Monday, February 27, 2006

New cocktail – try a Pahokee Powerout

Monday 27th February

The ingredients are :-
12 galls 100LL, 0 volts, student pilot, C152 door strap

No you’re right it is not a cocktail at all, it is me at Pahokee on my QXC but more on this later.

At 7am this morning a peek out of the window confirmed what I had hoped for. A clear blue sky with no cloud. The forecast on the web also looked good too. I really will be doing my qualifying cross country today. I’m organised and ready to cycle by 7:40. It is quite chilly when I set out with a fresh north wind which of course is a headwind. My body temperature soon rises and my mind moves forward to what might be in store on the day ahead. I got a picture of a local school bus as it took it’s cargo of school children for another day in the classroom.

At 8:00 at NAC I went and got the weather and winds aloft figures. The winds at 3000 ft were significant at 050 at 24 knots. I started using these figures and I had to make large corrections to my heading to deal with the wind. Nikki came to check how my planning was going and she was concerned at the strong winds so she made some phone calls to get some more up to date weather. The figures were different. On the west coast of Florida it was 360 at 9 knots and on the east cost it was 010 at 11 knots. I worked out my corrections again and this time the adjustments were not so massive. Later on my planning was checked over and all was OK. I was given the bit of paper to get signed at the away airfields and then I did the pre-flight checks on N946AC. I had the fuel tanks brimmed and once everything was right it was time to go. My first leg was 46 nm north to Charlotte County KPGD and my course took me through Class C airspace. I took off from Naples at 10:00 and was soon at my cruise altitude of 2500 ft. There was just time to get everything stabilised before calling Fort Myers approach. On doing this I got my allocated Squawk code and was told to avoid Class C airspace. After some dialogue confirming the code I asked for a heading that would avoid their airspace. He gave me 340 and this was not too much off my planned heading of 352. A little while later I was given permission to fly direct to Charlotte County. I checked my position and a look at the map gave me a new heading. Whilst on this heading I was asked to change to another Ft Myers frequency which I did (at the second attempt). I got in touch with them and they said to continue. I crossed the large waterway south of Ft Myers city and was able to accurately fix my position on the chart. As I got to the northern tip of Ft Myers I could see the water tower and destination airfield in the distance. Having reported this I was able to cancel the flight following to standard VFR flight. I changed to the Charlotte frequency and was soon listening to other traffic in the vicinity. I starting calling at 10 miles south of the airfield. It was not too busy. At 5 miles south I started my descent and was transmitting my position, altitude and intentions. There was a Piper aircraft approaching the airfield from the north but he called to say that he would make a 360 so I could come in and land. Thank you Mr Piper aircraft. I joined overhead runway 03 at 1500ft, made a long right hand turn descending to 1000ft and joined the downwind leg for a left base turn onto 05. Soon I was down and taxiing off to the airport buildings. Wow, that was the first leg and it had gone pretty well. I got parked and shut down and went off with my form to see the very nice young lady at the desk.

She stamped up my form and told me where the phones were. The was a phone in the briefing room but a lady was using it. Ok, then I would pay a quick visit to the loo. On my way back I could tell that the lady would be on the phone for some time to come (how do they do that ?). There was a payphone outside and I used this to call Nikki and give her my current situation. As I walked back to the aircraft it was time to fulfil one of those lifetime ambitions!

To fly solo to another airfield and have a cup of coffee there.

Here is where it would happen.

The most expensive cup of coffee in the world, but it was worth every penny. You can even see 946AC out on the apron.

My chart and log sheets.
I was getting some strange looks from the café staff as I photographed my coffee. I just grinned back.

It was soon time to go. All went well as I taxied to the runway but I saw an aircraft land on 33 which was a bit confusing as most were using 03. I did my power and other checks and then crossed runway 33 a bit tentatively looking and calling out on the radio. At the threshold of 03 I did some finals checks. As I took off my door came open. I grabbed the strap on the door and gave it a good pull. The door shut but I was left with the strap in my hand. I thought this only happened with Ferrari’s, not that I have ever driven one. I deposited the strap on the passenger seat and got back to business. This leg was 66 miles to the east and landing at Pahokee. It went well and I was at 3500 ft and able to see a lot on the ground around me. I even heard Thorsten calling as he was doing the route in the opposite direction. I found myself a little to the left of track at one point but corrected for it. I could see some really good fields below if I needed to land in an emergency. That coffee was making me feel the need for a visit to the loo at Pahokee. As I crossed the shoreline of Lake Okeechobee I called Pahokee traffic. Amongst the replies there was a faint one that was difficult to make out so I said so. Halfway across the lake I started my descent and suddenly the faint caller came up loud and clear. It was Pahokee field asking my intentions. I gave them. They asked if I wanted fuel. Yes I do. Sorry they have no fuel. I said I would land anyway and check with base. One other aircraft was departing the field so I had a clear run in and landed on 35 before taxiing over to the apron. The guy who had been calling me came out on electric buggy. They had a power outage on the field so they had no fuel, no phones and if I wanted a pee it would be in the dark. Welcome to Pahokee. He had been using a handheld transceiver to call me and must of changed the batteries. Just as well that I was not relying on the PAPI lights for my landing. I asked if he could sign my form and if I could visit the restroom. And this was completed. I asked if he had a phonebook and they didn’t. I measured the fuel and had 12 gallons. I am so glad I bought that C152 dipstick at Transair back in England. There seemed enough fuel for the last 66 mile leg back to Naples especially with a slight tail wind. I remembered that I had got the NAC phone number set on my mobile so I turned it on. Yippee there was signal strength, so I called Nikki and we discussed the situation. I was to double check the fuel. She knocked a figure off my fuel measurement and asked for the Hobbs time. As long as my leg went as planned there was the required VFR fuel reserve. She said that if my times between check points were taking longer than expected then to land at Immokalee that was on route. The Pahokee VOR is also down although I already knew this. No pressure then !!!.
I am afraid that taking photos at Pahokee never even crossed my mind and I didn’t even ask what happened to that aircraft on the apron that had the front end missing and damage to the tailplane. It is almost like a skull and crossbones flying from the mast of a three masted ship. Approach at your own risk …….
Fortunately the trip back to Naples went almost exactly to plan. I made doubly sure that I leaned off the mixture at my cruise altitude of 2500ft. My trip took 46 minutes from takeoff to touch down on 05 at Naples. I taxied back to NAC, tidied the aircraft and paperwork. I checked the remaining fuel on board and it was 7 gallons. I walked into the office and presented Richard with the strap off the door of his aircraft. His face was a picture only I did not think about taking a photo. I had to clutch onto my precious signed QXC sheet for a bit longer as Nikki was out flying with a student.
Another English student, David LeGrand had just completed his first solo and I got some pictures.

David having just completed his first solo and his instructor Sery
David after the shirt cutting ceremony. Sorry I missed the actual cutting bit.

It was 3pm and I still had not eaten my lunch. For those that have been expressing concern over what I have been eating, I took a photo of it.

It is a Ciabatta roll with Danish Lurpack butter and slices of Canadian tasty Cheddar + apple + water. A good mix of calories and fruit.

Nikki returned and we had a debrief on my flights. I now need to put in a couple of heavy days of training to be ready for my Skills test of Thursday morning. During our discussion I had a phone call from forum member DownN3Greens and we are going out for a beer (probably on Thursday evening) and he has even offered to get one of his yellow taxi cabs to take me to Miami airport on Friday. All I need to do is to give the driver a tip. It is a fanatastic offer and I could not refuse. The drinks are on me, on Thursday Dale.

At 4pm I cycle home and start my study and blog, etc.

It has been a good day.

I am going to have to wait until tomorrow to tell you about jogging on the beach the American way.

Bye for now

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Showery Sunday

Sunday 26th February

I've been having a great time in Florida and it’s my day off although the forecast is for stormy weather with possibility of thunder. At sunrise I looked out of the window and was greeted by a clear blue sky. I thought I must get moving and make the most of it. The idea was to go to the Third Street South shopping area and get breakfast. I cycled down there but it was only 8:30 and I thought it would not be open yet so I went to the beach because I knew the pier was nearby.

The beach and pier.

On the pier but I know bad weather is approaching fast

Sunny so far

Pelicans hanging around near a fisherman

It’s looking blacker

Good thing I did not go to the North of Naples

Time to join those heading for shelter
I didn’t make it in time even though I was quickly pulling my lightweight hiking waterproof from my rucksack I got a soaking. The waterproof was at the bottom of the rucksack and I was trying to avoid emptying the other contents all over the pier and into the Gulf. I managed to retain ownership of everything but it was a bit pointless putting my waterproof on now as I was drenched. I took shelter with others at the shore end of the pier. Once the rain had stopped I put on the waterproof to stop the spray from the tyres running up my t-shirt and shorts and cycled up to the shopping area. I arrived and there was no-one to be seen.

First time I had worn my waterproof.

I had the Plaza to myself.
Having walked all around the Plaza and determined that no cafes were open, I cycled to a nearby street and could see some encouraging activity. There was a grill with a balcony where you could buy coffee and muffins in the next-door shop and then sit on the balcony. I locked up the bike and got a croissant and a coffee and then sat on the balcony under cover from the now light showers.

My breakfast.

After 3 weeks of cycling I was even showing signs of muscles in my legs. Sorry, it is not a pretty sight.
After my enjoyable breakfast I cycled off and stumbled upon some closed roads where the Naples Art Festival was taking place. I paid my three dollar entry fee and went in.

There were loads of exhibitors

Lots of different types of art

I don’t think the guys back in Cheddar, Somerset would agree that the best Cheddar in the world comes from Vermont. Unless there is a Vermont in Somerset.

I am learning watercolour myself and this is the kind of style and standard that I aspire to.

There are refreshments available
After having a really good look around it was time to cycle back.

So this is where those fire tenders live. (they came to the hotel on two successive nights)

This is a forklift for boats that are stored in these huge multi-bay sheds

The Naples Yacht Club, members only so clear off Peewit.
I returned to the hotel and after half an hour the weather seemed to be improving so I thought about having some lunch at the Waterfront Café. On my way out I tried to ring my daughter Caroline using my calling card and the payphone. The card was low on credit so I tried the topping up procedure. I eventually discovered that you had to have a US issued credit card to do this. I asked at reception for somewhere I could buy a new card and they said the Mobil station on 41. I was back on my bike cycling into a headwind and after 15 minutes hard cycling I purchased my ten dollar card (enough for 3.5 hours of transatlantic call time). I used the payphone on the petrol forecourt and rang my daughter in The Midlands. She answered but could not hear me. I had been trying to call her for an hour now and still had not achieved it. I had my mobile phone with me so at great expense I rang on that. Guess what – same result, I could hear her but not vice versa. Must be a problem on her phone. I cycled back looking for The Waterfront but it must have closed or have a new name so I went to Pier 41 instead. I got a cool beer and ordered a lobster stack salad. While waiting for my salad I tried my mobile again and this time I got through. We had a quick chat and my salad arrived. It had mozarella slices, on tomato slices on lobster mayonnaise layers, all on a bed of salad. It was excellent. After lunch I wandered along the boardwalk around Tin City.

A Pelican on a pole and a sailboat
I wanted to go and check the Greyhound times for my trip from Naples to Miami on Friday so set off on my trusty bike.

DO NOT TRUST THE YELLOW SIGN – assume they will run you over.
Back at the hotel I checked on the Internet and the Greyhound bus scheduling was ridiculous with crazy long travelling time starting at silly O’clock in the morning. Ok so I need to hire a car so I cycle to the airport and pop in to see Richard at NAC. He recommends Dollar but they have closed for the day. Back to the hotel then. When I arrive they are cleaning my room and I ask how long it will take ?. 15 minutes. The room staff here are a miserable bunch and communicate with you in grunts. Most speak no English. Outside I watched the heron catching his lunch.

I promised to tell you about doing things with one hand in the USA. Well the most noticeable thing is in restaurants and cafes. All food is served cut up into bite sized chunks so you only need a fork in one hand and you are covered. Everyone drives with one hand usually with a mobile phone in the other. When I’m cycling if I see someone talking on a mobile and doing that walking backwards and forwards thing, I always cycle straight at them to see when they notice me and a look of fear or a scream emerges. Unlike in the movies you even fly with just one hand on the flight controls.

There were no Harley’s about today as it was not their kind of weather so I need to wait for another time to get pictures of them and their lidless riders.

By the way, I googled for "Canola oil" as in that spread I bought. This is what it came up with :

"Canola is a coined word. It appeared out of nowhere and is not listed in any but the most recent reference sources.
The flip side of the canola coin reads: "rape"! You must admit that canola sounds better than rape. The name canola disguised the introduction of rape oil to America.
Canola oil comes from the rape seed, which is part of the mustard family of plants. Rape is the most toxic of all food-oil plants. Like soy, rape is a weed. Insects will not eat it; it is deadly poisonous! The oil from the rape seed is a hundred times more toxic than soy oil."

The spread is in the bin and I have bought some Kerrygold Irish butter.

Tomorrow I want to report on jogging (US style) and hopefully my QXC.

Till then, Peewit
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Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Claggy factor

Saturday 25th February

I have managed to get control of the Shiggy factor but the Claggy factor is something outside of my hands. Of course this is the cloud that is hanging overhead again today. Peering out of my hotel window I can see that there have been showers and the sky is grey. I look at the TAF (Tower Area Forecast) and it says that it will reduce to 50% cloud cover at midday and then it gets worse after that. The wind also seems to increase in strength during the day. I got showered and dressed. Having found that shirt psychology does not seem to work on the weather I decided to wear a short sleeved denim shirt and also denim jeans as it is a Saturday.
After breakfast I made up a roll for my lunch. A few days ago I had bought some potato rolls from the local store. On the pack it said “Famous Dutch taste” so I was lured into buying them thinking that there would be less sugar in them.

At NAC yesterday I asked Peter (from Holland) about potato rolls and he said he had never heard of them. Maybe this “taste” dates back to some early Dutch settlers here and perhaps grain flour was not available so they made flour from potatoes. Anyway I do not really like them either but they would suffice if I was at Pahokee airfield and was feeling peckish.
As I arrived at the Air Center I saw a vintage car parked.

It is an old Ford of some sort and had a banner on it advertising a classic car show in Naples on the 4th of March. I am leaving Florida on the 3rd. I would have liked to pay that show a visit.
The three musketeers (maybe) that is Peter, Thorsten and myself were back to have another go at doing our qualifying cross country. There might be a chance to go later in the morning. Sery kindly got hold of another video for us to watch. This time it was a Go flight from Stansted to Lisbon in a 737. It was interesting to see that the fuel on board for the trip out was 9 metric tonnes, compared with the 115 tonnes on the 747-200 that went from Gatwick to Miami. After the video the weather was improving and although the conditions were VFR at Naples they were still not good enough at the two other airfields we needed to visit. The weather was also predicted to worsen later in the day so our QXC’s were scrapped for today. Thorsten and I elected to go and do some circuits and Peter was leaving for Holland in the morning so he decided return to his hotel. Having checked our respective aircraft, Thorsten and I went off into the pattern. The wind was quite gusty and it made it difficult to execute a good landing. Suddenly the traffic went crazy and the tower were telling inbound aircraft to go and hold at various places. They asked me to extend downwind and I decided to make the next landing a full stop because being in the slowest aircraft the tower picks on you to alter your circuit pattern to allow the jets in. As I landed a gust of wind picked the aircraft straight off the runway again and I came down at an angle that I failed to correct with the rudder. I thought that I was glad I had stopped. Back at NAC I found that the 30 degree crosswind was gusting to 21 knots and this gives a crosswind component of 11 knots that is close to the limit for a Cessna 152. Thorsten was back soon after although he had been up for 25 minutes longer. The C172 is a bit heavier but even he struggled to keep the aircraft on the ground at one time and the tower called him to start his takeoff roll. A little while later we could see a jet out at the edge of the runway and it had an engine cover missing but the engines were running.

It turned out that they were doing run up checks on the engines.
The wind was getting stronger and the weather for Sunday did not look good. After discussion with our instructors we will attempt to do our QXC again on Monday and I have Sunday off. As I cycled back to the hotel there was a really strong headwind and it was hard work. I hope I lose a few pounds with all this cycling. At the hotel I dumped my heavy flight bag, picked up my rucksack and went off to Walmart. I was surprised to still have a headwind. I managed to buy a replacement Swiss Army knife, some socks and carefully chosen food items using the 5 S’s criteria.
Hooray, there was a tailwind on my cycle home.
It had been a relatively quite day so here are a few pet pictures.

This is Dougal and Angus and my wife. The picture was taken a couple of years ago and Dougal had got Diabetes and had gone blind. Angus was a young dog and as you can see he would get his brothers lead in his mouth to guide him along the correct route.

Dougal has departed this earth now but here he is when we took him to Jersey on holiday, on his favourite beach (St Ouen’s).

This is my daughter Caroline’s cat. His name is Mr. Molly as at first it was thought to be female.
I have a chance to catch up on some aviation study tomorrow and would like to get some pictures of Harley Davidson’s. I will also be telling you why you can do almost everything with one hand in the USA. In fact if the theory of evolution is true then you will be able to spot an American because they will have one arm shorter than the other.

See you tomorrow

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Stop press

Accrington 2-1 Burton
Robbie Williams' last-minute winner kept Accrington 13 points clear at the top of the Conference table.
He headed home Gary Roberts' cross to give John Coleman's side an eighth successive league win.

Paul Mullin put Accrington ahead after nine minutes with a looping header that gave him fourth goal in three games and his 11th of the season.

Jon Shaw scored from close-range for Burton on the stroke of half-time before Williams had the final word.



The 5 S's

Friday 24th February

Today is to be the day I do my Qualifying Cross Country (QXC). I didn’t get to bed last night until 12:30 and then was up again at 5:30am to do the necessary chart plotting and planning. Having completed this I looked out of the window and was disappointed to see a rather gloomy outlook. Anyway I needed to get going so I showered and then thought I ought to wear one of my two remaining properly laundered shirts for the occasion. I had a white one and a blue one. I was thinking that I will also wear one when I do my skills test with Andrew (the CAA skills test examiner) in a few days time. At NAC they have a dress code for career pilots and this includes a white shirt. I thought that if I wear a white shirt for my skills test then Andrew might think that I was on the career pilot course and be tougher on the test. I suspect that my grey hair may have dismissed that thought but I decided to save my blue shirt for the skills test. So it was the white shirt then and when I removed it from the dry cleaners plastic bag it had a little tag saying that they had tried and tried and tried to remove all the aircraft oil and grime but had failed.
I made up a pastrami roll to take with me for lunch. Now here I can give you a couple of tips about buying food in the stores. This is a spread that I bought.

It says it “tastes like butter” which it may, but it has an awful smell so you will probably not want to eat what it is spread on. So when selecting a suitable food item use the 5 S’s. They are Shape, Size, Smell, Sweetness and Shiggy factor.
Shape and Size are easy to tell. Smell – well now you know that is also important. Sweetness – a lot of the food here is way too sweet for my taste. Lastly there is the Shiggy factor – well you want to be in a good condition to fly the next day.
My bag was packed and it was time to go. It was mild enough whilst cycling but the sky was a UK grey colour and there was a dampness in the air. At NAC everyone was checking the weather outlook and it was not encouraging. I know this happens in England all the time but I did not expect it here. Just been spoilt by the daily good weather so far. There were three of us all booked to do the QXC and just like all the students it was a question of waiting for the weather to improve. We were waiting in the front desk area when a seemingly never ending chain of school children filed past. My first thought was that this was the new intake for the next Career Pilot course, however they all trooped out onto the apron to be shown a GA aircraft.

Here are some of them being shown an aircraft and you can see the overcast sky in the background.
A little while later they all filed back through the reception again and Bea gave each one a special NAC pencil.

The cloud base was lifting very slowly and so Sery (an English flight instructor) found a video for us to watch. It covered all the processes that go on in the flight deck of a Virgin 747-200 flying from Gatwick to Miami and back. I found it very interesting. Nikki and Sery said they were getting some sandwiches did we want to add our choice to the order. Yes please, now I won’t have to eat my roll with that spread on it. Half an hour later Sery returned with the food and I had a Popeye wrap. It was lovely.
By 1:45pm the weather was much better but not quite good enough and it was now too late to go. So we now know how you feel back in England when this happens. At least it was warm and the sun was coming out. Nikki said that she would take us over to the tower if we wanted and soon we were on our way.

Inside the top of the tower everyone was putting faces to the voices that we had been hearing over the airfield radio. We were given some explanation of what they do and I took some pictures.

We had enjoyed our visit and then returned to NAC. We sat out in the now hot sunshine for a while and then I decided to go home so I could take the opportunity to go out and get some provisions (using my 5 S’s criteria). This was all accomplished and as I got back to the hotel this bird (maybe it is an Ibis) was on the car park perimeter.

I’ve now got my fingers crossed for tomorrow and at least I should get a full night of sleep.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Snow on the ground and a tour of Italy

Thursday 23rd February

Snowing !!!!, yes but not here. I spoke to my wife Jenny at lunchtime and she said there was snow on the ground back home in Surrey. Whilst I was talking to her I looked up the current Metar for Naples and it gave the temperature as 26 degrees C and it was sunny outside.

My day started early with a cycle ride in at dawn. The sky was perfectly clear at my hotel but as I was cycling towards the airport I could see a sort of grey merkiness in the distance. This was FOG. Oh shoot !!!, I new that my planned solo flight to Immokalee for soft and short field takeoffs and landings was under threat. When I got to the airfield it was all rather quiet, the ramp was full of aircraft and the fog was there. OK so it would lift later. This gave me a chance to complete my planning for the dual cross country training trip to Charlotte County and back via Class C airspace. The planning took a while and although the fog had gone at Naples, it was still present inland and further up the coastline. The morning passed and some of us sat out at the tables on the ramp chatting about our progress and setbacks. Thorsen was due to go on a cross country to Venice but the fog was only clearing slowly there. Eventually he was given permission to depart on the basis that it was clearing and should be gone by the time he arrived. Here he is preparing for the flight.

I checked the weather again at Immokalee and it had a visibility of 1 mile and was clear below 1200 ft. So even though it was 11:15am it was not clearing. I went in to see Nikki and she said that I could do touch and go’s in the circuit at Naples if I wanted. Yes I wanted to do that. She said to do some flapless and glide approaches as well. At 11:48 I started up and taxied out to runway 23. I did the power and pre takeoff checks and lined up short of the runway. I called the tower but was asked to hold. A queue of us had to wait for 15 minutes whilst loads of aircraft landed and a couple of big jets jumped the queue and took off. At last I got clearance to go but as per usual it was not a case of hanging around on the runway as other aircraft were on final approach. I got airborne and into a left hand pattern. I was sent a long way downwind on my first circuit and I thought that it was getting a bit silly. Obviously the tower were under pressure but eventually I came back for my touch and go. Suddenly it was quiet and the traffic had gone because I got several circuits in almost on my own. I did one with no flaps and the tower called and asked why I had not turned onto base. I said I wanted to extend downwind a little to do a flapless approach (it requires a shallower approach angle) and the tower asked what I meant. Apparently flapless approaches are not part of the FAA training. I kept going in the circuit and was they were going well with some excellent landings. It was coming up to 1pm and I thought that I had better land as I was hoping to do my dual cross country trip a little later. I requested a full stop landing and was back at the ramp at 13:06pm. Nikki was out with another student and so I had a few minutes to grab some food, chat with other students and check the weather. The winds aloft had changed and this messed up my planning.
Someone who had just had his birthday was brought along to have a look at some aircraft. Once in the cockpit the door was shut and he was off on a unexpected trial flight with an instructor. What a nice surprise. I think he enjoyed it. Here is the lucky birthday boy.

Once Nikki was back she had a debrief to do and to see the CAA inspector who was checking the PPL training and have some lunch. She kindly checked my revised chart and plogs whilst eating her sandwich. The plan was to go at 3pm. I checked over the aircraft again and got the weather at Charlotte County (also known as Punta Gorda). At 15:06 we started up and were soon on our way. The flight went well. As we got to Charlie airspace I called Fort Myers approach and they diverted us along the coastline and gave us a squawk code and an altitude to maintain. This was taking us away from my carefully planned route but part of the training is to be able to decide where we are and set a new route to the destination. This is done using the chart and the VOR radios on the aircraft. All went well and we arrived at Charlotte County and I had checked the weather and knew which runway was in use (21). There was little traffic and I used the local frequency to let others know that we were landing at 21 on a left hand pattern. The touch down was smooth and we turned off onto the taxiway. There were a few minutes now to sort out my paperwork and prepare for the return trip. After more power and pre takeoff checks were off again. The return trip also went well and was a bit quicker with a bit of a tailwind. The join at Naples were fine and Nikki helped spot the other landing traffic as were number 5 to land to start with. My landing was probably about the worst I have done so my good trip was spoilt by a poor touch down. Whilst taxing back to the ramp Nikki said “ If you have time to spare, go by air”. This refers to the fact that there is quite a lot of time used in planning the flight before you leave, so even though the slowest plane flies direct at a 100mph it may be quicker to jump into a car and set off straight away.
As the aircraft was shut Nikki said which way did I want to go on my Qualifying Cross Country (QXC) tomorrow. Yippeeee I had done well enough to get a pass to do this important trip.
After the de-brief it was time to go home. It was dark outside and I fitted my Walmart lights to the bike. It was still pleasantly warm as I cycled back. On the main road a couple of Harley’s went by with their distinctive ‘potato potato’ sound, whilst two police cars with sirens and flashing light headed in the opposite direction. The sky was clear and I really felt like I was living the American lifestyle. OK a buzzy flying insect flew in to me and almost went down on the inside of my shirt and whilst recovering from this I just missed a trash can that the residents seem to like to stick right in the middle of the sidewalk, but I was feeling elated. I got back to the hotel at 7:30 and had a lot to do. I caught up on emails and decided I was too hungry to start work on the nav planning or blog next. So I walked the 30 yards to the Olive Garden and had a ‘Tour of Italy’ meal (as recommended by Richard) and a glass of Australian Shiraz. The meal was good and so was the Shiraz. I have a couple of good bottles of Shiraz at home but cannot open them for another 6 years.
Having eaten well it is now 11:20 as I write this blog. Maybe I will get up early to do my QXC planning.
The Olive Garden serves good food at reasonable prices (although my brother in San Diego says the ones there are poor). I noticed that they have very wide chairs on rollers. Here is why.

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