T-Day + 1: Flight to New Smyrna Beach

Our family has a lot of great memories in New Smyrna Beach. As children, later teenagers and college students, NSB was our home away from home on the weekends. We regularly made the hour drive to the beach to launch our 16 foot Hobie Cat into the surf.

While everyone else was out Black Friday shopping today, I flew a short 15 minute hop from Leesburg (KLEE) over to New Smyrna Beach, (KEVB) to meet my Dad for lunch. He has a beachfront condo a few miles to the north.

Departing the Leesburg Airport, the winds were from 230 degrees at 10, gusting to 18kts. They sky was 5000 feet scattered and temp/dew point was 29/19. A cold front is approaching later today and I anticipate I will need to head back to base within a few hours, in order to beat the leading edge of the weather.

As expected, the brief flight over to New Smyrna was choppy, due to the southwesterly flow ahead of the frontal boundary. ATC frequencies were quiet, except for a few flight training aircraft. It seems that most other pilots are either at the mall, or home watching football. 

Approaching New Smyrna Beach from the west

Right downwind for RW 20. Ponce Inlet Light in sight

Turning Final for RW 20 at New Smyrna Beach

Dad and I had a great lunch at The Breakers, an open air pub directly on the beach. Our perch overlooked the soft sugar sand and the Atlantic Ocean. The steady offshore breeze was responsible for perfect surfing conditions; three feet and glassy. The Breakers is famous for its 17 different kinds of hamburgers and large pitchers of beer. As always, it was packed with patrons, mostly tourists in town for the holiday. 

Main Street entrance to NSB

After stuffing ourselves on some awesome cheeseburgers, fries and sweet tea, we walked the beach to ward off the ensuing food coma. The sky was starting to cloud up, so I checked the latest radar plot on the iPad to see how the weather looking for the return trip home. The leading edge of the rain was now just west of Leesburg, so we tooled back to the New Smyrna Airport for my trip back. It was time to leave. 

The Breakers

Taxiing out to the active RW, already the clouds were building to the west, and ceilings were coming down. The KEVB ATIS was reporting sky broken at 3,600, overcast 4000 feet, the winds gusting to 24 kts. The baro pressure had dropped from 30.00 inches to 29.90, from just 2 hours earlier in the day, as the low pressure rapidly advanced from the west. Ocala, to the northwest of Leesburg, was reporting rain and marginal VFR conditions. 

As I departed RW25, the stall horn chirped a few times due to the turbulence. After clearing the Daytona Class C airspace overhead, I climbed to 2000 feet for the brief trip back home. Passing the Orange City Towers and approaching Leesburg from the east, I could see the leading edge of the rain showers just west of the airport ahead. What I saw out of the cockpit was confirmed by the XM NEXRAD Radar image on the Avidyne EX500 MFD. It would be a race to see if I got there before the rain.

Tower set me up for a left base for RW 21 and cleared me to land. Once on the ground, I taxied back to my hangar just before the heavens opened up.  Awesome!

Approaching Leesburg from the east, storm clouds ahead



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