Monday, May 20, 2013

A Birthday Flight to Atlanta

Cherokee County Airport
After a short stop in Shelby, NC for lunch, Bob and I had a smooth flight to Cherokee County Airport (KCNI) in Canton, GA. Cherokee County is a good place to land if you want to avoid ramp fees and are looking inexpensive choice just 45 minutes outside of Atlanta. We were quickly greeted after parking by a gentleman who then brought our rental car out to us. The FBO seemed new and everyone was very friendly. They had a good sized seating area with a view of the ramp, clean restrooms and a decent pilot information room.

100' Tunnel in GA Aquarium
Our first stop was to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Alpharetta, GA for the Old Crow Medicine Show and The Avett Brothers concert. It was a nice little venue and the concert was a great. Note that you are assigned a lot for parking, which for many people is actually off amphitheater property and they have school buses shuttle you over. The hotel warned us that traffic could be terrible, however, the buses ran quickly and smoothly and we were in and out of the area much quicker than any other concert I have been to. Despite the rain towards the end, we had a wonderful time.

Outside CNN HQ
Saturday we had originally planned to spend the day at Six Flags, but the weather was questionable and my stomach was acting up which was not a good combination. So, we opted to go to the Georgia Aquarium instead which turned out to be a great decision! The Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world and had some unique exhibits I hadn't seen before to include sea dragons, beluga whales and whale sharks. What was really awesome about the aquarium is how large the exhibits were. There was a 100 foot tunnel you could enjoy whale sharks and manta rays swim over you and a many tanks with huge viewing areas We stayed at one with the whale shark for half an hour! There was a dolphin show which amazed me at what these dolphins were capable of learning, they also had special effects and turned it into a Disney-like show which I thought was kind of corny.
Departing CNI

If you are ever in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend visiting the aquarium. The Coca-Cola museum is nearby, as well as Centennial Park which had a concert going on at the time. We sat by the fountains and enjoyed the concert from a distance for free. We also went into the CNN building for a quick drink and look  around.

It was storming when we headed to the airport to go home. A Cessna 414 was also there waiting for the worst of the storm to pass and departed just before us when there was a gap in the cells. We took off and once to 7,000 feet were above the clouds and it felt like we had entered a whole new sunny world. We took advantage of that time to take fun pictures with Lollipop, the GA Aquarium mascot we had purchased.

Heart Cloud at 9,000'
We made our lunch stop in Rutherfordton, NC and it was an amazing place (more on that tomorrow). It was in a valley just past the mountains and did an instrument approach that involved many step downs. After lunch we departed into the soup again but it was soon clear on top. Closer to Frederick we were back in the clouds and I got some IFR practice in the right seat. I usually complain about how difficult it is dealing with the angle of the instruments and how I always seem to get disoriented, but it was not a problem this time. I did excellent so that made the flight even more fun for me.
Our New Penguin Friend

We received instructions to go direct EMI then the instrument approach to Frederick. Unfortunately  this involves going past Frederick, go 20 miles out and then back in again. Luckily, we were able to find a hole in the clouds and cancel IFR and spiral down to land. A pilot friend watched us to this from the ground and said he got a bit dizzy watching us! We had just an hour to get Turbo before the kennel closed and got the airplane unpacked and tucked in in record time. We were exhausted and all smiles. So was Turbo when he saw us!

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