Zeitlin's Sun-N-Fun Trip Report

So Wayne beat me to the S&F trip report, but I'll give my version of it, so you can all make believe that you're reading some demented aviation version of Rashomon (and Akira Kurosawa can spin in his grave, if he's even dead).

Day 1

I waited through last weekend for the weather in the N.E. to clear enough for me to get down to Virginia, and finally Monday it did. I loaded up the plane with the tent, sleeping bag, pad, and a week's worth of clothing (as well as a few tools and all my airplane crap) and headed south. Due to the ADIZ around NY that enhances our safety from terrorists, I headed for the Stillwater VOR in NW NJ to stay outside of the ADIZ at 10,500 ft. The clouds were building a bit as I got into NY, so rather than weave around to miss them, I went down to 6500 ft. It was bumpier by far, but warmer and a bit faster. After making a sharp left at STW and heading almost due south toward Trenton, I found that I really needed a bathroom break after only 1.5 hours. Stupid bladder. I landed at South Jersey Regional Airport (VAY) right at the N.E. corner of the Philadelphia class B, ran inside the small FBO/restaurant, and then ran back out. Couldn't have taken more than 10 minutes, altogether.

The clouds were coming down and there was virga here and there through south Jersey as I headed over Millville (MIV). I had to weave a bit to stay out of the rain due to visibility issues. There was NO pitch change whatsoever with the Roncz canard when it got wet. As I got close to Salisbury, MD (SBY) - home of the October Canard Fly-In, the clouds were down to 2000 ft and there were rain showers all over the place. I came down to 1200 ft, slowed down to about 130 mph, and wove in and out and around the showers/virga/low clouds to stay in legal VFR conditions. I was always able to see at least 5 - 10 miles, so I kept going forward.

Finally, about the time I reached the Chesapeake bay across from Norfolk VA, I was able to climb back up to 4500 ft. to cross the water. It was then an uneventful last 1/2 hour into Suffolk, VA (SFQ) - home of the May fly-in listed at:


A total of 444 NM (510 SM) in 3.4 hours, including the potty break, headwind and rain weaving, for an average speed of 150 mph. Eh.

As Wayne mentioned, we stowed the plane in his hangar for the night and went to eat at a very good Mexican restaurant. Wayne was good enough to put me up for the night and convince his two large German Shepherds not to chew my legs off.

Day 2

I woke around 8 AM, logged onto Wayne's computer, and checked the weather down to Lakeland (LAL). I use www.duat.com, www.airnav.com, www.aeroplanner.com, and the best weather site of all, http://adds.aviationweather.noaa.gov/. This last one has the most incredible tools for visualizing exactly what's going on everywhere. The METAR java tool is the best thing since sliced bread.

Anyway, it looked great the whole way down, so we packed up, ate some breakfast at the airport (I made the mistake of having orange juice with breakfast), and loaded up the plane. With all of my stuff AND Wayne's stuff, (See: http://www.maddyhome.com/canardpages/pages/waynehicks/cozy_baggage.jpg ), the back seat was completely full. I moved ALL of the ballast (56.5 lb.) from the nose to beneath the rear seat, and our CG (with me at 155 lb. and Wayne at 2mumble mumble lb.) was just about in the middle.

We gassed up ($1.89 S&F special!) and headed out. After climbing up to 6500 ft, we calculated a true airspeed of about 198 mph, but with the ~15 Kt headwind, we had a groundspeed of about 180 mph. I left the Navaid off and let Wayne fly for about an hour or so, following the track on the GPS down towards Myrtle Beach. He had no problem whatsoever maintaining course and altitude, even with the crappy view of the altimeter from the right seat (The GPS is in the way). After an hour, I turned the Navaid/Porcine coupler on, and then Wayne's job became one of maintaining altitude. He performed this menial task admirably. I had a good time looking out the window for traffic (there was none) and estimating visibility (maybe 60 miles).

The orange juice caught up to me (and the coffee to Wayne), and we decided to stop at Hilton Head, SC (HXD) for bladder relief and gas (for the plane - the mexican omelets for breakfast had supplied US with enough gas). Wayne got us down to pattern altitude, and I finished up the landing. HXD is a nice little airport serving the rich golfers of America. Very fancy FBO, with extremely clean bathrooms. We filled the tanks and headed out again.

We climbed up to 8500 ft., going south past Jacksonville, FL down to the Deland Municipal Airport (DED) north of the Orlando class B. About a 1/2 hour out of HXD, we passed some sort of twin (we THINK it was a twin) about a half mile off to our right. Buzzed right by him like he was standing still :-).

We started our descent down to 4500 ft. to pass under the northwest corner of the class B toward LAL. Wayne had programmed his GPS with the coordinates of the Lake Parker power plant stacks (Lat/Lon given in the S&F Notam), so we headed straight there. Following traffic at 1200 ft and 115 mph (100 kts), we found all the landmarks and airport and landed uneventfully on the taxiway (called "9 Left" for the show).

Total distance - 618 NM (711 SM) in 4.2 hours, for an average of 169 mph, including the stop at HXD. Not bad, given the headwind for the first 3 hours.

We parked on the line and then set up our tent near the Swifts in Vintage aircraft. Got some dinner, watched the rest of the movie "Ice Age" (it's GREAT!), and went to bed.

Days 3&4

As Wayne pointed out, we spent a lot of time on the line talking to other canard builders, potential builders, and anyone else that wandered by. We said hello to Nat and Shirley, as well as all the others Wayne mentioned. For me, that's the best part of these get togethers - yakking with other builders/flyers and examining other airplanes for cool ideas. Steve Beert's L.E. was GORGEOUS. Nat's plane still looks great after all these years, and the new interior is very nice. Doug Solinger's MKIII also looked VERY nice.

So Wed. was "wander aimlessly" day for me, talking to folks, looking over all the stuff in the buildings, talking to Greg Richter about the EFIS market, eating, and getting sunburned. After a 45 degree night (just right for camping in a sleeping bag), that was OK.

Wednesday night, we hooked up with George Shell (Wayne's friend) and his girlfriend (Terry?) and went to the Red Barn for dinner. I'm sorry, but I'll never set foot in that place again. Terry got stomach cramps from the food, Wayne needed a porta-potty, and my strip steak made the soles of my boots seem tender. The green beens were horrible - like my grandmother used to make - completely overcooked and tasteless. There's GOT to be a better place somewhere near there to eat.......

Another movie (Star Wars) and thence to bed.

Thursday was about the same - yak, look, wander. I also gave Jack Beale a demo ride Thursday morning - taxiing on grass actually wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be, and we not only got out fast, but I hardly had time to do a runup. I was somewhat discombobulated, concentrating on not hitting the other 12 planes in the air around us, and I forgot to put the nose gear up for the whole flight. No wonder I couldn't get above 175 mph indicated :-). Anway, we stayed up for about 3/4 hour. I let Jack fly for a while, doing some 360's and S-turns, and I showed him some slow flight at about 65-70 mph indicated, with the nose bobbing up and down. I then did the same in a 30 degree bank, at about 80 indicated. He seemed impressed :-). We came back in to land behind a Mooney that apparently was unable to maintain 100 Kt. and/or 1200 ft altitude, nor land long when instructed, so I had to quickly switch from 9L to 9R to avoid a go-round (per the tower's instructions). Just made the taxi back to the line easier :-).

I spent some time at the FSS checking the weather for Friday, and it looked good for a late morning departure.

More food, another movie (AI), and to bed.

Day 5

Friday morning we awoke and began packing up. We ate some breakfast, drank nothing, and brought all the crap out to the plane. I hit the FSS again to check on the weather (looked good all the way up to SFQ). We packed up, got some gas from the truck, and taxied out. I managed to get a quick runup in on the taxiway (no one behind me) before being sent off. We took off and began a climb to 5500 ft. to pass under the NW side of the Orlando class "B". We outclimbed and passed what we thought was a Cessna 210 (although it might have been a 172 or 182 RG, but we like to THINK it was a 210 :-) ).

There were scattered clouds from 4000 ft. to 6000 ft., so we had to do some weaving to stay clear, but we were able to find a path through (it was BEAUTIFUL) until we reached the north side of the "B" and were able to climb up to 7500 ft. IIRC, we were truing out at about 192 - 195 mph with a bit of a tailwind that picked up the further north we went. Our groundspeed varied from 202 mph to 225 mph. We followed exactly the same course north that we had followed going south (except in the other direction :-) ). We made it from LAL to SFQ in 3.5 hours on the hobbs, for an average speed of 203 mph. Remember, my plane does NOT have wheel pants or a spinner yet - I should pick up around 10 - 15 mph with those additions, everyone tells me.

I dropped Wayne off at his hangar, added a quart of oil, and managed to pull up to the pumps to refuel just behind a twin (Aztec, I think) and a DC-3 on FLOATS! At the self serve pump, I figured that was a good hour of refueling, so I got gas from the truck for $0.40/gal more. I then headed south west toward Raleigh Durham, NC (RDU) to visit my sister. I was flying directly into the sun at 4500 ft. in haze, and although the slant range visibility was probably 20 miles, I couldn't see a freaking thing directly forward. Kept my eyes very peeled...... saw no-one. I contacted RDU approach and they vectored me south for a long final to 32, a 3500 ft. general aviation runway. I taxied over to Piedmont Hawthorne and they gave me a tiedown spot. $8/night for two nights, no gas purchase!!! At a Class C airport! Amazing.

Day 6

Saturday was ugly in the morning, raining and windy, so I watched my niece's soccer game in a raincoat. In the afternoon in cleared, so I watched my nephew's soccer game in short sleeves in an folding chair :-). I checked the weather and it looked good for a Sunday sightseeing flight as well as the flight back home.

Day 7

I woke up early and was apparently the only one in the house that knew that we had switched to daylight savings time, so I spent a quiet hour checking the weather and printing out my flight plan home. My brother in law had a cold, so I took my sister and her kids out to RDU for a sightseeing flight over Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina. Everyone was very impressed, even with the visibility from the rear seats. I guess that even with the strakes, it's still better than a 757 from on top of the wings :-).

After dropping them all back off at Piedmont Hawthorne and getting all my bags, I loaded up the plane and headed out. So here's lesson #2 (lesson #1 being the completely harmless one of not retracting the nose gear on the demo flight). It was warm in the cockpit, so I left the canopy open (held it open, actually, with my left arm) as I taxied the 1.5 miles to the end of the runway. I latched the latch to keep the alarm from going off every time I advanced the throttle. When I reached the runup area, I put the canopy down on top of the latches, but didn't yet latch it, as it was still warm. So, unless you're just as stupid as I am, you see what's going to happen here.

If you remember from my flight test reports, I had once tried to take off with the canopy unlatched, but as soon as I advanced the throttle the alarm went off, so I stopped on the runway (uncontrolled airport), latched the canopy, and took off. THIS TIME, since the canopy LOOKED closed and the latch was in the latched position, the alarm did NOT go off (either in my head or in the plane) when I advanced the throttle on the runway.

Just as I lifted off, the canopy jumped up, a very strong breeze began blowing on me, and I realized that the only thing holding the canopy down was the emergency latch. At 100 ft. I tried to reach over to pull the canopy down and latch it, and immediately realized that THAT was a recipe for disaster, as the nose dropped and I headed back toward the runway. FLY

THE PLANE - FLY THE PLANE - FLY THE PLANE - FLY THE PLANE - FLY THE PLANE. OK, I think I've got the idea. I'll get to a reasonable altitude and try again. The tower switched me to Departure, I got to 1000 ft, and tried again. I was able to easily pull the front of the canopy down (only took maybe 10 - 20 lb at 110 mph) and get the front latch around the screw, but the canopy flexed enough so that there was NO WAY I was going to get all three latches latched while moving.

I spent a bit of time (maybe 10 seconds) looking at the emergency latch and pulling down on the handle to try to understand just exactly how bad the situation was and what the chances were of the emergency latch pulling off. I determined that there was no chance of that, so I called departure, told them I had a canopy problem and needed to land, and they put me on downwind and gave me to the tower. They asked if I wanted to declare an emergency and I said no. The tower cleared me to land and asked if I needed any emergency equipment. Although I was thinking that a good 2x4 upside the head might do me some good, I said no thanks to them too. I landed, turned off the runway, calmly closed the canopy, and asked ground for a taxi back to the runway. I then took off AGAIN. All was well with the world. The lesson here is DON'T LATCH THE CANOPY LATCH UNLESS THE CANOPY IS ACTUALLY CLOSED!!! And whack Zeitlin with a 2x4 every once in a while, just for good measure.

Back to our regularly scheduled program - I climbed up to 9500 ft. for the trip north, heading directly over the Richmond, VA class C and then threading my way between the Washington ADIZ and the Patuxent Restricted area. I was truing out at about 191 mph, but with a tailwind I was getting 210 - 215 mph groundspeed. It was glass smooth with 75 mile visibility. I passed some sort of piston single at 9000 ft. like it was standing still. I went over the Philly class B and watched airliners going in to land under me. I decided to try to go over NYC, but after heading in that direction and getting past the Philly "B", I tuned to the NY approach frequency. The controller was in the midst of chewing out the big iron, saying that "it's getting busy and you guys need to start paying attention to what I tell you to do", and then talking non-stop for 3 minutes to about 25 different aircraft, with no-one else getting a word in edgewise. I decided that the snowball in hell had a better chance than I did of getting through the NY ADIZ, so I just headed north to the STW VOR. Along the way, I listened to the Caldwell tower (where I usually fly into to visit my parents in NJ) and all VFR departures were on INDEFINITE HOLD until NY approach said otherwise. I'm sorry, but this ADIZ nonsense is just ridiculous. A perfect VFR day, and people can't fly due to the controllers being busy.

Anyway, it was getting cold, so I added an extra sweatshirt and put on my gloves (it's not easy to put on clothing in a COZY, but it is doable). As I turned right at the STW VOR, I could see NY off to my right, Philly behind me, the Adirondack mountains off to the left, and a bank of clouds at 4000 ft ahead and to the left. Everything was beautiful and perfect. I headed out over Poughkeepsie (POU) (LOVE that name - the only one better is Schenectady!) and thence over Bradley (BDL) (just north of Hartford,CT). As I passed Bradley and then Barnes and Westover AFB near Springfield, MA, I saw two C5's heading out, climbing past me. About 45 miles from FIT, over the southern tip of the Quabbin reservoir (the big lake in the center of MA), the GPS told me it was time to start down - at 9500 ft., there's a long way to go at 500 - 700 ft./min.

I landed at FIT after a 3.2 hour flight. At 529 NM (608 SM), that works out to an average groundspeed of 190 mph, even counting the climb to 9500 ft. and the detour after Philly toward NY. Not too tacky, and I didn't even have to stop to pee.

So. One week away from home with the airplane - a good airshow, great people, good visits, good weather, 16.7 hours on the hobbs, two quarts of oil, 170 gallons of gas, and a big smile.

End of trip.

Click here to read Wayne's SNF Trip Report


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