2,000’ over Pony Pasture in a light plane

29 July, 2018            2,000’ over Pony Pasture in a light plane

Thursday afternoon (7/26) my flight instructor John and I decided to fly to Chesterfield County Airport (KFCI) for the first time. It was a perfect day for flying and according to my log book, my landing there was my ninety-first. It was a good one and looked like I’d been practicing. Some days I do better than others.

Anyway, we flew back right toward Pony Pasture. I asked John if he’d take the controls when we got in the vicinity and I took a couple of pictures with my phone. I’ll put them a bit further down the page.

Snake-o-phobes beware – I took another picture of what I presume is the same Rough Green Snake I saw last week. It was in the same park in what I believe was the same bush. It wasn’t as cooperative photographically but I did get one cool quick picture of it sticking its tongue out. That picture will be toward the bottom of the post.

But here’s Turner – who has never been flying. Evelyn took this picture just after Turner got a bath Thursday. Turner does not take the world seriously:

Turner does not take himself seriously. Photo credit to Evelyn. She brings out Turner’s inner silliness

This is Turner with Mackey this morning, waiting eagerly for me to pick up their leashes so we could go to the river. If Turner is awake and not eating (or mugging for the camera), he always has a tennis ball. He has to drop it before I open the door, which he knows, but he holds it until the last possible minute:

They know it’s Sunday and they know we’re going hiking at the river

I took advantage of the great weather yesterday and rode over twenty-five miles, my longest ride since mid-April. When I got home my neighbor invited me over for a cold drink and we sat in the backyard with his chickens. They are in every way amiable, not to mention generous. After inspecting me for a few moments they wandered about cleaning up the yard. There are only six in this picture (look closely) but a seventh was still in the coop. Laying another egg to send home with me! They were so thoughtful and generous:

Perfect company – quiet, unobtrusive – and they give you eggs!

So generous! 

Eggs yum!

I saw a bunch of deer in the woods at Pony Pasture this morning. At least four but I suspect there were more. I also suspect one that disappeared early was a buck. But I didn’t get his picture. I did get this pretty girl. I was taking a few early pictures while she stared straight at me. I had, as always, all three dogs. Then she started walking toward us! But this was the only reasonable image I got:

Watching ahead, listening behind

Evelyn’s carefully tended flowers have been taking advantage of the rain and humidity. This morning we had three full gardenia blossoms on the same plant, each the size of a baseball. I could do a solid blog post just of gardenia pictures. Alas, I’m only including one:

That is what a happy flower looks like

The roses are equally beautiful, only their fragrance is more subtle.  But when a flower looks this spectacular, smell is not the first thing you think of:

What words would you use?!

And our nasturtiums are flourishing as much as or more than the other two:

Another product of Evelyn’s House of Happy Flowers

Our massive elderberry bushes on the side of the house are beginning to produce, but the birds keep things trimmed back. Here’s a recent partially ripened cluster:

Elderberries – some green, some ripe, some eaten by birds

Here’s another picture of what I presume is the same Rough Green Snake, but with its tongue sticking out – remarkable:

Isn’t that just remarkable?

Oops – one thing – I was driving west on Patterson Avenue just before Three Chopt Road. I looked up on a cell phone tower and saw two Red-tails! Most times when I get “doubles” it’s in a predictable spot where I’ve been seeing them for years. But this was the first time I’d ever seen a hawk there! And there were two at once! I parked the car, of course. I didn’t have a ton of time so I couldn’t get in position for favorable light. But here’s an image of the pair:

Male (up high) female (down low) Red-tails overlooking The Village Shopping Center

Now a few pics from flying Thursday. First, before pre-flight, my current favorite aircraft, a Cessna 172R, tail number N9525V:

Our chariot awaits. Look at that beautiful sky.

This is where I sit. I had just climbed in, hadn’t even put the key in the ignition. I regret now I didn’t take a picture of it while my instructor was flying during the time we went over Pony Pasture. But this is what it looks like on the ground before you start the engine:

The view from my seat (just under the left wing in the preceding picture)

So, as I said, we flew to Chesterfield and landed the plane and taxied off the runway, all that. Then we taxied back up to the top of the runway, made our departure announcement and took off. We headed back toward the river, and I spoke some with John about Pony Pasture. He’d seen my blog and said we’ll pass over it on the way home. As we drew near, he offered to take the controls while I took pictures. When we passed over – directly over the Pasture itself – we were going just over a hundred mph and we were lower than 2,000 feet. So it comes up real fast and disappears almost as quick. The picture below is the view   looking upriver. Near the top of the picture, just to the right of the plane’s strut, you can make out the Huguenot Bridge crossing the river. Downstream from that you can clearly see the Williams Island Dam, a.k.a. the “z-dam.” You can see Williams Island, the train tracks, everything. This was really fun:

Pony Pasture is on the bottom on the left – you can see a few dams and bridges

I had a flight-tracking app running on my iphone during the whole flight. This is a screenshot from what must have been really close to the time I took that picture. You can see the golf course, the trails at Pony Pasture, everything. And if you look at the data on the bottom you can see “IAS” or “Indicated Airspeed” (106 knots or 122 mph). The “HDG” is our heading of 29º, or a little bit east of north. “MSL” is “Mean Sea Level” or how high we were about sea level – in this case, 1,866 feet. This was our path over Pony Pasture and across the river:

Where we flew north across the river Thursday. See the field at Pony Pasture below?

Anyway. Overloading another blog post – have a great week! Come back next week! 

All best, 


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Cessna 172, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, Gardenias, James River, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, roses, whitetail deer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 2,000’ over Pony Pasture in a light plane

  1. Jackie says:

    That’s so cool, looks like a great day!

    • Thanks Jackie! It was very, very fun – especially to look DOWN at the woods I’m so accustomed to hiking THROUGH! It was a huge change in perspective – literally! Some day I’d like to circle it about ten times and get a better idea of what is where. Very fun!
      Have a great day,


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