Wednesday, October 10, 2012

From New York to Denver to Home

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They say that all good things must come to an end. And spending two days in New York City was definitely a good thing.

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Before it was time to leave this afternoon, I snuck in a delicious lunch at Panera Bread. This is one of my favorite “fast food” places, though I don’t consider it the typical fast food joint.

How many McDonald’s do you know have the best white macaroni and cheese that you’ve ever tasted?

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I got it with half a sandwich, the chicken salad, to be exact. This wasn’t my favorite part of the meal. That honor belongs to the cheesy goodness above.

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Another thing that I love about this place is that they give random pieces of heavenly bread with your meal. In case a bowl of macaroni and a giant piece of bread for the sandwich hasn’t quite met your carb quota for the day.

I actually saved this and ate it a few hours later on our long journey home today.

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At Meridian, I enjoyed some pretty airplanes while waiting for Gladys to be pulled up. We lucked out and got the closest spot for parking today…which is nothing short of a miracle in such a busy place.

Can you see New York City? You can even see the One World Trade Center just above the Gulfstream!

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Blue skies in Teterboro are always a good thing. This airport is the first to be shut down in the event that any weather moves into the region. I’ve been stranded at the beginning of the runway, with engines shut down to conserve fuel, more than a few times at this popular airport!

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Oh good! Here comes Gladys! We got her fueled and iced and papered before receiving a call that our passengers were on their way…two hours early! Perfect!

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This shot, which would no-doubt embarrass Gladys if she knew about it, makes my pretty airplane look huge! Or at least, really long. It’s certainly the biggest airplane that I’ve ever been paid to fly.

Did you know that I’ve flown a Boeing 777 and 767 in simulators in Denver? Some of my favorite entries in my logbook… Holy smokes, it was awesome. And they are just a tad larger than my Phenom 300.

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With our passengers aboard, it was time to taxi for departure. We watched a Falcon land while an approaching helicopter arrived from New York City.

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Here he comes! Can you imagine being this type of chauffeur? You fly the boss to work in the morning, and then back home in the evening when he’s done making all of his money for the day.

East Coast is still rolling in the money. Don’t be fooled by no stinkin’ recession.

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He landed right next to us, which was really neat. Helicopters are what got me into aviation in the first place…I wanted to fly for LifeFlight and save lives. I’m glad that I found out how expensive it is to train in them (it would have doubled my already-high student loans to get my certificates in helicopters as well).

Besides, flying airplanes is pretty fun.

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Now that the helicopter is out of our way, let’s take off! Today, we are headed to an airport in Denver that I’ve been many a time. Our passengers requested somewhere with a nice restaurant for the fuel stop so that they could eat while we filled Gladys for the last leg home.

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We can’t quite make it home in this pretty girl. We could have tried, but it would have been really close with fuel. And, like usual in the summer, there was always a chance to fly around some weather, which takes more fuel.

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And we would have been required to fly at a lower speed to conserve fuel. Instead, we flew fast, got fuel, and still arrived home about the same time as if we had tried to make it all the way home from Teterboro.

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Sitting in an airplane for five hours nonstop is a lot for a bum to handle, too, so I’m personally glad that we stopped. We passed Chicago on our way, and Gary, Indiana is in the bottom-center of the picture.

Gary, Indiana, Gary Indiana, Gary, Indiana, my home sweet home!

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I love Chicago, and I promise it’s more than just for their deep-dish pizza. Though, if we’re being serious, what more reason than that would be necessary?

I haven’t been to Chicago since I began this new job in February. But I usually land at Chicago Midway on the south side of the city. And then, I stay in a hotel that is next door to the Tootsie Roll Factory. OK, there is another reason to love coming here!

Cue the angels’ choir! Do you have any idea how wonderful it is to wake up to the smell of fresh Tootsie Rolls?

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Uh oh. Now I want a tootsie roll!

We were assigned the SAYGE 7 Arrival into Denver, but I sweet-talked a shortcut directly to SAYGE today so we didn’t have to go to all of the points. With hungry passengers in the back, who has time to fly the full arrival?!

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On the flight, we were nice and high. This helped with our fuel efficiency and also sometimes gives lower winds, too. Coming this direction, we have a headwind. Which is why we can’t make it all the way home, like we did all the way to Teterboro just a few days before.

Hubby was with me on this flight, thanks to some icy windows. I was excited to see him after being gone for five days.

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Look how simple and clean this overhead panel is! I love this airplane because they’ve streamlined everything to make it accessible and user-friendly. Most airplanes have a gazillion buttons overhead, but we only have a few switches for lights. Smart, huh?

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We must be getting close to Denver with all of this traffic! Since the new airport opened north of town, Denver is one popular place!

At fifty-three square miles, it is the largest airport in the country in surface area! And lots of airplanes come through here. Can you see the one flying just below us before our final descent into Denver Centennial?

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It must be fall…after a dry summer. You can almost feel how crunchy those fields are underneath! I hope that the Rockies have a better winter this year, so that there is plenty of water to go around next summer!

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Cleared to land at Centennial, Runway 35R. For once, it isn’t very busy today. Or windy, as it usually is when landing here. I love visiting Centennial and have done it a lot in my day.

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We spent just a few minutes on the ground getting fuel and fresh ice for the drinks. My passengers headed upstairs in the Denver Jet Center FBO to eat lunch at Perfect Landing, which (I know from experience) is delicious.

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I love how wonderful the Multi-Function Display, or MFD, is in this airplane. All necessary information is available in a glance, including the engine gauges to the left, fuel just below it, landing gear position lights, and trim indicators. Then we have a map of the airport, which helps us taxi along when our airplane is shown as a small triangle (we are familiar with Centennial, but this feature really helps when we go to an airport that we’ve never been). To the right, we have the electrical page up for our reference during start. You can see with the soft keys below that many categories can be selected to show even more information about a particular system, including ice protection and more fuel.

It’s just a smart airplane and nothing shy of pure joy to fly.

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One of the Phoenix Suns owners was here in Denver today. I wonder how on earth I knew that…

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We love coming here and are always treated like royalty. Denver Jet Center has an awesome points program, too, so we can get extra stuff just for buying fuel. I love getting prizes for things that we need to buy anyway!

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Gladys looks pretty on any ramp, but the weather was absolutely perfect here today. I could live in Denver…

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The chocks were in the nose-wheel gear so that we could let the brakes cool down before takeoff. If you depart with hot brakes and need them for an emergency, they won’t be there to help you out. So cooled brakes are kind of important to us all.

Why are they hot to begin with? We used them on landing to decelerate after touching down.

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We taxied to Runway 35R for our departure and waited for a few airplanes to leave and arrive before it was our turn.

Hi, little Cessna!

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Hi, big Challenger! Welcome to Denver!

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And we are off! After leaving five days ago, we are about an hour and a half away from landing at home.

Goodbye, Centennial Airport!

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There were little clouds to avoid on our climb, but they made for a pretty picture today.

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Soon, we had the Valley of the Sun in sight. Well, kind of. It was so hazy today that we had to get close to our airport before we could tell Phoenix Approach that we had it in sight! What’s with all the small hogs today?

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If you see green below, it is a meticulously-maintained golf course. Not very many sane people decide to do grass in these parts.

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Hi, Home! It’s great to see you! We landed around 5:30 PM local time after leaving around 2:30 Eastern from Teterboro. It was a great couple of flights home, but it felt wonderful touching down at home.

There’s no place like home.

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