A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Stonington Lobster

August 28, 2016
Emilie Phillips

After camping overnight at Bowman, we flew to Stonington for fresh Maine lobster on the coast. We had one adventure with the bicycles, but it worked out in the end.

My logbook shows that I, Emilie, have been flying less than other years. Initially, part of the fun of flying was learning something new every flight. Then, for a while, I had fun visiting all the local airports. But now, I have reached the flatter part of the learning curve and have hit most of the “firsts”. So, what to do to keep flying interesting. I decided I would like to try flying farther afield to see the sights.

Tyson picked out the route to the Bowman fly in for Saturday, but I picked out the route back. My first idea was to head up to Lubec for lobster. Lubec is down east Maine as far as you can go. We have been there twice kayaking. It’s scenic, and a prohibitively long car drive. So it seemed like a fun destination. Then Tyson pointed out that it is also too far by Bearhawk.

So, plan B. I still wanted lobster on the coast somewhere remote. Looking a little closer to home, I found Stonington. Stonington is on a large island southwest of Acadia National Park. Getting there by car would take 5 hours and lots of small roads. The island’s public airport is 2.5 miles from town and has a paved 2,000′ runway.

Emilie flying with Rene in his Super Cruiser
Emilie flying with Rene in his Super Cruiser

We started out Sunday morning with the Bowman fly in breakfast. Most of the other pilots packed up and headed out. We dallied around waiting for the bouncy house. After all, we had promised Isaac bouncy house time. Rene let me fly a few landings in his Super Cruiser. The controls on that airplane are very heavy. The airflow on the wings buffeted the stick more than I have felt in any other plane. Unlike the Bearhawk, the Super Cruiser had consistent responsiveness (none) on all axes. Like the Bearhawk, the airplane slows down precipitously when you reduce power.

From Bowman we flew east to Waterville Lafleur (WVL) for gas. We had a long day ahead of us, and I was quite light from our short field antics the day before. Two commercial pilots arrived with passengers in a King Air. The pilots came over to inspect my RV-4. The older pilot was considering buying an RV-4 after retirement.

All the bicycling gear except the seat.
All the bicycling gear except the seat.

From there to Stonington was uneventful. I did mix the runway heading up again. However, this time I figured it out and fixed my mental picture early in the pattern. I landed first and tied my RV-4 down. Isaac slept while Tyson and I pulled the bicycles out of the Bearhawk. Tyson’s folder was easy to assemble. Next came the trailer bike. That’s when I realized I had not put the trailer bike seat in the airplane. We emptied the Bearhawk but did not find the seat. The trailer bike folds for easy transport with the seat post pinning it together. So, without the seat, there was no way to use the trailer bike at all.

At this point, I figured we were done, and might as well put everything back in the Bearhawk and leave before Isaac woke up. I checked a few things. Neither Tyson nor my bike seat fit into the trailer bike. There were no alternate Maine airports within walking distance of a lobster shack.

Tyson wasn’t ready to give up. He wandered around the hangars looking for scraps. He returned with a split pine board and a piece of cinder block. He used the cinder block to hammer the board into the seat post slot, shaving off the excess wood. Now the trailer bike would not collapse, but the stake would skewer Isaac.

Final assembled folding bike, folding trailer, and constructed seat.
Final assembled folding bike, folding trailer, and constructed seat.

First we tried mounting the rear rack from Tyson’s folding bike onto the trailer as a seat. That was too far back from the handle bars. Isaac would have nothing to hold onto. I had a foam pad in my pack for sitting on. It might give some padding, but I was afraid the stake would puncture it. We had plenty of tie down ropes. I considered slinging them between the handle bars and the borrowed rack to suspend Isaac above the stake. As I looped the rope back and forth, I realized I had enough rope to weave a stable platform. The weaving sagged down onto the stake, so we still needed to add more padding. That’s when I remembered Tyson uses a tennis ball with a hole for his pitot tube cover. That would nicely round off the top of the stake, and then I could add my foam pad without fear of puncture.

Tyson and Isaac waiting for lobster by the ocean.
Tyson and Isaac waiting for lobster by the ocean.

The seat worked. We peddled into town by the shortest route, hoping to find someplace still open mid-afternoon on a Sunday. We found a lobster flag above a restaurant serving lunch for another half hour on their deck. They served a delicious salad and tasty lobsters, all with a view of blue sky over the bay. We bicycled back along the scenic coastal route. A little hillier, but nice views of the ocean and quaint New England architecture.

We flew home direct. The weekend was almost over and we needed to get ready for the week. Flying home into the western sun is difficult. Between the haze and the glare, it is hard to see anything. The sensory deprivation becomes mind numbing. I contacted ATC over Popham beach for flight following. As is becoming my habit, I used the charts on my tablet with no GPS as my primary navigation. The cell phone was my backup with the GPS on. Flying along the Maine coast, I could pick out features at the contrasting boundary of ocean and land. Then, around Portland, the coast turned south and I continued straight over the mainland. The glare from the sun washed out any features on the ground. I had to rely on the GPS position on my cell phone. Almost immediately, I found myself wandering back and forth across the magenta line. Feeling like an incompetent after several zig-zags, I spent some time thinking of a solution. While I wasn’t in IMC, I did not have visual clues for navigation. It seemed like I aught to navigate using instruments. I picked a heading on the directional gyro and followed that rather than imagined points in the glare. That worked. I occasionally cross referenced my GPS position and tweaked my heading.

Report from flying to Bowman the day before.

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