Although I saw some light snow flurries on my drive home from work on Saturday (first snow spotted of the season! Blech!) the sun was shining through scattered clouds and other than the wind and light precipitation things looked good for an evening flight so I checked the weather when I got home and saw the flurries weren't more than random scattered precipitation. So I decided to continue the flight I finished last week at KVAY.
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Leg 1: KVAY - NJ84
It was a blustery day yesterday according to the weather reports, so the first thing I did after finishing my pre-flight checklist on the tarmac of KVAY in the Cessna 172S was taxi on over to the pump to top off the tanks. Whenever you're dealing with turbulent weather the heavier you are the better off you will be as the wind won't be able to knock you around as much. So, that done I taxied over to hold short for Runway 26 as a Piper Archer made its approach. I probably didn't have to wait for it but it does take a bit extra to taxi onto this runway because you have to turn around at the end to line up. So I waited for the Piper to land then taxied out into position and took off - the wind was strong enough from the right that I didn't have to compensate for propeller torque on my takeoff roll. Once up in the air I set the controls to cruise at 1400' - although I had it in the plan for 1500' I realized that was the floor of Philly Bravo airspace and decided to stay 100' under and clear. I still tuned into Philly Approach for flight following however, and stayed with them until I passed over the VOR before tuning back into local traffic, although NJ84 doesn't have a frequency of its own. I also realized I had compensated for FSX's late DST switch the wrong way, setting the game clock an hour behind real world when it should be an hour ahead. Fixing that, I made my approach to Hidden Acres without issue - the flight had been bumpy all along but nothing serious just a few shakes here and there not requiring any serious control input to correct. My first approach to Hidden Acres didn't go so well, I was expecting the 16-17kts heavy winds to slow me down a bit more than they did and I ended up long on final and had to go around. Second approach I put down 10 degrees of flaps and came down right on the runway after crabbing in slightly to stay aligned against the wind.
Leg 2: NJ84 - N73
I started this leg right after the previous, taxiing back and departing NJ84 - but once in the air since it was getting darker I decided to adjust my ENB settings and when I resized the window to put them into effect the sim continued to run but I could no longer get it to render anything. So I was forced to quit and decided to postpone the flight until the next day.
So today I hopped back into the Cessna around mid-morning and started a flight at NJ84 to pick up where I left off. It was still windy today, and on takeoff I had to be careful no to let the wind blow me into the trees off to the side of the runway. I didn't have far to climb for cruise so I was shortly en route direct to the Atlantic City VOR where I intended to arc around at a 10nm distance before turning towards N73. It's been a few months since my last DME arc so I wanted to keep up my technique. Turbulence was minor but persistent along the way and during the arc but never enough to seriously disturb my aircraft attitude. I started the arc fine but halfway through I let myself drift inwards and ended up 9.2nm from ACY at my closest approach before turning out towards N73. In retrospect I didn't remember to account for the wind blowing out of the northeast pushing me off course. Live and learn! I finally remembered to pull up a track of my flight after I landed so I could see my arc:
You can see how as I turned out of the wind, which was coming from just west of north, I started to get blown inside the ACY 10nm radius. After a short flight out from ACY I reached Red Lion and entered the pattern for Runway 05. Great pattern, rounding out on final on slope and aligned with the runway, although I got a bit sloppy just before touchdown and had a scary left skid that almost took me off the runway thanks to the wind coming from the left making my torque-induced weather cocking worse than I anticipated. After finding a parking space and shutting down I also realized I never pulled an ident on the VOR. I'm very inconsistent with that still...
Leg 3: N73 - KMMU
A few spots over was my V35B from last weekend, and after pre-flight I taxied to Runway 08 and was able to take off right away as no traffic was inbound. I forgot three things in short order though on my climb to cruise altitude. One was that in setting my instruments to take off I had neglected the altimeter. Two, I didn't circle-climb on departure but immediately flew direct for COL which caused me to skim over McGiure's airspace. Three, I forgot to complete my after takeoff checklists. So when I was finally leveled off at 3500' I tuned to KWRI for a weather check (shouldn't I have done that before departure?) and reset my altitude to find I was really closer to 4000' - d'oh! By the time I crossed over COL I was back to cruising 3500' and began to descend again to duck under the NYC Bravo shelf and prepare for entry into the Hudson SVFR corridor. As if it's not hard enough keeping this aircraft at 1200' while not exceeding 140kts things started getting real bumpy as I cruised past the city. Like, attitude-changing where all the sudden I would find the aircraft starting to roll to one side. Steady hand on the yoke and smooth corrections though kept me on course without too much of an altitude or speed adjustment. Once clear of the SVFR corridor I climbed back up to 3000' to head over the north Jersey hill country towards the Sparta VOR. I waited until I was over the VOR before tuning to KMMU for a weather report and then contacting the tower, which told me to make left downwind for Runway 05. This was great because the radial I was tracking outbound from the VOR set me up for a perfect 45° pattern entry. I received my landing clearance as #2 behind a Cessna on approach but the problem was I couldn't spot him and there was another aircraft waiting to land behind me. So I turned base when I figured the Cessna had passed me by but then his landing light came into view in the distance. I stuck in my turn for final thinking I could cut him off but the tower told me to go around, no surprise. So I went around and slotted in behind the Cessna I was supposed to follow - when I heard the tower tell him to go to ground I turned base and final, rolling out right of the runway on final but I made it down okay. I had to taxi in partway on an inactive runway to get around some traffic taxiing out and shut down in the main tie down area to the west.
Good times. Where to next?