Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Saturday Beach Flight

After he spent two weeks out of the country, I was reunited late Friday night with my husband. So, naturally we had to have a flying date that Saturday. Choosing a destination was not as easily as we had previously determined. 

I let Bob sleep in as he had a long day of traveling and had arrived home late the night before. Our goal was to bring Turbo to one of the dog friendly beaches I had created a list of. A well reviewed dog beach, Longport Dog Beach in Somers Point, NJ, was right in between Atlantic City and Ocean City, NJ airports. We have flown to Ocean City, NJ (26N) which is an easy mile walk on the beach to the boardwalk. This time, however, we'd need a car to get to the dog beach. I called up 26N and a very rude man informed me there were no rental cars or courtesy cars available. After some internet research, there were cars available in Somers Point, but getting a ride to and from the airport would be difficult. On the other side of the dog beach was Atlantic City (ACY) but the fees at Landmark (~$60) and car rental (~$70) quickly deterred us.

So where did our Saturday escape lead us? To Ocean City, MD (OXB) instead! We had friends already spending the weekend there and our favorite nearby spot, Assateauge Island, is dog friendly! Note: only the Maryland side of the National Seashore is dog friendly. Despite being limited, it still offers miles of beautiful beach and many people took advantage of bringing their favorite four legged friends to a quiet beach where wild horses run free.

Many people shared a similar idea. While flying through the VFR corridor between BWI and DCA, we encountered several other pilots heading to OXB. One was a Piper out of GAI that we overtook in the corridor then heard landing right after we were done overflying the Ocean City boardwalk to "wave" at our friends.It was a smooth, albeit hazy flight where we had to dodge some buildups.

The airport was bustling with pilots coming and going as well as skydive activity and vintage biplane rides. We had to park all the way at the end of the ramp (which turned out to be a good thing later). We were greeted and invited to walk in via the airport office (not the usual glass doors we do) and were instructed to register the aircraft and pay a $6 landing fee. This was news to us! Apparently, it had always been this way and we had always been lucky enough to somehow bypass it. We did not put up a fight, because $6 was worth it for a day of fun in the sun. Next, we picked up our rental: a convertible Smart car! Now that's an interesting ride! The cars out of OXB usually run about $40. We picked up some sandwiches and drinks at WaWa and headed out to enjoy our lunch on the Assateague National Seashore.

The beach was the most crowded that we had seen, as we usually visit towards the end of summer. But, it was still certainly more peaceful and beautiful than that of Ocean City near the boardwalk. We parked our blanket down and enjoyed snacks, people watching, Turbo's hole digging/sand eating and the yappy
Pomeranians to our right. Unfortunately, at one point, Bob was running with Turbo and twisted his back really bad. He was a gimp for the remainder of the day.

We waited out some rain in our car for about a half hour and enjoyed watching the wild horses in the grass nearby. Once it cleared up again we returned to the beach that had been equally cleared out. The day ended with trying to meet up with friends for lunch, only to be deterred by one of the bridges being stuck open and therefor, lines of hours long traffic. 

Getting home was the fun part. Bob's back had him walking like an 80 year and we needed to get gas. Luckily, I've been working out and pulled the plane over to the pump versus starting it up. The airport was still pretty busy for 8:30 in the evening with people coming and going. Someone was at the pump before us and after us. I had to pull the airplane again away from the pump to let a Cessna in. The three occupants immediately disembarked: two running to greet Turbo resting on the wing of the Glasair and the third to ask me about our plane! We enjoyed some friendly banter before taking off into the sunset sky. We were worried about how Bob was going to climb into the plane with his aching back, but with some grimaces and grunts, he eventually made it in.


Bob flew along the beach then handed the controls over to me. It was still hazy but all the buildups we had encountered coming in to OXB were long gone. Bob handed the controls over to me and I took us back to FDK. Funnily enough, the Piper we had overtaken in the SFRA previously was behind us once again, heading back to their home base. 

We spotted the airport one clear of the SFRA and I took the aircraft to pattern altitude, slowed down, put the gear down and entered a left downwind for runway 23. Then it was downhill from there. Unfortunately from the right side of the plane at night I could not read either heading indicator and I quickly lost sight of the runway over Bob's shoulder. I thought I was turning base but all there
was ahead was darkness and I could still not make contact with the runway. Bob could see it, but it was blocked out of my sight. He set up the ILS on the GPS for me and I was able to get back on course again. Unfortunately my pride took another hit later by a hard landing that was too far off the center line. Oh well, I guess I wasn't allowed to brag too much that night to my temporarily crippled husband.

With some effort, I got the airplane lined up and we both pushed it the rest of the way into the hangar. It was time for us to go home and let my poor co-pilot rest his back!

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