Thursday, July 25, 2013

Maine to Pinehurst North Carolina and back in one day

1600 miles and 9 hours of flying in one day.

We taxi out to rwy 11 at KPWM with a heavy overcast.
Wheels up at about 7:30 am in to a layer of clouds at about 500 ft
At a 1000 ft we are over the deck headed south east with Old Orchard Beach poking through a hole in the clouds.
The Garmin shows the way
It's good to be in the sunshine
We are past Massachusetts and through Connecticut and cross out on Long Island Sound over Groton, Connecticut.
The north eastern tip of Long Island as we fly over the sound.
At 8000 ft we are bucking a bit of a headwind with a true airspeed of 166 kts we are only making 156 kts over the ground. Outside air temp at 50 deg when on the ground it's near 90
An overview of the front office
We travel the length of Long Island and over Queens are about to cross over JFK airport
Right over JFK, one of the busiest airspaces in the entire planet
We hop across Roxbury looking down Rockaway Point with the old Floyd Benet Field off to the right
Crossing Lower Bay on to the New Jersey Side where we get a good view of the Sandy hook peninsula and the freighters making their way out of NY harbor.
A shot Looking back at NYC, Rockaway Beach and the East River Upper Bay over the right wing.
Soon we fly pas Lakehurst New jersey site of the famous Hindenburg accident. The scale of the big hangars that were used to keep the dirigibles in is hard to fathom. But to gives you a basic idea the small structures on the lower left of the photo are full sized American houses.
An other shot of Lakehurst as we leave it over our right side.
Most folks think of New Jersey as a big crowded urban metropolis, not realizing how big it is. This is agricultural NJ, almost rural America.
Coming on down the southern end of NJ over the Maurice River delta we are about to cross on to Delaware Bay.
The moving map in the Garmin radio gives us an amazing sense of orientation never quite possible with the old steam gauges.
Soon we are across Delaware bay and over Dover AFB.
At 11 am after about 3 hours of flight we make a pit stop in West Point Virginia, to relieve the bladders, add some fuel and buy some lunch. We borrow the airport car and run to Antonios Pizza for some grub.
The Fight-Aware page shows out track for the first leg of our flight from Portland Maine to West Point, Virginia. And Soon we start the second leg of the journey.
We get going and level off at 10 thousand feet and settle down for our first inflight meal of the trip. A fish sandwich and onion rings for me . . .
And Greek Salad with a scoop of tuna salad on top for Clint.
Autopilot is handy when dinner time comes around . . .
 After lunch and with only 122 miles to go to our destination we request and receive clearance on up to 13 thousand feet. Still bucking a 9 kt headwind with a true airspeed of 163 kts we are only making 157kts over the ground. Thankfully the outside air temperature is a mere 46 deg F.
We don the Oxygen and at 13 thousand feet the Flight Stat tells me I have a zero O2 blood saturation level and a heartbeat of 91 meaning technically I am dead. So that's my problem ehhhh!!!
By 1:15 pm we arrive at Monroe County North Carolina. Golf capital of the world.
We tun final approach in to Moore County airport.
Picked up our rental car and head for Pinehurst Resort. A Swanky golf resort where Clint has a conference with some clients . 
I hang out in the lobby and find a hotspot to fire up the laptop while watching a steady parade of child-golf-prodigies waltz through the hall. Apparently the International Youth Golf Tournament was in full swing. All-in-all quite a nice place that despite clearly being the playground for the well to do did not exude that air of snobbishness that so many of these places all to often do.
A screen shot of the leg from West Point to Pinehurst NC. An hour and a half later Clint is all done with his presentation.
Soon we are on our way after a brief misadventure attempting to procure some sandwiches for our dinner.
We make our way on up to 15 thousand feet to try and take advantage of the tailwinds headed back up north-east and have to dogleg about 70 miles around a line of serious thunder storms on our right. At this altitude it proves we have 23 kt a direct cross wind but we are now making some headway. We show a ground speed of 178 kts and a true airspeed of 178kts. Outside air temp is just below freezing at 29 deg F
This is what the thunder storms look like out the right window.

Stormscope show some lighting strikes within the cell as we cross the Virginia state line.
The O2 at full flow to keep us from getting to goofy
But as we make our way north east the winds turn increasingly in our favor, so we push on up to 17 thousand feet to take full advantage of the 25 to 30 kt tailwind.
Around 7 pm we settle in to our second in flight meal of the day. Chicken salad sandwich for me . . .
 . . . and a Tuna wrap for Clint... the only thing we need now are the cocktails.
As we cross back over the lower end of New Jersey the 22 kt tailwinds really start to turn in our favor and we are covering some ground at 198 kts with a true airspeed of 176 kts. Temp at this altitude is - 6 centigrade
An O2 check shows I better adjust my regulator for increased flow.
As we make our way north the clouds recede below us
As pretty as they are from above I don't want to be in them
The view ahead of us as we near NYC
NYC somewhere in below the clouds as we watch the heavies arriving and departing JFK and listen to the comical mix of international accents on the radio. A couple of Brits, an Ozzy, a German, a Frenchman, a couple of Hispanics, a Hindu and an Arab pilot could all be heard over the frequency within a couple minutes.
The sun starts to set over the clouds now past 8pm

The day is getting long
. . . . as we make our way past NYC
It is for glorious moments like this that we fly
The XM music radio really did the job of relaxing the long day.
We transit NY airspace back over Long Island Sound in to Connecticut making better than 200 kts over the ground
Somewhere over Boston round about 8:45 the last rays of sun finally disappear over the horizon.
And we shoot the GPS RWY 29 approach  to Portland about 9:15pm
Short final for RWY 29 at KPWM
One hop from Moore County, North Carolina to Portland Maine in 4 hours and 15 minutes. 800 nautical miles each way, 1600 miles total and 9 hours of flying in one long day.


  1. Lindo paseito... Ni hablas de las fotos de las nubes, ni del 'tablerito' del avión. sos un suertudo, jajaja!

  2. I never thought about them even ALLOWING a private plane to fly over JFK!

    1. Gorges, we are actually on an IFR (Instrument)flight plan so we are playing by the same rules as the airliners and talking to approach control the whole time. We have an assigned squawk code for the transponder and they know our flight plan way before we get there. They actually prefer planes to fly directly over the airport at altitude 6000 ft or better, as it keeps them out of the landing traffic bellow. It is a blast to watch the jumbos flying bellow you. As we fly past these major centers each controller manages a wedge shaped piece of the pie. Think of a slice of an upside down wedding cake which is what the control zones look like. As we transit through we are getting hand-offs to the next segment controller. So we wind up switching frequencies and talking to a different voice every few minutes. It can be hectic at times and you have to stay on your toes to be sure you catch them calling your tail number with instructions on where they want you if they change the game plan on you. So everything is taking place exactly as planed and just as it is supposed to. It is never the less a very impressive thing to fly through and over what arguably has to be one of the busiest controlled airports in the world. I don't get to do this as often as I like but I really do enjoy it and learn something new every time. It is a wonderful privilege to get to experience this. Something I never expected when I was learning to fly 30 yrs ago.

    2. Forgot to mention, even today there is a VFR (Visual Flight rules) corridor over the Hudson river. You stay bellow 1000 ft and you don't have to talk to anybody. If you fly north you hug the Manhattan shore and if south bound the NJ shore. It is every pilots dream to fly the corridor at least once in his life. I did it in July 2001.

  3. Would have been a far more enjoyable return trip munching on scones and drinking tea...

    So those oxygen masks make you look less goofy?

  4. Yes the scones would have added a touch of class to the in flight meal . As for goofy looks its a lost cause, especially wearing the O2 cannulas . But if we wish to remain in control of the aircraft it is not only recommended but required we wear them above 10K ft . Beyond 17k ft we wear the full pressure masks . Not nearly as comfortable as the cannulas and definitely puts a crimp on in flight meals. As for tea, well I simply can't drink the stuff as it tastes like medicine to me. Someone made the mistake of making me drink it when I was recovering from a severe case of childhood encephalitic meningitis and to this day it makes me gag . Yes I know . . . I have issues .

  5. I think I need to buy a plane so I can go to Maine whenever I want. Out of curiosity, and you don't have to answer, but what does a trip like that cost?

    My neighbor flies for Skywest. We talked about building an airstrip on the 100 acres I own in Aroostook County and flying home every fall to hunt.

    Note to self: I need to make more money.

    1. Hi Mark, the plane operation cost is about 350$ an hour. That figure includes fixed costs like insurance and annual maintenance, hangar cost, insurance, and variable costs such as fuel and unexpected repairs or upgrades. Fuel is 100 Low-lead and it can run anywhere from 5 to 7 dollars per gallon depending where you buy. Tanks hold 102 gallons. On take-off at ful-tilt-boogey, when you cob the throttle it burns about 40 gallons an hour. In cruise at altitude, (thinner air = less drag) it burns about 20 gallons an hour. It is hard to justify the purchase and operation cost just for personal use. The only way to justify it is if you use it for business and you are flying a couple 800 mile legs a week. If you can take several other staff members with you now you start to save a little given the convenience when compared to flying the airlines. I know I never will be able to justify an aircraft like this one. I consider myself fortunate to occasionally have the opportunity to fly such an outstanding piece of equipment. Of course there are simpler, less costly and slower aircraft as well. But its all a compromise.