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Short Trips: Cedar Key, FL

I've wanted to go to Cedar Key since before I got my license. It's sort of a right of passage 'round these parts to go. This is not only because it's an island, but also because it's friggin' short! Still, the beauty of the place from the air makes it a "must see" if you're into flying small planes. This is the low-down on our trip.

A little while back, I got checked out to rent airplanes at a couple of different airports from the one I usually frequent. This was in no way any kind of reflection on my regular place, but they only have one newish plane there, and sometimes it's hard to get it when I want it. Also, lately it's been taking longer to get little things written up and fixed, and the price is the same at the new place as it is at the old one. On top of that, the new place has three new 172SPs, and a Cutlass.

The only down side to the new place is that the runway is only 60 feet wide, and runway 32 comes in right accross the interstate on one end of the field. Since it's so tight, many renters just don't think to go there, so I can get a 172SP pretty much whenever I want, I just have to drive about 15 minutes farther from home.

All that being said, today was the first chance I'd had to actually go anywhere in one of the planes from the new place. The day dawned very cold (4.5/2) and there was ice on the truck, and ice on the wing when we got there. It was already melting off, and was gone before we got through the preflight. Julie had decided to come along, so we had decided to make the trip to Cedar Key. We were in N215PJ, which is a 2004 172SP that has about 190 hours TT.

I always plot out a course the night before, and do the full calculations the morning of. I also use a GPS, but I like to have my backups in order just in case. It helps me keep in practice. This time, it paid off. My GPS batteries went dead about 15 minutes from our destination, but we had been tracking our course by pilotage and dead reconing the whole way, and just kept to our plan and went right to Cedar Key. I keep extra batteries in my flight bag, so I put them in after we landed.

This time there is no question who shot the pictures. It was Julie. I had to fly the plane, so there's no way to snake the credit on this one. She shot these on the way into Cedar Key (KCDK). All three are of the runway, from our landing.

We had very smooth air all the way there. Winds aloft were 6Kts at 020 and steady. Cold and clear, we were getting 120 Kts at 2250 RPM, burning about 10.1 an hour.


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