Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Centre Airpark Annual Fly-In / Camp-In

Until now, ain't nobody ever used Embassy Suites and camping in the same sentence.

Beth and I have just returned from our first Camp-In and what a wonderful time we had! The Fly-In/Camp-In location was Centre Airpark (N16) Pennsylvania located near Penn State and we both agree that we'll be going back to the next one. What a great time we had!

We departed Pottstown-Limerick Airport (KPTW) on Saturday, October 6 around 3:30 pm after widdlin' down our overnight bags weight from two 747's (also know as two huge airplanes) worth to one PA28's (also known as one lil bitty plane) worth of carrying capacity. We'd have brought the neighbor's stuff too but they weren't home. Ain't that right honey? Slap! Sorry Dear. I was just kiddin'.
We did in fact defy gravity at half past the hour of 3:00 pm and climbed a couple of thousand feet up and headed out yonder way (West Northwest) towards the center of Pennsylvania. The reason was, was these folks we didn't know, sent out an invitation inviting us to fly our plane out there and setup a tent and camp out, and they were gonna feed us the next morning, all because it was fun. The only thing we had to do was bring them dinner the night before and they wouldn't even charge us to
eat it with them, plus!, we'd get to see a movie if we were all nice and ate everything on our plates. I signed up for that one, yes I did. In fact, I'd got up on Saturday morning and started preparing our super secret tater & onion & bacon & garlic mixed-up-and-cooked-on-the-grill-for-about-an-hour recipe to bring along. I made two in fact, just in case we weren't good and got sent to bed early. We'd keep one just for us and just in case. The flight lasted just about an hour and we entered the traffic pattern for runway 24 at Centre Airpark. We could see a few airplanes already there and I wondered if they were already in line for dinner. We landed and parked next to a TriPacer on our right side and a Cessna 172 on our left; both parties very nice. This was gonna be a great weekend!
Seeing that it was only 4:30 and dinner wasn't going to be served for another hour, we decided that we'd unload the plane and set up the tent. It had only taken us 6 hours to get everything in the airplane, but taking it out should be much quicker. I'd set the tent up the week before only to see if all the bits were still there, but I couldn't remember if I had brought any of the stakes with us. If I'd have had a little
packing accidental left-behinditus incident, we surely would be having a vertically challenged tent. Luckily we did pack the stakes and 4 1/2 hours later we had a mighty fine erected tent. Just kidding, it only took 30 minutes to setup a 10 minute tent, but it looked real pretty. I need a beer!

Beth finished unpacking our 4 suitcases, pots & pans, curtains, toiletries, linens, lawn mower, snow plow, and running shoes while I had a swoller or two of Yuengling (that's beer). It was now time for dinner so we headed towards the big hangar where all the good smellin' stuff was coming from. Oh, we had our super secret tater & onion & bacon & garlic mixed-up-and-cooked-on-the-grill-for-about-an-hour contribution with us and Beth made me bring along the second helping that I'd made cause she's nice like that. Hope she doesn't get hungry at midnight! So we ventured down to join the others having dinner and enjoyed a delicious meal put together by each families favorite dishes. There was chickens, hams, and taters, pastas, fruits, and breads, pickled eggs, beets, and salads, deserts, and much more! I think I ate the equivalent of my own body weight. We sat down and ate with our tent neighbors Robert and Donald. Donald had a tour or two in Germany just down the road from where I had also served time in the Air Force. Robert had taken some photo's on the way in and had a portable picture publishing factory with him that printed out pictures onto post-cards paper just as quickly as you could turn the thing on. The food was delicious and the conversation brilliant and the day was still young.

After dinner, we want back up to the tent and finished setting everything up (I hadn't unpacked the dresser and chest of drawers yet). We had brought along the kitchen sink as well so after unloading the 2700 pounds of packed luggage, the Viking Witch's (N8388W, PA28/180 - a/k/a our plane) belly no longer touched the ground; she kinda looked skinny now. I'd done some quick calculations and was able to figure that if we were to actually wear each item that we'd brought with us, we'd have to change clothes every 16 seconds from the time we landed until March of 2013; we'd brought a lot. The one thing I didn't do and now wish I had of done was take a video walk through of the tent. It's a 3 room tent and my Sweetie had set it up inside so one room was our closet where all the clothes, dressers, and shoes went. The other room was our garage and kitchen where the microwave, tv, snow blower, weber (grill), sewing machine, and ab-lounger would be housed, and the 3rd room would be our bedroom where we'd put the sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, overhead lighting, chase lounge, computer, and fuzzy slippers. We'd have probably had to pay taxes had the tax man been a pilot and received an invitation from these people that we didn't yet know.

We heard engines in the background and soon watched a herd of powered paragliders taxi by and a lil home built airplane thingee and then a couple of other aircraft taxied by. The airport manager had turned on the runway lights but the ground hogs kept eating all the wires so out of the 88 or so lights that the runway had, about 4 of them actually came on. Every now and again we could see a ground hog light up as it bit through the wiring. He'd (the ground hog) run off still smokin' a lil bit but he was alright I'm sure. The herd got airborne and Beth and I watched as they danced just a couple of hundred feet above us. We watched them for about 20 minutes and someone announced over the PA system that the movie would be starting in a few minutes. All those that were in the air made a bee-line back to the airport and we soon had 3 rows of chairs sat up similar to a line in a movie theater. There was a vote and "The Blue Max" won as the movie we'd be watching. Beth and I were grinnin from ear to ear because this whole experience was truly wonderful. I'd made the comment to her that "Money can't buy you this much fun" and truly meant it. These folks that shared their airport with us are genuinely wonderful people. We'd made friends this night that we will definitely see again.

The Blue Max is not a short movie. It's a good one, but it ain't short. I had to keep running back to the tent to get a Yuengling and then sprint over to the porta-potty to get rid of a Yuengling. This happened a couple of times maybe, but Beth saved my seat for me and caught me up on what had happened whilst I was gone. I told you she's nice like that. It's about 11:00 pm now and we hed off to bed. Just before laying down I discovered an unopened box of peanut butter crackers and had a few.  Ok, Ok, perhaps I ate pretty much the whole box but I did hear that they were good. We'd had a wonderful day and in the morning they are gonna feed us pancakes and sausages!

It's 4:22 in the morning and I have no idea why I'm awake. I lay there for at least another 30 minutes and then look at my clock and it's 7:00 now. I can smell the bacon already cooking and several airplanes have already landed that have come in specifically for the breakfast. Perhaps they hit pigs on the runway and it's not bacon that I smell, but then again.....

Beth wakes up and we pull 2 suitcases on wheels over to the restroom to prep ourselves for the day. I brush all my teeth and slap some antiperspirant 'round my armpits while Beth does something in the ladies room for the next 2 hours. I hear hair dryers, curling irons, ice cream makers, washing machine, blenders, and an TV going on behind the bathroom door, but I dare not ask questions!
We decide to go down and have some breakfast before putting away the furniture and tent so we head back down to the chowhall that also acts as a movie theater. I wish I knew how to put in to words how good the smell was from the bacon and sausages and pancakes and fruits that awaited us. I was still full from the excellent dinner we had just the night before but got hungry really quick after smelling what was on the griddle. We met up with our tent neighbors Robert & Donald and enjoyed breakfast with them. Robert had brought along some pictures from a recent long cross country trip that he'd flown up into Canada and other places way up yonder.

We must get one of those portable printers! The trip (in pictures) proves that he no doubt had a brilliant time. It's was fun to hear about his adventure and see the pictures that he'd taken. He'd taken some friends along and met up with another aircraft along the way and flew in formation, taking pictures of one another in flight.

After Breakfast, Beth and I walked along the flight line to look at all the aircraft that had flown in for breakfast and talked to some of the pilots. There were all sorts of neat aircraft there from home builts to old-old aircraft that were kept in mint condition.

We stayed for another hour or so and then finished packing up all our stuff and stuffing it back into the plane. I got the help of some of the others to assist in wedging our bags back into The Viking Witch. We took off just before 11:30 am and returned to Pottstown Limerick. We sure did have a ball and are both looking forward to our next camp out, hopefully in the next few weeks.
Ya'll be particular!

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wind Farms & Noodles

Hi Again,  Beth and I went flying again today and loved it!  The visibility was so good & clear we could  almost see the tail of the Viking Witch in front of us!    It's just right about  7:30 am and we're airborne and headed up to Zerbey Airport in Schuykill County. 

You may have read about our last journey up this way back in July. If you haven't, just don't stop reading this page and you'll work your way down there in about 15 minutes. During our last trip up yonder - to here, we were unable to take Peggy & Paul flying because Mother Nature was being mean and throwing lightning bolts all over the place and causing thunderstorms to try and come and get us.  It was a much safer decision to keep sight seeing on the to-do list instead of on the-gotta-do-it-now list.  Weather wouldn't be a factor today and we were on the way to do that sight seeing flight.

Here we are just 10 miles NorthWest of Reading.  The sun had only been up a few minutes and everyone was still sleeping. That is, everyone WAS still sleeping until we buzzed their houses.  Uhm, Sorry 'bout that.  Now that you're awake though, why not get up and bathe all your parts and then witness the rest of the world wakin' up; it's kinda neat.
We were enjoying the view from 500 feet so much, that when we were faced with rising terrain,  we elected to cut through a gap in the ridge lines instead of climbing over them. I've read that there are more trees now than there were 200 years ago because of tree management services.  It's nice to know that they are being watched after.  There were little pockets of fog here and there around wet areas but for the most part the view was unobstructed. 
Beth and I agree that it would be nice to have such an office view. Although we are fairly low - that would still take quite a number of stairs to get us up here and Beth, being the work-out lady she is, would make me walk every one of them every day. Soon it was time to start our final descent into Zerbey.  That's kinda funny actually to read because seeing that we were flying at only 500 feet above the ground for most of the journey, any descent would pretty much be the one and only descent to land.  Still it sounded cool to say "Ladies & Gentleman, we've started our final descent into Schuykill County's Joe Zerbey Airport.  Please return your seats to the upright position and fasten your seatbelts". 
Our seats don't even recline but if you'd have been there,  you'd have laughed - or - got out and walked the rest of the way.

Notice how long the shadows are due to the sun just coming up over the Eastern horizon.

I think many folks would be surprised to see how much wooded area Pennsylvania has. Peggy had arrived via car about the same we landed via Viking Witch, and after passing out hugs & kisses  we all loaded up and headed up to Buck Run Chapel to attend service at the direction of Pastor Paul Schaediger,  Beth's Dad. 

We'd brought extra stuff with us, but had made the flight in our Sunday-go-to-meetin'-clothes to save time once we got there.  Beth looked gorgeous as ever and I looked like a hillbilly wearing a tie.  Another thing that still holds true is, I still can't sing on key or within melody.  Not even knowing what hymn number we were singing, I pretty much did a quick compilation of dotted eighth notes intertwined with rests and triplets - all in 3/4 time - that resulted in a biblical waltz - all sung out of key.  Nobody at Buck Run invited me to join the chior there either. 

Perhaps the looks I got was because I couldn't hear myself singing so I'd sing louder  causing everyone else to sing louder to drowned out my voice.  By the time the hymn was over, everyone in church was perspiring and probably feeling like they were at a football game!  I still think I could sing louder than that nice lady in the front row..

Today's flight would be conducted over Schuykill, Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, and  Northumberland County's.

After service, we returned to Pottsville and had lunch while Beths' Dad led the 10:30 service.  This gave us time to change clothes, drink coffee, and catch up on how things were going up in Pottsville since we last been here.  We were looking forward to getting airborne again for our sight seeing flight and Beth's Dad had even mentioned it in church.  I truly hope the flight met his and Peggy's expectations.   After service and lunch we went back to the airport and here my new Co-Pilot Paul assists as we step through the preflight checklist.  "Clear Prop" and we fired her up.   It was such a gorgeous day today and the temperature was a perfect 70 degrees. 

Bbefore getting in the aircraft we were watching an old warbird put on an airshow for us just above our heads.  Sure was a purty airpblane!

Old McDonald may have had a farm but he didn't have a litter of wind mills, thank you.

Sitting atop the ridgeline somewhere in Columbia County (I think) stands a very long line of wind units.  From here they don't look all that big huh?  I was truly surprised as we got closer and had something to scale their size against, like a road. I'm guessing there were about 13 units all together and each of them was turning slowly.  Remember the wind was very calm today so during windy days, I bet those blades are rotating quite quickly. 

Notice the road along the top of the ridgeline and perhaps that will put into perspective how large these things are.  I would guestimate that they reach close to 100 feet tall.     On another note, did you notice how the colors have started changing in the background?  Trying to put into words how beautiful the scenery is - acnd actually doing it justice - would take a while.

Beth and I sometimes take along a video camera that I seatbelt into the back seat so we can record how cool the scenery is around us.  Being me, I've already had 2 flights that I forgot to actually turn the video camera on so all we got was a blue screen.  Some people's kids......

We definitely, however, bring along the camera though so we can share all the great  postcard shots
that Mama Nature is giving to us. 

Continuing the 360 degree turn away from Old McDonald's Farm, population centers
started to appear as far as we could see.

I knew the visibility was at least 50 miles because we could see the cooling towers of Pottstown-Limerick
from Zerbery Airport and the distance between them was 54.7 statue miles.

Fourty-five minutes and 5 counties later we returned to Zerbey Airport but the day was not yet over.  Somewhere out there was a big ole bowl of noodles with my name on it and it was time to eat!
Before landing though, we had to take one more shot of the fall colors thatc were covering the ground below - somewhere between Bloomsburg and Hazleton.  Roman Delight was what was on the menu and I was delighted to be roamin into their restaurant.  The choices were many but I had a craving for noodles on white-sauce and unless they told me they didn't have it, I was gonna have it.  We made our orders and continued talking about flights, the kids, the dogs, singing lessons, lack of singing lessons, and noodles. 

We enjoyed our salads and I was gettin' all worked up about the noodle delight that would be heading my way.  Just minutes later, the waitress pushed up a wheel barrow and had her two assistants lift each of our plates up to the table.  Sat there in front of each of us, we a bath tub full of noodles and chickens and sauces and fish.  I think we could have fed the entire Pottsville Jeungling brewery with just what we had ordered.  I wasn't sharing though unless Beth gave me the look and made me.  She didn't and I didnt't. Just kidding, she did and I did.  Ah c'mon honey, I'm just joking,  I would have shared even if you hadn't of pinched my leg under the table. 
Eleven hours of eating and we had to go.  The youngens would be getting home around 7:00 and we still had to fly back to Pottstown-Limerick.  The flight wouldn't take long and I wondered who would get home first between Peggy and Paul, and Beth and I.  They had about 20 miles of surface driving to do and we had about 55 air miles and 2.6 driving miles to reach our home.

Reaching the airport, we passed out hugs and thanked them for another wonderful day.  I hadn't mentioned the race to get home and but did tell them that we'd wave from the air.  This way, we'd get a head start - unbeknownst to them that we were even in a race.   We got airborne, waived (honestly) and made a direct steer towards the runway at Pottstown Limerick.  I had mentioned earlier that we
could see the cooling towers of the nuclear facility and that's what I had the Viking Witch pointed at. The ride was smooth the entire trip home and we enjoyed the view of the ground sweeping by 500 feet below us at 135 miles an hour. 

We entered the traffic pattern at Pottstown Limerick between another Cherokee and a home built "Vans" aircraft.  When it was our turn, we landed softly and taxied up to parking.  After tieing the Viking Witch down and putting her cover on her, we headed home after a wonderful day.   Thanks Mama Nature for playing nice.

Oh, we called Peggy and Paul to let them know that we'd arrived safely and learned they had beat us home by 2 minutes.  We're 0-1 (for the race that they didn't know we were having) but there will be a next time.  I hope, uhm, they don't misplace their keys at the airport the next time we're up there.  I'll hold them for you, honest!

Ya'll Be Particular!

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Kentmorr Island Yacht Club

Today Beth and I flew down into the Chesapeake Bay to Kentmorr Airpark and walked over to the yacht club for lunch.  It was very cool!
We had talked about going down to fly around the Chesapeake Bay and since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to hop into the Viking Witch and fly down to Kentmorr Airpark located on Kent Island in Stevensville Maryland. 
We've been looking for an airport home and wanted to have a look at some of the properties along the grass runway at Kentmorr to get an idea of the variety of airport homes that were available.  The homes at Kentmorr Airpark have garage hangers that open facing the runway and car garages that open to face the street.  If you look hard at the first picture, you can see the homes lining the runway on the left and two parked aircraft in the upper right corner of the picture. Also notice, that if you land long and don't stop in time that you'll be going swimming!
The Yacht Club is located right at the top center of the picture.  You can see the entrance way for the boats to taxi up to the dock.  After landing, the walk over to the club would only be about 2 minutes at the most.  The close proximity had proved valuable a few years back when I had flown some buddies down to Kentmorr for a crab cake sandwich for dinner.  We were sitting there telling flying stories when the only fella with us that wasn't a pilot said "how do you turn on the runway lights since it's getting dark?".   I nearly shat a crab cake because Kentmorr doesn't have runway lights!  We paid the bill and ran back to the plane, did a quick preflight, cranked up the plane and took off just one minute (honestly, 1 minute) prior to official sunset.  If we'd had missed sunset, we would have had to stay there the bay.....with the sharks......and alligators......and mosquito's......and snakes! 

Today, Beth and I were there for lunch so unless there was an eclipse we wouldn't have to worry about runway lights.  As we entered the traffic pattern, we took a couple of photo's of the runway and some of the homes to take back with us to have a better look later. The grass looked dry and all the cow's had been shoo'd off the runway (just kiddin' Mom, we weren't dodgin' cattle).  The  view was gorgeous and we both found ourselves wondering what it would be like to be living on this airport with the plane parked in the garage. We'd have to get a
garage door opener for the Viking Witch.

We landed and were able to stop in time so we didn't have to swim back to shore on this trip. We parked the Viking Witch next to her high winged friends that we'd seen from the air.  We told her (the Viking Witch) to mind her manners and not to point while we were gone for lunch.  She sure does look pretty sitting there in the field, like a princess huh? Kinda, except she appears to be turning her nose up a little bit and looking the other way.  That little hussy!

Two days out of each calendar year the Kentmorr Yacht Club leases it's outdoor eating facilities and beaches for private parties.  Today was one of those 2 days!  Pooh!   We would have to eat in
doors and watch the boats through windows instead of sitting out on the dock tables and smelling the engine smog and sea water, hmmm.
Not a biggie though, as I was with my honey and we were enjoying a great meal.  After finishing up we took a leisurely stroll back along the houses that lined the runway.  There were all cute and not overly huge.  This is a good thing actually, because even a small house on this island is going to cost a pretty penny. 
After finishing our walk, we hopped back into the plane and took off over the bay and headed back to the Northeast towards home.  The day was beautiful and the visibility stretched out quite a ways with no haze to contend with. 
Along the way, we were chatting and looking out the windows when we overflew a small farm and Beth noticed a plane parked along the barn.  We did a 180 degree turn and sure enough found the little plane parked in the shade.  This made us realize that there are other options for runway homes as well.  Maybe we'll buy a live chicken or two, call it a farm,  and put a runway in the back yard.  As long as we don't advertise that we're an airport what harm could it do.  Be vewwwwy vewwwwy quiet and no one will notice we're taking off and landing there.  YAY! We're buying chickens!

It's still gorgeous and we're just crossing the canal that connects the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. Beth snaps a pretty picture of a bridge and all the boats playing beneath it.  Flying  along at 1000 feet its fun to look at the houses and see how they have landscaped their properties and the types of houses that they live in.  It's easy to get good ideas of what we'll do with ours. 

The flight ends, as always, way too quickly and we drive back home from the airport chatting about all the pretty scenery that we have seen today.  Landing on the island is fun in itself, and we'll have to return when we can sit outside on the docks for lunch. 
Its always a fun time getting airborne and getting away from the hussle and bussle of the city - if even only for a moment.
Ya'll Be Particular!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

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