With hints of spring finally in these parts, I’ve been lucky enough to get some time in the air in the club’s newest addition, the 1966 Piper Cherokee 180C. Tuesday night was an exceptionally great night to fly, so I planned some cross-country time from KRME to KART (Watertown, N.Y.). I planned the trip to go by way of the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, flying directly over the house I grew up in, the little airfield my dad and grandfather called home and the (snow-covered) sandy beaches along the lake shore. I had always wanted to fly this route as a kid; I’d been in the air in that area of plenty of times as a passenger but I had never flown into KART nor had I flown up in that area as a private pilot.
The preflight of the 180C revealed that the landing light wasn’t working. Since I planned on getting night current while up at KART, not having a functioning landing light was a bit of an issue, so I scrubbed my cross-country flight plan. I decided to still fly up and over where I had grown up. I’d do an orbit over Sandy Pond and then head back home. That would get me back on the ground at sunset.
The air was fantastically smooth as glass. This was my first flight in the 180C completely solo. The airplane handled beautifully, my comm work was grand and I felt wonderful.
The MOAs (military areas) near Fort Drum were hot (active), so I stayed plenty clear of that area and flew right along the coast line of the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. At about Sandy Pond, Syracuse Approach let me know that I was at the very top of their area, so I turned south and started the journey back home. I’d get home right at sunset.
I had a great big grin on my face as I flew over my grandfather’s old farm and the house my father built. I flew the pattern at the airstrip (1NY3) about a mile away. Wow, that 2200′ grass strip looks tiny when you’re used to nearly 12000′ of runway at KRME!
All in all it was a great experience and just another affirmation of why I became a private pilot: because flying is awesome!