The fall flying season has officially arrived here in the South. Summertime in Florida is not always the best time to fly aircraft, unless of course you are winging your way up to the North Carolina mountains, where the temperatures are 25 degrees cooler on any given day. On the ramp, ambient temperatures here can easily reach 100 degrees F in July and August.
After October 1st, pilots start flying more in the South. With our first cool front, daytime temperatures top out in the low 80’s and evening temperatures fall into the 60’s. The air is cooler and crisper, and flight visibilities unlimited. Summertime air-mass thunderstorms, birthed of heat, humidity and updrafts, happen with much less frequency.
Due to the lower temperatures and humidity, aircraft simply perform better. The engine, propeller and wings become more efficient because the air is denser.
Yesterday there was a fly in at Bob White Field, X61, just northwest of Orlando. Bob White is an aerodrome that I am very familiar with. That is where I practiced short/soft field landings in N9481U, a Cessna 150/150, used during my private training. At X61, there is no tower, no procedures, no avgas, and no amenities. What you get is a 3,300 x 150 grass strip, in excellent condition, where you can step back in time and experience aviation like it was meant to be.
The cooler dry air brought pilots and other aviation enthusiasts out in droves. The fly in was sponsored by SAS Aircraft Services, and a dozen volunteers served hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta salad and deserts. There must have been 200 people in attendance and 75 or so aircraft double parked in the grass.
Seeing so many planes out flying yesterday gives me hope that we are about to turn the corner economically. The big difference is that most of these planes (vs. the ones at my airport) are that they are in the Experimental or Light Sport categories. There were also many older classic aircraft, which are easy to maintain. It is clear to me that pilots still want to fly; they just want to do it economically. I saw a Piper Tri-Pacer for sale, fully IFR equipped with older radios for just $21,000, so it is possible.
For more photos go here: Bob White Field Fly In 10.30.2010