The Sunday morning after the Hartford, CT BPA Membership Meeting, Signature Flight Support picked up those that flew in their own planes . They also picked up one guest, me. I jumped in “The Cheetah,” AA5/A, N27174. This leg was in the right seat. I got to know the radios, weight distribution and the owner, Juan Haygood, of this bird that would be my magic carpet for the next six days. The ceiling at Newport (KUUU) was 10,000 feet overcast and misty. After arrival, Team Newport-Anthony Hall, Fred Lewis, Archie Amos, Juan and I, lunched and tested Thomas Tew’s Rum in all its stages. Dinner was at “Anthony’s Seafood Restaurant and Market.”
Monday morning the rains continued. But we still had a couple thousand foot ceiling, and I was in the left seat! Providence departure and approach handled The Cheetah from end to end. We flew over Massachusetts’ gold coast but couldn’t see a thing. I am ecstatic!!! This is my first “real” instrument flight. End to end in the rain and wind!!!
The rain kept half of Team Martha’s Vineyard-Derek and Delta Grier, Theresa White and Delores Simon, a.k.a “T” & “D”, from flying in. The closeness of the trip and the lure of “The Inkwell” were too much to resist, so they drove over from Connecticut. The rain did not let up until dinner time. The night ended with warm conversation on the porch of a bed and breakfast that our Texas and Florida members were staying in.
The following morning we found the keys to the truck locked inside. Neither the rental agency, to get the key code, nor the local garage, to send out someone to unlock it, was open yet. After the rental agency opened, Juan explained the key code system to the rental agent and they got us the code. We loaded up Team Texas for the trip to the airport. Team Texas headed home and Team Cheetah headed north to Portland, ME.
Still cloudy, we filed IFR. Boston control offered us “over the water or inland?” We took inland. They took us right over the top of Boston’s Logan Airport. A great sight, if we could have seen it. Ceilings were a little higher by the time we reached Portland. My mind was a little farther into the approach, so my ILS was nicer than my VOR the day before.
Sporty’s, Northeast Air and Maine Aviation at the Portland Airport (KPWM) got us the chart we needed for the next leg of our trip to Mt Washington. We took what was advertised as a “tour” of the harbor. The tour was on the scheduled ferry. We hopped from island to island, dropping off people, mail and food for the stores and restaurants.
The whole boat cheered when the sun began to shine as it dropped below the cloud deck. It was the first time we had seen it since it rose this morning. We caught a beautiful sunset.
It’s Wednesday. Juan and I have our first sunny morning since Saturday. The Cheetah climbs off the Maine coast and into the White Mountains. We practiced our pilotage, turning left just east of Gorham, NH (2GB) and flying along a river and road on the north side Mt Washington. Our planned airport, Twin Mountain (8B2) where Juan had a car waiting, sat in a crease at the base of the mountain, over 1400 feet high, and only 2600 feet long with trees on both ends, Mt Washington (6288’) to the east and Mt Lafayette (5280’) to the south. And it was warming up. We voted. It was unanimous! We went to Mt Washington Regional (HIE), 1100’ high, 4000’ long and plenty of room at both ends.
We took a taxi to Bretton Woods, the little town at the base of Mt Washington’s southern face. From there we took the Cog Rail Train back to the top. Standing at 6300 feet and flying at 6300 are two totally different sensory events.
At the summit of Mt. Washington is a weather station. Bretton Woods is known as a resort area. In just over an hour, I could see why. Dinner was nice with a solo musician singing on the patio back in Bretton Woods at Fabyans Station Restaurant.
One More Reason to be a Member of BPA
Thursday was another sun shiny day as we prepared to leave for Burlington, VT. Before we left we learned that runway 28 at Mt Washington is right turns because someone hit the mountain, though six miles away. The terrain climbed quickly under the Cheetah. We found the low spots on our way to 6500’. There is a 4400’ ridge just east of Burlington. You have to lose 5000’ in 15 nm. Ten minutes later and we’re down with only a little ear popping. At Heritage Aviation they rolled out the red carpet, literally!!!
On Lake Champlain we took a sailboat toward the New York side of the lake. No Champ, The Lake Monster, but at least for me, another really relaxing afternoon. Our captain, a former accountant, Hebrew professor gave a nice tour. After tying up, we caught another shuttle into the entertainment center of Burlington where we picked up a few souvenirs and had a little Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
The Vermont Air National Guard departed for a training exercise as we packed the Cheetah for our trips home Friday morning. Heritage Aviation sent us away with some really smooth fudge and some REAL maple syrup. No rain, but the clouds required filing IFR. The two airways that lead back into Connecticut go all way east and all the way west.
Though the eastern route finishes over Groton (GON), I thought I was smarter than the FAA, to go a straighter route between the two. When I heard those magic words, “as filed”, I tried not to break my arm patting myself on the back. As soon as we got in the air and ATC seemed confused about going from KBTV to BTV. I knew the party was over. So they made things work for them: south to Albany, southeast to Hartford, southeast to Groton. This ended up as the longest leg of the trip.
With tanks filled to the rim for the first time in a week, Juan and the Cheetah headed west. What a week!!! In the few years I’ve been a member, the stories I have heard about past trips had gotten my mind spinning. TFR in Arizona, snow and clouds in the south, glassy smoothness from Detroit to St. Louis and back, and visiting my cousin in Clarksdale, MS. I am hooked on personal aviation for sure and certain!!!