Back to the Cape for a weekend

I seem to be making a habit of trips out to the Cape. Looking back at my logbook I’ve made three trips down to Cape Cod in June. When I arrived at the Rectrix FBO in Hyannis on Saturday the line guy marshaled me in and said “Welcome back!” when I opened the door.

This time the goal of the trip was to spend some time with friends at a house in Eastham, MA. While Chatham or Provincetown would have been slightly closer Hyannis has a nice FBO which doesn’t charge for overnight fuel and sells fuel cheaper than home. Plus I’ve noticed that Hyannis is somewhat less likely to be affected by fog and low ceilings and there was a possibility of that on Saturday morning for our arrival.

Despite the forecast of 1500 broken in the morning over Cape Cod the weather was nice and clear. The direct route from Nashua to Hyannis goes directly over the city of Boston. I cruised at 5,500 and requested a Bravo clearance. Unlike last time I did not receive vectors from Boston Approach but my Bravo clearance was “maintain 5,500 direct Boston”. No problem, my wife was already reaching forward to hit “direct-to” on the Garmin 430 as I turned left a bit towards BOS. We passed directly over the airport then received a vector. Initially I was a bit alarmed as the vector took me directly out over Massachusetts Bay. But soon traffic passed in front of us through out altitude and with them in sight I was cleared to proceed direct to Hyannis. While passing over the top of Logan airport we could see a Delta heavy passing below on approach to one of the Runway 4s (I couldn’t tell if they were landing 4L or 4R).

Things were pretty busy coming into Hyannis. Upon my initial contact to Hyannis Tower I was told my traffic was on a left base and “you’ve got 30 knots on them.” After slowing we had them in sight although a few times I was second guessing that it was the correct traffic. I was number three to follow this traffic although the tower modified this sequence and had me extend my downwind to slip a Cessna 402 in front of me.

Thanks to the wide pattern and extended downwind my landing was sloppy. I let myself get a bit too slow on the approach and ultimately in the flare I plopped it on with a solid arrival. It wasn’t too bad but I felt the need to apologize to Abby. Taxiing into the FBO I was greeted by the friendly lineman who recognized me from last time and was also able to get a look at the traffic that I was 30 knots faster than – a cool little Flight Design CTsw Light Sport aircraft.

My friends met me at the airport and we headed off to Eastham. We were staying at a cool spot near Sunken Meadow beach. This is on the Bay side of Cape Cod and when the tide goes out there are flats extended out a long ways. We had great fun, and even managed to finish up our grilling just in time as a fairly strong thunderstorm rolled across the bay with winds gusting to 30 knots.

On Sunday afternoon I invited anyone who was interested for a Cape tour. The weather was fantastic with light winds and no clouds in the sky. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take everyone who wanted to go in one trip and Abby and I needed to get back so some had to take a rain check. If I hadn’t already asked to be fueled when I arrived I could have filled all the seats, something to keep in mind for next time.

Derek and Maria accompanied me on the Cape Tour while Abby hung out in the lounge at Rectrix. The tour ended up being around an hour start to stop, mostly just cruising around the Cape at 2500 feet and 65% power. The air was mostly smooth with just a few bumps where the winds swirled. We went past the house in Eastham and out to Provincetown then back past the house. I checked to make sure my passengers would be OK with a steeper turn then cranked it over around 40 degrees to make a left turn 90 degrees back towards the shoreline.

At this point I headed back to Hyannis, lined up for a straight in to Runway 24. Once again the airport was busy! I slowed it up and turned to the right a bit to fall in behind some traffic on base about to turn final. There was a slight crosswind from the left and the landing was perfect – stall horn beeping, left wheel touching first, and smooth. Abby reported Derek and Maria came back into the FBO all smiles.

Once again the friendly line staff at Rectrix helped us load our bags into the plane for departure and soon Abby and I were headed back to Nashua. Cape approach was very busy with IFR traffic and VFR requests and although we eventually managed to get flight following we were soon handed off to an even busier Boston approach controller. On initially contact with Boston approach I gave a typically terse “Boston approach Cardinal 52667 level 6500 request Bravo.” This time I got a “roger” but no Bravo clearance. He was dealing with arrivals into Boston including one airliner who was obviously behind the ball on the approach and kept missing read backs.

Soon I did receive one acknowledgement the controller still remembered me. I could see an airliner approach from the left about to cross in front of us and sure enough a rapid fire traffic call out came “Cardinal 667 traffic 11:00 two miles an Embraer” which I was able to quickly respond with “Traffic in sight 667″. Told to maintain visual separation we watched the Embraer passed quite close in front of us, unmistakably a JetBlue livery! Very cool to watch.

Still no Bravo clearance and Abby and I watched and waited until we were close and with no Bravo clearance forthcoming with about a minute to go I cranked it over to the left again and headed around the outside of the airspace. Soon there was a break in the Boston arrivals and it turns out the controller did remember me – unsolicited he finally gave the desired “Cleared into the Boston Bravo airspace maintain 6500 fly heading 320″. Good enough. The next controller’s sector was eerily quiet and shortly after contacting them we were cleared to proceed direct to Nashua.

I recently switched jobs and my new job is software engineering at a startup in a building located just off the approach end of Runway 5 at Hanscom field. The building is distinctively triangular and I managed to snap a quick cell cam picture as we descended over Hanscom.

From this directly I received a left base pattern entry from Nashua tower. A familiar airplane was on downwind and received us as traffic called out – Skyhawk 7242G, the airplane I did my primary training and soloed in. My landing was very nice and smooth although I dropped the power a bit early and ended up landing just past the threshold rather than further down which can be nice at Nashua since I park towards the end.

As we were tying down N52667 my old friend 42G pulled in and it was a flight instructor from Air Direct with a female student. There is definitely a gender imbalance in aviation and I am always extra happy to see fresh blood especially when it increases the diversity of the rather exclusive community of pilots. I stopped in the office briefly to chat with the student and instructor Doug Gale. The student was around 6-7 hours along and getting into the meat of landing practice. I wanted to inquire of Doug about something else related to training… his availability for instrument instruction! I’m hoping I might be able to start some of that this weekend!