Monday, May 24, 2010

Daytona Beach Burger Run

Our ultimate "Burger Run" got tremendously shorter with the opening of a Red Robin in Port Orange. It's located between Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach in a big new shopping area. The closest ones before were a 2 hour flight away. And yes, we'd fly 4 hours round trip just for Red Robin!

We still haven't made an overnight trip with the whole family in our plane. We hope to change that very soon, but we thought a quick flight to Daytona, which would be Mary's 2nd flight, would help us gain confidence in flying with Mary. As for Abby, she's as great a co-pilot as ever!

We took off yesterday afternoon around 2:30 pm and landed at Daytona International Airport (KDAB) about 45 minutes later. It was a nice flight and we were afforded great views of the coast, Daytona Beach, and the Daytona International Speedway along the way. Just off Runway 7L is Yelvington Jet Aviation, a FBO, where we chose to park the plane and have it topped of with avgas. They graciously lent us one of their crew cars and after seeing the wee ones in tow, the lineman was kind of enough to run and bring one of their SUVs right to the plane. Now that's service!

Within 5 minutes of our arrival we were on our way to Red Robin. It wasn't very far; it only took about 10 minutes to get there. We hit everything right. We were seated right away, the service was prompt, and the burgers were great. The best part, as many know, were the bottomless steak fries that you dip in their homemade ranch dressing. Mmm mmm good!

After stuffing ourselves, we headed back to the plane with a to-go order of fries for the FBO crew. It was hard not to keep them for ourselves, but the FBO had Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip cookies available to us. A fair trade I think. We were back on our way home about quarter past 5:00 pm and arrived a little after 6:00 pm. Mary did great and we hope to make a real trip very soon.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Staniel Cay, Bahamas - The Flight Home

We both got a great night's sleep and woke up around 7:30 am. After we took showers and had our morning coffee on the deck, we headed to the clubhouse for some breakfast. We realized that of all the pictures we had taken, we never got both of us in them at the same time. So we imposed on a few folks to help us right that wrong. Breakfast was great as usual, but I just wasn't very hungry. We checked out and settled up our account at the bar and got our bags ready to go. One huge benefit to flying yourself is only being held to your own schedule. Not having to feel rushed to get to the airport or anything else sure helps to alleviate a lot of stress. Leaving the Staniel Cay Yacht Club was tough, but we have to leave in order to come back!

It didn't take long to load and pre-flight the plane. We were wheels up shortly after 10:00 am. Some remnant clouds from the front made for a low overcast layer for about 40 miles, but we had another nice ride and a beautiful flight over the Exumas as we headed back for North Eleuthera (MYEH). We touched down at MYEH about 45 minutes after leaving Staniel Cay (MYES).

White Crown Aviation, the FBO at MYEH, made our departure from the islands a breeze. After submitting our Immigration Cards, Passports, General Declaration Form C7, Cruising Permit, and $15 Departure Tax each, we settled up our fuel bill and called to notify US Custom and Border Protection (CBP) of our flight. They said they had our eApis manifest on file and were cleared for arrival back into the US. I'd say we were completely cleared, fueled, and ready to go in less than 15 minutes. Awesome service! I also asked about their 100LL fuel availability and they told me it would be a very rare occurrence for them to not have fuel as you might find at other airports in the islands. That’s just another huge reason why North Eleuthera and White Crown Aviation make it a perfect stop when traveling to and from the Bahamas.

After a short run up we were back in the air and bound for Fort Pierce, FL (KFPR). Climbing through 6,000 feet, I contacted Miami Center and received our IFR clearance. We were cleared direct ANGEE intersection then direct KFPR at 8,000 feet. Pretty easy. The westerly winds we enjoyed on the way down were still there so those headwinds made for a little longer of a flight home. No worries though. We had beautiful scenery to look at and great music to enjoy while we trudged along. Our route took us just south of Great Abaco and Castaway Cay then east and north of Freeport. As we passed Castaway Cay, we could see the Disney cruise ship at the dock. Just after Freeport we descended to 6,000 feet and then were instructed to be at 4,000 feet 25 NM southeast of ANGEE. After ANGEE we were vectored around a bit for traffic, but in no time we landed at Fort Pierce and taxied to the CBP ramp to clear back into the USA.

After shutting down, we unloaded our baggage and proceeded in to the customs building. The CBP officer was very nice to work with and after checking our passports, Customs Declaration, and luggage, we were cleared and headed back to the ramp to reloaded the plane. We caught the attention of the line-guy from APP Jet Center, formerly Volo Air, and asked him to tow the plane over to there ramp and top it off with fuel. I was very surprised to see them so busy. It took us a while to get our fuel, but it gave me time to check the weather and file our flight plan for our final leg home to Jacksonville.

Forty-five minutes after arriving at KFPR, we were back in the air and headed home. I noticed the XM weather depicted an AIRMET Tango for moderate turbulence along our track once we reached the Space Coast area. Sometimes it's hit or miss if you feel the turbulence when those AIRMETs are issued and it was spot on this time. Although we probably experienced "light" turbulence by definition, the occasional moderate turbulence definitely gave us an interesting ride for about 45 minutes. I slowed to the indicated airspeed for maneuvering or turbulence, about 116 knots. Even though we maintained that indicated airspeed, our ground speed would vary between 105 and 135 knots as we encountered various up and down drafts. Anyway, the views of Florida were great and the Kennedy Space Center was especially clear as we went buy. About and hour and thirty minutes after leaving KFPR, were back on the ground at KCRG in Jacksonville.

Flight times for this trip:

Thursday, 22 April 2010: KCRG --> MYEH --> MYES = 3.9 hours
Tuesday, 27 April 2010: MYES --> MYEH --> KFPR --> KCRG = 5.3 hours

Boy that extra stop and those headwinds sure made a difference, but still way faster both times than if we had tried to do this via commercial airlines! Hmmmmmmmmm.................I wonder when we can go back?!?!?!?!?!?
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