Stormville Airport : Stories : Mike Sweeney
Mike Sweeney wrote to inquire about the status of Stormville as an airport. We have to report that, while it's still listed as an airport and shown on the charts, it is unsuitable in its current condition for landing or departing an airplane, except possibly in an emergency.
Mike flies a light twin, using a Seneca for volunteer flying for Patient Airlift Services Angel flight missions. Angel flights connect patients with needed medical care that might not otherwise be accessible to them. As pilot in command, Mike has flown the Cessna 340.
Mike writes, "When comparing some of my general aviation experiences flying the Bahamas, Canada, Greenland, Iceland over the North Atlantic to Europe, out west to places like Sedona, the earlier flying days as a student into N69 still remain near the top of the list."
He shared this story with us, which he titles, "N69, haven for student pilot"
About 6 months into flight training, in January 1999 my Danbury flight instructor asked whether I would be interested to fly into an airport over the CT-NY border called Stormville. When asked about the airport it was described as a small, non-towered field, about 17 miles northwest of Danbury Airport.
The lesson briefing included information about the runway length and runway condition, traffic pattern and non- towered airport operations.
Navigation was straight-forward; after departing Danbury, flying west over Interstate 84 and following that northwest for about 15 miles, N69 airport lies just north of where I-84 makes an easily identified turn to the west.
Stormville later became a favorite airport for spring and early summer practice solo flights. In the event of an emergency, Poughkeepsie's Dutchess County class D airport is a few miles northwest of N69.
By the late 1990's, Stormville Airport had seen its busier days; it remained a quiet, unattended airport. These solo flights provided a welcome respite from dual "maneuvers" training. Sometimes I would park and shutdown a Cherokee at Stormville, to relax a moment and enjoy the calm of this small field, with grass inviting a little sit-down time in the Sun. The breaks weren't long, but they were serene and memorable, especially for a student pilot who had received some “freedom” after signed-off for solo flight.
Shortly after obtaining a private certificate in July ‘99, I invited my youngest brother to come along as my first passenger. I flew us into two nearby class D airports and then we stopped at N69 for a short break before returning. I hoped that it would be a positive and fun first-experience with general aviation flying.
Today, he is an airline pilot flying Airbus A321’s.
But the second flight lesson into N69 was the most memorable, with my flight instructor in February ’99. The weather was overcast and the ceiling was high enough that it was both legal and safe for a flight lesson under visual flight rules. The weather briefing indicated no change expected during the period of the lesson. The plan was for us to fly to Stormville and after landing, shutdown and my instructor exited the aircraft so that I could practice solo in the pattern. All went as planned until I was on the 2nd downwind leg for runway 24. I saw northeast of the airport a huge wall-of- white, rapidly headed towards the field. That snow storm moving towards N69 provided a bulls-eye relevance for the name of the airport, Stormville.
I landed and taxied to where my instructor was waiting off the side of the taxiway. After engine shutdown, I shouted "Get In!" while pointing at the huge wall-of-white headed towards us.
The instructor accessed the conditions and a prompt departure to escape before the "snow storm at Stormville", was determined as safe and legal. Although some snow caught up with us on the short flight back, we were the last aircraft to land under Visual Flight Rules at Danbury, before the airport weather deteriorated to Instrument Flight Rule conditions. The “Storm approaching Stormville” lesson will always remain a memory.
In the subsequent years, pursuing additional ratings and certificates, with longer flights and destinations further away, has led us away from N69. Yet near top of the list will always remain pilots' memories of the small, calm and quiet airports ... where flight training began.
Stormville's N69 will always be special.
Mike Sweeney, CMEL-IA, IGI www.palservices.org