Close(r) up of John Glenn International

Took my friend Mike up for a sight-seeing tour around Columbus. Got the usual shots of the Horseshoe and a circuit around downtown, but on our way out we did a fly-by of John Glenn International Airport (KCMH) and I got one of my better pictures of the airport.

It was slow, so I should have asked for a touch-and-go, but we were pre-occupied with other sight seeing so we skipped that option.

John Glenn International Airport from the east.

Wedding anniversary flight with wife!

Weather looked great for the weekend of our anniversary so I booked one of my usual planes at the club to take up to Cleveland and back for a local area vacation.

The day before the trip, a student pilot at the club had a very rough landing and did some damage to the plane I had reserved. The student is fine (physically) but the plane is out of commission for probably 1-2 months.

To salvage the trip, I took another plane up with an instructor right away to get familiar with a different airplane and have the club sign me off on being able to rent it, so that’s how I ended up taking a “SportCruiser” up to Cleveland.

Burke-Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, Ohio

So this is Burke-Lakefront, an airport I have wanted to fly to since early in my lessons. It’s a gorgeous airport right on lake Erie and within easy walking distance to downtown Cleveland.

Not to mention, you get a SPECTACULAR view of the Browns stadium if you are doing a standard pattern entry to runways 6R or 6L.

First Energy Stadium, home of the Browns! Cleveland, Ohio

After landing (smoothly this time), we grabbed our bags from the plane and walked about 10 minutes to the downtown Westin.

The nice thing about the sport cruiser is the baggage area is easy to get to and is pretty large sized in comparison to most light sport airplanes. The bad thing about the sport cruiser is that it has a bubble canopy cockpit (glass roof) which in bright sunlight makes it pretty warm even at altitude and it is even slower than the other light sports I am used to.

My wife and I enjoyed our one-night stay in Cleveland. Caught a comedy act at “Hilarities” and had a lake view from the 21st floor of the Westin. Awesome time had by all.

Taking off, KBKL 24L

We had great weather on the return trip. Only a slight headwind.

Cleveland, Ohio
Lake Erie off of Cleveland, Ohio

Smooth air all the way back to Columbus until we had to descend below the cloud layer.

6,500 ft over (very) scattered clouds.
Descending underneath the cloud layer.

Had a great landing back at KOSU (love the way the SportCruiser floats), parked, and headed home.

See you later Cleveland!

Cleveland, Ohio

Snowy Horseshoe

Took a new passenger up in the plane a bit before Christmas. We only had an hour or so to kill so I did my standard “new passenger” flight which is a short sight-seeing loop around Columbus.

The Columbus airport is due east of the stadium as you can see on this google map cutout:

Stadium circled on left. Airport highlighted on right.

This means that this particular area of sky can be very busy or completely clear depending on the wind direction.

Planes, as you likely know, take off and land into the wind. Around the stadium, I can ignore planes taking off. They climb fast enough that they are well above me by the time they get to this part of the sky. It’s the landing planes that have a long shallow descent and tend to interrupt photography sessions.

So as long as the wind is out of the west, which it usually is around here, this is pretty easy airspace to navigate. Except for the helicopters.

The Shoe in snow, Dec. 15, 2016

Three Bass Islands (and a bomber)

Today was a day I’ve been waiting for since the pilot’s license was barely in reach. I flew from KOSU to Port Clinton where I picked my dad up. Gave him a quick rundown of emergency procedures and off we went.

We were third in line for take-off in the busy weekend traffic but we were waiting on this B-17 Bomber to land, so it was worth it. Impressive!

B-17 Bomber landing at KPCW August 7, 2016
B-17 Bomber landing at KPCW August 7, 2016

When it was our turn to get in the air, some mildly turbulent air caught him off guard on take-off and I got an exclamation out of him. So far so good.

The plan was to land at each of the three Bass islands: North Bass, Middle Bass, and South Bass. Only Middle Bass allows touch and go landings, so we would land full-stop on North, touch and go Middle, then land at South Bass to grab lunch.

Heading north from KPCW, we passed the Catawba Island Club, tried to get a few snapshots for some family friends.

Catawba Island Club from the east
Catawba Island Club from the east
Catawba Island Club from the west
Catawba Island Club from the west

During the weeks leading up to this trip, I tried unsuccessfully to find a connection at the ultra-exclusive Rattlesnake island to give us an invite to land & lunch there. No luck. Best I can do is a couple pictures from the air.

Rattlesnake Island from southeast
Rattlesnake Island from southeast
Rattlesnake Island from northwest
Rattlesnake Island from northwest

Next up was the landing at North Bass Island (3X5). The runway runs almost north-south (01/19) and we were landing on runway 01. It’s also only 1,804 feet long and 60 feet wide. Not a lot of room for error in any plane, not even a little one like the light sport I was flying.

north bass island
North Bass Island approaching from the south


North Bass Island, Runway 01 - Short Final
North Bass Island (3X5), Runway 01 – Short Final

We stopped, someone was mowing the grass near the runway. We saw one car drive down the road that runs parallel to the runway. There isn’t a whole lot to do here if you don’t live here. Not even a restaurant. So, we hopped back in the plane, back-taxied and took off!

Next course of action was Middle Bass Island. The turbulence was starting to pick up as the afternoon wore on and my right-seat passenger was having trouble getting a steady shot. This is the best we got of Middle Bass on short final:

Middle Bass Island (3T7) Runway 10, Short-final.
Middle Bass Island (3T7) Runway 10, Short-final.

Here’s a better shot of the airport in general on Middle Bass as we flew towards North Bass earlier:

Middle Bass Airport (3T7)
Middle Bass Airport (3T7)

After a touch & go on Middle, we swung to the south for the very short hop over to South Bass. We got a good pass over the bay itself and it was as busy as you would expect on a beautiful summer Sunday.

Put-In-Bay, with Perry's Monument
Put-In-Bay, with Perry’s Monument

Now I was hungry!

Put-In-Bay (3W2), Runway 03 - Short final
Put-In-Bay (3W2), Runway 03 – Short final

I reserved a golf cart earlier in the week, but unfortunately it turned out to be the slowest golf cart on the island. We got passed by a mother walking her baby in a stroller. Oh well, at least we had shade.

After lunch it was back to Port Clinton to drop off dad and fly myself home.

Port Clinton (KPCW) Runway 9, Short final
Port Clinton (KPCW) Runway 9, Short final
VFR on top in the cool air, heading back to KOSU
VFR on top in the cool air, heading back to KOSU

Virginia Tech (2/3)

So there I was stuck in Elkins, West Virginia waiting on clouds to give me some space over the mountains. There was another couple stuck there too that had actually been stuck since the previous night trying to head south west to Texas.

After a few hours of deliberation and pointing out holes in the clouds that might mean they’re breaking up, just to see the hole close again, the other couple and I decided to call it a day and try again the next day.

I booked a hotel room and had the shuttle come pick me up. As we drove to the hotel, the sky kept looking better and better. I was starting to kick myself for booking a hotel — buuuuut — I wanted to be safe. So I got to the hotel, got a shower, got into clean clothes and prepared to head to the local Applebee’s to have a beer and call it a night.

This is what the mountains look like without close cloud cover.
This is what the mountains look like without close cloud cover.

The clouds looked better and better so I decided to call the national weather briefing service for one last chance. They showed that I was looking okay currently and had about a 2-4 hour window to get over the peaks before the clouds came back down and shut me out until noon the next day.

I had a quick self-conversation. Was I succumbing to “get-there-itis” or was this a legitimate opening? At that moment, the beer sounded a lot better than getting back into the hot & sweaty plane and I decided to turn back if the clouds were close to the peaks.

So, I hopped back in the plane and took a peek at the peaks.

Things looked good. Got over the mountains and it was clear sailing into Hanover County, Virginia where I was able to pick up my old college buddy Matt.

Matt sits co-pilot seat.
Matt sits co-pilot seat.

We flew from the Richmond area to the Williamsburg airport just so that we could take a look at some of the many Virginia rivers from the air. Then it was due west to Blacksburg.

Spring Hollow Reservoir
Enjoy the dam picture.

This is Spring Hollow Reservoir just outside of Roanoke and Blacksburg. Really cool looking lake at such a high altitude. There’s something gorgeous about mountain lakes, even if they are mostly man-made with a dam.

We had to cut below relatively low cloud cover again passing over one last peak to get into Blacksburg, but when we made it to campus, it was well worth it.

Virginia Tech campus from the southeast.
Virginia Tech campus from the southeast.

This is what we came for. Finally! Matt’s cousin picked us up from the airport and we went to have some fun at the local bars. By the way, the best place to go in Blacksburg, VA is the Hokie House. Tune in for the trip home in part 3, and take a look at this shot of Lane Stadium!

Lane Stadium / Worsham Field
Lane Stadium / Worsham Field

Columbus Zoo & Zoombezi Bay Waterpark

The Columbus Zoo was very busy today, or maybe it was the connected waterpark. I don’t know, but look at those cars in the parking lot!

The colorful section of the photo is of course the water park. I’ve been there, it’s a ton of fun even for adults. I mean, if you’re an adult that likes water slides. Or even if you don’t, nothing wrong with hanging out in the lazy river with a cocktail.

The Zoo next door is of course the famous Columbus Zoo, once proudly directed by Jack Hanna and consistently rated as the #1 (or close to it) zoo in all of America. Not too bad.

The road along the bottom left of the photo running bottom to top is Riverside drive and it follows the Scioto river along its east bank. The golf course is the Safari Golf Club which is also owned by the zoo.

The Horseshoe

I flew over campus today for the sole purpose of taking pictures of The Shoe. That puts the plane directly in the departure/approach path of the big boys landing at Port Columbus Intl. (KCMH) so I had to work with Columbus Approach to make sure no one knocked my wings off. Got one full circuit around the stadium before bugging out to farmland to the west.

The Olentangy River is running north-to-south along the west side of the stadium and 315 is the highway just to the west of that. There’s a dark block-O on top of a roof just to the south-east of the stadium. (Slightly above and to the left) Maybe someone can comment on exactly what building that is. I think maybe the RPAC?

There’s a lacrosse game going on inside the stadium at the time of these pictures; only moderately attended. If there were another thousand people or so in the stands I would have had to fly another 2,000 feet higher.

High Banks Metro Park

It looks so much flatter from 2500 ft. I remember sledding here as a kid but from the air I don’t even know where the hill might have been.

I do like taking my dog off leash (which is against the rules, so don’t do it) in the wooded sections. She loves romping around the trees. Once she ran through a patch of burrs and it took hours to pick them all out of her fur.


Mad River Mountain

The mighty Mad River Mountain, home of the finest snow sports in Ohio. This is where I like to spend a lot of time during the winter. It may not be the Rockies, but it’s close to home and keeps you from becoming too rusty if you are going to make big winter trip to a major ski resort.

It has a vertical drop of 300 ft. so sometimes it can feel like you’re running laps, but they have fantastic entertainment at night and a fully stocked bar so there’s always a warm and friendly place to take a break between your runs.

This shot was taken in mid-March so there’s a bit of (artificial) snow on the ground. I’m looking forward to them replacing the loft that they lost in a fire last summer and taking some pictures of the place in operation.

Transport Research Center

This is the test track near Marysville, Ohio which I believe is used by Honda to as a proving ground for their vehicles. The big outer oval is 7.5 miles in length the smaller tracks I don’t know about but I kind of want to drive them. They look like a lot of fun.

The day I was flying over, I saw one car on the big loop. Driving in a single lane at a perfectly steady pace. Worst job in the world.