Next: Science is now so complex that we can no longer ask What? We can now only wonder Why?

This Blog used to be about the question: What is Science?
Now, it asks: What is Happiness?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Flying Alfredo

Hi Alfie! If you are reading this it means our coms are up and running!

What has always fascinated me about simulated flight is the potential for travelling without leaving my seat. The trick of course is to then try to experience the virtual in the real. And here is a great case of this. I am (privileged to be) going to spend 2 weeks in the Washington DV area with time to kill next month (Aug 2008). I jumped into a vintage deHavilland and flew out of Dulles international (25 miles from Washington) and for an hour just flew around the area to get the geography. The biggest surprize was discovering that the Pentagon is just across the river from the Whitehouse. Not once in the 911 reporting did this come across. I always thought it was in a far more remote and protected location. Then there is the closeness of so many famous place names (Chesapeake Bay, Martha's Vineyard etc) to this area. I flew over the National Air and Space Museum (There are 2 - one at Dulles Airport and the other about 15 minutes walk from our hotel). I arrive at Dulles at 6am and Ida flies in 11 hours later....that gives me plenty tme to spend in the museum! They house the original Wright Brothers flyer and the Lindberg 'Spirit of St. Louis'.
I then followed the route of a bike trip I am planning - up the Potomac River and ended up in the low hills of the Appalachians. This led me to explore the possibilities of mountain flying in the region and I came up with some really good stuff on the skills needed for this.

One thing about us virtual fliers is that we actually have greater IFR skills than most private Pilots, just trained on VFR. There is a good article on this.

It appears that in the states VFR pilots can fly at night under certain conditions. Once in the mountains all this can change dramatically.

There is another artical at about flying in dark conditions especially into difficult and underlit airports.

And finally a good piece of flying at high density alititudes for low landers...see

I am going to post the content of the last article....makes good reading and maybe we can try to find an experience like this when we fly the Apps!

Here goes>>>>

The flight I now know best from my travels, having done it 4 times and about to repeat it again[4], is the 4.5-hour trip from Atlanta to Washington, DC. What I found very interesting is that, as an IFR aircraft being vectored around the Washington Class B, I was taken right over one of the closed airports and the ramp was filled with aircraft that, by security decree, cannot fly. I was not taken anywhere near the Pentagon, White House, National Mall, or anything discernable as "Washington, D.C."
An overnight in Maryland, and a 2.5-hour flight brought me to Hartford, Connecticut. On the flight up I flew through the smoke from the forest fires in Quebec. I also flew under a jump plane. I think the Center controller had the jump plane hold his load until I passed underneath. Though the calls "Traffic is clear" and "Jumpers Away" happed just as the jump plane passed out of sight.
Let my experience be a lesson to you – never let Air Traffic Control you have an IFR certified GPS on board unless you become the master of spelling 5-letter words. Especially when given to you by controllers with thick Boston accents. The last VOR I crossed on the trip to the dreaded "Northeast Corridor" was over Pennsylvania. All the other navigation I did was via intersections. New York and Boston had me going direct to HAWLY, RIPPY, WEARD, and other fun 5-letter combinations. My stay in Hartford was cut short by thunderstorms that threatened the state. In reality, that’s about one thunder cell, given the fact that there are Georgia counties that could swallow the state whole.
I quickly departed Hartford for a flight down to White Plains.[5] On the flight down, I heard a great exchange over the radio:
Coast Guard: (In a Proper British Accent) Coast Guard 1234 request clearance through the Class B at 1,500 feet.
NY Approach: Cleared through the Class B as requested.
Coast Guard: (Right Proper Git) Roger, Cleared through Class B.
NY Approach: What kind of Coast Guard are you with a British Accent?
Coast Guard: (Foppish British Accent – Who bailed you out in WWII?) Would you believe I’ve lived in the US for 20 years and still have it?
NY Approach: Move to New Jersey. It’ll be gone in 6 months.
Anyway, on reaching White Plains, I was told that I would be number 6 for the ILS, and that it would take about 30 minutes to get me in. Again, I told the controllers too much information. I let them know I had 6 hours of gas on board. I could fly in circles all day for them. So, I was faced with 30 more minutes of high-quality cross country time, the completion of the holding requirement for my Instrument Proficiency, and the reality that thunder storms were moving in and forecast to hit the airport in 30 minutes, which would mean more holding, and then holding until all the commercial traffic landed, then the commercial departures, then the cows coming home, and then, maybe, if the tower didn’t want a break, I would be allowed to land. However, I beat the system.
Me: "Approach, visibility’s about 3 miles. How about a vector direct to the airport for the visual?" This apparently became very appealing to him, being the slowest target on his radar screen. He pointed me right to the airport, the tower cleared me to land on the crossing runway, I tied down the plane, and the heavens opened up. That last bit, from clearance to rain, despite being one sentence long, took place in about 10-15 minutes. The airport did close for about 45 minutes until the storms passed."

Here's the flight plan I have in my head for our flight. Can change with more research and am still looking for the best high ground to fly in.

I will meet you at (the famous) Andrew's airforce base, home of Airforce 1, the Presidential jet.
Andrews' current mission is that of emergency reaction and contingency response capabilities critical to national security, and support for Air and Space Expeditionary Forces.
Andrews Air Force Base is located at 38°48′13″N, 76°52′17″W and a few miles southeast of Washington, D.C.

dual runways 1/19
altitude 278ft

There are 2 helicopter landing sites. I will fly in and land at Helipad 1.
We will need to fly early in the morning as there is a good chance of afternoon thunderstorms and we need good clear skies to fly.

I have arranged for the loan of a fixed wing (to be confirmed) which I will swap for the rotor I will arrive in.
From there we will head west to pick up the 124deg radial from VOR [DCA-111Mhz]. This is 9nm on a 304deg heading and takes us to Reagan National airport situated in the heart of Washington DC, capital city of the USA.

RWs 1,4,33 and the reverses
alt 16ft
app freq 118.30
twr freq 119.10

Before landing there I will fly you around the city so you can get your bearings for the rest of the flight.

In the immediate vicinity of Reagan AP is the Whitehouse,

the Lincoln Memorial, the Arlington National Cemetery and, wait for it...the National Air and Space Museum, home to the original Wright Flyer and the Apollo11 command module.

Next door to the rows and rows of white war graves that we have seen in so many Hollywood movies is the Pentagon, probably best known as the building hit by a 500km/hr low flying American Airlines Boeing 757 on Sept. 11 2001.

Once we have got our bearings and filed a plan (and got decent metar) we will head north, following the Potomac River for about 20nm till we can make a decent field landing on one of the many islands in the river. If we can get permission for it then we can have our second cup of tea!.

From there we head up the river to the 50mile mark and the town of Harpers Ferry which marks the beginning of the Appalachian Mountains. We head west for a short haul to land at Leesberg Executive Airport.


We will need to change planes here for a smaller, short field aircraft as we are heading off for some bush flying....and of course another cup of tea.

Then up we go and pick up on the MRB VOR [112.10]. Head straight for MRB and to the SE of the beacon we must look out for a small farm strip heading 20deg.

This is Needwood Farm
lat/lon is N39-19.84 W77-47.70 <443.6>

An old schoolfriend works here so we have permission to land....but we might have some problems getting a cup of tea as this is coffee America. So take your own.

Once we have rested we can assess the METAR conditions and make a decision about the way home. I would like to head further into the hills as the scenery is stunning but if we don't have good VFR conditions then we can head back to the low lands and back to Edwards.
If the MET is good for the mountains we need to head back to NW to KMRB (Eastern W Virginia Regl. SHepherd AP) where we we can hire a Learjet or similar to get us into the high ground for some exciting flying.
We head WSW towards the KESSEL [ESL] VOR and then SW to ELKINS [EKN]. 12nm short of EKN we head due south to land at the ELKIN-RANDOLPH company AP (KEKN - 1988ft).
This is in the middle of the mountains and after our tea break we can change into mountain planes and head for the hills.
I have booked accommodation at the Deer Creek Farm about 25nm south of ELKINS AP and they have a small dirt strip.
WV00 <2650ft>
Here's the infosheet on it .. watch out fot the 200ft trees on the RW threshold!
How does that sound?

No comments:

Post a Comment