Such beautiful weather this evening, couldn't resist seeing the sun setting from the air. I also wanted to take the Jet Ranger into Manhattan tomorrow, so I had to get back to an airport that gave me access to helicopter services. I originally planned to head back to Teterboro (KTEB) but I realized that another airport in the area, Morristown Municipal (KMMU) also offered heli services. I also wanted to get in some more traffic pattern practice so I plotted my route to KMMU along two small airstrips - Old Bridge (3N6) and Central Jersey Regional (47N).
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I know I said I was going to buy a new plane - and I did do a lot of looking around the market. I researched the Cessna 182 a bit more and realized it was more of a step back than a step forward in terms of aircraft capabilities. I would really like a plane that challenges me in new ways. I almost bought the Beech Bonanza instead, but then I caught sight of the V-tail version in the "coming soon" section of Carenado's site. Given that it was next in line to be released (at least, that's how it appeared since all entries below it were released in chronological order leading up to those images) I decided to hold off and wait - hopefully it's an HD version of the craft as well.
So it was back in the good ol' trusty Cessna 172S for this flight - no complaints. No troubles running through preflight and departing from KBLM straight out from Runway 32. From there I intercepted Route 18 and followed it to the north until I spotted the beacon for Old Bridge, then set myself up to enter upwind at a 45° angle and fly the left pattern down to Runway 06. I ended up turning short on final and below the glide path, but overall a decent pattern. I landed and came to a full stop, taxiing off the runway since Old Bridge does not allow touch and gos. Whether they allow transient craft to just land, taxi around and take off again I dunno, but I didn't do a touch and go. So there.
So I departed along the same runway I came in on after taxiing back down its length. Next stop was Central Jersey Regional, which I found by flying north out of Old Bridge to the Raritan River and then followed it until I spotted the beacon for 47N. Then, as I was setting up to enter the pattern, I lost sight of the airport and thought it was a beacon way off to my rear port side - so I banked to the runway downwind heading of 25 and found myself lined up with 47N! Turns out I had seen the beacon for Princetown (39N) - I knew it was too far away yet after losing sight of 47N that was all I had seen. So I quick banked back to the right for the crosswing leg to Runway 07 and flew a pretty perfect left pattern - downwind and then base and then final, without having to make a big sweeping turn from downwind to final to line up with the runway and skip base. 47N did allow touch and gos so I set her down and pushed the throttle back open to take her out again.
As soon as I was climbing back out I tuned to Morristown ATIS to get the latest weather info and then Morristown Tower to request landing clearance. They directed me to enter downwind for Runway 23. I climbed to 2,000 feet to make sure I got a good view of the area because I had no visible landmarks to follow to the airport besides a heading once I left 47N. KMMU is a bigger airport than the single strips I was using for pattern practice though, so I spotted it with no problem and descended to enter the pattern. Everything was going fine until I made another visual error - mistaking the threshold of Runway31 as Runway 23, due to the skewed perspective of being up in the air and the way the night lighting plays tricks on your eyes. So I turned towards it for final but realized my error and S-curved back into the proper pattern. I then turned base and then final on the proper runway. As with 47N, I kept my approach high to avoid any unseen obstacles in the darkness. Still, I managed to bring her down steep enough to still hit the touchdown marks and not break my undercarriage.
Taxiing to the ramp was a bit of an issue though - I had some custom scenery installed for the airport and for some reason all the taxi signs were gone! I had the airport diagram open so I knew the taxi path I needed to take, but with no signs pointing out where the paths intersected it was very hard to see in the dark. Yes there was lighting but unless you're traveling on that taxiway you can't tell what lights belong to what. I'll need to fix that, but in the meantime I made it to my parking area, found a tie down spot and shut down.
Tomorrow (or sometime later this week) I'll be taking the Jet Ranger into NYC.