Friday, December 11, 2009

Clouds, Clouds, Clouds! December 10, 2009


What an awesome day.

Woke up at 7:30.  Agh, too early again!  Forced myself out of bed.  Took a shower to wake up, grabbed breakfast, checked the weather, packed up, and headed for the FBO.  That line of thunderstorms had moved southward over the middle of was hanging out just below Ocala...20 miles to the south.

So I filed for Ocala.  I requested 5000.  Mom and I took off around 9:30 from Destin and made the crazy call-outs to Approach and whatnot to get out of the area.  Way too many military airspaces in these parts!  Simple to do, but still kind of crazy.  I was told to climb to 5000.  Kenton was 10 miles ahead of us on his way to Daytona Beach.

I filed for Tallahassee, then for Ocala, in order to stay over the ground instead of over water.  The first half of the trip was nothing but VFR the entire time.  So smooth, too.  We were crusing around 130 knots.  I'll take it!  The controller asked us to climb to 7000 feet about 50 miles east of Destin.  Clouds were starting to appear above overcast layer...and it was slowly getting closer but not by much.

I hit Tallahassee, then headed south.  I requested 9000.  I wanted to be IN the soup!!!  It had been months since a real nice IFR flight...I missed it.  And sure enough, at 8000, we were in.  The earth disappeared.  We actually stayed in the overcast layer for the next 45 minutes on the way to Ocala.  I set it on auto-pilot...I tell ya, that is sooooo nice.  I never thought I'd like it, but it just makes the work-load that much less.  It's so handy!

The flight itself was just perfect.  Smooth air.  Half VFR, half solid IMC.  Pretty hard to beat.  It was nice to be back.  I descended down for Ocala and popped out at 4700 feet and made a visual approach.  Mom and I grabbed a quick bite to eat at the FBO (my can o' soup, and she nibbled on a granola bar and a bag of chips).  I filled up with fuel, then filed another flight plan, this time for Melbourne, then Ft. Lauderdale Executive.  9000 feet again.

I took off, then Approach had a change of plans for me.  He gave me direct the LBV VOR, then V-511, then an intersection, then Ft. Lauderdale Executive.  Agh!  My map didn't show V-511, so I was thoroughly confused, told him that, but he told me it was there.  GRR!!!  I had Mom open up the other map, and sure enough, it was there.  What gives?!  I'll have to look into that.  It's a question I need answered.

I was a bit nervous about the change in route.  I had specifically requested Melbourne in order to stay clear of weather (some yellow and minor red were forecast south of me, although the convective activity was said to be dwindling).  So with the change, I jus wondered what lay ahead.  But I climbed to 9000 and headed for the LBV VOR.  We were in the soup again.

On the way in to Ocala, I though I might be able to stay on top of the southern stuff at 9000, but I was wrong.  Right before I went into it, I could see it was a couple thousand feet higher than me.  Oh well!  Here we go!  For the most part, it was just fun flying.  Definitely more challenging, but I loved it.  We encountered some pretty moderate rain about 30 minutes after departure, and that had me questioning what was further ahead.  I simply didn't know how heavy it was going to be up ahead.  I was a bit nervous.  But the heavy rain was short-lasted.  We had light rain off and on for much of the flight, but for the most part, it was just perfect hard-core IMC.

Somewhere along the way, I broke out, then went back in, then out, then in.  The overcast was turning to cumulous, and we would get rocked inside the clouds.  I still had it on auto-pilot, but you better believe my hand was on the throttle and the yoke just in case it went off.  My attitude indicator was going back and forth, and my engine was throttling up and down.  If the auto-pilot ever went off, I was not going to let it have even a split second on me.  I was ready.  But it maintained our altitude, attitude, and course fairly effectively.  What a treat!!!

We had a route change again...this time around an MOA.  I had to go to a different intersection.  Oh well.  They treated me like I was slant-G instead of slant-A.  Hmm.  I had the equipment to make it work, but I still wondered why they often do that.

The cumulus were more prevalent, and I was in and out of the cauliflower-like clouds.  Mom said she thought she could just jump on them.  I couldn't argue.  They looked like a bed ready to catch us.  What a treat.  I don't deserve this, I told her at one point.  It's just so beautiful!!!

We flew on to Ft. Lauderdale Executive.  We flew over a vast swamp-like region of Florida...I would hate to go down in there!  Yuck.  Landed at Exec, then taxied to Banyan Air Service.  I had a red carpet laid out for me.  I kid you not!  This FBO was FANCY!!!!!!  I learned inside that it was the #2 FBO in the country.  Woo wee!!!

I spent some time getting a rental car, setting up a hotel, then Mom and I drove to Enterprise to pick up the car.  We came back, grabbed our bags, were told that I left the Master switch on...grr!  One of the line guys had turned it off.  Oops.  Went to the hotel, then went to a MUCH-needed supper.  We stopped at a fancy restaurant but refused to pay the $20-$30 prices.  We went to an Irish Pub/Grill instead.  Prices were $8.  Sweet.

Mom and I ate, talked, then walked to the ocean after that.  She said she wanted one in her backyard.  "If I had a chair, I could sit here all night."  I'm so glad she came.

Went back to the hotel and waited for Kenton to arrive.  He had called about two hours earlier saying he was going to be able to make it after all.  His transponder had been fixed in Daytona Beach.  I picked him up around 9:30 as Mom shopped for tickets back home.  I guess she is flying out tomorrow.  Too bad.  It was such a quick trip.  I hope she enjoyed it.

Got a call from Mike inviting us to the Christmas party up in Daytona Beach tomorrow.  SWEET!  That's awful nice of them.  Not sure if I'll be able to map tomorrow...looks like rain.  But we'll see.  I at least hope Mom gets her day of sun and beach.  That would make me happy.

Also got a phone call about a possible opportunity later this week!  Pretty excited about that, too.  We'll see!

Talked to the good friend back home.  She wants to fly down to visit, too!  Agh, that would make my day, too!!!!  Can't wait.

Goin' to be a fun, busy day tomorrow.

Oh, I left north of Dallas yesterday.  It was 20 degrees.  When I landed here in Ft. Lauderdale, it was 84.

I'll take it.

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