Oct 2008 - New England with NYC Hudson Flythrough!

PA, NJ, CT, RI, MA, ME, NH, VT in 4 days

Added 10/12/2008

Every year in the early fall the kids have a couple days off of school, even though it's ridiculously close to the start of the school year.  This gives us a 4 day weekend that we can use to go enjoy a small trip away from home.  We usually wait until just before the trip to decide on the destination, and keep it completely weather dependent.  Last year we had intended to do this trip to see the New England states, but the weather was awful, and we instead ended up on an ultra-fantastic trip to Vegas with the Schmidts.  This year the weather was on our side, in a big big way.  The forecast not only was accurate, but accurate for days in a row.  Two days before we left, it looked like the recent storms would clear out just in time on Thursday for us to head to the East Coast....and just as forecast, it did.  It was also forecast to be VERY nice, with warm temps, clear skies, and very light pressure gradients depicted on the isobars indicating light winds.  There would then be a big storm firing up over the dakotas and Minnesota that would approach our home area on Sunday afternoon.  Well, if there was ever a perfect forecast, with completely accurate results, this was it.  New England was to be 100% ideal flying conditions, and so were the legs enroute in both directions!  With that forecast in hand, we quickly threw together a rough plan and headed out.  No reservations, no details...just general conceptual directions.

As we found once we got going, this trip was to be a real "flying" vacation....not a ton of time to take in sights on the ground, but plenty of time to see a lot of ground from the sky.  We flew leisurely, with the goal of stopping in all of the upper East Coast states that we rarely would get the opportunity to visit without a specific destination in mind.  The kids have been keeping track using the state quarters, on a map, of all the states they have been, and we have the goal of seeing at least 49 of the 50 states using our own homebuilt plane.  This trip was one with a goal to add some quarters to the map!

Day 1 - Heading to Philadelphia, PA

For our first day of our trip, we just wanted to sleep in after a busy week of work, and then leave and head out to Philadelphia.  We dropped off the dog and loaded the plane later in the a.m. than we intended, but since an RV-10 can make it to the East Coast in only 4:45, it wasn't a problem for us.  We started enroute flying ROP, choosing to burn a little more fuel during break-in of our new ECI Titan Cylinders, no longer subject to the recent SB/AD because with nearing 400 hours on them we decided to take advantage of ECI's great deal on getting new cylinders and just swap them out.  That gave us an engine with a completely new top end with new pistons, rings, valves, cylinders, rocker arm shafts, and gaskets.  We had just over 15 hours on the engine before the trip and all was well, so this trip was a good way to get some good time on the engine.  We took our usual flight past Chicago, thankful that we can still squeeze through VFR under the class B to get the short way around the city.  The APRS track snapshot below shows our route.  From the screenshots below you can see that ROP flight gave us a comfortable 175kts TAS at 9500'  (adjusted for my known -2kt airspeed static error), on 13.8gph.  The part that we didn't quite expect was that we had a ROCKING tailwind, giving us a groundspeed of 217kts. (higher at some points!)  I began to worry that the return trip would give us the equal and opposite headwinds. :)  Even running ROP, we would likely have enough fuel to make it almost to our destination of Philadelphia, and once we leaned out to LOP, we definitely were able to have at least 1 hour reserve at our destination if we flew direct....the RV-10 has great range, especially if you are willing to fly LOP.  We decided though to take a fuel stop and plan all of our flights based on ROP fuel burns, since we were breaking in the new cylinders.  Our fuel stop was to be KBVI...a nice airport with college students manning the tower, where we grabbed a quick snack and topped off.

Further into the trip you can see I pulled the red knob back to LOP flight, and ended up about 9kts slower, at 165kts TAS and 197 groundspeed at that point...but now burning 10.1gph.  I can almost always come very close to 10gph or less on my cross country flights, running LOP.  One thing to notice is that my CHT's are warmer with brand new cylinders, but that the temps drop dramatically during the LOP cruise.  Comparing the screenshots shows the drastic difference.  The engine actually feels smoother at LOP cruise too, partly because it's making slightly less power.

The entire trip was basically uneventful, but very enjoyable.  On all of our legs, prior to landing at our nighttime destination, I called the FBO and arranged a car with Enterprise, that was waiting for us when we got there.  We winged it on the hotels, just googling for them and finding one once we arrived that met our needs.  All of the FBO's on the trip were pretty ok, and we tried to buy fuel at almost all of them to spread the economic benefits.  The FBO at KLOM though was probably the least outgoingly "friendly" of them that we dealt with.  Not bad people, just clearly less interested in making it easy on their customers.  We ended up staying at a nearby Doubletree suites that was a pretty nice place, and we drove the car into downtown Philly for a Cheesesteak sandwhich at Jim's on South Ave., and also drove across the border to New Jersey.  It didn't take much time on the Jersey side to realize we really didn't want to be over there....so we headed back up to Philly for the night.
At the close of Day 1, we had touched the ground in 3 states, 2 of them states that the plane had never taken us to before....PA and NJ.

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APRS Track

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ROP Cruise
Some airmets

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LOP Cruise
These I call "Why I'll never live in Indiana" :)
(No offense intended, of course, but man is it flat!)
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I finally found my FIX!
All smiles
Landing KBVI
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Starting to see mountains
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Nearing the D.C. ADIZ

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Yeee Haw, 400!
Landing KLOM - PA

Day 2 - CT, RI, MA and Flying the NYC Hudson Corridor

When we were at the hotel on Thursday night, I fired up my Seattle Avionics Voyager software and started to plan my route for the following day.  We wanted to end up in Boston, and make stops in CT, RI, and MA on Friday.  I have always been pretty intimidated by the airspace around DC and NYC, only knowing what I read in magazines...never having flown there myself.  So in making the flight plan for the following day, I didn't know what the best concept to follow would be.  I posted my plea for info to the RV-10 list and it didn't take very long before I had a few people feeding me some awesome information on how to deal with the NYC airspace....everything from "Just fly over the top, it's easy", to "The Hudson Corridor isn't that bad".  After a little back and forth with a couple of people, I was getting MUCH more comfortable with the idea of just flying the Hudson right straight through NYC.  I also googled "flying the hudson" and ended up finding THIS PAGE, written by a guy to whom I'll always probably feel a little indebted to...even though I don't know him.  His tips were fantastic.  I just told myself...."Airspace is depicted on the charts, and as long as you stay in class E airspace (assuming a VFR day), you just can't go too wrong, and there is no requirement to talk to ANYONE." 

So with that comfort level now reached, I planned a flight that would take me North out of my departure airport of KLOM, to a nearby VOR, and then out to the harbor coast to the south of NYC to start my Hudson flight.  This kept me clear of nearby Class D airspaces around some local airports, and got me to the harbor without talking to a single controller.  Yes, some say you can call approach and get flight following and clearance into class Bravo for the trip, but then you'll be constantly warned of approaching traffic and be higher than what you would need to be for good photos.  So, I stayed low.  As of the time of this writing, 1000' keeps you below all of the airspace directly up the center of the river.   500' keeps you clear of the airspace as you circle the lady.  So I played it safe and dropped to 800' for most of the flight, 600' for some of the flight, and 400-500' for my circle around the lady.   My flight plan took me straight up the Hudson, then on to a small airport in CT for a top-off and our official CT stop, then on to Block Island, RI to get our official RI stop in, and then on to MA.  But, we wanted to make a special stop in MA and take a run out to Martha's Vineyard for lunch.  After that it was on to Boston for the evening.

As you can see from the 2 APRS tracking snapshots below, it was kind of a lazy and varied path for Friday.  On the NYC closeup, you can actually see the turn around the lady as we went upriver.   The Hudson turned out to be my personal highlight of the trip....it's something that I think every pilot who is skilled and comfortable in their plane should do before some day if/when the airspace closes.  Well worth the trip!  You just self-announce your positions as you fly up the river, just like landing at a non-towered airport, and then fly smooth and well.  We also read the chart closely to get to know the suggested reporting points, and wrote them on a list so that we could remember to call them out as we flew along.  It went off without a hitch.  Yes, there are lots of planes and helicopters along the river, but everyone plays by the same rules and if everyone does their job, it should be plenty comfortable and safe.....just like flying in to OSH.

The shots below that look further away from the buildings and statue were taken with a wide angle lens....so we are actually closer than it appears.

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Empire State

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The Intrepid - Museum

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Verrazano Narrows Bridge

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Ellis Island

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Empire State The Intrepid - Museum

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George Washington Bridge
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Tappan Zee Bridge

Sing Sing Prison

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Landing KSNC - CT

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Approaching Block Island, RI
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Landing KBID - RI

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Approaching Martha's Vineyard
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Landing KMVY - MA
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Martha's Vineyard

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Mass. tree colors
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Landing KOWD - MA
Driving "the Big Dig"

Day 3 - ME, NH, VT - BEAUTIFUL Country!

For day 3, the goal was to get some miles on and basically just do some sightseeing.  We wanted to see the Maine shorline, and travel somewhere that we could get down to a harbor.  Turned out a little tougher than we thought without doing a longer flight than we wanted.  We needed something where we could get a courtesy car and get down and back within a couple hours for sure.  Portland Maine turned out to be our best bet.  We took off out of Boston hoping to get class Bravo clearance to fly over the city, but an RV-10 moves so fast and it was busy enough that there just wasn't enough time to get the clearance before we were North of the city, and we turned on course towards the shorline.  Flying up the shorline we saw the many bays and beaches of Maine and Mass. as we went Northward.  Very beautiful country along the way.  Once on the ground at Portland, the friendly staff at the FBO gave us their courtesy car for a while and we went down to the old harbor for a bite.  This would be a good place to go to spend more time.

Taking off out of Portland we tracked North for another 25 miles or so, allowing us to see the many inlets in the shorline in that direction.  If you're a boating enthusiast like I am, you would LOVE that area. It reminds me a lot of Isle Royale, 20 miles offshore from the Canada/Minnesota North shore of Lake Superior....very beautiful.  Portland approach seemed to think our flight plan was very strange when we told them we just wanted a Northbound departure for sightseeing.  I didn't really care to get flight following or file a plan...just wanted to fly around, but they really seemed interested in finding out our destination and keeping track of us as we flew, so I told them Laconia, NH and that REALLY confused them.  "Hey, if you're going to Laconia, why would you want to go North?" :)   I guess they don't expect people to just fly around looking at cool scenery.

Laconia is an absolutely beautiful area, with lakes that are hard to compare to.  Living in the Wisconsin/Minnesota area where we're proud of our lakes, I'd have to say that some of these lakes in New Hampshire just seem to kick butt over what we have here.  The Laconia area is especially beautiful.  A warning about Laconia though...if you're getting fuel, you're not going to park at the main terminal...they buried their self-serve fuel wayyyyyyyy down the end of an old closed runway.  No big deal but it saves you 50 cents a gallon to go there.

Leaving Laconia we circled the airport one more time and headed for Vermont for our official stop there.  We flew along some mountains for a while, going back and forth as to what airport we wanted to land at.  Prior to departing for the day, my main concern was I just wanted a paved strip.  But as we flew and winds got into the mid teens, I was thinking I should find a strip into the winds as well.  Finally deciding against better judgement, I figured I should at least TRY to check out my first original planned strip...4V8, Mount Snow Vermont, which is 1900+ ft long.  As it's at a higher elevation, the trees there were way into or passing peak color, making the flight gorgeous.  We flew by the ski hill on our way downwind to land, and as we came in I could see that it would be a piece of cake.  There were other planes there, hanging out on the ramp and people were watching us approach.  We parked for a while and got out to talk to some nice people who had landed with a Murphy Rebel floatplane, just relaxing for a bit before we left.

Leaving Mount Snow, we climbed higher for this leg, getting high above the mountains in North Central New York, enroute to Harrisburg, PA...just past our final vacation spot...Hershey, PA.  We thought that after a trip of mainly flying enjoyment, the kids would like a stop at the Hershey attractions for some chocolate.

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Passing Boston

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Various photos of flying up the Maine coast
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Shrub's Maine Home

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Landing KPWM - ME

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North of Portland Maine
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Landing KLCI - NH

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Mt. Snow VT
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Landing 4V8 - VT

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Passing over Hershey
Landing KCXY - PA

Day 4 - Hershey PA, and heading Home

Here we were already on our final day of vacation, with weather still great where we were, but storms flowing into nearby Minnesota giving us our expected concern for the flight home.  We took a leisurely morning going to Cocolate World at Hershey, which was interesting. It's not a huge attraction unless you're going to ride the rides at the theme park, but it's a nice stop for a couple hours if you just want to pop in.  Loaded with a hefty bag of chocolate, we climbed aboard for our 4:45 expected trip home.  We can make the trip running LOP on one tank with reserves, but we have a favorite fuel stop where prices are usually more reasonable...KOXI - Knox, IN which gives us a good letdown also as we approach Chicago so we can fly under the class Bravo there.  We topped of and flew by the windy city again...where we saw a bunch of planes and tons of boats out on this beautiful day.  Turning on course towards home North of Chicago we climbed to 8,500' and got above a widely scattered area...our first clouds of the trip.  Then they started to thicken a bit, but still had large gaps, filled with a bit of haze.  You could tell we were getting closer and closer to the approaching weather, but a check of the METARS and TAF's via WSI ensured that we had nothing to worry about.  A short time later we were fueled back up, and pushed back into our hangar.

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Chocolate world - Hershey

Landing KOXI - IN
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Passing Chicago Again
First clouds - MSN, WI
Above the scattered
Landing KLUM - WI

More states added

I haven't calculated our Trips overall time but it looks like it's just over 17 hours of flying for 4 days.  In an RV-10 this isn't tiring in the slightest...it's very comfortable and you could fly much more than that...probably 9-12 hours per day and still be comfortable.  The kids got home and filled their US quarter map with more quarters, and we were home in plenty of time to relax, unpack, and even watch a show before bed.

Along the trip it was very interesting to be greeted by people at the various airports out East.  Surprisingly almost nobody at any FBO acted like they'd ever seen an RV-10 before.  Most were amazed at how nice the RV-10 looks, the kids in the tower at KBVI were amazed to hear an "experimental" calling them as we approached and they saw us on radar doing over 180Kts.  We had multiple times where ground or tower controllers inquired about our plane as we taxiied, curious as to either what it was, or what kind of performance it gets.  Apparently there hasn't been much for RV-10 traffic out in the North East yet, but we gave the controllers there a good intro.  We did see something else that was pretty cool on this trip...3 times!....party balloons.  Yes, 3 times as we cruised around there were either single mylar party balloons, or in one case a big bundle of colored balloons, floating by as we whizzed through the air.  You always wonder what happens to those things when you let them go.  I don't know how we had 3 encounters in one weekend, but it was something I sure didn't expect.

Below is our rough flight plan, drawn out in Voyager after the trip's completion.  It doesn't show all of our little curves and detours as we checked out the sights, but it does show a general view of the area that we covered on th trip.  The holes left in our U.S. Coverage are Alaska, and the central South, and mid-atlantic states, which we'll be trying to hit over the next couple years.  It doesn't take long to pile on the states when you're flying an RV-10....here we took in 10 state stops, 8 of them new, in just 4 days.  One huge thing that gave me warm fuzzies too was having a great tailwind all the way out, and most of the way back as well.  It's always better when the winds are at your tail!

The trip flight plan

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