Monday, August 29, 2011

An Eerie Silence

Hurricane Irene has hurried off to points north leaving an array of inconveniences with which to deal. But life goes on, so this morning N631S and I were airborne and headed toward Connecticut as we are nearly every Monday. Today's trip was a quick one, as Irene's parting gifts included a tailwind at 7,000 feet of about 15 knots. This let me reduce the prop RPM to 2150, lean the fuel flow to 9.7 gallons per hour, and still make about 145 knots over the ground.

The air traffic control frequencies seemed quieter than normal, but the silence got downright spooky in New York Approach airspace. Transiting some of the busiest airspace in the world, it seemed like N631S and I were alone. On a normal day, the flight path follows airway Victor 1 from New Jersey directly over John F. Kennedy International Airport, then off to the northeast along Victor 229 to Bridgeport. Today was not normal.

Just clearing Sandy Hook, the controller asked, "Skylane 31 Sierra, would you like to go direct Bridgeport at this time, or wait until after JFK?" There just wasn't any traffic to interfere with! I responded with, "31 Sierra will take direct Bridgeport," accepting an extra mile or two of flight over water. This moved my track off to the east a few miles, allowing me to snap this picture of a nearly empty JFK. Click on it to enlarge and you'll see very few aircraft.

Flooding from Irene's torrential rains had caused the closure of Sikorsky Memorial Airport (KBDR) but one runway had re-opened at 0830 local time. Having been cleared for the visual approach to Runway 24, I contacted the Tower and the controller advised me to exercise caution due to ponding near the runway and extensive bird activity. Apparently, our feathered friends are enthusiastic about the new-born pond!

As I was about to turn base, toward the runway, the controller said, "31 Sierra, if you can give me a right 360 there, I'll get a truck to go over there and scare away the birds." I said "Wilco," and set up a standard two-minute turn while "Rescue 4" drove past the pond making noise. Finishing 270 degrees of the turn put me onto the base leg of the approach. I saw the pond, and the birds now returning to it. So I "landed long", passing over the birds and touching down well past them. It's to be hoped that the waters will soon subside, and the birds will return to their more usual environs.


Christine Negroni said...

So where is the photo of the birds? For that I think you need a passenger! Great shot from JFK tho.

Stephanie Belser said...

I was near KGON this morning. Between the time I woke up and the time I left (1PM) I heard one aircraft, a R22. My friend's house is within earshot of the NE corridor rail line (visually, when the leaves are gone), zero rail traffic this morning. It was pretty eerie.

Gary said...

A quiet flight without all the traffic call outs, how nice. Strange to see JFK almost frozen in time. It was very quiet around the Philly Bravo with Irene in town.