Finally this weekend the free time and the weather aligned and finally Abby got a chance to be a passenger in the Cardinal! This is my first time carrying passengers in N52667. I didn’t decide where we would go until this morning. Initially I was thinking of heading up towards an airport near the White Mountains but I figured I’d save that for a perfectly clear CAVU day. Instead Abby suggested a tour of the NH Seacoast which was perfect. Then, we could follow it up with lunch at the airport restaurant at Westfield-Barnes (I visited the airport last time, but not the restaurant).
We used to live in Newmarket, NH while attending UNH so this area is quite familiar. Pease Airport is also there. I figured we could get in a landing at Pease or just head straight to Westfield depending on how hungry we were. Weather was forecast with some scattered clouds at 5-6000 feet and while the visibility wasn’t perfect it was plenty good for the seacoast tour.
Since I was departing Nashua to the northeast I got a transponder code on the ground to transit the Manchester Class C airspace. Abby knows how to set the transponder which was handy since the winds were a bit shifty on the ground, reported as variable. After departure Boston Approach gave us two vectors for the climb to avoid arriving and departing traffic at Manchester. Soon we were leveling off at 5,500 with a relatively smooth ride and no clouds below the flight levels.
Pease is extremely easy to spot with a runway over 2 miles and the massive Great Bay surrounding it. I had it in sight by the top of my climb and soon I informed Boston Approach of my intentions to overfly Pease at my cruising altitude and proceed down the coast. Pease’s runway is long enough that flying directly over it can put one end in the left window and one end in the right!
Passing over Great Bay we could also see our old town of Newmarket and even out old apartment complex up on the hill. After turning to follow the beach you could see the Seacoast Science Center where Abby used to work, the Isles of Shoals, and the Seabrook nuclear power station. The whole area around Seabrook is a marsh which looked fascinating from the air.
At this point I asked Abby if she was hungry or if she wanted to land at Pease and we decided we’d go direct to Barnes. This was around Plum Island, south of the NH/MA border. I again advised Boston Approach of my intentions and did the climb flow for a climb up to 6,500 (opposite direction of travel). The climb flow starts on the floor with the fuel selector (“both”), cowl flaps (“open”), mixture (“enrich”), prop (“rpm high”), throttle, trim, then back to the rudder trim as needed.
Soon we were into a pretty serious headwind, only making 120 knots ground speed going towards Barnes. The direct route did take me close but not into the Boston class Bravo and presented a good opportunity for using pilotage to verify that I remained outside. Instead of using Foreflight we stuck to the paper chart which was nice for a change. I also inquired of the controller whether not the Fort Devens restricted area was hot or not. The area was supposedly active although my altitude was well above the restricted area. The restricted area is for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle testing and I did look to see if I could see anything but I did not.
Coming into Barnes I descended around the ridgeline near Westover to maneuver around some clouds and ended up set up for a straight in final for runway 20. The winds weren’t bad but my approach was sloppy and fast. It is harder to judge the straight in approach without the process of the traffic pattern and I have a lot more experience with the pattern. The end result was a late and inadequate flare and a bit of a bounce. I think having someone in the right seat again did change the Weight and Balance somewhat and that change the flare somewhat. I was displeased but the airplane was fine and Abby seemed to think it was a perfectly good landing.
The restaurant was quite nice and with the weather in the 80s we ate outside on the observation deck watching various jets, Cessnas, Pipers, a Mooney, and some Air National Guard helicopters come and go. The Massachusetts Air National Guard F-15s weren’t practicing today although there was one on the ramp on the far side of the runway. I decided to have Airflyte top off the tanks again because at $5.40 full serve they are a relative bargain in this area. The nice part about airplane full serve is you can tell them to fill it up then go and eat at the restaurant everything is all set (the fuel is still sampled for quality and quantity before departure, of course).
Runway 20 is 9000 feet and so we did an intersection departure which is commonplace at BAF. This was nice since it prevented a lengthy taxi down to the runway. After takeoff the left hand turn on course took us over the ridge line and at this point turbulence from the ridge was definitely felt. Initially the climb rate was a bit lower than normal followed by an extended period of 1500 feet per minute or more. I kept double checking the airspeed but this climb was entirely due to lift off of the ridge. It probably took a few minutes off of our climb!
The headwind was also now a tailwind and initially I saw 160 knot ground speeds before I elected to power back a bit to use less fuel. The most efficient thing to do is to spend more time in the tailwind, so a faster airspeed in headwinds and slower airspeed in tailwinds is an efficiency goal. Unfortunately at these altitudes it is necessary to reduce power by using the throttle. It is more efficient to achieve the same effect by climbing into thinner air. In this case the flight was so short that climbing to 7500 did not make sense. I would be there or higher on a longer leg but Westfield to Nashua is less than 45 minutes from engine start to stop.
The approach and landing at Nashua was good. ATIS reported winds gusting to 18 knots, but when I was cleared to land the tower controller confirmed that winds had been variable at 6 knots most recently. A gust hit as I flare and we ballooned a bit but a bit of power cushioned it back into a good landing.
I now have over 20 hours in the Cardinal, over 30 hours complex, and 108.6 total. Upcoming, a night currency flight? Burlington? Philadelphia? Delaware?