As I walked out to the plane the "Pipsqueak" an Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatross was taking off and it sounded great! I was to far away for the cell phone camera to catch much of the action and the Kodak Easy Share was in my flight bag out next to the plane. As if that wasn't a great visual with extra credit for sound effect the next plane landing on runway three two is a SNJ5 Texan, the "Naughty Nurse Nancy", which I remembered from our annual at Elkton, 58M. Heck, I didn't even get in the plane yet and I already was pumped up and ready to fly!
Mike walked out to the ramp and he did see the Texan come in. He also got to see the L-39 as it made a low pass down runway three two and scream back out of sight another time, cool stuff! It was a good thing Mike focused on the pre-flight I was pretty much distracted to say the least. Mike filed for an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) mission today. We climbed aboard and after obtaining the current ATIS I jotted down the CRAFT mnemonic for the essential elements of a clearance under instrument flight rules.
CRAFT stands for:
Clearance limit, the end point of the clearance (usually, but not always, the destination airport)
Route, the route that the flight is to follow as part of the clearance (often the route originally filed, although ATC may change this)
Altitude, the initial altitude to be maintained by the flight, plus, in many cases, a time at which cruise altitude clearance may be expected
Frequency, the frequency to which the pilot(s) should tune upon leaving the departure airport
Transponder, the transponder code that must be set for the aircraft prior to departure and during the flight.
Ok, it starts out with a call to clearance delivery or in Wilmington's case a call to ground.
ME: Wilmington Ground, Skyhawk 3525Uniform
ATC: Skyhawk 3525 Uniform, Ground
ME: Ground, Skyhawk 3525 Uniform Atlantic Ramp, information Lima, would like to pick up our clearance to Williamsburg Juliet Golf Golf, ready to copy.
ATC: Cleared Juliet Golf Golf Williamsburg, on departure turn left 330, vectors, victor 29, Smyrna (ENO), victor 16, Patuxent (PXT), as filed. 2000 expect 6000 in ten, departure frequency 119.75, squawk 1502.
I then read it all back to ATC and they respond read back correct, advise ready to taxi. Here is what it looks like on my note pad...
C - JGG
R - TL 330 V V29 ENO V16 PXT AF
A - 2000 6000/10
F - 119.75
T - 1502
We advise ready to taxi and they change our clearance. We are now departing off runway three two so they eliminate the left turn to 330 degrees. We taxi out and complete our run up then call ground to let them know we are ready. At Wilmington this is the procedure, ground then turns you over to the tower and they in turn clear you for your take off. We launch out of Wilmington and contact Philly approach on 119.75 they direct us direct Smyrna (ENO) climb and maintain 6,000. Mike has me doing all the radio work and will jump in if I need him, it really has helped me get ready for my check ride. We get handed off to Dover Approach then Potomac who turns us direct CHOPS (an intersection) then as filed. It saved us some time and that's always a good thing. Potomac handed us off to Washington Center. Center was a bit busy or overwhelmed it seemed, he mixed up our call and at times was taking precious time to sort things out. I can't complain he gave us a nice short cut just before the PXT VOR and turned us on course direct Williamsburg, right through the Restricted areas. We did get 8,000 out of center then got handed off to Potomac and then Norfolk.
Soon we were descending for Williamsburg and I cancelled IFR about 5 miles out. Mike crossed over the field 1,200 above the pattern to set us up for a 45* entry to the left down wind for runway three one. I kept up with the calls had had fun watching the wx on the 496 and of course taking pictures! Down wind, base and final, we were looking good. I warned Mike about the JGG runway three one swamp monster but it seemed pretty smooth on short final today. We ballooned a tad then made a nice landing with the first right hand exit an easy turn. Of course Mike continued to beat himself up as we pilots seem to do so often.
Charly's was open so we had a nice lunch. I had the Reuben sandwich and Mike wanted the chicken salad but they were out so he had the turkey on wheat??? I was to busy laughing to pay attention since he busted my chops about always writing up the food orders on my blog. Mike even took pictures for today's blog post. There is no courtesy car available at JGG and all the rentals were out so we decided on a taxi. Mike went to the pilots room to check wx and plan for our trip home. I looked over the wx then went out to check on the taxi. After a few loops back and forth I pulled up a seat next to an older gent and we talked flying. Nice guy, lived and worked in the Chambersburg area of Pennsylvania and had a pretty good knowledge of the Delaware valley. Our taxi van pulled up and we climbed aboard. I asked if he minded plugging in my Garmin 496 GPS, we were low on power with no cockpit power and I forgot to charge it up the night before. Not a problem he said and off we went for the Williamsburg Winery. We asked if he could wait on us so we didn't have to call him back, he agreed and gave us ten minutes to make our wine purchase. Mike and I walked around checking out each type of wine, I had no clue because I don't drink the stuff. So, as all smart men do when trying to figure this stuff out we call our beautiful Brides. Mary didn't answer and I don't think Mike got through either.....we were on our own. Mary likes Pino Griggo, they had none, but I did pick up one bottle of each of the white wines I did see. Somehow I forgot to pick up the Spiced Wine which is the only thing I will drink and that's in a very limited quantity.
We completed the purchase and made it out to the taxi in good time, we were still on the meter. It's only a very short ride to the winery from the airport but always a great stop. They also have the Gabriel Archer Tavern. The Gabriel Archer Tavern, as featured in The New York Times, is nestled among the vineyards with a beautiful countryside view. A nice place to eat and the food is good even if a bit fru fruie for my taste. Fru Fruie, is that a word? Anywho, we pile out of the van upon arriving at the airport and the next group is waiting to fill our seats. The ride to/from the vineyard comes to $13.00, it sure beats walking.
Charlie was working the desk and he and Mike settled up on the fuel purchase. I remained outside listening to a bunch of locals, I would assume, just hangar flying. Some good laughs and nice folks. It was time to saddle up and head north, more of what I signed on for. There is now a Ground Communications Outlet (GCO) available at JGG. Whats this GCO you ask.....The GCO functions as follows; A microphone key click signal from the cockpit triggers a dial-up, pre-programmed telephone call to the appropriate air traffic control facility. At JGG it will call Newport News with 4 clicks and FSS with 6 if I remember right. The pilot then receives the necessary air traffic control instructions without needing to leave the aircraft. Well that all sounded great but truth be told it didn't work. I clicked and re-clicked until my finger wore out. Mike and I switched headsets so he could use my bluetooth on the Zulu, Bose doesn't have that feature (Plug for Zulu's). He contacted FSS and we were good to go. We had a clearance time 5:10, and a void time of 5:20. We all did a watch sync at 5:01, it almost felt military like. Whats the term they use when they set their watches...I saw it on MASH.....Ahh yes...ok set time 1701 HACK. It's getting late and I'm tired, please bear with me.
We decided on runway three one, which provided a launch to the north and direct route to our first point in our clearance HCM the Harcum VOR. From Harcum we had plugged in COLIN then PXT followed by ENO and eventually DQO. All these letters! Yep VOR names and even an intersection tossed in there, pilot type stuff. COLIN is an intersection followed by Patuxent (PXT) VOR then Smyrna (ENO) and on home to DuPont (DQO) at Wilmington. We did get a direct to change just shy of the COLIN intersection and proceeded direct to Smyrna (ENO)Delaware. We went through pretty much all the same approach hand-offs except in reverse order of the flight down. Washington center now had a really good controller online and he cracked me up. His response when someone called went something like this.....Skyhawk 3525Uniformmmmm....WAaaaaaasssssh. He did a real nice job and was very easy to understand. Philly was the last controllers we would talk to before arriving at Wilmington. I contacted them when turned loose from Dover and reported tail number, ATIS info, altitude and level (even though I gave 7000 and we were at 5000). Philly asked to confirm our altitude,I acknowledged 5000 and I should have added I'm a dope [rolls eyes]. I asked for a practice ILS runway one approach and he Philly accomodated us. Our vectors were real easy, he turned us once, to the right about twenty degress to intercept the localizer and gave us an altitude to maintain and report established on the ILS. My next call was to inform Philly that 3525 Uniform was established on the localizer. We were then turned over to Wilmington's tower frequency. Wilmington Tower, 3525 Uniform on the ILS would like to circle east to land on three two. Wilmington advised report left base three two. We made our way in, reported and Mike greased another landing.