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Flight to Niagara Falls

Flight log 10/8/2010 Niagara Falls:
11/29/2010 Sorry for the late post on this one:
As of late I have been very busy getting ready for our new baby due in November. This has led to less time flying and for the website; at least I had this flight to look forward to.

Back in August one of my fellow flying club members Mike D had asked if I would like to plan a trip to Niagara Falls in our Cessna 182RG. Needless to say I decided to go.

Mike and I worked on the Hotel and aircraft reservations well in advance so we could get the trip in before the cold winds of winter. The date was set for Friday October 8th with a return the next day Saturday October 9th. I made the call for the first leg (kmmu – kiag) and Mike agreed to fly back. We also decided to split the time 50/50 since one of us (me in this case) would have to deal with a head wind. Mike D. gets the head wind on the next trip.

Pre-departure:
On the morning of departure I made my normal checks of the weather and filed my flight plan. As always, I backed everything up with a call to flight service for a briefing. The departure weather was VFR with strong headwinds en-route and an airmet for some moderate turbulence below 12,000 feet with strong surface winds gusting to around 27 knots at the destination.

Departure:
The departure was pretty much routine with a quick clearance followed by a climb to our ultimate cruising altitude of 8000 feet. I had Mike work as my safety pilot so I could get some hood time until we were established in cruse.

Empty coffee cup made for a cool picture at 8000 feet

 

En-route:
Once at our cruising altitude I switched on the camera and we settled in for our trip. The air was silky smooth but the 40 knot headwind was killing my ground speed. Well this is where the fun began. During my trip with Frank to Oshkosh I learned about the effects of altitude on my body. I learned that at about 8000 feet I start feeling “good” I am still sharp and don’t forget things but my mood improves if you know what I mean. At 10,000 feet I need oxygen; so my max altitude is 8000 feet for flights greater than one hour during the day and 6000 feet at night.

After about an hour at 8000 feet I decided to turn on my iPod. I could hear the music but Mike could not. Soon after, I decided to sing a bit in some of my many voices. Yes I have a few voices that I have mastered over the years. I started with a little Bruce Springsteen (I’m on Fire) sung in my southern voice. “Hay little girl is your daddy home, did he go and leave you all alone again – I got a bad desire ooo ooo ooo I’m on fire. You get the idea. I think Mike got a kick out of it once he realized that I was listening to music and not loosing my mind. At about 45nm out from Buffalo ATC had me descend to 6000 feet, on my way down they amended the altitude to 4000 feet. I started running into some turbulence at 5000 feet and made a quick call to ATC and asked for a higher altitude so we could stay in the smooth air. They were very accommodating and gave me my previous altitude of 6000 feet. Just goes to show, it never hurts to ask.

Arrival:
ATC had me at 6000 feet and basically set me up for a slam dunk for the ILS 28 right. As was the case before, things got pretty bumpy once we descended below 5000 feet so I didn’t mind it at all. Once established on the approach tower offered runway 24 (captured in the video) with better winds and a shorter taxi we elected to break off the approach and circle to land on 24. The approach was good even though I got bit high at the end it worked out okay. The landing wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked it but you can’t always have your cake and eat it too.

Niagara Falls:
Well this was one of the coolest trips I have taken to date. My only regret was not sharing it with my wife and son but as I have mentioned in the past, my wife is not a big fan of flying. I only hope that this will change in the future.

Well anyway on to the trip. After arrival we opted to pick up a rental car since the cost of a cab ride into Canada was almost as much as a 24 hour car rental. We chatted with a pilot in the FBO while we waited for the rental car, turns out that she had taken off from Morristown just ahead of us in the Saab 340b. With her faster ground speed she was on her second cup of coffee by the time we had arrived.

Heading into Canada:
The border crossing was uneventful and we were soon checked into our hotel. The view from the room was awesome. My only major gripe was that the room did not have WiFI access. Internet access was provided via the only network jack in the living room and that didn’t work. Well at least it was free. :-D.

During the first day we checked out the Journey behind the falls, the night fireworks display and spent some time driving around the downtown area checking out the sites.

The next day we got an early start with the free breakfast (yes a real breakfast not one of those continental deals that you get at most hotels). During the day we made it a point to try and see as many sites as possible before heading back to the airport to return the car. We started with a walk around the downtown area followed by the Maid of the Mist boat tour, the Whirlpool Aero Car and the Sr. Adam Beck Generating Station tour all in all a busy day!
Soon we were headed back to the US side to drop off our car.

The US customs agent was asking a lot of questions and I got the feeling that if I answered any of them in a way he didn’t like it would turn into an adventure I wasn’t going to enjoy.
CBP agent: “where are you going?”
Me: “back to NJ”
CBP agent: “whose car is this?”
Me: “its’ a rental from the airport.”
CBP agent: “airport? You flew here? Can I see your boarding pass?”
Me: “Well actually we are both pilots and flew ourselves here.”
CBP agent: Total change in body language
CBP agent: “wow that’s really cool do you own or rent?”
Me: “we are members of a club it’s the most cost effective way to fly”
CBP agent: “I have always wanted to do something like that” Have a great trip!
Me: Thanks. Just stop by the airport and take a lesson.
I love being a pilot!

The flight back home was great! Clear visibility and smooth sky’s the entire way! We even had a nice tailwind reducing our trip time to 1:47.

All in all a great trip thanks to Mike D. for the trip idea.

Click to view Photos

 

Flight description: Morristown NJ to Niagara Falls KIAG with Mike D.
Aircraft: Cessna 182RG N4757T
Pilot: Mike Bennett (KMMU to KIAG) Mike D. (KIAG to KMMU)
Flight rules: IFR
Weather conditions: VMC.
Winds: (MMU to IAG) surface winds out of the west gusting to 27 knots. (IAG to MMU) out of the west at 7 to 10 knots
Ceiling: Clear.
Co-Pilot: Mike D.
Flight time: 2:27 KMMU to KIAG 1:47 KIAG to KMMU.

Until next time; happy safe flying everyone!

Thanks for taking the time to read about our latest adventure. Please feel free to add your comments below.

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  • AFP

    That looks like an awesome trip! Too bad your wife isn't a fan of flying. I guess I am lucky in that my wife loves to fly. Taking trips with her in the airplane makes any flight more enjoyable.

    Sounds like I'll have to remember the next time I'm coming back from Canada to mention that I'm a pilot!

  • Mike Bennett

    Yea she is a work in progress with regard to the flying thing but I am sure she will come around some day. Thanks for the comment. Nice site by the way. i will make sure to add it to my bolg list.

  • Seeing the coffee cup on the dash reminds me of a book I read years ago about an aircraft accident where coffee was spilled in the cockpit leading to an accident. If I remember correctly it was "Fate Is The Hunter" by Ernest K. Gann.

    Nice post. Hope you were wearing a good pair of Gold Randolph Aviator Sunglasses to protect your eyes against all that sunshine!

  • Mike Bennett

    I have to get that book. I have heard about it several times now.
    That coffee cup picture is cool but it has generated several comments to me regarding the idea of placing it on top of the panel (I don't blame them). I have to add a caption on the site "the cup is empty" I am an IT guy and would NEVER place a drink anywhere near electronic equipment.
    I was waring my Ray Ban Aviators. Got them as a gift and didn't know about your line of sunglasses at the time. They look nice. Let me know if you would like to place an add on my site.
    Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  • One word!

    Awesome!

    Great post as always! Even better pictures

    Thanks man

    Jason

  • Mike Bennett

    Thanks Jason! Really means a lot coming from you.

  • stephen

    Great video. I like the pictures at night at the amusement park. Wish I would have gone. Next time.

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Amanda Michelle (Younkin) Franklin 3/14/1986 – 5/27/2011 Click for information on Amanda