Friday, November 19, 2010

Lunch in Ocala with Stephan

I went on a short excursion today for lunch with a friend of mine (Stephan).  I have been threatening to take him flying for some time now... Today the weather and both our schedules finally cooperated.  It was a great time to grab a bite at the Tailwind Cafe @ Ocala Airport.

Since it was a quick lunch excursion, I asked the line guys @ VDF to pull my plane out in front of the terminal.  When we arrived, a routine pre-flight showed everything in order and we were ready to go.  I gave Stephan a quick briefing on our route and what to expect in flight.  This was the first time Stephan was flying with me.  

Hmmm... does he look nervous?

I later learned that he has been in a Citation jet and also somehow finagled a ride on the "Shell Aero" team plane.  (How incredible that his only prior experience with general aviation was in such amazing aircraft.)
After takeoff, the flight was a little bumpy but the view was great.  In fact, we took a little detour on the way to do a 360 over his house.  (Of course at a legal altitude so as not to scare the neighbors).  See for yourself:

I was planning to let him try his hand at the flight controls after we got to cruise altitude.  But then we got chatting and we both forgot.

When we arrived at Ocala, the airport was surprisingly quiet... We seemed to have the tower frequency to ourselves.  In addition, the ramp was not crowded at all.  We easily found a parking spot right in front of the restaurant. After a quick lunch and little airplane gawking, it was time to call the tower and head out.

On the way back I remembered to give Stephan the flight controls.  While we are in a steady 900 fpm climb @ 3800 FT, I asked him to maintain our present heading, climb to 4500 then level off.  

Here he is with a look of total confidence while flying:

He did great! But after about 2 minutes, he started to look a little stressed ;-) So I gave him a reprieve.  Besides, we were already so close to Tampa and we needed to get ready to land.

We landed in a pretty strong crosswind... But luckily no gusts.  We pulled up right to the terminal and both needed to depart to get back to work :-(

In hindsight, maybe instead of lunch we should have gone for a night flight and gone to a bar afterward.

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