Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Break 2011 - Back to Treasure Cay, Bahamas

It's Abby's Spring Break this week and we decided many months ago we were coming back to stay at the Sanddollar Dreams condo in Treasure Cay, Bahamas. It is the first time flying the Lance to the Bahamas and she did great! I had removed the middle row of seats to gain some payload capability that we desperately needed to support our week in paradise. On Friday, as a test, I did all my eApis and international flight plan filing using the iPad. I worked great and since we have wireless here at the condo, I'll be able to get everything done for our departure just as easy.

We left the house yesterday morning around 8:00 am and we were loaded up and rolling down Runway 32 at Craig Field shortlly after 9:00 am. In no time we were cruising down the coast at 6000 feet enjoyoing the smooth morning air. We turned out at Melbourne and shortly after going "feet wet", we climbed to 7000 feet. About 45 minutes later we were over West End on Grand Bahama Island. I was surprised that with all the smoke and haze in Florida I was able to still just barely see the coastline of Florida when we first caught sight of the Bahamas.

After crossing Freeport, we made our final turn towards Treasure Cay. About thirty minutes later we were in the pattern overhead and had a decent landing on runway 14. My two worst landings ever have been at Treasure Cay. The winds are almost always a crosswind, and it swirls or gusts so much, experiencing a little bit of wind shear seems to be the norm. I kept my speed up this time knowing I had a long 7000 foot runway to use and still felt wind shear effects, but we settled down easy on the runway and taxied to the ramp. From startup to shutdown in paradise was 2.8 hours. Not bad at all!

The ramp was only about half full. There still is no avgas available at Treasure Cay, but we have more than enough to make it to Fort Pierce when we depart. We acquired extra immigration forms from our last visit and since we had everything pre-filled out, we made it through Immigration and Customs pretty quuick. Sidney was already there waiting for us, so as soon as Abby and I got the plane tied down and covered, we were all on our way to the condo.

My Dad, stepmom, and her mother are joining us on this trip. They all flew in commercially aNd we were able to find them another condo in our complex so we can be together. We were all finally together by dinner time and enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Bahama Beach Club. Saturday nights they have an all you can eat BBQ dinner served family style. We had pasta salad, potato salad, coleslaw, corn on the cob, BBQ beans, garlic toast, ribs, chicken, pork chops, and cake. Yes we at it all and them some! Of course the rum punch made it all go down pretty easy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Delayed Due To Weather

We had planned to fly home today, but Mother Nature had other plans.  After a great weekend with family and friends along with some decent weather, a frontal system blew through last night leaving unfavorable conditions for our flight home.  There is, in my opinion, an impassable line of thunderstorms this morning to the southeast and the temperatures have really dropped creating warnings for moderate icing conditions aloft from here to the other side of the cold front.  It has been IFR conditions here all day with low ceilings and reduced visibility at times in drizzle.

I don't mind flying in the clouds, in the rain, shooting approaches, and dodging thunderstorms as long as I can see them and remain well clear.  What I will not do is tangle with embedded thunderstorms or icing and both of those conditions will remain an issue for the rest of today.  So I called my boss and made the safe and only decision; we are staying put for at least another day.  Hey, at least we get to help celebrate Logan's 6th birthday today!!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Off To Arkansas For The Weekend

We have had this trip scheduled for a while. The plan was to take off Friday morning and fly to our cousins that live in Cave Springs, AR near Bentonville.  My wife's best friend and her husband drove up from Dallas. We always have a good time with them since there are other girls for Abby to play with and we finally get to enjoy some adult socializing.

After our trip to Greenville, I wasn't sure how soon the family would be ready to fly again, but we all jumped back in the saddle and it worked out great. We did change a few things. We moved Mary's seat to the rear row next to Kristi. This worked out really well. Since she was right next to Kristi, it was easier to calm her when needed and she even slept most of the first leg! This also meant Mom got some sleep too. We also swapped strollers to an umbrella stroller. This takes up a lot less room and fits nicely in the forward baggage compartment allowing us to get two large suitcases in the aft luggage area again!  Mary still won't wear her headset much, but we'll work on that as she gets older.

We took off just after 9:00 am. I knew we would be fighting some strong headwinds, but at least it was a smooth ride.  We were trueing out around 155 kts but only averaging about 120 kts most of the time.

There isn't a lot of scenery like hills and mountains to enjoy on this flight, but I did find some things of interest see. Some of the patterns and colors of the farm fields below were pretty cool.  The circular fields over southern Alabama looked like they had been afflicted with mold spots.

It took us a little over three hours to get to Meridian, MS (KMEI); our favorite stop when flying west to visit family.  Mary woke up just prior to landing and was in good spirits.  A really nice change from past experiences.

After getting some fuel and enjoying some hotdogs, popcorn, and ice cream, we were back in the air for the 2nd and last leg to Bentonville (KVBT). The headwinds were a little less on this leg and we finally saw our ground speed inch towards 140 kts.  I liked flying over the Mississippi River and seeing all the towboats heading upriver with their barge tows.

We were about to partially repeat our previous adventure with some forecasted moderate turbulence, but we were all better prepared this time. During the last 30 minutes of the flight we bounced around a little as we flew over the Boston Mountains of northwest Arkansas. This time I slowed to maneuvering speed, which gave a much gentler ride in the bumps and only added a few minutes to the flight. The surface winds at our destination were reporting 19 kts gusting to 24 kts, but unlike Greenville the winds were only 20 degrees to the right of center line. They have a really nice 4000+ foot runway, but unlike our 150' wide runway at home, KVBT's is only 65' wide. Plenty of room, but a little different visual representation on approach. It was a sporty approach and landing, but we safely arrived, got the plane unloaded, secured, and met up with our family.

Well, it was a long day, but everyone and the plane did well. Let the weekend of fun and laziness begin!
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