Tipton, Washington, Charlottesville, Kitty Hawk
Flying the Edge of America
Saturday, August 23, 2008: Tipton, Maryland
A bit of nasty weather along our way.
Oh say can you see what a great day it was to fly to Washington DC by the dawn's
early light. We
so proudly hailed at Chincoteague at twilight's last gleaming. We saw broad
stripes and bright stars at the airport before the perilous fight.
Over Washington airspace the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
Because we followed all of the airspace rules we did not see the rockets" red
glare or the bombs bursting in air. It gave proof through the flight that our
flag was still there. When we landed at Tipton the Star Spangled Banner still
waved over the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Tipton flight Video
Jim gave us a warm welcome.
was feeling very patriotic today as we landed at Tipton airport in Maryland and
drove to Washington DC; so I could not resist mangling the anthem into the passage above.
A really big obelisk, much bigger than those puny ones in Europe.
The bad news is that our wonderful, and, so far, unerring workhorse 51 Juliet gave a
few too many splutters and a shakes on landing. This was enough for me to put
her in the shop for an inspection. She flew without a problem to Tipton but
while taxiing she did not seem right; so better safe than sorry I figured.
Fortunately Tipton airport is Jim's (the Commander pilot we met in New York just
a few days ago) airport so the mechanic on the field is familiar with
Commanders. It was great to see Jim again and we plan to have dinner with him
and his wife on Monday. We
will find out on Monday if 51 Juliet has major or minor problems;
let's keep our fingers crossed.
Once in Washington, and checked into our hotel, Julia and I walked three or four
miles taking in the major monuments. It was really hot and humid so this
was an extra hard walk for us; but well worth it as I got to visit the FDR
memorial, for the first time, which is now my favorite memorial. FDR happens to
Sunday, August 24, 2008: Washington, DC
A little painting by Renoir.
We visited the Natural History Museum in the morning, surrounding ourselves with
stuffed animals and dinosaur bones. The
museum's mineralogical and gemstone exhibit was outstanding and caused us to
spend several hours wandering around the amazing crystal filled rooms.
In the afternoon we visited the Philips Art Collection. It is a small gallery,
just two private houses, but it contains exquisite impressionist and modern
works. We ended the evening by eating an excellent dinner of tapas, red wine,
and Pedro Ximenez; if
you have never tried it you are missing a life experience.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Julia checking the time at the Portrait gallery.
Today we visited the National Space and Science Museum in the morning where we
encountered many exhibits that represent milestones in flight and space
exploration. Then in the afternoon we visited the American Portrait and Art
gallery which flooded us with faces from the revolution and images of America. After
this we drove out to College Park Airport to visit the aviation museum
there. This airport was the first in the USA and is the oldest, continually
operated airport in the world.
The Wright brothers trained the first two American pilots to fly their airplane
at this airport. The first mile high flight was made here and the first instrument
approach was flown here. I spent my time on a computer simulator of the
Wright Flyer and did manage to get it flying after many crashes.
Just a big kid at heart.
good news, 51 Juliet was given a clean bill of heath by the aircraft mechanic
today. He found two faulty spark plugs, replaced them, and found everything A
We were so relieved to hear this as Julia and I had started creating a list of
alternate plans, which included flying back home commercially, and booking a
vacation rental in DC. Now we can continue our saga on schedule tomorrow.
Julia, David, Beth, and Jim; with a P51 in the background.
evening ended on another good note as we had dinner with Jim and his wife Beth.
It was so good to see Jim and Beth.
We ate an excellent dinner and shared travel stories. Thanks for helping us with
our mechanical problems and making us feel so welcome Jim and Beth, and for
buying dinner; we owe you one.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008: Charlottesville, Virginia
The Blue Ridge Mountains.
We were able to leave Washington/Tipton this morning as planned. After replacing
the two faulty spark plugs the old Commander performed flawlessly as it has
since we left Oakland on June 30. Once again we lifted off into the skies over
Washington and, other than being sent in all directions by the air traffic
control, made a simple flight to Charlottesville, Virginia. The
weather was overcast so we only got a glimpse of the famous Blue Ridge Mountains
as we set down at Charlottesville airport.
The hotel we were staying at picked us up from the airport so we were soon
walking about the historic downtown of Charlottesville enjoying a fabulous
lunch, wine, and cappuccinos. The weather cooled off a bit and the humidity went
down considerably making it a very pleasant afternoon to visit Thomas
Jefferson's old stomping grounds.
We saw Woody Allen's new movie and it is really worth seeing. In his later
films, to me, he has become a modern day Shakespeare as he is able to explore
through his films the basest human feelings, aspirations, and bad behavior.
We walked around the University of Virginia before dinner. Its main campus was
designed by Thomas Jefferson and is attractive.
Flight to Charlottesville
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Monticello, the home that Tom built.
The rain came down, and down, and down all last night and all day today. It
seems the tail end of hurricane Fay drenched the entire southeastern seaboard.
This made our visit to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, a rather soggy one,
but we did not let a little rain deter us from our sightseeing.
It turns out
that all the locals we met were not unhappy with the rain as there hasn"t been
much in the area for a few months now.
Julia trying to keep dry.
Thomas Jefferson is a true dichotomy to me. On one hand he was a renaissance
man, a man of reason, of science. He was an advocate for political freedom
and yet he was the owner of over a hundred slaves. He wrote a document outlining
his views against
slavery and yet he only freed certain slaves while he lived. And worst, he
undoubtedly had a slave concubine and
showed he fathered children with her.
It is hard for me to reconcile my feelings toward this man.
I am torn between great admiration and utter disgust. He surely did much good in
his life but on the backs of much human suffering. There are no
answers in life only choices.
When we returned from Monticello we needed some place to eat lunch. Our favorite
restaurant had stopped serving by the time we got there so we popped in to a
very unassuming diner and were pleasantly surprised. This diner not only had
good food but good wine too. The food in Charlottesville has been consistently
Thursday, August 28, 2008: North Carolina
A very wet airport.
Today we left Charlottesville for
Manteo in North Carolina. We lifted off into a
400 foot cloud ceiling and pouring rain. Along our way we had to deviate from
our planned course several times to edge our way around large thunderstorm
cells. We saw cells that reached up higher than 20,000 feet above us.
Low clouds and rain are not fun to fly in.
was relatively smooth considering how much weather we encountered. Thank Darwin
for the GPS onboard weather receiving system it really saved our bacon on this
flight. But, no matter how we tried the weather beat us in the end. When we
were within 30 miles of Manteo a thunderstorm forced us to land at
North Carolina instead. I was really frazzled after this flight. I had so much
work to do and then at the end of it I had to plot a new course to an unplanned
strip; I was glad to be on the ground.
We are definitely in the south now.
At Edenton the FBO attendant was really helpful and very supportive. He
loaned us a crew car; which is a rare free car that is offered to pilots at very
few airports. He tried his hardest to get us a rental car but this did not work
out. We thought we might keep 51 Juliet at Edenton and drive the rest of the way
to Manteo and
Nags Head. In the end we drove into Edenton's old historic town
center and ate lunch. It turns out that Edenton was the first capital city of
North Carolina. When we returned to the airport after lunch the weather had
cleared enough for us to fly to Manteo as originally planned.
By the time we got
on the ground again I was really beat. Julia had booked us a terrific hotel
right on the beach of the barrier islands in Nags Head. So the first thing we
did was go for a swim in the warm but stormy Atlantic Ocean. The swim made me
feel refreshed and renewed. What a day this was.
Flight to Kitty Hawk
Friday, August 29, 2008
What must it have been like at that first flight?
Just down the road from our hotel is Kitty Hawk. Kitty Hawk is where the world's
first controlled heavier than air flight was made by Wilbur and Orville Wright.So
our first stop today was the national park which is now home for this historic
Julia is ready for her next flight.
The area was once all sand dunes but has since been planted with grass I guess
to stop erosion. The park has the original rail the brothers used to launch
their first motorized aircraft. They
have recreated two sheds that the brothers used as workshops and living quarters
for the three years they spent at Kitty Hawk building and testing their
There is also an art deco stone monument atop the tallest dune which is stunning
and a bronze statue scene depicting the first flight that is quite well done. We
had a great time looking through the small museums they have there too. I cannot
tell you how happy I am to have had the opportunity to visit this site. By the
way Wilbur Wright was born on April 16, 1867 and I was born on April 16, 1957; a
From Julia: While visiting the Wright brothers" memorial,
David overheard a small boy saying to his parents, "It's easy to know which came
first, either the chicken or the egg; the good Lord created the chicken first".
The boy's statement of religious belief seemed to contrast with the realization
I"d just had about the Wright brothers" scientific approach to creating a way to
fly. The place is a wonderful monument to science. It was only through repeated
empirical experimentation that the Wright brothers were able to make the first
controlled, engine powered flight. They didn"t sit down on the sand and pray for
God to send them an airplane (well, maybe they did, apparently their dad was a
pastor). At the site, you can see reproductions of the early experimental
gliders and the first plane, and we saw a piece of fabric from the Wright
brothers" airplane that was taken to the moon by Neil Armstrong.
The weather has been improving so we are both looking forward to the Smoky
Kitty Hawk Video
Miles Hiked: 150
Miles Flown: 6,387
Flights Flown 31
Hours Flown 47.63
States Visited: 23
Towns Visited: 38