Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside.
I never really did the math before I got my pilot's license. I mean, I worked out all sorts of things while I was doing my training, like how much time I would save by flying rather than driving or how much cheaper it would be to learn if I magically had somewhere between $30,000 and $60,000 for a used aircraft.
The one equation I never ran through my cranial computer was this: longer flights with the same budget means fewer flying days. It's a simple truth that I am no longer doing flights with an instructor with an uncanny ability to have the engine stopped at one hour indicated. Now that I want to venture further it means more Hobbs time on each flight. The lack of instructor does not offset the cost of the longer journeys away from the home field. Don't get me wrong there's still more time in the air, its just that I suddenly find that I am rationing my flights far more than I had previously done.
Each flight then, is something to be savored. The planning starts not with winds and aircraft performance, but who can I share it with and where would they most like to go.
Of course, the first people I wanted to share with were my family. We had promised my son a trip to the seaside and Ocean City Maryland is a four hour drive from here. It has wide, golden sandy beaches, attractions, ice-cream, cafes and restaurants. It also has an airport (KOXB) and for a fee I now have access to an aeroplane or two. We had a great afternoon with the kids and we brought back barely any sand at all. Well, not enough to affect the useful load anyway.
Next, a flight that I had been promising myself all year and certainly the shortest one I'll fly. Martin State (KMTN) to Essex Skypark (W48) is a very short flight. Both airports are covered by Martin State's Delta airspace. This is a 15 minute hop..., including taxiing and run-up. Short and sweet. Add the Citabria, a plane I love to fly, and an event like the Wings and Wheels fly-in / drive-in at Essex and we are really talking. Finally, add a passenger who will really appreciate the flight, not with whoops and hollers, but will just love to be there.
This video shows you exactly what I mean. This was the return and was part of Sam's19th hour in small aircraft; 7th aircraft type. When I asked Sam why he raised his arms a couple of times he said "I was just enjoying myself so much, I didn't know what else to do".
Now, that's a worthwhile use of my flying budget.