Michael Rogombe-Williams and I hatched the idea, to try to visit all three major metropolitan-area airports, just for the heck of it. After doing some extensive research on landing fees (they each add an extra $100 during peak hours) and facilities fees, we decided we would settle for one. For our daytime trip, LGA was out because their peak hours last all day. EWR's peak hours are 8am-10am and 5pm-10pm, while JFK's are 3pm-10pm. Land there outside those hours and the landing fee is $25. The facilities fees are reasonable as well. We also wanted to work in a Hudson River flight on this trip.
Michael took the first leg to EWR. We talked through a few options (head toward Morristown first, go direct, get a handoff to EWR, etc.) We decided to get a flight following code with CDW ground and let them know our intentions to go to Newark. Upon departure we listened to the ATIS off the Sparta VOR, and were handed-off to approach on 127.6 at 1500ft. For some reason, the controller didn't know our destination, or would not believe her ears. “You want to go where???” Her incredulous tone made me almost laugh out loud. We were vectored a few times, once that clipped Morristown's Class D, and we again made sure they coordinated our transition. We had not heard the magic words, “cleared into the class bravo” and we were getting close to the ring with a floor of 500ft. Michael asked for a confirmation, and we received it. We were then handed to EWR class B on 127.85.
Newark told us to expect runway 11 (winds were from the E, with the majority of the traffic landing on 4L, with 4R temporarily closed. That worked out great for us, as it was a straight in landing, and the FBO would be a very short taxi. Finally, we were handed off to EWR tower on 118.3, kept the speed up a bit, and touched down gently on the runway. We exited on Taxiway Uniform, from there it was Zulu, Sierra to Signature, and we contacted them on the radio to let them know of our pending arrival. Once we shut down, a Port Authority van pulled up. I whispered to Michael, “they want their money now”. We filled out our paperwork, and looked at the weather. Rain was coming in from the south, and we decided to head back home via the Hudson, since we could have been taxiing at EWR forever.
I took the second leg back home. We contacted EWR Clearance Delivery, told them we were at Signature and requested VFR clearance to CDW via the Hudson River in the Bravo northbound. We were told to wait, and eventually we got our initial altitude (1400ft), squawk, and departure frequency, and clearance to the Statue, Governor's Island, and from there continue northbound. They were good enough to give us runway 11 again, and ground asked if an intersection departure on taxiway Sierra would work. We decided it was fine. Now monitoring the tower, we were given the 'line up and wait' instruction and told they were waiting on a 777 landing runway 4L. Finally, we were told the wind, the time of the last departure on the crossing runway, a “caution – wake turbulence” and cleared for takeoff.
For added margin, we did a flaps 10 takeoff, and were on our way. Given 1500 ft, we made a beeline toward the Statue, and told we could proceed north as requested. The controller got our call sign mixed up with some other fellow and got a bit confused, but we cleared it up. We spotted plenty of low-flying helicopters below, and once we got to midtown, asked for a TEB transition to get us home. It was granted, and TEB tower told us we could proceed direct from our position on the Hudson to CDW, which gave us a nice view of TEB on the right, and MetLife stadium on the left.
All in all, it was quite the experience. Talking to controllers at EWR is easy, and they are very professional. Aside from the astonishment of the approach controller, everyone treated us as if we were a United flight coming in to land.
Here are some pictures and videos from that day.