!

Warrior 481 on the ramp at Bradford beneath the final vestiges of twilight.

Olean, NY.

We launched into the nighttime sky and followed the twinkling lights of our companions traversing the heavens. It was a beautiful night to fly. We held hands as the Warrior swam smoothly through the darkness, comforted by the gentle vibration of a well-running engine. Below, red beacons winked on and off in synchronicity across a vast field of wind turbines as a glorious blood moon slowly crawled skyward off our starboard wing. It resisted all attempts at meaningful photographic capture, becoming all the more striking due to its continued existence solely in memory.

ForeFlight screen shot dim due to low light settings in use at the time.

On the way home, nine aircraft were strung along a line between the Bradford and Williamson Sodus Airports while Simon in the Rochester Air Center's Cirrus took a more northly course back to Rochester.

As we entered Rochester's airspace, the approach controller called out to Brad. "Hey, Two Mike Sierra, how was the prime rib?"

Brad may not have had the prime rib either, but there was little doubt that the event was a huge success!

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