Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Plane Is Now Home Too!

I was dreading the drive back up to Chattanooga, TN to recover our plane, but then I realized I still had some frequent flier miles I could use on Delta.  The weather was forecasted to look pretty good yesterday and my partner agreed to cover the light schedule at work so I purchased a ticked and committed to the plan.

Just North Of Jacksonville                                 On Approach To Atlanta

I took off from JAX at 0830 and after a 1 hour layover in Atlanta, I was on the ground in Chattanooga at 1130.  I intently watched out the window during the flights so I could see what kind of clouds, if any, I would have to contend with on the flight home.  It always seems to me that visibility in the Atlanta area is pretty lousy, but it was pretty good yesterday and I could see StoneMountain and downtown Atlanta on approach.  It only looked like some scattered clouds between Atlanta and Chattanooga, so I was feeling really good about the flight home.

Wilson Air Center picked me up from the commercial terminal in their shuttle and brought me back to their FBO.  I paid my fuel and tie down bill.  It was $10 per night and I got a night free with the fuel purchase.  One important note: the parking fee is from the Chattanooga Airport Authority and only collected by the FBO.  You will get the same charge at the other FBO on the field.  There were no other landing or ramp fees.  Because of the inclement weather from TS Lee, they had put our plane in their hangar for a bit at no extra charge.

When I arrived at the Wilson Air Center, this 1944 Beech-18 was preparing to depart.  They took off while I was conducting the pre-flight on 4RM and the sounds coming from the two radial engines was awesome.

Shortly after takeoff I was cleared on my assigned route up to 7000 feet.  This put me comfortably on top of the scattered cloud layer in nice smooth air.  I even had a tailwind for a while and was enjoying 155 knots at 65% power burning about 14 GPH.  Not too shabby!  Atlanta would not let me through their airspace again so I flew direct Athens then direct home.

"Hold Short For Landing Traffic"                            Downtown Chattanooga

Just south of Macon, GA the clouds started to show up again and the haze layer below started to thicken up.  It got a little bumpy on approach to Jacksonville due to that front to the south pushing back up north, but after a few minutes of being vectored around, I was cleared for the visual approach to Runway 23 at KCRG.  Safely on the ground and 4RM put away, our Labor Day adventure was officially complete!

             This cloud looked like you could surf it!                           The haze returns        
                       JAX International                                  Approaching KCRG from the North
My work: Naval Station Mayport

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chattanooga - Day Two

We all got up, ate, and were ready by 10 am. Wow, and on a Sunday even at that! Unfortunately I forgot to check the hours to the children's museum until we were ready; only it didn't open till noon. No worries. We just piled in the car and headed up to Lookout Mountain to see some sights.

We drove around for a bit, but didn't stop to check anything out since Mary fell asleep for a nap and we thought it would be best if she got a little more rest. Kristi had travelled here when she was 10, so she decided to continue driving around while Abby and I took the Incline Railway back down the mountain.

Kristi and Mary picked us up at the bottom and we all headed for the Creative Discovery Museum. Once we arrived, we ate some lunch in their cafe before heading inside for all the fun and excitement.

Abby quickly settled in to the first set of activities with various water features and a huge playground structure.

Kristi took Mary and headed for the 4 and Under Only area where Mary was finally allowed to roam free and explore.

Abby and I next went upstairs on the roof to check out some of the outside activities. You can see from one picture below that our hotel really was right next door and just up the hill was a baseball stadium. More on that later.

Next we went to the other side of the rooftop area to check out the lookout tower and their bee hive exhibit.

After a while we met up on the second floor where they were having a special Bob the Builder exhibit. Abby and Mary both played a while and really enjoyed this area.

Eventually Mary had enough, but Abby was still having a great time so Kristi took Mary back to the room for a little rest. Abby and I played a little more outside before we went back downstairs to see some of the exhibits we passed up earlier. They had an area to learn about music and instruments, dinosaurs, and electricity.

Abby and I finally left just before they closed and went back to the room. We all took it easy for a bit before our last major activity. Abby and I went to a minor league baseball game! When I saw the downtown layout and hotel location on Google Earth before the trip, I noticed the stadium right behind the hotel. After a quick search, it is AT&T Field and is home to the Chattanooga Lookouts which is a minor league team for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sure enough they were having home games during the Labor Day Weekend so I knew we had to go. Abby and I made it to the game just in time for the National Anthem. We bought Lower Box seats and sat in the 4th row right behind home plate. Yup, big spenders here! The seats were $8 each and Abby and I had a blast enjoying our first baseball game together. We had popcorn, a slushie, a hotdog, nachos, more popcorn, a slice of pizza, and a coke.  Yeah for stadium food.  The even had a huge fireworks show after the game!

Needless to say, Chattanooga, TN is an awseome place for a family vacation.  There are still things left we did not get to see.  Next time I'd like to explore Lookout Mountain more, take a river cruise, and visit their zoo.  A good time was had by all.
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