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Flight with my son: Morristown NJ to Georgetown DE with the North East Flyers

Flight log 8/21/2010

I had originally planned to take a trip to Martha’s Vineyard this weekend but when I started receiving emails from the FAA regarding upcoming TFRs for President Obama’s planned vacation I figured I should make other plans.

Earlier in the week Gary from the Northeast Flyers had invited me to his lunch run at Georgetown DE. As always it would give me one more chance to meet some fellow pilots and explore a new airport so I made the call to go for it. All I had to do now was figure out who I was going to take. My wife isn’t much of a flyer, so unless we were going on a real trip I wasn’t even going to try. Her friend expressed interest but at the time I was still waiting on responses from some of my fellow pilot friends. As I got the answers back it started to look more and more like this trip was going to be with my son. After all Steven loves to fly with his daddy so all in all not a bad deal.

On Friday I did a quick check of the weather, entered my flight plan information on and printed out the airport diagram. Later that night I received an email from our maintenance officer that the airplane was temporally grounded due to reports of landing gear warning system issues. I figured that the flight was off but he instead advised me that he would do me a favor and check it out in the morning. Long story short, he ended up having to change the plugs and take it up twice to make sure everything was OK.

By the time we arrived at the airport we were already running an hour and a half late. I briefly considered canceling the trip but decided to give it a go and hope that Gary and the group would stick around. I also knew that departing Morristown on a Saturday at 12:00 pm IFR could be a lengthy process so I grabbed my VFR sectionals and put them up front just in case.

As always, I setup Steven’s car seat in the back of the airplane. Just as I did, he asked, “Daddy, can I sit up front with you?” I had been waiting until he was old enough to at least see out of the side windows. Now was about the right time so I gave him the good news and had him sit in the “co-pilot” seat. I think he was siked!

The Video starts right after engine start up. I am playing around with more intro work on my videos but just did not have the time on this one. The first few parts of the video are pretty unremarkable except for my poor radio work and sound quality. I was straining to hear the controllers. I didn’t realize how bad it was until departure. For a moment I thought something might be wrong with the airplane. As it turned out, I had accidentally turned the headset noise-canceling feature off. This was only my second flight using this headset since borrowing it from my friend. It is nice but I think I will pick up the Light Speed Zulu or Bose headset as soon as I get the cash together. For now they are a world better than my David Clark headset and I can connect my iPOD.

During the takeoff run you can see that I let the nose get a bit low. Apparently I didn’t trim the nose up enough. I fixed that during the next takeoff and it wasn’t an issue.

After joining V1 I decided to let Steven handle the controls for the first time. To be honest I didn’t think he would enjoy it much. Boy was I wrong. Just the idea that he was moving the airplane around must have started a spark in this little 4 year old’s head because now all he can talk about is “flying Daddy’s airplane”. He even made me setup Microsoft Flight Simulator so he could fly “the jets”. As I was writing this story he called me over to tell me that he “landed”. I checked it out. He landed the Lear jet on the highway! Sure he was doing 140 knots but he had shut down the engines and was asking where the breaks were. You got to love it. Next up was the Extra! He was performing his own little air-show over Morristown for about an hour. “Look Daddy like Sean Tucker!” Well not quite. It’s a work in progress.
A few miles north of Atlantic City I started running into some cloud layers, as I progressed further the conditions quickly deteriorated and soon I was IMC (in the clouds). At first my hart sped up a bit with the thought that I might be flying into a real storm! I was soon comforted by the realization that the ride was super smooth, and if this were a building convective system I would experience some bumps by this point. Still I kept my options open. Ask ATC. Descend and or the good old 180-degree turn. On a side note I can’t wait to have XM weather.
Georgetown approach:
As I approached Georgetown I checked the weather. The winds were reported as calm so I decided to setup for the VOR 22 approach since it was based off of the Waterloo VOR, (part of my route clearance). I kept the needle centered but I caught myself making some of my old mistakes like not setting up the clock before reaching the final approach fix. Looks like its time to shoot some practice approaches with a safety pilot. I must be getting spoiled flying vectored ILS approaches into Morristown. About 3 miles north of the field I canceled IFR and received an airport advisory from the FBO. He informed me that the “last aircraft used runway 4” so I broke off the approach and setup for a left downwind. While on downwind I checked the windsock and discovered that I would be landing with a slight tailwind. I quickly evaluated the conditions and determined that with over 5000 feet of runway this would not be an issue. As you can see in the video the tailwind was a bit stronger at altitude but again not an issue. As I started to level off over the runway I felt a tug on the controls and glanced over to see my son holding on to the yoke with a big smile! I quickly called out to him “don’t do that” he let go but at that point my silky smooth landing had turned into an OK landing.

Afterwords I had a little talk with him about the dangers of touching the controls without Daddy saying so. He is only four so as an added safety measure I moved him back a few clicks from the controls for the return trip. Just in case!
After landing I looked for Gary’s airplane but couldn’t find it. I started to think that I had missed everyone but as I walked into the FBO I herd Gary call my name. There they were, eating at the local airport restaurant. But what happened to Lazy Suzan’s? As it turned out, the FBO didn’t have a car available so the group decided to eat there. My late arrival worked out just fine. Lunch was good and as always hanging out with other pilots was fun even though it was a short visit. After lunch and a weather briefing we followed Gary and Robert out to their airplanes. While waiting for my IFR departure I got this short video of Gary’s takeoff. Nice job Gary.

The flight home:
Soon after Gary’s departure I received my email from ATC letting me know that my flight plan was in the system and to expect my filed route. Time for the preflight; I received my clearance via dial up line and got 57T ready to go.
Our Clearance:
A: 2000 expect 7000 in 10 minutes
F: 132.425
T: 6211

When ready, we called for our release and void times. This is where the video picks up. The flight home was nice but this time we didn’t get much IMC. Steven was fast asleep and I thought I was going to get a hold over Modena (MXE) since ATC was parking the airlines to the east of the VOR for delays but in the end I was spared the cost of flying in circles.

As I approached Morristown I requested the ILS 23 approach and soon received vectors. During my last vector I turned to the 210 heading as requested but was soon given a 180 heading to intercept the localizer (210 wasn’t working). That is the second time that has happened to me in 57t. On my next flight I will try to either turn at half standard rate or fly that section of the approach at a higher airspeed. Looks like ATC had expected the turn to take more time. Something to improve on..

Thanks for taking the time to read about our latest adventure. Please feel free to add your comments below.
Are you a pilot or aviation enthusiast? Would you like to share your stories with our viewers? Send me a message via the contact us page and I will gladly post your stories on our site. Until next time; happy safe flying everyone!

Flight description: Morristown NJ to Georgetown DE for a Northeast flyers fly-in lunch at Lazy Susan’s Seafood Restaurant.
Aircraft: Cessna 182RG N4757T
Pilot: Mike Bennett.
Flight rules: IFR
Weather conditions: VMC and IMC at altitude. Winds: Relatively calm. Ceiling 5500 skt
Co-Pilot: My 4 year old son Steven.
Flight time: 1:00 KMMU to KGED 1:30 KGED to KMMU.

Gary’s write-up of the flight
FlightAwere flight tracks:

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