The forecast predicted nice weather for the weekend. I was watching Isaac solo for the weekend, so I wouldn’t be productive anyway. Instead, I booked the weekend full of fun activities. Saturday looked better for flying. I e-mailed all the local pilots. Half of them were out of town and the other half had prior commitments. Since none of the pilots were available, I sent a last minute e-mail to Mike Cestone. He lives right near the Hampton airfield.
Saturday morning dawned nice and clear. I prepared the airplane and brought it up to the house while Isaac slept in. The air was crisp. I had preheated the engine the night before and I threw a blanket over the cowling while I went inside to get Isaac. We almost departed by my original wheels up time. Fitting issues delayed us. Isaac’s sunglasses and headset wouldn’t work together, and he has outgrown his custom foam seat. I didn’t have a booster seat handy, so instead I just grabbed a cushion from a chair inside the house. It boosted him up enough to be safe, but not enough to see out.
I enjoyed the flight over to Hampton. For variety, I flew through Nashua’s airspace to practice talking to a tower instead of regional air traffic control. I navigated most of the way using GPS. I wish I navigated more by identifying landmarks out the window. To do so, I would need more time for preflight planning. Juggling Isaac, I just haven’t found the time. Additionally, because my chart app shows the current GPS position, I can’t easily quiz myself on my position and then double check with the GPS. The GPS position is in my face as soon as I look at the charts. Other trips, I have turned the GPS localization off and used the app as just charts, but that again requires pre-flight planning. I flew the last 20 or so miles referencing familiar coastal features.
This was my first trip to Hampton since they paved their runway last year. It looks quite fancy. Paved taxiway and runway. Taxiways and runway marked up like a big airport with bright new paint. There are now ditches beside the runway and taxiway. I had to maneuver around those to find the old tie down anchors by the restaurant. While I was fueling the airplane, Mike called saying he, his kids and a friend would like to come over for breakfast. They showed up right when I finished fueling, so it all worked out.
After breakfast, I gave Alyssa and Sydney their first small airplane ride. Both were almost too timid to try. Mike and I convinced Alyssa to take a ride first. I flew once around the pattern and landed. She said she was game for more, so we took off again and attempted to find their house. I confused Hampton beach and Salisbury beach. On the way back I convinced her to try flying the airplane.
Upon hearing that her sister hadn’t found their house, Sydney quickly agreed to a ride. We did pretty much the same thing, but this time spotted their house. When Sydney tried flying the airplane, she seemed interested in its capabilities. So I showed her steep turns and even a stall. Mike didn’t get a ride because he doesn’t fit in the RV-4. Next time we need to fly the Bearhawk over.
After the rides, Mike invited Isaac and I over to their place. I had nothing planned for the afternoon, and Isaac was having fun with the girls. Before I could leave the airplane, I needed to tie it down. I attempted to taxi it a short distance to the tie down spot, but twice the wheels sank into the mud and the airplane nosed forward alarmingly. After the second one, I shut the plane down and Mike helped me push it the rest of the way. Earlier in the morning, I had no trouble because the ground was frozen solid. I checked the prop afterwards and there wasn’t any mud or grass on it, so no damage. But I definitely need to be more careful next time on soft dirt.
I had a nice afternoon catching up with Mike. Isaac was delighted to have new people to play with. We finished the day off with a brief walk down by the beach. The flight back was uneventful. Isaac stayed awake through taxi and takeoff, but not much farther. I requested flight following as soon as I reached cruising altitude. With the sun glare straight in my eyes, I appreciated ATC watching out for traffic around me.