Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Communications Work in 25U

Today was that typical day at work where every pilot must ask themselves why am I here instead of flying. I asked myself that a few times, yes, in the middle of meetings and working out issues on various contracts, my head was in the clouds. Maybe it was the email that started the ball rolling that I received from Mike Tuesday afternoon asking if I wanted to get some right seat time in two five uniform on Wednesday. I read that again this morning and forwarded it to my work email, this called for further investigation. We swapped phone calls during the day and I anxiously awaited Mikes 4pm teleconference to be cancelled. I'm sure he was feeling the same way but I'll let him answer for that. It's 4pm and no confirmation call so I head north to the house. I no sooner finished feeding the beast (Maggie) and my cell phone rang. Mike said we are on and that he would be at the airport in thirty minutes, I acknowledged and locked up the house.

Flight bag in hand I gave the Bride a call and headed south towards Wilmington Airport. I found a great parking spot, grabbed my bag and headed through the FBO. Great folks at Atlantic, always a friendly smile and heck, they laughed at my jokes. I said is that Mike out there with two five uniform? Yes sir they said, Hmmmm maybe I should hang out a b it longer inside until he finishes the pre-flight, they got a chuckle out of that. I headed out but Mike was well into the pre-flight and I tried not to get in the way.

It was somewhat busy at ILG this evening but we were given the direction to taxi to runway three two and hold. Mike asked me to do the radio work and that he would walk me through the calls for the planned approach into our destination KESN, Easten Maryland. ESN now has a tower so that would be something different. Mary and I head to Easton at least once a year for the Christmas in St. Michael's weekend, a fun event.

Two five Uniform climbs out of ILG and we are approved for a left turn on course. Typical hazy flight as we make our way south west. Once over the C&D canal Mike asked me to pick up advisories with Dover Approach into ESN. Dover's approach was a different voice, not the usual young trainee but a seasoned gentleman that sounded very good on the radio. We acknowledged our squawk code and continued on course. Mike briefed the GPS RWY 22 approach for Easton. Once switched over to Potomac approach the captain had me ask for a practice approach, GPS RWY 22. Potomac acknowledged, eventually. The next voice at Potomac seemed to have forgotten us and I asked for the GPS approach again in more of a question format, not how Mike coached me but that's how it came out.

We were riding along with Potomac commenting on their lack of communication skills (trying to be nice here) and I followed along as Mike briefed the approach. I did the visual checklist for the comm/nav set up and we were ready to go. I eventually had to call Potomac and request to switch to the tower at Easton since were less then two miles from the final approach fix (FAF) ZULIV. Potomac cut us loose to contact the tower and it got a bit confusing. At first we didn't think they "handed" us off, but after my contact it seemed they did. My call to the tower...Easton Tower Cessna 3525 Uniform for the GPS 22 Approach. Easton responded 3525 Uniform Altimeter 3010, report ZULIV inbound. I didn't hesitate since we were there, 3525Uniform reporting ZULIV inbound. There was a distinct pause, you know that awkward time where you wonder if they got that, understood my call or did they think I was reading back the instructions. Mike said it's best to give them another call and advise our position. I did and we were cleared to land runway two two.

Mike exited the runway and we were instructed to contact ground on 119.07 Ground asked our intentions and I respond that we would like to go to the terminal. The young lady directed us to the terminal via taxiway Alpha. I repeated her instructions and off we went. Ground asked If I was the pilot who likes to stop for a cold drink, I responded uh, no my first time here in this aircraft. There was a short pause then I added but I'll ask the left seater and see if he is the one, there was no response. I'm thinking there might be more this story but that's for another post after further investigation.

The restaurant was closed and so was the pilot shop. There were two young ladies on the airfield side of the terminal who did let us in for water and a sectional. Mike then filed for the flight back to Wilmington on Flight Plan .com ( Mike performed an abbreviated preflight and we saddled up for home. I haven't used flight plan so Mike took the time to walk me through the print out. Flight Plan lists the nav log and all the radio frequencies along with the airport information. Our flight plan was SWANN V214 DQO. The SWANN intersection is north east of Easton and it lies on the Victor 214 Airway. We brief the plan and then start up as I made the call to ground. Easton lists clearance delivery (CD) on 126.9 but most towered airports work through their ground frequency. Mike advised to ask if indeed 26.9 was active. I contacted ground with a question and asked if CD was active on 26.9, the controller responded that she had the strip and advise when ready to copy. Cessna 3525 uniform is ready to copy, I had already jotted down my script and was ready to fill in the CRAFT info. CRAFT, C- Clearance, R-Route, A-Altitude, F-Frequency, T-Transponder. I am still working on my short hand note taking for clearances but here is what we got. My version in home brew shorthand is in italics

C - Cleared to ILG
R- Vectors, SWANN, As Filed Right Turn 350*
A - 2000 expect 5000 in 10 minutes
F- 124.55 (Potomac Departure)
T - 6510 Transponder (Squawk code)

My version...



A- 2000 5000/10

F- 24.55

T- 6510

The only thing I was not sure about was the right turn 350* after the as filed. When I read the clearance back I wanted to make sure I copied correct on the right turn instruction. Ground responded read back correct, advise ready to taxi. I advised ready to taxi and off we went noting that we had to run up once to the hold short.

Mike, as he calls it, chugged and plugged the plan into the GPS and I advised the tower that 3525Uniform was ready to go at runway two two and Alpha. The tower responded, hold for release. Key in the jeopardy music, actually it was not a long wait at all. Once cleared to take off I read back the instruction and Mike had us rolling down two two. 25U was up and away and turning out to the three five zero heading. I switched to Potomac as instructed and thanked Easton Tower. Potomac Approach Cessna 3525U one point two climbing two thousand. Potomac responded with altimeter setting and cleared 5000. I read back the information, Mike added that I should always respond with altitude then climbing, descending with the new altitude. Makes sense and provides the information for the controller to know the block you are climbing through. A short time later, almost to SWANN approach cleared us direct to ODESA. I again read back cleared direct ODESSA and asked for a spelling, so much easier then flying the plane and looking for the intersection on the chart. Approach repeated ODESA, Oscar Delta Echo Sierra Alpha, I replied, Confirmed ODESA, thanks.

Once crossing ODESA I picked up the ATIS from Wilmington. Information November, winds 237 at 7, visibility 10, clear below one two thousand, temp 27 dew point 17, altimeter 3010. We were handed off to Philly approach and I checked in. Philly approach Cessna 3525 Uniform 5000 level. Philly gave us the altimeter setting and we continued on to ILG. After crossing the C&D Canal we had Wilmington in sight so Mike coached me through the next few contacts. Philly approach, 3525 Uniform has the airport in sight. Cessna 25Uniform contact Wilmington tower on 126.0. Wilmington tower, Cessna 3525Uniform with November, GPS 27 approach, full stop. The Tower directed us to enter left downwind and report turning base. Once on downwind we were cleared to land two seven and I asked to land long since we were going to Atlantic. Tower approved. Mike made another great landing as he held it off over the runway and set down nice and smooth. It was nice to open the windows as we taxied in and soak up some cool breeze. The lineman at Atlantic was ready and waiting as he marshaled us in to park. We packed up and decided on EAT for our dinner stop. I called the Bride to let her know we were on the ground at ILG and asked if she wanted to join us, she took a pass. Great food at EAT and as always excellent hangar flying. Mike said it was his turn to pick up the tab so I'll get next round, thanks Mike!

I am up again tomorrow at 2pm as I head to KOQN for my Instrument lesson. After that I'll catch a nap then head back to work for a 9pm start working through until 5:30am. If I feel rested when I finally get up I may consider going to KWWD Cape May to watch the air show.

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