Washington, DC to Morristown, NJ

Saturday, April 4

Sadly, Nell got news of a death in her extended family, someone the boys had actually met the previous summer out in the Hamptons. After some discussion we decided to alter our itinerary and head up to New York City so that she could attend the service and the boys could see their cousin.

Flying is sometimes serious

Flying is sometimes serious

With TW doing some research on the better place to land in the metropolitan area, we head to Dulles in the afternoon. There we some wind, but it was not as gusty as Phoenix when we were at the beginning of our trip, and it would be a much shorter flight. The FBO lineman trying to help bring the bags to the plane lost one in the back of the van (he did a sharp turn before arriving at the plane and it slid behind the seats). That delayed us a little bit, but the plane was all ready to go, so it wasn’t too bad. There was the usual surreal moments of taking off in a tiny plane from an airport that serves such huge planes, but in ten minutes we were climbing northward, over the farms of Maryland.

[Part of our Spring Break 2009 Trip.]

It’s funny that looking at the Flightaware track, we were only directly northbound for the shortest imaginable segment of the trip, but at the time it felt like forever before we were allowed to turn on course. It is probably all because of the restrictive airspace around the capital, but it was still annoying.

It was VFR the entire way, but I had filed IFR since it is the easiest way to get out of the ADIZ. I cancelled once we were aloft. It was pretty bouncy, especially as we started to close in on Morristown. The airport was reporting twenty-five knots of wind gusting to thirty-five. They were landing on Two-three, but offered us Three-one, which was a better match for the winds. I entered a modified left base and started to bring the plane around for the final approach.

TW has flown more on the East coast than I have and said that turbulence on the East coast is down low, while on the West coast it is up high. A gross generalization. Totally true on this particular day. The closer we got to the pleasant pine forests surrounding the Morristown airport, the more we were bounced around. I was on a one mile final at a thousand feet up and from there to the ground I wrestled the control stick and the throttle the entire way. All I thought about was the landing zone and my airspeed. I kept twitching the plane’s nose back to the centerline.

I was very ready to put the power back in and go around if the landing became a bounce or I lost the stability of the approach. Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary. “Stirring the stick” right down to the last six inches, I dragged the wheels onto the runway and quickly flipped the flap switch to put more weight on them. Then I had the following exchange with the tower:

Tower: 1RD, you can exit left when able. That was one of the better landings I have seen all day.

1RD: Thanks. Off at Bravo.

Bizjet: Well, you didn’t see mine.

Tower: Yes I did. You left a big grease spot on the runway.

It’s pretty rare that the tower comments on your flying and that was a tough landing. We were wheels up at 5:35pm and landed at 6:35pm. Definitely our shortest day of flying the entire trip.

The Morristown Signature people were extremely efficient and, true to TW’s billing, the car service knew their way into the City and were at the airport when we landed. It sure beat Caldwell, where we waited forever for the car and the guy had a very hard time finding Lincoln Center.

It was a great demonstration of the flexibility that the small plane allows us. We didn’t have any airline tickets to change, we didn’t need to cancel out of any travel, we just changed our schedule a little bit.

About Colin Summers

I am an architect, programmer, private pilot, husband and father. A couple of those I am good at.
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