I had the opportunity to attend the annual fly-in at the New Hampshire Aviation Museum at the Manchester airport flying there in a Cessna 170B owned by a family member. But first, I had to get to New Hampshire from my home in northern Virginia, so this report will cover both my DCA-MHT round-trip on American, but will mostly focus on the trip from Concord, NH (KCON) to the museum at MHT in a 1953 Cessna 170B.
After putting in a half-day at work, I drove the 5 minutes from my office to National, arriving a little after 130pm for my 3pm flight. I had checked-in the day before and had my boarding pass on the AA app, so it was right through security – the TSA PreCheck line was crowded, but moved very quickly, so I was up to the Admirals Club in Terminal C less than 10 minutes after parking my car in the garage.
The lounge was busy when I arrived, but emptied out reasonably quickly. I had a drink and read to pass the time, leaving around 215 to head to the gate ahead of our 230 boarding time.
Arriving at the gate, I saw the previous flight, a 737 headed to Orlando was just pushing off the gate.
Our gate agent was making an announcement, reassuring everyone that our plane was on the ground, and once the gate was clear, we would board as quickly as possible and be on our way.
Unfortunately, once the plane was at the gate, it was quickly clear we would be taking a delay – a child on the inbound flight was been airsick, and vomited all over the back of the cabin, necessitating a visit from the hazmat crews to do a thorough cleaning of the back of the plane. Boarding eventually began around 305, and was done as quickly as possible.
Legroom was tight, but not horrible.
Naturally, a delayed flight on American means no pre-departure beverages, but the crew was very apologetic, and reassured us the conditions on the plane were greatly improved over when they pulled into the gate.
Once pushed back, we made our way down to runway 1, stopping and starting along the way, eventually getting airborne about half an hour late.
Our route took us to the east, passing just south of BWI, across the Chesapeake Bay, and over Delaware before turning north.
Service was the standard beverage and snack basket, and I had a Jack Daniels on the rocks with a bag of chocolate chip cookies.
The view outside got increasingly cloudier as we went, so I passed the flight reading.
By the time we started our descent, it was completely overcast, so I was surprised when we broke out of the overcast and saw we were north of Manchester, descending into runway 17.
Rolling out, we passed the museum, which is housed in the airport’s original terminal building, before taxiing quickly over to gate 9, parking next to a sister CRJ900.
My bag was the first one delivered to the door of the plane, and I was out to meet my ride.
Unfortunately, the weather the next morning was less than favorable, with overcast skies and cloud base at 300 feet. The fly-in event was scheduled from 10am – 2pm, with planes allowed to arrive as early as 9am. We had planned to leave Concord at 830, but were forced to wait out the weather, which began to rapidly improve as the morning wore on, allowing us to get airborne at 930 for the flight down to MHT. Pre-flight checks went smoothly, and we were off to runway 17 at CON.
Our route took us right down I-93 towards MHT. Passing the toll plaza, we joked with each other if it would be faster to keep following I-93 (the right fork in the highway) or follow I-293 (left fork) to get to MHT.
Not long after, the Manchester airport started to come into view, and Boston Center handed us off to MHT tower, clearing us for a right downwind for runway 35.
Tower asked if we were going to the museum event, and gave us our landing clearance as we were passing runway 24, with the instructions to make the right-hand turn onto either taxiway Echo or Foxtrot.
Passing the threshold for 35, we dropped flaps to 40 degrees, allowing us to make a close-in turn for final over the approach lights. The full-flaps landing allowed us to make the immediate turn-off onto Foxtrot, followed by a turn onto Hotel with instructions to taxi to the ramp next to the museum. We were the second plane to arrive, and we were marshalled next to a homebuilt Starduster Too.
A Piper Dakota arrived shortly after we did. Other planes trickled in, with another Dakota, a trio of different Vans RV homebuilts, a Piper Cub, and a Grumman Tiger all joining the event.
The fly-in was well-attended, with lots of visitors engaging in the activities inside the museum, and also walking around the visiting airplanes. I got to spend the next 2-plus hours showing off the Cessna, answering as many questions about it as I could. Interestingly, the most asked question was “how long did this take you to build?” Folks were amazed to hear it was actually a 64-year old airplane. We were also one of 4 planes folks could sit in, along with one of the Dakotas, a Vans RV-4, and the Tiger.
I did take the opportunity to grab a few pictures of the proceedings, as well as a few of the commercial arrivals and departures – there were several spotters taking advantage of the ramp access, and photographing the regular airport traffic from within the fence line.
Sadly, we began getting weather reports that a line of severe weather was over western New Hampshire, heading our way, so folks started to leave ahead of the predicted weather. Both Dakotas, 2 of the Vans, the Cub, and the Tiger all left before us. As we were getting ready to pull the airplane out of the display area, I heard a distinctive rumble, and was surprised to see a classic T-6 Texan wearing Spanish Air Force colors rolling out on runway 17.
With the Texan settled into the display area, we pulled the Cessna out, and climbed in and started up, with a good number of the attendees watching.
Checking in with ground control, they asked if we could accept an intersection departure from taxiway Echo on runway 17, which would have given us 3500 feet of runway to work with. Accepting this, we did a quick run-up before making our way down Hotel to Echo. Takeoff clearance was given with instructions to turn left to heading 070 degrees and to contact Boston Center.
Checking in with Boston, we were quickly cleared direct to Concord, and overheard the controller discussing the weather conditions at Laconia with the Cub who had left Manchester shortly before we did. Laconia was apparently reporting ‘extreme’ precipitation at that time, so the Cub wisely decided to divert to Concord and wait the weather out there. We raced back to Concord (well, as fast as a Cessna 170 can race) all while watching the weather on the flight app on the iPad.
Winds had shifted, forcing us into a left-hand pattern for runway 30.
Once on the ground, we taxied quickly to the hangar, and got the Cessna settled in, getting back to the car just as the rain began, bringing an early end to what had been a very enjoyable day.
Leaving for MHT the next morning (by land, sadly), we ran some errands which took less time than planned, so I was back at the airport very early for my 2pm departure, arriving shortly after noon. Saying goodbye to my family, it was up the escalator to security, where there was no line for PreCheck.
We were leaving from gate 9, and I got there just in time to see a ERJ-145 bound for Philadelphia pull into the gate.
For whatever reason, that flight took much longer to turn than expected, and I watched as my plane arrived, and then taxied past to wait in the holding area for the gate to clear.
With our plane in the gate, the agents sprung into action, working hard to make sure we boarded on-time, while accommodating several families who wanted to sit together, and dealing with an unaccompanied minor traveling on our flight.
Once the UM was boarded, general boarding began, and I was first down the jetway.
Onboard, I noticed the legroom was much better on the EMB-175, and we were offered pre-departure beverages; I just had a water and read my book as everyone else boarded.
After pushing back, we made our way slowly over to runway 35, pausing briefly before departing straight out.
NH Museum, one last time.
We continued north, making the standard turn to the east just before passing the Concord airport. From there, we flew to Portsmouth before turning south along the coast to Boston.
As we were just passing Boston, we made a turn to the southwest, passing over Hartford and White Plains.
New York City and Newark were all clearly visible as we made our way south – the view was so great, I mostly spent the flight looking out the window, barely touching my book.
The in-flight service was the same as the flight up – jack on the rocks and a bag of cookies.
We began our descent shortly after passing Philadelphia, and we followed the Chesapeake Bay past Baltimore, and then turning towards DCA.
Bridges over the Susquehanna River
Martin State Airport
With arrivals from the south, we passed Andrews AFB, and turned up the Potomac River, passing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and Alexandria.
Here we got a surprise, as I realized we were over Bolling AFB, and were turning final for runway 33 – one of the crosswind runways at DCA! Landing was firm, with aggressive breaking, turning off the runway near the end, at taxiway Sierra. Surprisingly, we only had to hold for a few minutes before taxing into gate 38.
While waiting for the door to open, I got a quick picture of the cockpit, and once out in the main terminal, took a last shot of our plane before making my way to the parking garage.
On the whole, it was a pair of unremarkable American Eagle flights bracketing a great day at the New Hampshire museum. Thanks for reading!