Thursday, 22 March 2018

Fly past the Statue of Liberty and New York!!!!


New York city!
Words can say no more!!! Today was an absolute highlight of our trip as we cruised along the Hudson river at 2000ft with helicopters below us and big jets above.

The skyline of New York raising in the distance then coming closer. All snow white from the blizzard that raided the city only yesterday!!

New York City in snow
4000 flights had been cancelled but as we flew along with quite strong tail winds (195kt when our normal cruise speed is 145kt) , the city rose in front of us in all its beauty. and then the highlight: the world-famous Statue of Liberty!!
fly past the Statue of Liberty

John skillfully did a fly past around the statue whilst I was desperately trying not to get sick and at the same time shooting away stills and videos off my various devices.

the famous Lakehurst airship hangars
Leaving this great city behind us in the glittering sunshine we followed the east coast of the States South. Our flight path then brought us right over the famous Lakehurst airship hangars that became a tragic place in history as the Hindenburg exploded in fire  in 1937. For more info read here: .The Hindenburg disaster
on finals to Ocean city
We finally reached Ocean city and John made his final approach towards the north-western runway having to go out over the sea to land.
a happy man stepping out of the Beech
so much junk....

just a little bit tight in the back of the car cuddling all that luggage
After a very friendly welcome by the local FBO (fixed  base operators) the lady at the flight centre offered to take us in her car to the next hotel.
the pier at Ocean City on the east coast of the States

John and I took a swift run to the endless stretch of sandy beach that has been following the coast line since New York. This fabulous day later was celebrated with one of the best Zinfandels we have ever tasted and great Italian food in a local restaurant nearby.

What  a day, what  flight!!!!!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Ballooning in Post Mills Vermont with Brian Boland

What a great way to start the day!

Let's go flying with one of the greatest figures in ballooning: the wonderful Brian Boland!

In what was probably -10 degrees Brian dragged me and Phil out of bed to hop into his ultra-light weight home-built balloon.

By 7.40 Brian and I were airborne from his private airport Post Mills and we cruised with a gentle 4kt wind down the main road flying directly over Tina's house where John and Anne were still catching up on desperately needed sleep.

After 20mins and an intermediate landing, it was Phil's turn to fly with Brian. 

The area where Brian has done thousands of flights, doesn't really feel suitable for ballooning at all: it's all trees and more trees and hills and mountains. There is hardly a clear field to land. But Brian knows his patch and managed to bring Phil safely back to mother earth by putting the tiny balloon into the backyard of a country house.

I didn't do too badly on my retrieve either and being a small balloon, everything was packed in no time and by 9am we all enjoyed a hearty breakfast with eggs and bacon at the house.

We won't go anywhere today with the aeroplane as the weather further down the route isn't suitable with more snow storms on the forecast. So the team is taking time to catch up on emails, John is busily studying the next complicated routing via the Hudson river down to New York and poor Anne is still recovering from her illness.

Anne's photos and a few video clips from our first sector

A few more clips and impressions, this time from the back of the Beech!

our flight track

John and Allie in the cockpit

the take off from Ogdensburg heading for Lebanon

flying over Canada

Anne enjoying the views
frozen lakes
Great reunion with Rogier Westerhuis and Brian Boland in Lebanon

Chocks off: Day 1 Edenvale to Lebanon

 The first sector: Edenvale to Lebanon

The team before the flight: Allie, John, Anne, Phil (photo by Roger)

No expedition is easy otherwise it wouldn't be an expedition. The team was ready to depart for the US at 10 am but suddenly John discovered that the designated airfield for entry into the US couldn't actually clear us in. 


That meant finding an alternative and filing a new flight plan. Which also meant, lots of extra hard work for John. Anne and Phil - poor souls - had caught a bad tummy bug overnight and probably appreciated the extra hour of rest. But then it was all for GO! At 12.06 local we finally took to the gin clear blue skies of Canada and headed straight east towards Ogdensburg.

first sector: to Ogdensburg

the lakes all still frozen.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We were met by friendly US border guards who swiftly cleared our immigration and off we were again for the second sector: this time heading over a vast stretch of mountains and forest for New Hampshire and Vermont.

Allie enjoying being up front in the cockpit with John
On landing we were greeted by friend Rogier Westerhuis who was part of the Trans-Atlantic team and by Brian Boland with whom we had left our balloon last July. 

Rogier's new RV

Rogier had gone the extra mile to meet us by flying up from Boston in his recently aquired and very smart looking RV.  

We then spent an hour in a local rustic pub over a mixture of beers, coke and ginger ales before Rogier had to head back to Boston. 

Brian then kindly drove us up to Post Mills where Tina his partner had invited us to stay over at her house.
Phil, John, Rogier, Allie
As half of the team was sick, it was a quiet evening but John and I enjoyed a wonderful bottle of Ravenswood Zinfandel and clam chowder soup.
Brian Boland and Phil

Phil and Brian enjoying a drink in the local pub

Monday, 19 March 2018

Test flights

Good Morning Canada! 

We woke to a freezing cold sunny day with minus 16 degrees!

After a hefty breakfast home-cooked by our lovely land lady Lois, we set off back to the hangar.
By lunch time the temperatures had 'warmed up' to minus 5 and Betty was pulled out into the sunshine for a test flight.

We invited two young engineering lads to join John on the flight, whilst Roger and I watched her getting started. The old lady certainly had to puff a lot as she tried to get her engines running.

Eventually John taxied her out to the runway and took her for a 15 mins circuit. All seemed well, so it was time to fill her up with Avgas which put a big hole into Phil's pocket. In the meantime Anne had walked nearly 10kilometres to the airfield.

All set to go, the team retreated to the B&B for paperwork preparations like filing flight plans and arranging the entry into the US. It's now time to put this PC down and relax over a good glass of wine and some cheese!

Here's to another great 'on the beech' trip! cheers!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Gearing up for the big adventure

Arriving from half around the globe, John Herbert and his wife Anne from South Africa via Hongkong, Allie from Myanmar and Phil and Roger from London, the team celebrated reunion at an nice Italian restaurant in the small town of Stayner in Ontario, Canada.
The village of Staynor, High Street

inside the hangar, Betty with cowlings off
Roger had worked hard during the last days despite severely harsh weather with snow blizzards and freezing cold temperatures below zero whilst John had struggled till last minute to overcome the bureaucracy of re-validating their licences.
Roger concentrating on his work
Luckily the sun came out and temperatures climbed to a bearable but still cold plus 5 degrees.
It was great to see our 'old lady' again and she looked in good shape. Well, that's from outside but there are still a number of glitches to sort out. John and Roger quickly took to the job and wouldn't even stop for a cup of warming tea.
Chris and Melaya Horsten chatting to Anne
Finally Melaya and Chris Horsten arrived and it was definitely time to retreat to warm up and have some lunch in the airport cafe.
engine runs and tons of snow
John at work in the cockpit
Hopes were high to get her flying this afternoon, but then the engineering team decided that she wasn't yet ready and poor Betty was pulled back into the hangar.
Betty being towed back into the hangar by Chris
At this point the 'press and media' team took the chance to retreat to our lovely B&B 'The Gables' to do some urgent computer and back up work.

Plans for tomorrow's tasks and the onward journey into the US were made over a fish and chips and burger dinner (and a few glasses of wine) at the 'Friends pub' in town.

She has to wait for another day to spread her wings!