Have I mentioned recently…

…how much I hate flying near New York City?

Yesterday, we flew down to a friend’s birthday party. She lives in New Jersey, which places the nearest airport to her Monmouth Executive (KBLM) in the slot between New York’s Class B airspace and Philadelphia’s Class B. Because of that complexity, I decided to take the club’s Dakota, figuring the Garmin 530 GPS would be a big help. And it was.

It started off a pretty nice VFR day. I filed “KROC GEE v252 CFB v149 MAZIE v147 ARD v276 RBV KBLM” at 7000 feet. We took off, and immediately found ourselves in amongst some small cumulus clouds. Every time we went through one, we got really pounded by the bumps. Near Binghampton, it looked like the clouds were building up in front of me. I thought I’d climb up and see if I could get up higher. I asked for 9,000 feet, and there was a delay before they gave it to me and switched me over to New York Center. And when I got up there, I found that the clouds had already built up that high, and we were in and out of the tops of the clouds and the bumps.

But the annoying thing was that New York Center gave me a re-route. I was on my way between CFB (Binghampton) to LHY (Lake Henry), and they told me “direct LVZ v147 ARD RBV”. A small change, and pretty insignificant in terms of the difference of where I was going, but it meant reprogramming the GPS.

Not too much further along, they descended me back down to 7,000 feet. The clouds were rising up a bit and breaking up, and we were in the clear, but still in the bumps, but not as bad as the bumps inside the clouds. Much nicer.

But then they gave me another re-route. This time it was “direct FJC v149 MAZIE v147 ARD v276 RBV direct KBLM”. Hang on a second, that sounds familiar! I pulled up the original flight plan in the GPS, and there it was. Ok, why would they give me a minor re-route at 9,000 feet, and then put me back on the original route back at 7,000 feet? Must have something to do with New York Center versus the approach controllers. Oh well.

The airport was spotted courtesy of looking at my hand-held GPS for ground features and recognizing where it sat between that little reservoir and the ocean beyond it. I cancelled IFR in the air and checked in on the CTAF to find the frequency just incredibly jammed and hard to get a word in edgewise. Another Cherokee checked in about the same time as me, and about the same distance out and about the same direction away. He joined a straight in from about 6 miles out while I overflew the airport and joined the pattern. On downwind I noticed a tiny little runway straight below me with “X”s on each end, but there was a Piper Cub flying down very low doing some sort of maneuvers below me. Also, as I was turning final a jump plane called a few minutes to jumpers away. We saw the canopies open as we were pushing back into a tie-down.