My flying project for this year is to fly to all the public airports in Maine. Today was my first trip.
The runway at Littlebrook arches down to touch the sky at both ends. I sat on my wing for a while contemplating the infinity beyond. The place was desolate. Not even Jean, who taught Tyson aerobatics in his youth, showed up to chat.
Sanford was alive with airplanes, pilots, and uncertain family members. I landed behind a blue starburst Citabria with a confident and cheerful pilot. The fuel truck escorted the Citabria back to the FBO. There I found the instructor and the pilot’s friends hanging the back of his shirt on the wall to celebrate his first solo flight. (I don’t like the mild hazing in the shirt ritual. Thankfully my instructor omitted it.)
Airport houses and hangars fill the south side of the runway. The north side has a double row of box hangars. I stopped at the EAA hangar and ate lunch on their solid picnic tables. They even have an unlocked port-a-potty in the entrance to the hangar. Despite the nice hang out spot, I saw no one.
Portland is one of two class C airports in Maine. I had the skies and ground at Portland to myself. The view on final is disconcerting. Staring down at dark bay water and the interstate bridge I imagined a moment of horror, but then I looked back up to the sunny beige runway. When I requested to depart immediately, the tower controller was a little put off. Ground, however, cheerfully amended my flight plan. I was gone before any other planes arrived.
Biddeford was a standard impersonal general aviation airport. Inside the FBO, carefully arranged magazines decorated the table, and instant coffee tried to look inviting. Outside, was a large paved tie down area. Two people drove through on the way to their hangars. They said the RV-4 looked nice, but not much more.
This was a good start to my Maine project. My hope was it would challenge some of my weaker skills — notably handling new airports. And that it would give me more overall experience. I flew a mix of compass and landmark navigation, and full GPS navigation with runway approach guidance. My right hand pattern skills are rusty. I still can’t read a wind sock from the air, but I managed to land anyways. Boston (Manchester) approach was so busy that I had to to reroute around their airspace and later called in to Portsmouth Tower.