Friday, August 13
KTVC – KACB – KGKJ – KMMU
(Part of the lost trip report.)
After our incredibly, almost-theme-park-like stay in Traverse City, we needed to return to New York City, where Nell would meet us. We had a small cooler of salmon to drop off at TW’s, definitely worth driving to the airport for (plus, I had left my computer bag at his cabin and he offered to bring it up). I spent a lot of time in the FBO’s hangar with their roll of speed tape (aviation’s version of duct tape), sealing the two coolers so that they couldn’t possibly open. It still made me nervous to stow a couple containers of fishy ice water in the luggage compartment.
The ten minute hop up to Antrim County was uneventful. We hopped out, swapped cold salmon for computer, and were back in the air in a few minutes.
We couldn’t quite make it to Morristown, New Jersey (our airport near Manhattan) without a fueling stop (something TW complains about too, since he has the same plane). Certainly not comfortably. So we had planned a stop at KGKJ (Port Meadville), a tiny airport in North Jersey. We flew over a lot of the northern peninsula of Michigan, nearly directly over Detroit and onto into Canada. The route took us directly across Lake Erie, and one of the only times we were unable to land immediately one of the passengers needed to pee. If we landed in Canada we would have caused an international incident (we hadn’t filed an eAPIS and no one in customs on either side would know we were coming). Usually a bathroom break is a fine reason to spiral down to explore a new airport, but this one time we had to push on. The first airport after we cross Lake Erie was Port Meadville, and we descended with the nose pointed down quite a bit, rocketed over the ground to get our wheels back on American soil.
(We do carry emergency port-a-johns in the plane. These are easier for boys to use than girls, but they are not easy for anyone in a bouncing, fully-packed plane in the middle of summer. The passengers said, “It’s not that bad, I can wait.”)
Port Meadville at 5:30pm was totally empty. There was no activity on the field at all, although the terminal looked like it had been part of a bustling operation sometime in the sixties, now it was down at the heels and surrounded by a chain link fence with a bewildering method of gaining entrance. We gave up. We fueled the plane and peed on the grass behind the large fuel tank. We could hear the crickets in the grass around the entire airport, and the stillness of the large hangars was a little mysterious. We stretched our legs a little more and then climbed in for the last flight of the day.
Morristown, NJ has a nice FBO. They cater to the corporate jets of all the big companies going into NYC to do business. They are very nice to us little-plane guys and we’re able to take advantage of all of the amenities they have for the big-plane fellows. TW had called ahead with our ETA and they had a car waiting to take us into New York. (Subsequent research showed that we probably could have done better getting a free ride to the NJ Transit state and taking the train, but it was the end of a long, sweaty day in the plane and it was nice to relax in the air conditioning while we headed in.)
We spent an entire week in New York, our longest visit ever, seeing the Museum of Modern Art, the Liberty Science Center, the Central Park Zoo, and a ton of interesting places to eat. Sadly, we never got around to eating the salmon, but TW grilled his outdoors and reported that it was fantastic.