July 22, 2009

Island Hoping to Washington Island

washingtonislandhangar.jpgJulie Summers Walker, Managing Editor of AOPA Flight Training, wrote a great article about 10 "Island Hoping" destinations in the United States. She writes "'Island hopping' may bring to mind Caribbean blue water, but in the United States, there are a number of island escapes, each with its own personality and hue, best visited in a small airplane. Your newly minted private pilot certificate can get you access to places few people get to see."

She recommends ten great island destinations to fly to and even provides some tips for planning an trip to an island based airstrip. Here list of ten Island destinations included:

  1. Tangier Island Airport (TGI), Tangier, Virginia
  2. Mackinac Island Airport (MCD), Mackinac Island, Michigan
  3. Catalina Airport (AVX), Catalina Island, California
  4. Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK), Nantucket Island, Massachusetts
  5. Put in Bay Airport (3W2), South Bass Island, Ohio
  6. Ocracoke Island Airport (W95), Ocracoke, North Carolina
  7. George T. Lewis Airport (CDK), Cedar Key, Florida
  8. Friday Harbor Airport (FHR), Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington
  9. Jekyll Island Airport (09J), Jekyll Island, Georgia
  10. Katama Airpark (1B2), Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

washingtonislandairportdeparture.jpgMissing from the authors list was one of my favorite island airports, Washington Island, situated six miles of the northern tip of Wisconsin's Door County Peninsula. If you are planning on visiting Washington Island you will need to arrive by boat, bring your bike or car by ferry or fly into Washington Island Airport. Flying to Washington Island from anywhere south of the Island provides a scenic flight along the Door County Peninsula. The Peninsula is 75 miles long and 10 miles wide and narrows as you travel northeast and culminates with the quaint Washington Island. You will enjoy viewing corn mazes and beautiful bays and lighthouses along the route. On Washington Island there are several great places to catch a bite to eat.

For the 56th year the Lion's Club of Washington Island hosted their Annual Fly-In Fish Boil this past weekend. Typically the event draws planes from all over the Midwest and Canada. The island airport features two runways, one of which was recently closed to be expanded from a 1,300 feet to a more manageable 2,250 feet. When completed the airport will feature two turf runways each with a length of 2,250 feet which will surely make this airport more accessible on those windy days.

Below are some of my photos from a visit to Washington Island Airport last year. If you are looking for a fun place to fly to this summer, I recommend you check out Washington Island.

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Posted at 10:09 PM | Post Category: Door County, Fly-in, Flying Destinations | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

October 10, 2008

Fall Flightseeing, Turf Landings and GPS Tracking

fall08flying.jpgMy wife and I picked the perfect weekend to escape the city and spend some time in the country. Here in Northern Wisconsin, we are treated to a beautiful show of colors as the trees put on their annual fall foliage show. Although the view is amazing driving down winding country roads, I know one place that offers an even better vantage point. So, I drove over to Cherryland Airport for some time in their Cessna 172. I flew north from Sturgeon Bay flying along the bay side of the peninsula as it narrows. Along the way I had a spectacular aerial view of the vast array of colors on the forests below.

Close to the northern tip of the peninsula is one of my favorite airports, the quaint Ephraim-Gibraltar Airport. It is a small two-runway airport nestled in the woods on a ridge just south and east of the town of Ephraim. After overflying the field to check the windsock that sat mostly limp I selected runway 32 which at 2,700 x 60 feet is the larger of the two runways and the only paved runway at Ephraim. I made a nice smooth landing then rolled off slowly to the end of the runway straight onto the grass. I wanted to taxi down the turf runway to ensure it was in safe enough condition to use for landings and takeoffs.

Sure enough, the turf runway was in great shape with only a few minor bumps. I followed turf procedures and turned the airplane around at the end but kept them plane rolling. I tossed in 10° of flaps and kept pulling back on the yoke to lighten the pressure on the nose wheel. Out the cockpit window was a sight every pilot must love, a well maintained turf runway with some distant trees glowing in a mixture of yellow, orange and red leaves signaling the end of the runway. As the airspeed increased I lifted the plane into ground effect just feet off the ground and let the speed continue to pick-up before pulling further back on the yoke and climbing safely over the trees and then out over the bay.

ksue-3d2-ksue_thumb.jpgOn departure I noticed a Maule in the vicinity so I flew a wider pattern to ensure we had plenty of separation. As I turned on final I picked a spot to aim for and focused on bringing the plane in nice and slow for a soft turf landing. I flared a few feet above the ground and listened to the stall horn sound then moments later the main gear settled softly onto the turf. I continued to apply back pressure until finally the front wheel also touched down. This was by far my favorite landing of the year. After that I flew back to Sturgeon Bay. On the return flight I pulled out the camera to snap a few photos. Unfortunately, the photos don't do justice to Mother Nature's show.

I brought along my GPS Data Logger on this flight. Thanks to some advice from Peter and from Jayson I was able to successfully track the flight and then overlay that track on a Google Map. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the device was to use. You can click on the photo of the track to see a larger scale version of the flight track. You can be sure that I will be bringing the GPS Data Logger along for future flights.

July 4, 2008

A Private Pilots View

MoonlightBay_Aerial.jpgOne of the things I love most about being a pilot is to be able to see the world from a unique perspective. We live in a world of beautiful sites. Yet, there are limits to what can be seen without the ability to get airborne. Whenever I fly commercially I love sitting in a window seat so I can check out amazing landscapes and look for sights that might otherwise be missed by those on the ground.

Since learning to fly I have enjoyed on several occasions discovering something from above that I would surely have missed or been unable to see from the ground. Things like corn mazes, shipwrecks and Civil War Munitions Factory.

While enjoying the Fourth of July holiday in Door County, WI; My wife and I decided to spend an afternoon flying. It was during this flight that we enjoyed checking out another beautiful view that we would have missed without the aid of the airplane. We overflew Moonlight Bay, from the ground it is just another beautiful bay along the Door County Peninsula. But, from above it was an amazing mixture of colors. The bay had a rust color close to shore that then melted into the deep blue of Lake Michigan. We circled the bay and snapped a few photos to share with the family. Cynthia and I have been by Moonlight Bay before while visiting nearby Cana Island Lighthouse. But, had no idea how drastically different it looked from the sky. You can view a wonderful ground level photo of Moonlight Bay on Flickr that shows how drastically different it looks from the ground.

todd_cynthia_flying.jpgThis was just one of many highlights during the flight. When we arrived at Ephraim we thought we were the only airplane in the area as the radios had been silent and no one responded to any of my calls to the Ephraim CTAF. As we started to enter the pattern for the asphalt runway their I spotted a tail dragger taking off from the turf runway. Shortly after taking off he abruptly cut into the pattern for the asphalt runway and proceeded to land, completely oblivious to my presence, despite my frequent radio calls. I made a few more radio calls without a response from that plane. It was apparent they were not equipped with radios or simply were not using them. I decided to circle and setup for a new entry into the pattern to ensure there was plenty of separation between me and this plane. Just about then another airplane chimed in that they were inbound for landings at Ephraim and commented they would follow us in the pattern.

As I was about to turn on to final approach to land, I noticed that the radio-less plane decided not to clear the runway and wait at the end before back taxiing and started to slowly back-taxi on the active runway. So, I decided to perform a go-around. I gave the inbound airplane and update on the situation. From that point forward the two of use would share updates with each other about what this other plane was doing. After another ride around the pattern we landed at Ephraim.

There we were met by my older brother and two of his three kids. They were in the area and knowing we were planning to land there decided to stop in to watch. I enjoyed showing the kids the plane and letting them sit in the cockpit. While we were on the ground the airport traffic picked up and four or five planes arrived while we were enjoying our time on the tarmac. The pilot that had shared the pattern with me, the one that I had been in frequent communication with on the radios, stopped over and introduced himself and thanked me for the updates. It was nice meeting the pilot and putting a face to the voice on the radio.

On the flight back to Sturgeon Bay we had an aerial view of the 2008 Door County corn maze and also checked out a 1,000 foot ship leaving dock in Sturgeon Bay and heading out into Green Bay. All in all it was a fun afternoon of flying!

Posted at 5:45 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Comments (5) | Save & Share This Story

October 24, 2007

Letter to the Editor of Pilot Getaways Magazine

Back in August I mentioned that Pilot Getaways Magazine feature Door County as one of their destinations for their July / August issue. Since Door County is one of my favorite places to fly I enjoyed seeing their take on it. For the most part I think they did an excellent job as usual, though they missed out on two of my favorite sites.

So I sent the editor a note mentioning that they overlooked two great aerial sites for pilots flying over the Door County Peninsula, corn mazes and shipwrecks. I just received the September / October issue of Pilot Getaways Magazine and was honored to see my letter to the editor included as well as a photo I shot this summer of the local corn maze.


September 6, 2007

Door County Peninsula Flight

door_county_lighthouse.jpgI was back up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin over Labor Day weekend. We were blessed with three days of perfect weather with temperatures in the low 80s, light winds and clear skies. I rented the Orion Flight Service Cessna 172 for a flight along the Door Peninsula.

Surprisingly, their was not much activity at the airport despite the beautiful weather. A Civil Air Patrol flight departed as I was doing my pre-flight but was the only other airplane I encountered at Cherryland Airport. I flew northeast from the airport along the lakeside of the peninsula taking in beautiful views of lighthouses and the shoreline. I turned south as I reached the Northern most tip of the peninsula where I had a nice few to the left of the peninsula and a few islands off to my right.

From there I flew south to Ephraim all the way to the tip of the peninsula with a few islands and over-flew the Ephraim airport. I watched an aircraft takeoff and depart to the north as I entered the downwind leg for landing. Other than the departing traffic the airport was all mine. I decided on the asphalt runway due to the wind direction and because I was not sure how much rain the area had recently received that might have made the turf runway a bad option. I made on full stop landing and taxied back along the runway.

After that I flew back to Cherryland Airport this time enjoying the view of the bay side of the peninsula. I logged 1.1 hours of flight time during the flight bringing me just over 99 hours of flight time. I had hoped to break the 100 hour mark by taking my Dad flying on Monday morning. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the airport I learned that the latch on pilot side door of the plane had broken and needed to be replaced so we had to cancel the flight.

Posted at 6:56 AM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Comments (6) | Save & Share This Story

July 8, 2007

Fourth of July Solo Flight over Door County

SturgeonBay.jpgI spent a wonderful Fourth of July holiday in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. On my last visit to the Door County Peninsula I flew a checkout ride with Orion Flight Services clearing me to rent their Cessna 172 throughout the summer. On the Fourth of July I was able to find a large enough pocket of nice weather between two storms to get in a flight over Door County.

It had been over a year since I had flown solo, when my Dad and I took in a flight from the very same airport. Since that time I have bounced around FBOs in Chicago trying to find a place to fly and am currently checking out with Windy City Flyers.

I took off from runway 28 and was airborne after a short roll due to the wind coming straight down the centerline of the shorter of two runways at Cherryland Airport (KSUE). From their I flew northeast over the town of Sturgeon Bay then out over Lake Michigan taking in a view of the Sturgeon Bay Coast Guard Station and an aerial view of "The City of Glasgow" a sunken ship off the coast of Lake Michigan.

SB_Cornmaze.jpgDuring the flight I also flew over one of my favorite golf courses, Cherry Hills Golf Course, which looked like it could benefit from the distant storm that was slowly approaching the area. I also enjoyed flying over the Dairy View Corn Maze. A pirate ship had been mowed into the crop which, surely kept maze goers lost for hours trying to navigate their way through.

I returned to Cherryland and made a single full stop landing which was one of my best landing in months. I logged 1.3 hours of solo flight and had a great time. After taxing back to the tarmac I saw an Extra 300, an plane designed for aerobatic flight, on the tarmac. The pilot was in town for a family reunion and was taking members of the family up for flights in which he performed barrel rolls and loops. So, I stayed at the airport for 15 minutes to enjoy a free airshow. All in all a great day at the airport!

You can view a few of my photos that I took during the flight on Flickr.

Posted at 1:33 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Comments (2) | Save & Share This Story

June 19, 2007

Flying Over Sturgeon Bay

I checked out to fly the Cessna 172 with Orion Flight Service in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin this past weekend. My wife and I traveled up there for a four day weekend to relax on the lake and teach Tally, our golden retriever to swim. While up there I took the time to perform the checkout flight so on subsequent trips north to Door County this summer I can rent their Cessna.

I flew with Chris who manages the FBO at Cherryland Airport. Friday's flight was much shorter than that previous time I flew with Chris when he came along on a cross-country flight from Cherryland to Oshkosh last summer. Cherryland Airport is one of my favorite airports and a great example of a general aviation airport. It has two runways both of adequate length it always seems to have some activity but is never too busy. Plus it has a great location situated on a peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan with a state park at one end of the airport making for great scenery for flying.

This time we flew north east of the airport and performed several common check-out maneuvers including stalls, steep turns, slow flight and and reviewing emergency landing procedures. After that we returned to Cherryland Airport for four landings. I was happy with all four as was Chris. He signed me off to rent for the rest of the summer with Orion Flight Service. I am looking forward to checking out some neighboring airports this summer.

Posted at 11:00 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

October 8, 2006

Wisconsin Cross-Country Flight

LambeauField.jpgWith fall setting in across northern Wisconsin, the trees were starting to turn which made for a beautiful view from the ground but even more spectacular from the air. Having not flown an official cross-country flight in over a year, I decided to fly one. A cross-country flight is any flight to an airport that is at least a straight-line distance of 50 nautical miles from the origin airport. Flying out of Cherryland Airport, I selected Wittman Regional in Oshkosh, WI as my destination.

I awoke early and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise over Lake Michigan while getting a weather briefing so I could complete my flight plan. I arrived at the airport around 8am and was airborne by 8:30am. Shortly after takeoff, I contacted the Green Bay Flight Service Station to open my flight plan for the trip down to Oshkosh which was scheduled to be a short 43 minute flight. After opening up a flight plan, I contacted Green Bay approach and advised them that I wished to transition through their airspace en route to Oshkosh, which they approved. At the same time, I asked if they could provide flight following.

LakeWinnebago.jpgWhen flying VFR a flight plan provides some protection in case of an emergency by allowing the FAA to know where you were going, when you expected to be there, where you might have diverted to and a few other vital pieces of information that could help them in case of an emergency. Another great service for a VFR pilot is flight following. If air traffic controllers have capacity, they can assist a VFR pilot by providing radar monitoring services. They will advise of any traffic along the route and keep an eye on your position during the flight.

As I approached the midway point of the flight, Green Bay, I took in a great view of Lambeau Field – Home of the Green Bay Packers. While overflying the town of Green Bay I could see Lake Winnebago and the cities of Appleton and Oshkosh off the front of the plane’s nose. A few minutes later, Wittman Regional Airport came into view. I informed Green Bay approach that I had Wittman in view and requested permission to change radio frequencies to contact the Wittman Tower.

During the Oshkosh Airshow, it becomes one of the busiest airports in the world. Today, it was quiet with only a few other planes in the area. I touched down close to my estimated time of arrival. During the flight down I had a headwind but the trip back proved to be quicker with a nice tailwind. I climbed up to 5,500 feet for the flight back to Sturgeon Bay and enjoyed taking in the beautiful fall colors and the great scenery of northern Wisconsin. It was just one of those perfect days to fly where the air was smooth and the view was wonderful.

Posted at 10:26 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Comments (2) | Save & Share This Story

September 4, 2006

Biennial Flight Review Passed

It has been two years and a month since I earned my private pilot’s license. As part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulations, pilots are required to pass a Biennial Flight Review if they wish to serve as pilot in command of an aircraft.

I had scheduled my BFR a month earlier but during pre-flight, noticed the airworthiness certificate was missing from the plane. I thought it was the Certified Flight Instructor’s way of testing to see if I did a thorough pre-flight inspection. It turned out it was lost and the plane had to be grounded until it was found. It was not found until days later, unfortunately. Happily, this time out to the airport all the paperwork was in order.

For a few days leading up to the BFR I reviewed my Sporty’s Private Pilot DVDs and the Federal Aviation Regulations/Aeronautical Information Manual (FAR/AIM) book that contains all the regulations that pertain to flying as a private pilot.

During the Biennial Flight Review the Certified Flight Instructor does a one hour long verbal flight review that covers regulations and concepts related to flying (e.g., Weights and balances, weather, etc.). My CFI and I spent about an hour and fifteen minutes and for the most part I was able to answer all but a few obscure questions. After the verbal part we went out for the one hour flight review. We departed Sturgeon Bay’s Cherryland Airport for one of my favorite airports, Ephraim Airport. I showed my experience with pilotage, flying from one point to another using maps and ground references, to get us to Ephraim. Once there we took advantage of the beautiful turf strip there. I performed short field and soft field take-offs and landings on the turf. I truly love the nostalgic barnstorming feeling of landing on turf runways. After performing some nice crosswind landings we departed and headed back to Sturgeon Bay where we performed a wide variety of maneuvers demonstrated in most Private Pilot Check Rides or insurance check-outs: Turns around a point, stalls, 45&Deg; bank turns, etc.

When we got back to Sturgeon Bay I new there would be one more part of the test, a landing with a failed engine. Sure enough as I entered the pattern to land at Cherryland Airport my CFI announced my engine had failed and pulled the power out to simulate an engine failure. I cut the pattern short to ensure we would make the runway and brought the airplane down gently. Upon completing the landing I was informed I had passed my Biennial Flight Review.

Posted at 9:35 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Comments (4) | Save & Share This Story

July 5, 2006

Flying with Dad

Door County, Wisconsin I celebrated the Fourth of July holiday in Door County, Wisconsin. Whenever I am in Door County I try to take in a flight as it is an absolutely beautiful place to fly. The local Fixed Based Operator that I rent from is Orion Flight Service. A friendly operation based at the Cherryland Airport in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

Since it had been more than six months since I flew with them last I needed to take a brief written exam and then fly a check-ride with a CFI. Adam, the CFI, and I met and reviewed the written test then headed out to the airplane. Cherryland has two nice runways. The one running parallel to Sturgeon Bay is the one I have used in the past. The winds were situated such that no matter what runway I chose I was going to have a little bit of a crosswind.

I chose to take off from the runway that runs perpendicular to the bay since I had not flown that pattern before. It is the smaller of the two runways, although is still plenty long and wide at 3,200 feet x 75 feet. This runway lacks a taxiway so I back taxied to the end of the runway.

The flight review went smoothly. I enjoyed talking with Adam about his flight experiences during the flight. He has experience in tail draggers and in float planes which was fun to hear about. He also would love to go to Alaska to be a bush pilot, I can’t blame him for that.

After the check-out ride I had a special opportunity – My father was waiting on the tarmac for his first flight with me. Not sure how nearly two years have passed without me getting a chance to take him flying but it was a fun experience, although short. The check ride had run long so we only had time for about a 30 minute flight. We flew up and down the lake side of the Door County Peninsula and I let him fly for a bit. He seemed to do fine with that. Then we headed back. Unfortunately, I made one of the my worst landing in my two years of flying.

Due to the crosswind I flew the approach a little faster than normal which caused us to balloon a little on the landing flair but since we had plenty of runway left I flew it in ground effect for a couple of seconds to bleed of some speed then let it set itself back on the ground wind side wheel first. But, my foot must have been a little high on the rudder and pressing the break cause when the wheel came down the plane wanted to pivot on that wheel and had I not corrected it I think the plane would have wanted to swerve off to the side of the runway. Not the landing I had envisioned for my first flight with my Dad but I am sure there will be more to impress him with my landing abilities.

Until then maybe I will log some hours working on crosswind landings.

Posted at 6:59 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story