I got enough encouragement and advice to give Katama a try this afternoon, and it was great. It was my first time at a real grass strip, I got a good crosswind landing coming home, and I got a tick bite for the first time in years!
By the time I got off the ground, the thermals were cooking, and it had become a day for a glider and not an airplane (I found a motor glider flying above me just east of the Martha’s Vineyard airport). The turbulence smoothed out over the water, and Cape Approach handed me off to Vineyard tower, who advised me to fly along the east side of the island, and there it was like a green postage stamp on the ground. Take a look at this great picture of the airport from Google Maps and zoom in enough to see all three oddly-intersecting runways. I flew overhead to determine the wind was right on 6 (windsock at the intersection of 3 and 6), and went out to start my 45 degree approach to the left downwind leg to 6. And watched as one Waco took off on 17, a Seneca took off on 3, and something else took off on 35. A bit of a free-for-all in ten knot winds.
I parked near the FBO (Eric had told me it was $15 to park at the FBO and $25 to park at the beach, and I felt cheap, and the FBO told me no charge), and started walking to the beach. After getting lost on airport property, I decided to use the roads to get to the beach. But the roads form an A around the airport, and the left and right legs of the A are absurdly long, and the left leg actually doesn’t go to the beach, but bends left again to parallel the beach for a half mile (with signs posted every few feet saying, “Don’t you dare cross my private property to the beach or I’m going to do something interesting to you”). So, baby, spring for the $25 and don’t spend half your visit walking to the beach.
The beach was great. The ocean was Atlantic Ocean, not the protected water I was so excited about a couple weeks ago at the Race Point beach near Provincetown, it was a completely different kind of surf.
This was my first time at a real grass strip. After years and years of practicing soft-field take-offs and landings, I had a pleasant surprise: It is so much easier to do it for real on a grass strip than goofing around pretending your wheels might get stuck in the concrete.
Coming home, the wind was 8 knots down 14, and the tower offered me 5; so I got a chance to land with an 8-knot crosswind component, the strongest direct crosswind I’ve experience since starting up again. And it went fine.
It is so great to be flying again.