Thursday, August 11, 2011

Great Dismal Swamp Fire

In an attempt to beat some of the heat in New Bern I headed up to New Jersey to visit my brother and sister in law Al and Sally for a couple of days. It was a nice break and I enjoyed seeing the renovations they have done to their home of 30+ years.

I flew commerical to New Jersey but my return was by "Air Al", my brother's turbo Mooney aircraft. We flew from Caldwell NJ to New Bern down the Delmarva peninsula. It was perhaps the most idyllic small aircraft trip I have ever taken. We flew at 6,000 and 8,000 feet for about 3 hours without a single bump or shiver. The sky was clear and Al and I had fun finding all my sailing transit landmarks.

As we approached Norfolk VA we noted what appeared to be a large cumulus cloud. Our first reaction was that our flight was going to be affected by thunderstorms. They are common in the afternoons. However it turned out that the cloud was smoke from a fire that has been burning in the Dismal Swamp for the better part of a month. The tops of the very dense smoke were about 10,000 feet. The visible plume extended SSE all the way to New Bern - about 100 miles. We paralleled the plume the rest of the trip until final at which point we had to enter it to find the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport. We still had a couple of miles of viability in the smoke so we were able to make a visual approach which precluded Al from having to demonstrate his instrument landing skills.

Al did a short turn around and headed back to New Jersey. I returned to Reboot and several hours of listening to XO whine about my absence.

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