– At work. Grade student projects and input said grades then submit final grades to admin. Write a letter of reference at the last minute for a former student. Make some last minute calls....and I'm gone.
– Pick up Diana from school
– Wife says that Diana – 14yrs- is upset and does not really want to go. Cranky from school and the prospect of 4 hrs in the plane and being away from home not looking so good. She is Daddy's little home girl after all. Staying at home with brother Bruce and Napoleon the pup just appealed more I guess. Well, in a way I really did prefer going alone since it would be my first time and solo felt more comfy. Plus, there was not going to be a refund on the room I reserved. Incentive.
– Depart Perry, Ga (PXE) and pick up flight following with ATL. Passed along by ATC JAX, VALDOSTA, TAMPA. Tampa approach cleared me direct through the class B but I told them I would like to divert a little from my course in order to fly along the coast. “N659DB, OK maintain VFR.” Controllers are great and I really enjoy dealing with them. Twice on the trip I was asked what kind of experimental I was. I bet most of them are familiar with RV's and understand what we are capable of.
Anyway, flew along the coast at 9500 and spotted the beach in Clearwater where I took my children every Sunday evening when we lived there. Also spotted PIE where I attended A&P school and the bay side bridge I drove everyday to get there. ATC called out a couple F-15s to me that had just departed Mac Dill. They climbed and turned away about 10 miles ahead. Guess they didn't want to tangle with an RV today.
Descended into Venice (VNC). Busy pattern but that's OK. The field is right on the coast so part of your pattern is over water and I like that.
On the ground at 1630 for 3.19 fuel and a quick trip to the facilities. No food necessary. I got two boxes of Nutrigrain bars...yummy....and bottled water.
– Airborne off VNC and pick up FF with TAMPA, FT MYERS, and MIAMI. Whoops, forgot to put on my life vest. OK, off with the seatbelt reach around to my flight bag and retrieve vest. Remove headset, glasses and hat. Don vest and confirm PLB secured to belt. Recover from 40 degree bank. No autopilot, no problem. This leg of the trip was further away from land and I was not about to be the subject of a fruitless SAR exercise. Though I consider the possibility of having to ditch very remote, and was never a boyscout, this is an occasion to be prepared.
Set the GPS for Marathon (MTH) which would keep me in the CONUS ADIZ. Nearing MTH I made a turn west to fly along the island chain.
I have quite a few long distance trips in my RV9 and about 325 hrs. If I were a poet or gifted wordsmith I would be able to relate the sense of awe I get from flying up high in my little homebuilt cocoon. The sky, land , and ocean are vast. I am so small and alone, but feel completely secure. The airplane is solid and ATC is a reassuring connection. The XM radio is tuned to Little Steven's Underground Garage. Everything is perfect.
Was really curious to see the aerostat which is tethered at 14,000 ft and just north of the keys. Looking........ looking..........there it is right where it should be. Pretty neat, I'll just enjoy the view from the south side and keep moving. Sun was getting low and it's a good time to get some island pictures.
Handed off to Key West Naval and was told to report south of their tower. I did, and was then handed to Key West Tower. Landed KEYW and taxied in with the Waco biplane that gives rides. Whoo Hoo!! Called home and spoke to Diana who had a nap and now really regretted her decision not to go and felt bad about letting me down. “Oh, don't worry honey I think I will be OK on my own.
We can go together another time.”
Secured the plane and got out the canopy cover.
HOW TO ATTACH A CANOPY COVER TO AN RV IN A STIFF BREEZE, ALONE.
1.Remove standard issue Van's canopy cover from pouch.
2.Determine which end is the front. Hint: The front is where the longer strap is. Also determine which side of the buckles go against the plane.
3.With cover laying on front top of cowl, run the forward strap under the prop and buckle a small length of strap in the corresponding buckle.
4.Now slide the cover aft over the canopy ensuring that the front strap is positioned correctly in front of the gear legs.
5.Take off a shoe and use it as a weight to hold the aft portion of the cover down on the canopy while reaching under the plane to get the aft strap.
6.Buckle aft strap and tighten. Tighten forward strap.
7.Ensure complete installation is tight and positioned correctly.
8.Oh yeah, just make sure you get everything you want out of the plane and all switches are off first.
– Taxi (cab, that is) to accommodations and check in at the Eden House on Flemming Street. People, this place is the real deal. A superbly run hotel with all the character of Key West without being a cheap imitation on a theme. It was built in 1924 and has been renovated as a hotel in the 70's. Attention to detail and guest focus describe this place. It's the way you would run a hotel if you could. I will stay here every time I visit. Too much coolness to describe. Go see for yourself.
Walked the five blocks to Duvall Street to eat and see what's happenin'. OMG Diana, you would love it here. Lotsa people, bright lights, good stores, music, food, sea breeze.....
After dinner, spent the rest of the evening glued to a bar stool at Sloppy Joe's watching a band play some good stoner music from the 80's and 90's. Had a few drinks.
Next day was spent on a rented bicycle exploring the island. Evening I went down to the daily sunset celebration, then went to Finnigan's Wake, an Irish pub. Mussels, with Irish cream sauce in a bread bowl, fish and chips, Scotch eggs, and some Guinness. Plus, a great band (from Toronto) playing Irish folk music. Perfect.
– Depart for home. Flew the above plan in reverse. Arrive at home base around 1530. Drive 20 mins to the house, greet kids, mow lawn.
– I will definitely be back. Diana and I already have plans to go in the fall when the temps are cool like they were this weekend. Key West has tourists and thrives on them but it is not cheapened by this and it is a beautiful town with great architecture down every street. There is tremendous character to the city and lots more to be explored.
Thanks for reading! Pictures to follow.
For you number crunchers: 61 gallons fuel, 8.9 hrs Hobbs = 6.85 gph. About $225 fuel round trip. 6 Nutrigrain bars.