Flying to Buffalo – pt 1

1807 The plan was simple, we’d fly ourselves from Atlanta, Georgia to Buffalo, New York, rent a car and drive to Toronto during our American Thanksgiving holiday.    

Part of our incentive was to avoid the traffic issues that go along with the busiest travel time of the year, another part was to not patronize the airlines while they continue to allow the TSA to bully them into bizarre, idiotic and ineffective measures that supposedly would provide for our safety.

We had deemed the trip an “optional” one. If the weather was bad or if we decided for whatever reason to stop there were no commitments that would tempt us to continue onward. This helped greatly in preventing get-there-itis.

I had also picked up “Anywhere Map”’s in cockpit Weather (Nexrad, Metar, lightening strikes) package. This would complement my usual weather briefing by allowing me to see weather conditions as they develop in near real-time.

There had been a storm that had largely affected the North-East. It had caused that terrible weather for New York’s Thanksgiving day parade and had pretty much cleared all the clouds away from the North-South corridor that we wanted to fly to the west of the Appalachian mountains. Unfortunately, this same system was responsible for Southerly winds that would ultimately result in strong headwinds for our Northbound journey.

The plan had been to take off from our home airport in Gwinnett at about 10 am do a gas stop at KGAS and then land in Buffalo (actually Niagara Regional Airport – KIAG) sometime between 4 and 6 pm. I knew the headwinds were going to be a factor but I really hadn’t counted on how much of an impact they would ultimately have. In typical Bourassa fashion, we actually did not lift off until closer to 12:30 pm.

Typically I like to spend no more than about 2-3 hours in the air more for passenger comfort than for safety. This plane, a Piper Warrior II has about 4 ½ hours of flying endurance even allowing for the minimum 1 hour fuel buffer that I always land with.

Continued in part 2…

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