Archive for the ‘Flying’ Category

Le Bleu Ridge Redux   Leave a comment

Marcel McNicoll, co-proprietor of Le Bleu Ridge and long-time aviation aficionado, has his birthday on 30 July. This weekend, I flew down to Charlottesville with his daughter Léa and friend Melinda to celebrate the occasion.

Photo Jul 28, 16 23 35   P1010994

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Posted 28 Jul 2013 by John McManigle in Flying

Le Bleu Ridge Adventure   2 comments

On Saturday, I flew with Léa (from a recent adventure) and two new friends, Meg and Mara, to Waynesboro, Virginia. We landed at Eagle’s Nest Airport, nestled just beside the Blue Ridge Mountains. There, we met Léa’s parents and energetic dog, Muffin, and set off to visit Afton Mountain Vineyards. We enjoyed a wine tasting (though in the spirit of 14 CFR 91.17.a.1, I had to pretend to be a wine snob and refrain from swallowing) and certainly found their motto “grapes don’t grow in ugly places” to be no shallow boast.

From there, we set off to hike to Humpback Rock. Along the way, Muffin really came into her own, deciding that she wanted to find out whether she was part bird. Her shenanigans turned an otherwise uneventful hike into a feat of balance and prediction. The view from the top was spectacular, marred only by “Bear”, a local ne’er-do-well with a penchant for off-color humor. But we persevered, and descended victorious.

Then, it was off to Le Bleu Ridge, a beautiful bed and breakfast that Léa’s parents own and operate on a stunning piece of land in Afton. Although we narrowly missed the last tasting at the Flying Fox Vineyard, we chatted the night away over an amazing dinner of yogurt-marinated chicken, grilled steak, succulent scallops and shrimp, rice, and crunchy veg. And topped off with ice cream, strawberries, chocolate, and maple syrup over the first Le Bleu Bonfire of the season!

Of course, the night was over far too soon, and we had to head back to Martin State Airport in Baltimore. The flight to Virginia was quite turbulent under fair weather cumulous clouds and a strong headwind, to the dismay of the two first-time small-plane passengers. The return flight was just the opposite: the windy afternoon gave way to a clear, still evening. Combined with the extremely generous routing from Potomac Approach, which put us practically on top of Dulles and BWI airports (pictures below), it was an extremely pleasant flight back, and a wonderful adventure overall. I certainly hope to see Le Bleu Ridge again!

Photo Apr 13, 16 59 03


Le Bleu Ridge


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Posted 13 Apr 2013 by John McManigle in Adventure, Flying

Penn State Visit   Leave a comment

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, I flew up to Penn State to talk with some students in the Schreyer Honors College about life in medical school and graduate school. The little SHC alumni event went well, and afterwards I found myself strolling around campus and downtown State College, taking in the sights. As I decided it was time to go, I wandered by the Student Health Center (affectionately known to relative old-timers as “New Ritenour“) to see whether any of my old coworkers happened to be around. I found a few people I knew second-hand and a few more new friends, as it turned out EMS was welcoming the spring with a bit of a cookout, complete with s’mores. Needless to say, I joined in, and then got the two-ambulance escort to the airport. Of course, PSU EMS provides first response to the University Park Airport in addition to the rest of campus, so in the interests of safety I gave a quick aerial tour of the campus to the EMTs who drove me up to the airport. They seemed to enjoy it, and the tower controller was very accommodating.

Photo Apr 06, 19 14 01


Posted 6 Apr 2013 by John McManigle in Flying

The Mystique of Tangier Island   2 comments

In January, I moved to Baltimore to complete the NIH portion of my DPhil work. Working with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and collaborators at Johns Hopkins Electrophysiology, I am investigating the use of MRI during interventional cardiology procedures. The research is fantastic, and as difficult as it is personally to leave Oxford, I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with friends and family back home, and getting back into flying after a nearly two-year hiatus.

My most recent airborne adventure was a trip to Tangier Island with Léa, an old friend from my amazing high school. Tangier Island is a unique place — fairly isolated from the rest of the Eastern Shore, let alone the rest of the world, it is served only by occasional boats and a small landing strip. The isolated locals have survived as a crabbing and oystering town, where they get around on golf carts and speak a dialect held over from Restoration era English. Wandering the town felt like walking through a hybrid folksy historical drama turned pre-surprise horror movie. The town’s first high-speed internet connection in 2010 spurred this ESPN commercial, and for the past couple of decades most of their health care was provided by one doctor who flew there to volunteer on his weekly day off. The whole Wikipedia article is worth a read if you get the chance.

On the aviation side, Tangier’s airfield is in the realm of Naval Air Station Patuxent, home of the US Navy’s Test Pilot School and various weapons ranges. The AFD entry for Tangier helpfully points out “Be alert Restricted Area 1 mile west of arpt, hi-speed acft drop bombs and fire live ammunition in area.” With this bit of advice, Léa and I (alertly) flew to Tangier in a Diamond DA20, hoping to taste local crabs. Unfortunately, it turns out crabbing is a seasonal industry in Tangier. Even if crabs were available, the town was closed on account of the local school basketball tournament — every family seemed to have a child playing. One of the locals gave us a golf cart ride over to the tournament, and we set off for the dusk flight back to Baltimore. But hear this, Tangier: we will return, and we will eat crab.

Photo Mar 09, 17 45 54

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Posted 10 Mar 2013 by John McManigle in Adventure, Flying

New Year   Leave a comment

Finally made it back to the USA briefly for the holidays. Spent New Years in Key West with a group of divers from Penn State and Maryland and then visited some friends in Pennsylvania and spent a bit of time with family. As with last year, took an aerobatic flight lesson with Fred Cabanas, this time adding Immelmanns, Cuban Eights, and four varieties of spin to the previous mix of loops and rolls.

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Posted 12 Jan 2011 by John McManigle in Flying, Travel

Adventures in Gliding   1 comment


As the sun rose this morning, a stalwart group of new Oxford University Gliding Club members took the X5 bus out to the Bicester airfield to try our hands at gliding. We all spent about twelve hours out at Bicester, and got in five flights (about half an hour in the sky) and learned how to help out with towing, dragging, and launching the sailplanes.

Compared to powered flight, the time in the air was certainly shorter and the very abrupt “takeoff” of the winch launch takes some getting used to. There is a more peaceful feel to the flight, as there is no engine noise and the local air flow and ground features play much more prominently into the flight. I look forward to being able to take longer flights when the weather allows for climbing in thermals.

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Posted 17 Oct 2010 by John McManigle in Adventure, Flying

The Magic of Ocracoke   Leave a comment

One of the (many) joys of flying is the ability to escape to magical places that would be hard to reach any other way. For the Fourth of July, Andrea and I traveled to Ocracoke, North Carolina. This beautiful island is near the tip of the outer banks and has a lovely little airport. And our Ocracoke adventures were second to none. From gigantic ice cream cones to parasailing and jet skiing, with a little bit of “beach cruiser” biking in between, this really was an island paradise.

Birds on Posts

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Posted 4 Jul 2010 by John McManigle in Adventure, Flying, Travel

Key West Welcomes 2010   Leave a comment

A group loosely affiliated through the Penn State Nittany Divers wind up in Key West every New Year enjoying some diving and festivities. New Year 2010 was no different, and in addition to fantastic diving and amazing company, this year had some new flying in store. Sadly only as a passenger in the open-air biplane (WACO UPF-7), but I did get to take an acrobatic lesson in the S2C Pitts with “General” Freddie Cabanas of the Conch Republic Air Force.

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Posted 1 Jan 2010 by John McManigle in Adventure, Flying, Travel