Capt Joy

Capt Joy

Cross Country III, Part 1

We had our brand new Mustang keys, we had been partying all week in Wichita while doing our Flight Safety training and the past couple of days were still partying in Independence with the Cessna folks since this was their 100th Mustang that was being delivered. We were eager to start our trip back to Asia with our sightseeing stopovers.

There were a lot of issues to resolve:

1. Completing our Mustang course at Flight Safety. It was the first time Supap and I had struggled so much to get over jet lag. Hey, we both realized that we were getting old!! We struggled with the Garmin 1000 training as well… very difficult to comprehend when one’s mind has not rested and with all the partying come night time. He-he! The new avionics were fascinating but, at the same time, one wrong turn of the knobs or punch of the key can bring chaos to your well-planned departure or approach. There are several ways of inputting information on this FMS and sometimes you get confused or find it hard to remember which procedure you just did because the end results are the same. I sometimes felt that the round dials, VOR, and NDB manual approaches were better than autopilot entering a holding pattern, knowing when to change frequencies, and do go-arounds on their own. Gee, this is technology that’s hard to comprehend for two aging pilots! The Flight Safety guys were good and gave us extra classroom time on their fantastic Flight Training Devices. The sim is also much better than the old hydraulic ones. Now it is purely electric. The visuals were great in Level D sim. We could not ask for more. Special thanks to the Flight Safety guys who were very patient with oldies like us falling asleep in class. No, it was not the subject, and it wasn’t the teacher, but just TWO SLEEPY HEADS!

2. Aircraft acceptance and registration. We decided to change our certification from commercial to private category. We were avoiding the voice recorder requirement for commercial category. I had to deal with this in between classes and between Thailand and America. Cessna wanted to throw a party for Supap and we had to schedule everything around this while taking into consideration dates for departure and landing permits from the different countries. We had to accept the aircraft before the RVSM can be certified. The ferry flight needed RVSM certification for sure. Timing was a critical factor. Otherwise, we will have to wait and stand by for another week (not sure if I can survive more steaks  and hamburgers!!).

We had to go thru all the guarantee papers and airframe/engine insurance programs. We had to work on getting all our manuals, books, and loose items shipped to Thailand since we were already overweight with all the feasting, wine drinking and Supap’s never ending shopping.

3. Stuff to order for the plane. We needed stuff for the plane like life rafts, emergency medical kits, Travel Johns, window covers, APU, etc., all to be shipped either to where we were or to Thailand.

4. Make the actual flight plan back home and work on landing permits, clearances, and hotel reservations. It was tough since we did not have a definite date for departure until we had our RVSM certification. All hotels want guaranteed reservations and will bill our credit cards even if we did not show up. With hotel prices these days, that could easily be two thousand bucks if we were a day late.

5. On the side, I was trying to make an episode out of this trip for our Asian Air Safari TV show and working on the episode that would show that week as well. I received emails of the videos that would show for that week and gave my critique on the work our editors and writers were doing in between classes and socializing dinners.

Anyway, we were so tired of just having Kansas steak and regular American freshwater fish for Supap’s new target diet. We were eager to get out and to head to New York, our planned first overnight stop. The Mustang has a very short range and normally, we like to plan for a maximum of 850-nautical mile legs to avoid stress and tension. A refueling stop in Lexington, Kentucky and a hearty lunch will be justified. I always like horses so this is a good excuse for me to see the popular Kentucky bred horses.

Had lunch at the fancy Malone’s restaurant downtown and they had “shashimi”. Whoa, did we miss Oriental food! Even our waiter is half Japanese but doesn’t even know a single word of Nipponggo nor the difference between Shushi and Sashimi. After a few stopovers in the nice horse farms for some video, we were off to Teterboro, New Jersey. This was the best place to land and leave the plane safely. Plus, it is just like a bridge crossing to New York.

We were so excited to be in New York. Of course our first destination was Little Italy for good authentic Italian food. It was a bit nostalgic for Supap and myself to be back after a long time. He enjoyed visiting NY when he was a university student in Florida. He takes pleasure in taking photos just to capture how much things have changed. I, on the other hand, used to have a small buying office in downtown Manhattan in the mid 80s.

The Marriott on Lexington gave me a room with a view. As I look out, I can’t help but reminisce. This place truly reminds me of long gone days of my youth, when I was still struggling to be on my own. I remember the times when I used to stay at a friend’s apartment trying hard to save money during my visits… times when I used to hang out with my former schoolmates (Jun D, Ubert C, Roel R, Nonoy P. Bembot B, Mon R, Peng O. and many more) who were considered ‘Native New Yorkers’. We’d go out at night at Roel’s bar and have fun until the wee hours. I also recall enjoying having hot dogs with my kiddos when they were really young kids down by Rockefeller Center… Gee, so much has changed since then. It makes me realize how time flies and how much my outlook in life has changed too. Must be ‘age’ but I see life differently now.

Supap and I visited the usual places, enjoyed the restaurants and the nice long walks. Hey, 42nd Street has changed so much from the last time I was there. It was fun just watching the neon lights’ glitz and glitter. Times Square is interesting as always – what with-different kinds of ‘characters’ wondering around trying to make a quick buck from tourists. I also had a chance to meet up with Bing Medel, a classmate in high school. It was fun remembering the ’good old days’ and getting to know new interests and activities that we do now.

Oh, we didn’t miss the Empire State building! This was Supap’s favorite place to take photos. To our surprise, the lines were too long! Funny, there were no lines at all when I first visited the building. Luckily there is an ‘express ticket’ where you could overtake everyone since you paid more than double. Couldn’t imagine paying that much when I was younger. We wondered around just enjoying the scenery. No worries because we did not look like King Kong so no one really bothered us.

The view from the Empire State Building

Supap and I also took time to prepare for our long trip the next day. We did some groceries for the plane and not forgetting my hard drives for the videos. With our energies still running high, we checked out the infamous “Hawaiian Paradise” Club. Everyone was dead gorgeous and pretty and ready to party but… too bad, we had an early start the next day. Can you believe that???

We tried to be like New Yorkers so we rented a stretch limo to head back to Teterboro. We were of course the smallest jet in the tarmac! What the heck! We still arrived in style. The Jet Aviation FBO is nice and has very good business — Gulfstreams, Falcons, and Hawkers are all over the place. This was my dream when I was young — to have an FBO with all the private jets in the region coming in. Unfortunately, the Philippine government had other ideas. I had the FBO but did not have the visiting jets!

We headed for Goose Bay, Canada with a stop over at Bangor, Maine. Planned to stay overnight and start off early for Greenland the next day. Unfortunately, upon landing, our right hand generator had carbon brush problems. That meant an extra day that actually turned into three days in Goose Bay just to wait for the parts.

This was our first free day. Washing clothes was on the agenda but with itchy feet, we rented a car and explored Goose Bay. This was an old military base. The town is very small and when you rent a car, you’re warned against going to dirt roads. We were able to cover the whole town within a few hours. We discovered more restaurants than the travel brochures have listed. We also visited the Sea Plane base. Flying seaplanes is a way of life here especially if you live further from town. The single and twin Otters on floats are just super busy hauling cargo and people from all over the place. It was fun to watch and it made me see how important airplanes are for these people.

The next day was spent for organizing the plane while the mechanic replaced the parts. We bought some floor mats to keep the dirt away on the ferry flight so the plane will look neat and brand new upon arrival. We also had to look for Supap’s Tabasco sauce. Now you can tell he is really Thai.

The Goose Bay ramp is interesting during early mornings. All the small airplanes with ferry tanks parked at the Woodward Aviation ramp are open and being inspected by the pilots. They are all doing the Atlantic crossing and getting ready for take off. The weather this morning was marginal. Being in the Mustang, our alternate fuel is critical and we, of course, did not have the Atlantic crossing experience and ferry tanks. It was snowing in Nassaseraque. The ceiling and visibility were low. But do we want to spend another day in Goose Bay??

Tough decisions will have to be made. Do we just stay and wash our dirty clothes again? Do we wait for weather to get better? They say the bad weather can sometimes last for a week. We have to make alternative plans. We checked on winds aloft and weather further north and it was good. A bit of head wind going up but we should recover once we head east. It was a longer route but definitely safer. Plus, if we have an engine failure, the swim with the whales and the seals (and hopefully, not with polar bears) will not be too far.

Instead of flying four legs to Sweden it will be six. It’ll be definitely a long day for us! Our first leg would be: Goose Bay (CYYR) to Kuuijaq (CYVP) heading further north of Canada.

Short hop but had 120 knots of headwind. Just a refueling stop and was interesting to see the stylish terminal painted blue, which stands out in the field. The topography and terrain changed. I thought I had seen enough lakes but when you fly over this area, they seem endless and numerous. I am sure most of them have never been fished on before. Tried a quick turn around but, with our pee break and Supap’s photo session, we had burned almost two hours of our day.