Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Go West - Key West

View from the Pier Bar at Key West by the sunset.
As a few of you guys might already know I've been down to the Keys during the end of September for the first time while the sun was high and the temperatures were hitting 35ºC and the beach was just awesome. After the first time almost two months have passed and along came the Winter which made the Keys look like a distant, old dream. But last week, as our friends were around and since they were out from a cloudy, dull winter back in Europe we decided to satisfy their biggest desire and lead them SouthWest, down to the Florida Keys Islands.
Unfortunately the weather was not as good as expected and low overcast ceilings with rain and gusty winds amid made the trip impossible during the first days and by Thursday we had almost given up on the idea of going down to "paradise". Still, Friday morning came up with a crystal clear blue sky, calm winds and temperatures of around 25ºC. With these great conditions available we hurried to the airport and got 2 aeroplanes and even lost our minds for a moment and decided to rent 2 C172SP G1000 to enjoy the most of the experience as possible and give the first flight chance on a G1000 glass cockpit to our friends.
Walkaround and refuel was complete in a matter of 15 minutes and after getting the guys at controls, flying left-hand seat (they are pilots, it was only fair to let them fly for themselves and experience the flight in the first hand) we took off from Daytona bound to Homestead, a small local airport close to Miami, which was chosen as a fuel stop due to its nice fuel price (much cheaper than the Keys). This leg was flown with the Auto Pilot ON, making full use of the G1000 capabilities - which included Flight Level Change for en route climb to 9500ft, Vnav profile descent into destination and GPS Flight Plan navigation - just like an airliner.
After Homestead we moved further South to Key Largo, the first island that makes the Keys and decided to start a scenic tour from there to Key West at low altitude, flying VFR by hand. And so we did, taking pictures of the scenery and enjoying the amazing coloured waters. But after a while we noticed that something was missing... "Wait a minute! We have 2 aircraft, we should be enjoying this tour all together!" One of us got on the radio and quickly solved the problem saying: "Hey guys, wait up and we will get together and fly in formation down to Key West! Maybe we will even be able to get some nice pics on the way!"
The result is better described by these photos below other than by text!
General View of the scenario en route.
Check out the shadows that the aircraft were casting as we were approaching each other.
Head photo taken from our right wing.
Catching up with the guys, slightly above their altitude.
Spot the US1 down there!
Once we got to Key West we hastily moved to the beach to take some baths and lay on the sun watching the speed boats race go by across the shore (it was speedboat race's weekend at Key West)! This felt beautifully regarding it was winter and just a week before it had been raining!
As the evening came it was time to grab something to eat by the dock to the north of the beach and so we walked through the streets and got there just in time to enjoy the sunset over a few drinks and snacks. Once we were satisfied we strolled down Duval Street, which is the main street in Key West, where the Speedboats' parade was being held. At the end of the street we got to the Southernmost Point of the continental USA which is perhaps the biggest icon in Key West.
The gang together at the Pier Bar.
Southernmost Point of Continental USA.
The Team all together after a great day!
After such a great day we jumped on the Cessnas for a 4 hour flight back do Daytona, this time on a more direct route only stopping to refuel at Airglades Airport, which is close to the well known Okeechobee Lake. On those four hours we were still able to do an RNAV Approach, an ILS and a handful of touch and goes. Our friends got to our place with only one hour to prepare the bags, eat something and take a bath, after that they were back on the road to Orlando for their flight back to the Old Continent.
Extra: For those interested in a video compilation summing up the flight check out this one made by my friend Vieira,


Ana said...

adorei as fotos das keys!

av8erPrince said...

Nice post. I envy you. Never flew in AZ.