A Not So Quiet Neighbour
Recently I had my first post-TSA clearance flying lesson from Martin State Airport (KMTN) in a Piper Archer II (PA28-181). My pre-TSA clearance trial lesson had been in a Cessna 172S and my aircraft choice was to aide my high wing - Low wing decision going forward.
A new aircraft type in my logbook and several weeks since my last flight, this lesson was about familiarisation - me with the aeroplane, the instructor with me. My instructor believes in learning hands on right from the off, so start-up, taxi, run-up, calls to tower, take-off, flight exercises, pattern and landing are all mine from lesson 1, with appropriate guidance.
The lesson was great fun and was memorable for a number of reasons. One is that the airport is home to the 175th Wing of the National Guard so the GA aircraft share the runway with A-10s, C-130s and the occasional C-17. The next was this is the first time I have flown with a clear air visibility reported as low as 6 miles in some areas. Six miles sounds like a lot, but trust me it really isn't. I am not talking about flying around clouds either. What I saw was just trying to peer through humidity and was a bit like being in a clear bubble in a murky haze. At one point we caught sight of a hot air balloon. A few manoeuvres later and it had just disappeared. Not a sign..., and we looked hard. The worrying thing is that the high summer humidity hasn't really started yet.
As for the flying: forty-five degree banked turns to a heading, climbing and descending constant speed turns to a heading; I'm going to need plenty more practice to get accurate and boy was I sweating when we landed.
But the most memorable moment was circling my own house at an indicated 1500ft with my two and a half year old son pointing up from the street shouting at the top of his voice "My Daddy is in that plane" despite my wife's protestations that I wouldn't be able to hear him. And she was right.
So I have talked to the neighbours and I can only apologise once more. They didn't notice the aircraft, but a noisy toddler? Now that's just not neighbourly.