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Day Eight

Atlanta, GA to Philadelphia, PA

By now I'm starting to get a bit tired. Still, we're in the air by 8:00am headed for Philadelphia. We are going to get put up for the night by some friends. Some days are short, some are long. We know this one is going to be a long day, covering a lot of miles, so we need to make quick stops and make good time if we're going to get to Philadelphia by nightfall.

Partly because it's cold, and partly because I'm getting tired, I don't take any pictures on departure.

We land at Elborton around 9:15, put in 10.9 gallons, and get back into the air. I don't take any pictures there either. I'm getting tired and jaded.

We're nearing our next fuel stop at Landcaster, South Carolina but we encounter a wall of fog at 1,000 feet.. We're only about 5 miles away from the airport, and the layer is broken, so we get down below it and sneak into the airfield. Not the sort of thing you would want to do in an airplane, but not a big problem in the helicopter if you are cautious. On the ground at 10:45.

We put in 12.2 gallons of gas and a quart of oil, and then hang out waiting for the fog to lift. It finally does, and we're on the go again. Still, we've burned an hour or so waiting for the fog, so now we're running late.

Fuel stop at Chapel Hill at 1:00pm. We put in 13.3 gallons, and go in to pay. For some reason I get distracted, and almost leave my glasses in the FBO. I realize it just before I get back in the helicopter. Back into the FBO, hunt around, and finally find them where I left them, sitting on top of a table. More precious time wasted... Back out to the helo, crank it and fly...

At 3:15 we refuel at Petersburg. Back in the air. At 4:45 we refuel at Lee. Back in the air. Rushing now to beat the dark. We can fly at night, but I prefer daylight. Lots of options if something goes wrong with the machine...

Annapolis, where the U.S. Navy trains it's officers.

By the time we make Northeast Philadelphia, it's dark, dark, dark. We land at the FBO and call the people we're going to be staying with. You notice that there is snow on the ground. A lot colder than New Orleans, that's for sure!

While we're waiting, we talk to the crew of an Army Huey. They just airlifted a baby to the hospital, then during a preflight check of the helicopter they discover that the main transmission is leaking. They call their maintenance guys who suggest they fly home, but just stop every few minutes to check the oil level and add oil. The crew decides that this is a great plan for the maintenance staff to suggest, sitting in their cozy chairs back at their base, but it's night and the crew doesn't think emergency off-airport landings sound all that great. They decline, and arrange to stay overnight until a mechanic can come and look at the aircraft.

Meanwhile, our hosts arrive and give us a lift home. I get to stay on the third floor, which is totally unheated. I freeze my butt off all night. I can't wait to get home...

Paul Cantrell paul at copters.com (replace " at " with "@" to email me - this avoids SPAMMERS I hope)

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