Vicki and I flew across the lake this weekend. Except for a day trip to Ben and Jerry’s, we haven’t flown an “away” trip together since 1999, when we went to Piseco, NY for a weekend. I love it when we get to fly somewhere together – it sort of makes me feel like all the money I’ve spend on my pilot training wasn’t totally selfish.
(Yeah, just *mostly* selfish. Hey, it keeps me sane, too.)
I’d booked the plane ages ago, but when Vicki said she was going to come, we thought we’d go on the new Fast Ferry. But of course the Fast Ferry shut down a week or two before it was time to go. Good thing I didn’t cancel the plane booking.
One wrinkle was that we were going to spend Friday night with Vicki’s friend Jonesiexxx. This meant that instead of expecting to use my Dad’s car for driving everywhere, I had to rent something. And since the facilities at Oshawa Airport are damn near non-existant, I decided to fly to Buttonville Airport, a much busier and better serviced airport. I’ve never flown there before, but I visited it once decades ago.
I filed V31 AIRCO V252 BULGE V164 YYZ. That’s neither the most direct, and it’s DEFINITELY not what they’d make me fly, but I think you should file something that you can actually fly even without the radar vectors, in case you lose your radios. It’s also the reversal of the “IFR Preferred Route” between Buttonville and Rochester in the Canadian Flight Supplement. (To my shame, I never thought to look for a preferred route in the US Airport/Facilities Directory.) I also filed for 8,000 feet, which is a good height over the lake giving you some gliding distance and time if something goes wrong.
When I called for my clearance, they ammended it to V31 LINNG then “expect vectors”. I’m not sure what I’d do with that clearance if I lost the radio, but I expect I’d either fly direct to the KZ NDB or YYZ first, and then direct.
There was a bit of weather to deal with – few clouds at 1900 feet, a broken layer at 2500, and another broken layer at 3500. This was a very slight remnant of Hurricane Ivan – there was some pretty strong rain just south of us, but no thunderstorms within two hundred miles. Nothing to worry about, but just enough to make you glad to have an instrument rating.
We took off, and at first the landing gear wouldn’t come up. Vicki was saying “if you can’t get those up, we’ll have to go back, right?” as I fiddled with the landing gear lever, and then I just briefly twiddled the gear override lever and the gear come up. I don’t know if it was the gear override lever, or just that I got fast enough that the override stopped overriding.
As we went through a couple of layers, each time Vicki would look down and refuse to look out the window again until I told her we were clear. Which is too bad, since I think punching through clouds is the most fun part of flying next to a breaking out on an ILS and seeing the runway right in front of you.
So we are nearly at LINNG, and at 8,000, when the controller said to fly direct to the airport. I turned to the direction the GPS said to go, but said that I needed a vector. They said “turn left 10 degrees”, and I did. But then he said to descend to 5,000 feet. So much for getting lots of altitude for safety over the lake. I started a slow descent. 5 minutes later, just as I hit 5,000 feet and was trimming for the new altitude when they said to turn right 10 degrees and descend to 4,000 feet. Oh well. They also asked me if I wanted to fly the RNAV 33 approach or the visual to 33. I told them I was unable to do RNAV, and said I’d expect the visual.
Although there were some clouds between us and the ground, I caught a glimpse of a runway straight ahead. It’s such a relief when you pick out an airport that you’ve never seen before miles before you get there. Soon afterwards, I was switched over to the very friendly tower controller. She cleared two planes to land ahead of me, and then as I was over the numbers just about to touch down she was telling somebody he was number 4 for landing behind us and two others. Remember what I said before about it being a busy airport? But in spite of the busy-ness of the airport, the controller gave me progressive taxi instructions right out to the FBO.
I’d filed for 1 hour en-route and a 5pm arrival. I left a few minutes late, but the vector straight across the lake make up for it and I arrived within minutes of the time. Somebody came out from the FBO (Millionair) and gave me a phone so that I could CANPASS (I love that) and then she drove my rental car out to the plane so Vicki and I could unload our luggage off the plane directly to the trunk of the car. The FBO also drove the car back out – I suppose that’s one concession to the security rules. There was a time when you could drive your personal car out to the flight line in Rochester, but that went away after the TWA-800 crash.
All in all, a great flight, made even better by the fact that I got to share it with my dearly beloved.