Cabot to the Coast and the $100 hamburger

Sunday morning was an early start….it was dark (0500), it was cold (28 degrees), it was snowing, and I was thinking how warm the bed I just left was. But, the airplane needed it’s engine to be preheated. Below 30 degrees, the cold oil is just too thick to cool and lubricate the cylinders during engine start and warm up. Not only is the engine hard to start, but without oil coursing through it, premature engine wear is the result….costly! On this morning I was using a generator to heat a pad on the oil tank. This engine heating process takes about 4 hours (the reason for the early rise). The usual 2 minute  generator start up took me 45 minutes. The long unused generator did not want to start. A dark trip to the sugerhouse for a new spark plug seemed to do the trick.

Todays flight was great, the weather perfect (no more snow in the air). My friend Helen hired me to fly her to her sister’s, who just announced her engagement. Helen was thinking of ways to avoid spending 6 hours in the car driving to Portsmouth and back, be able to grab some lunch, hang with her sister, and to make an adventure out of it…..Catamount Aviation was the perfect answer!

We took off from the grass runway in my Back 40 at 10:20 in the morning with an estimated Portsmouth arrival of 11:20 – in plenty of time for a late Sunday brunch. Hampton Airfield in southern NH is my kind of airfield. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the retired Peas Air Force base,  it has  grass runways nice restaurant, cheap aviation fuel and loads of cool (meaning old taildraggers) aircraft parked everywhere.

Helen was introduced to the duties of co-piloting. This involved holding the map (not reading it), keeping an eye out for other aircraft, learning not to talk while Boston Center (air traffic control) was talking, and pouring coffee from the thermos. She did well on her first trip in a small airplane.

We were met at the airfield by Chris and Jess who took us to lunch at “Popovers” in downtown Portsmouth. Very yummy indeed! Every dish included a freshly baked popover, even the salad was set in one. Outstanding sweets and big mugs of coffee as well. The $100 hamburger (airplane lingo for the cost of the burger plus the aviation fuel to get you there) is alive and well! That meal, in case you’re wondering, comes with a prolonged aerial tour of Vermont, seeing where the ocean meets the sky, watching dusk approach across the mountains from *above* the mountains, and a chance for a little “stick time” if the passenger is up for it.

Portsmouth NH is a neat town. It has many shopping opportunities , restaurants, and a very nice cigar shop. Downtown has the  feel of an old seaside town, with narrow winding streets, well worth exploring sometime. The return flight home was beautiful. With the sun low in the sky, all the hills and mountains were set in contrast. The snow on top of Mount Washington looked impressive. My passenger caught up on some sleep on the 1.2 hour flight back to Catamount Airfield. I love the solitude and sense of quite, flying close to dusk in smooth conditions. Today, things just seemed “right”.

So all you $100 hamburger lovers, Catamount Aviation, has a warmed up engine waiting for you. Let’s fly!


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