This is just about a great weekend flying last weekend with BoatPix. Last week I got a call that there was an open seat for the Labor Day weekend in Atlanta (Gainesville actually, KGVL). Aside from the usual stress about flying in a new place, I really was able to look forward to this flight–I’ve got about 40 hrs of flight time in the R22 over the summer, so there’s no question that I can still fly. I know the basics of flying the photo contracts and what it’s like flying a full day. Joe, the CFI at KGVL turned out to be a great host, and, like the other BoatPix CFIs I’ve gotten to fly with, was into the work and knew what he was doing.
On top of it, the flying in Georgia was a little different than what we were doing along the California coast. On the inland lakes, the boats are smaller and we’re maneuvering a bit closer. Folks on the boat are able to see us and we can interact a bit more than we could with the larger boats that were operating offshore. It was also a long weekend, with sunny weather and a bunch of good people out having fun. We started off at Lake Hartwell–about 45 minutes east of KGVL–and spent Saturday there. Despite there being a Clemson game, the lake was packed. We spent a full day there before returning to KGVL right around sunset. Sunday we focused on nearby Lake Lanier, then moved over to Alatoona Lake (about 60 minutes west). Not my favorite place–Alatoona was smaller, narrower, had all kinds of obstructions on the lake (raised buoys mostly), and looked a little mucky. Monday we were back at Lake Lanier, working from north to south, and finished up the day back at Lake Lanier.
In total, I logged 24 hours–8 hours each day, starting around 9:00 and ending around 20:30. The last hour Monday was where I reached my mental and physical limit, and I was pretty relieved to be getting back to the airport that evening. Learned quite a lot about flying in hot, humid weather (a new one for me), dealing with the low level obstructions that you’d expect (the aforementioned buoys, birds, trees), cross-country flying in the South, and maneuvering with sometimes breezy conditions.
What was the best was the people, and I’m not kidding here. Almost everybody we photographed was pretty enthusiastic–not in the least because Joe was practically hanging out the helicopter waving at them. Got lots of people posing, waving, or dancing around. The jet skiers and fast boats were more than happy to show off for us, and we got some great shots of these guys sprouting massive rooster tails or flying over wakes.
Looks like I’m staying at home this weekend, but I’m looking forward to getting a few more weekends in before the cool weather sets in.