Randomness


IMG_3516I have been writing articles about my flying adventures or blogs as they are now known as since 2001. My website has transitioned from geocities (remember that free website from yahoo?) to a hosted site on yahoo: flynthings.net to the free google flynthings.blogspot.com and finally to flynthings.wordpress.com.

Over the years, unfortunately I have lost photographs I have posted in older writings. While it was easy to transition my writings from these other sites, transporting my photographs wasn’t as easy. Please bear with me as I work through these older posts and update them.

It is always interesting to see what posts visitors of my site read. For example, very recently, I was surprised and excited to see someone read my blog entry on From Palms to Pines. That adventure occurred almost 8 years ago.  Still a pleasure to read and treasure. Although I am sorry that the photographs no longer exist.

One of these days I hope to track the media where I stored the photographs and re-post them to the appropriate blog. Just as well, that I mean to re-post my exciting photos from my trips to OSH during my earlier visits.

Before I forget, thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you enjoyed your time here!

Falling Water: A Flyout that wasn’t!


It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function.
This is the law.

— Louis H. Sullivan

If I were asked to name my second passion, I would have to say it is Architecture. With  a sister studying Architecture, I grew up surrounded with designs, drafting, discussions on famous architects such as Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright and The Fountainhead. In my spare time I pored over my sister’s books with flashy images of buildings from around the world; mesmerized by the intricate designs, lofty skyscrapers and flowing structures that could only be imagined and executed by the intellect of man.

Falling Water is a masterpiece by architect Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW). Nestled in a valley in rural Pennsylvania, away from civilization,  it is one of the most enduring buildings designed by FLW that propelled him to fame and success. It was built for the Kaufman family in the 1930s as a weekend home and is now preserved by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and open to the public as a museum.

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One enters the house into a large room designed using open architecture. The room is sectioned creatively into a living area, study area, and dining area. Rustic walls built with stones,  rocks protruding by the hearth of the fireplace and sheet of glass windows providing unlimited vistas, all integrate the building most effectively with the striking natural surroundings. Even the glass windows are designed to provide uninterrupted views of the outside. Gentle sounds of the falls permeate inside the house. While inside looking out provides breathtaking views of the outside, Falling Water is best viewed from the outside.

Like a painting or a sculpture, it is best admired from a distance. Walk the short distance, to the clearing in the woods to glance and admire the building:  sitting gracefully on a rock ledge atop a waterfall,  carved  into the earth in layers, gently rising over the face of the mountain with cantilevered terraces blending with the rock formations.

One with nature: where man-made beauty collides with natures beauty.

I have visited many FLW built homes in Illinois, Wisconsin and  California, but none matches the beauty that is Falling Water!

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They say third times a charm. But not this time. For the last three years, I have been planning a flyout to Joseph A. Hardy Connellesville airport (KVVS) in Connellesville, PA , the nearest public airport to visit Falling Water. Each year the weather has spoken otherwise. It almost looked like we would make it this year. The cold front and severe weather had rolled through the night before. It was expected to be partly sunny, cooler and windy. And we almost made it. Almost. Pre-flight done. Aircraft fueled. Lucy even got in the back seat, while Linda and I did last minute checks. We had pored over the weather, checking winds, turbulence, freezing levels and IFR conditions. It was windy and we expected it be bumpy.

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“The winds don’t look good, are you okay with it?” Lucy asked me. As PIC, decision time was here. Running into Mike (a CFI at the flight school)  earlier when I arrived, I had asked him if he had flown yet, to get a feel for the weather. We looked at radar images on the big screen, seeing the wavy patterns trailing from the west to the east. Definitely turbulent! Walking back into the terminal building to check the weather one more time, Linda and I cornered Mike again to help us make our decision for go/no go and to reconsider if we were doing the right thing heading out into the turbulent skies. He could only give his opinion, but ultimately the decision had to be made by us. One final call to Flight Service and even before we were done we knew it was best to cancel.

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Ever enthusiastic, Lucy said: “Let’s drive there, I can drive us”. Third year in a row, I couldn’t pull off this flyout. Maybe it is best, since the whole planning was proving to be too complicated. The only nearest car rental company was Enterprise and they only operate from 9 -12 on Saturdays, short staffed and unable to pick us up at the airport or leave the car at the airport for us. VVS did not currently have a courtesy car, but the airport manager was happy to drive us to Enterprise if we got there before noon.  And then the whole question of what do we do in the evening when the time came to return the car back at Enterprise and get back to the airport was still unanswered.

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Driving three hours, through scenic Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, with two pilots and one of whom happens to be an architect was the best hangar driving experience 🙂 Talking planes and buildings especially FLW, the three hours swept by unknowingly. The earth was just starting to awaken from the stark winter, with splashes of color, shades of purple here, dashes of bright yellow there, emerging green in the trees, and intricate rock formations in the mountain sides vividly visible now but would soon be lost amid the green foliage as summer advances.

Almost eighteen years ago, I had made a similar road trip with my architect sister driving from New York out to the backwaters of Pennsylvania to Mill Run to get a glimpse of Falling Water.

It stood then as it did now: Elegant. Pristine. Perfect.

A testament to the creativity of FLW and of mankind in general.

Links:
Falling Water
Frank Lloyd Wright

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Tangier Again


Hotel booked. Passport in hand. We were all excited about our upcoming fall trip to Niagara Falls. We had strategically planned this for the 3rd weekend in October to see the full splendor of fall colors as we journeyed north to fly over one of the natural wonders of the world and then visit them up close and personal both from the US and Canadian side.

Seven days prior to our flight the forecast called for clear skies and 50’s at Niagara Falls. Slightly warmer but ditto in the mid-Atlantic region. Exciting! Maybe this year we would get lucky and actually make this trip.

Three days prior to the flight the forecast called for partly cloudy and 20% chance of rain and still 50’s at Niagara Falls. Not so exciting but still things could change. There were still 3 days to go.

Two days prior to the flight the forecast was still the same but chance of rain was up another notch at 30%. This was not looking good. Hotel reservation cancelled. Maybe best to put the passport away.

One day prior to the flight forecast was 40% chance of rain, windy and still 50’s. Then by the hour chance of rain dramatically kept increasing: 50%, then 60%, 70% and on the day 80%. The low temperatures also meant freezing levels were going to be low. The winds meant moderate turbulence. So both Airmet Sierra and Tango would be in place.

In the mid-Atlantic though it was going to be a glorious fall day: 60’s and sunny. Tangier called for 70’s and abundant sunshine. Niagara will have to be another time. Tangier here we come for some crab cakes and veg cakes!

Four aircraft set off from four different airports and converged on Tangier. It was a little hazy but a picture perfect day to be up in the air. Nary a bump. Not a TFR in place along the route of flight as Linda and I flew blissfully south VOR to VOR, an hour later than planned (I don’t think I remember a time when I took off on schedule!). This time the aircraft was just back from 100 hour inspection and the GPS was being checked and updated.

The runway at Tangier can be intimidating: 2427 ft x 75 ft. I remembered my previous flights there when I had to do a go -around the first time before landing safely during my second attempt. This time I was well prepared, slowing the aircraft down and giving myself enough room to execute a stabilized approach on final. For good measure Linda reminded me that the TPA (traffic pattern altitude) was only 600ft at TGI. I touched down softly with plenty of room and gently applied the breaks.

Whoa!

The nose wheel shimmied and continued to shimmy excessively. Luckily having experienced this before I knew I had to pull the yoke back. But it continued to shimmy and the plane kept moving forward. We were going to run out of runway here soon. Finally it required both both Linda and me yanking the yoke full back to get the shimmying to stop.

Turns out most of Tangier shuts down in October in preparation for the upcoming winter and only Lorraine’s is open for business all year round. So it wasn’t hard for Linda and I to track down the others. Maryland is famous for it’s seafood,  especially crab. So it wasn’t surprising that everyone ordered crab cakes except Linda and me. Linda was not a big fan of crab meat and I of course ordered the only vegetarian item on the menu: Fresh garden  salad with a side of the potato wedges.

After lunch, we took the traditional leisurely tour of the island on a golf cart.  Our tour guide rattled off  historical  anecdotes and antidotes (as Debi calls them). It was fun and informative.  With a population of only 500 people, with one police officer, mainland a stone’s throw away by boat or aircraft, with few visitors this time of the year, Tangier is an idyllic getaway.  One where you could disappear without being found, all of us agreed.

The return was uneventful. Except for the periodic beeping on 121.5 and one or two broadcasts. And the final shimmy of the nose wheel on landing on return. This time Linda and I were better prepared.

Why does a nose wheel shimmy?

Turns out nose wheel shimmy is quite common on single engine Cessna. It can happen either with a problem with the nose strut assembly, the tire, the shimmy dampener or a combination of the three.  The best way to reduce or eliminate nose wheel shimmy is to keep the nose wheel in the air as long as possible when landing. Ultimately best to spend the extra $$$ to get it fixed to have a piece of mind when you ace your next landing!

See Also:
An Evening in Tangier
Planes, Trains, Automobiles

Gettysburg: History & Lunch


“Four score and seven years ago
our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation,
conceived in liberty,
and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…”
— from the Gettysburg Address
by US President Abraham Lincoln (Nov 19, 1863)

The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the American Civil War. Confederate army led by General Robert E. Lee was defeated by the Union army led by Maj. General George Mead ending Lee’s invasion of the North. The battle fought over 3 days between July 1-3, 1863 had the most casualties of the American Civil War.  The famous Gettysburg Address was given by the then US President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA. History abounds here.

It was almost an hour later than planned that Darya and I set off from Leesburg for a short hop to Gettysburg for our monthly flyout with the dc99s. Different aircraft. Different airport than originally planned. At the rate this year has been shaping up, this almost seems the norm. But nothing about flying is business as usual. Even on a fine, sunny day. Sponge stuck in the elevator hinge blocking the hole. Keep or remove? Maybe give Darya some practice for some wingwalking if the elevator gets stuck? After some deliberation, out it came; fuel topped off; oil added; doors closed and tight, we set off for W05 mindful of the Prohibited Area P-40 and Restricted Area R-4009 surrounding Camp David.

Where was the airport? According to the GPS we were less than 3 nm miles away and neither of us had identified the airport yet. We knew it was at our 12 o’clock since the GPS clearly indicated we were heading directly towards it! In the nick of time we located the airport, did some quick maneuvering to get re-oriented, and landed without incident.

As has been the norm on most occasions, three aircraft departed from three different airports and convened at W05 for the monthly DC99s $500 ham(vege) burger flyout. The plan was to get lunch at Herr Tavern and get a ride in the blue trolley into town to checkout the battlefield and other historic sights.

A short walk along the Route  30 highway (about 7/10 miles) led us to the Sharpshooter Grill adjacent to Herr Tavern, where Debbie, Norm and Rani were already enjoying a sumptuous meal having arrived an hour earlier.

We should have expected it I suppose, but it wasn’t until we were ready to head to downtown did we realize that the blue trolley only operates during the week! After a half an hour wait, we finally negotiated a ride into town in the only available shuttle service paying $25 each way.

Gettysburg is a quaint little town. The whole town is supposed to be the battlefield, although there is the specific designated Gettysburg National Battlefield and the Gettysburg National Military Park. Shops line the streets of downtown Gettysburg, with historic landmarks such as the location of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, museums and other historical buildings still standing 160 yrs later.

After walking through historic Gettysburg downtown; visiting the free Gettysburg museum filled with artifacts ranging from bullets from the American Civil War, to JFK boxers, even Elivis’ memorabilia, Eva Brauns’ attire and many more; it was time for cupcakes and the ride back to the airport and the end of another perfect day of glorious flying, camaraderie and hanger flying.

Gettysburg airport (W05) is tricky to locate. Has very little transient parking. No fuel and no public transportation to town during the weekend.  No cab service is available in Gettysburg at all. Period. Yet if planned well is a great flyin destination. What better way than to spend a day or two visiting the rich history of the American Civil War? Fourth of July weekend is the ultimate weekend to visit this historical place. Note to self: next time call Enterprise ahead!

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Some photographs courtesy Rani Spivey and Darya Pilram

O Shenandoah!


The weather this year has been marvelous so far. Winter almost non existent. Who could have expected 70’s in March even before the official start of spring? Unlike previous years, the dc99s were off to a good start to the flying season. Spring not here and already two flyouts accomplished. Quite unlike the last two years.

The day dawned, hazy with fog over much of the Shenandoah Valley. But clearing slowly but surely. Ted and I departed Manassas, on a sunny,calm but hazy Saturday. It was Ted’s first cross country flight since his check ride last December. Clouds and haze still hugged the rugged Shenandoah mountains, as we traced our way west and then south looking for a dip in the ridge to cross over to the Valley. Landing at the airport,we awaited the arrival of the other aircraft that had departed from FDK. It truly was a glorious day for flying!

Shenandoah Airport boasts a nice long runway and even a newly renovated cafe on the field that only operates during the week. So much for that $100 (or $500 dollar hamburger). I give it a -1 (hamburger) rating for staying closed on  the weekends!

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Georgetown, DE


Four aircraft departed from the four corners of the Mid Atlantic Region: one from the north from Frederick, MD, another from Manassas, VA from the west, one from St Mary’s County in the south and the fourth from Tipton, MD and converged on Georgetown, DE for the monthly DC99s flyout.

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Williamsburg (JGG)


My first recollections of this historical place dates back several years ago when I visited Busch Gardens with college friends. That was a memorable trip that will always be fresh in my mind.

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Fast Boats, Slow Planes


No Quake Zone

I gripped the support tightly lest I fly off. Sitting on the bow, is an extraordinary experience.  Riding the waves at some 30 miles an hour is almost like riding a roller coaster.  I could feel the excitement in the pit of my stomach, as we rode out another huge wave. Whoa what a ride!

To think I almost didn’t make it.

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