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In the air on 4th of July

Updated: Jan 13, 2020

A few weeks before the 4th of July, the Smokehouse Pilots Club went on a fly-out to Cape May, New Jersey. It was my first time flying to KWWD. It was an excellent fly out, and everyone had a ton of fun. We met some new members of the club and all had a wonderful lunch together. It was overall one of my favorite fly outs we have had yet.

As the days and weeks went on, I was thinking about the next time we were to fly. I was speaking with Adrienne about where we should fly to and when. We decided that on the 4th of July, we were going to fly back over to Cape May (because she wasn’t with me for the first time) and explore the island. As we decided to do this, we thought we should ask a few other people to come along with us. We asked Tim and Cynthia to fly with us over to Cape May for the day, explore, eat, sit on the beach and come back home. It all sounded like a great plan!

The morning was beautiful. We took off from Leesburg, Virginia, around 9 am. We climbed out at an excellent rate, turned east, picked up our SFRA flight plan, and went directly through the corridor between Baltimore and DC. It was a beautiful day to fly. The skies were blue, winds were favoring our flight, and we were having a great time. We approached the Annapolis MD Navy Campus and admired the landscape. To us, it was hard to believe we were able to fly along this route and see such a beautiful scene. We then left the SFRA area and climbed higher – up to about 5,500 feet in altitude. Over the water, we were – jumping and dodging clouds. It was incredible. It only takes about 20 minutes to get over the Chesapeake Bay into NJ. As we approach NJ, I make a deviation to the right – and make a right 360 degree turn into the airport. As we do so, we fly directly over the beaches of Cape May, seeing all of the sightseers for the 4th of July. We make our way onto the final approach into Cape May. As we land, we were met by one of the best linemen I have met – who happened to be “Skip.” He was incredible. I met him the week before when we were there as a club. Boy, was it nice to see a familiar face? I was able to chat with him as if we had been friends for a lifetime. That’s what happens in General Aviation. People look after one another. That’s what happened on this arrival into Cape Map. It was amazing.

As it would go, Skip took great care of us. We ended up getting an Uber into town – which dropped us off right beside the beach. It was so much fun.

Sun, sand, friends, food, and fun. That’s all it was all day.

It’s quite amazing to be able to fly somewhere and just have a relaxing and fun time with friends – and that’s what we did. All of us had a blast.

We were bouncing around the beach, eating, laughing, and just enjoying friendship. For me, this is what flying was all about: a destination, friends, and a great time. Then, an adventure back home.

An adventure it was.

The evening was upon us. We decided it was time to head back to the airport so that we could board the plane, get airborne, and get some as we all had work the next day. Little did we know that weather and timing would intervene.

Often in aviation, we are so eager to get to where we want to go. However, there are many times that those things can’t happen as natural forces tend to take over. As we were getting the plane ready and going through run-up, I realized that the cloud layer was sinking in. To me, I realized that I couldn’t take off as the clouds were falling into a ceiling. This made me stop and think about what we should be doing – as safety is always my north star. Not to mention, this was the first time for Adrienne in general aviation and what decisions are made along the way to fly. I was starting to realize that it may not be a good idea actually to take off. I am a pilot who has a rule of 3. My three indications that we shouldn’t fly are as follows:

1) Clouds sinking In

2) Magento check was off

3) Weather at home was not good

Now, I knew that Tim had to get home because of work. However, with my rule of 3, I would not be able to accomplish this as I knew I couldn’t go against my norm. While we were completing the last minute checklist before taking off, I decided it was time to turn back to the ramp (as much as I didn’t want to), based on the conditions. In hindsight, I am so damn thankful I did.

We ended up having one of the most fun 4th of July evenings ever. Going to Cape May for the day, we never made reservations for a room. Therefore, finding one on the night of the 4th was a challenge. But we did it. We found a place that was in a perfect location and allowed all of us to stay. We put our bags up – and found a local restaurant where we could enjoy ourselves. We had a blast – and even met some more pilots who we had to join our Smokehouse Pilots Club.

As it goes, we had an adventure the next day to fly home. I plan to cover that adventure in my next blog post!

Stay tuned! And, as always, Safe Flying!

- Gabe and Adrienne

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