Friday, January 15, 2010

Richmond, VA

Mary and I needed some fun time together so we planned for a day trip of flying and exploration. Any chance of heading north was out, if it's colder then where we're at, I don't want to go there. Ok, with that in mind we turned our attention to the south. We decided on Richmond VA, KFCI Chesterfield County Airport with temps forecast in the 50's, it's a done deal. I worked on my flight plan and checked the wx last night, it was looking like a go. I got up early this morning and got the zoo squared away then worked the flight plan and updated wx. I also managed to cook some breakfast, cranking out some english muffins with sausage egg and cheese, The Gary version of the Egg McNuthin'.

Mary's Mom called and said she couldn't make the flight today, she wasn't feeling up to speed, but said she would go again another time. Not a problem, Mom is always welcome. We locked up the small critter (Rudder) and gave Maggie orders for no couch time, she's been good since we put the shock pad on the leather furniture. Temps looked great this morning as we walked through the airport gate. I ordered fuel last night so all I had to do was sump. I completed my pre-flight while Mary sat inside then I climbed aboard and secured the office doors. I set up the 496 and showed Mary where we are installing it in the panel and what equipment is coming out. Eight shots of primer and 08Romeo comes to life. I chug and plug the course for today which is KILG-PXT-TAPPA-RIC-KFCI. I am going to fly over the restricted area at Patuxent (top is 5000) and I'll be tooling along at 6,500. We were directed to taxi to two seven via Kilo, no Mike intersection. As we are taxing down Kilo I see a jet on final so I take a few seconds to give it a glance, it's VP Bidens jet, Air Force 2 (although he was not on board and they used a different call) doing T&G's at Wilmington. Sheesh..for a second I thought a TFR had popped up. Air Force Two is the air traffic control call sign used by any United States Air Force aircraft carrying the Vice President, but not the President. The term is often associated with the Boeing C-32, a modified 757 which is most commonly used as the Vice President's transport.
I asked for the intersection Mike departure but was advised I would be holding for wake turbulence for three minutes there or continue on and be able to go from Kilo at two seven. Ok then, I'll continue to taxi. I finished my run up and saw the 757 coming around for another go so I announced ready to go. I was cleared for "immediate" departure, huh, that's a new one, and I was advised of the 757 turning base. Obviously the tower newbie was excited, heck I was burning fuel, that's not exciting at least not while on the ground. I moved the throttle forward and continued through my turn and launched. Keeping in mind the 757 is doing T&G's, I figured he's going to run me over in short order. At 500 feet I am about to hit the PTT and the tower asked me to turn on course when able, I acknowledge and bank left turning to the south. The plan for 6,500 was on hold as we tucked under the cloud layer sitting above us at 5000. There were no holes to climb through, the forecast scatterd was now broken.
I picked up flight following with Dover, then got handed off to Potomac who switched my squawk code. Once we had the code dialed in I requested 6,500. Approached cleared us for the climb and I acknowledged leaving 4,500 climbing 6,500. Eventually we were handed off to Patuxent and he was not very easy to understand. He asked me to report when I had the wx and field in sight. Hmmmm.....I was 40 plus miles out, I'm not thinking these 52 year old eyes can see that far. I acknowledged and did have Chesterfields AWOS tuned but didn't pick it up for a few more miles and even then I had the volume cranked way up. I had a few traffic call outs , about average for this area based on past flights. As we approached Richmond KRIC I was going to be passing off the approach end of two zero, the active. I was now back down at 4,500 keeping a watchful eye for traffic. We did see two jets pass well under us as they descended through final. I was turned south for a few miles before we passed through the final approach path and I thought ATC would keep me there and then turn me back on course to overfly Richmond midfield, but he turned us loose to resume on course to Chesterfield right away. I was cleared to maintain VFR at or above 2,500 and I acknowledged along with I had the wx and field in sight. Approach cut me loose and I cleared the Richmond class C then descended for pattern altitude.

There was some traffic at Chesterfield but I worked my way in, entering left down wind from midfield and making my calls. Base to final has 08Romeo on the numbers and I add another greaser to the string of very good landings. We taxi in and secure the plane then head for the Terminal. I ordered fuel, checked out all the school info and FBO info then strolled over to the restaurant. We thought about renting a car but since Mary's Mom didn't make the trip we figured we would eat and get back in the air. We each had the buffet at King's Korner. The service was quick, the sweet tea perfect and the food was good, yeah good is all I can give it. I would have rather made the lunch stop at KJGG - Charly's, much better. The chicken was tasty but dry, all the sides were excellent and the rice pudding was maybe the best I've had. If any of you are in the area, stop in and let me know what you think.

We passed on taking a local sightseeing trip and instead got back in the air. The line service at Dominion Aviation Services was top notch! As I was getting ready to sump my fuel a young man came up in a golf cart and untied the plane, I told him that's ok I'll get it, he kept right on going. The staff working the desk were very friendly too, good folks. I finally completed a walk around and climbed aboard. 08Romeo started right up and was ready to go play, we all were. We departed runway three three and made a left turn out to avoid the class charlie Richmond space and enjoy some of the scenery. Once we were climbing through 4000 for 5,500 I gave approach a call and advised 10 east of Richmond leaving 4,000 climbing 5,500. We were given a squawk code and heading north. I wanted to over fly JGG and as we passed by and snapped a shot or two (they came out blurry) approach asked for my on course heading to Wilmington. Yikes, it was 060 degrees to Cape Charles then 035 to Salisbury followed by 010 to Wilmington, all this running through my head since we took a different route home then the original plan. I hit the PTT and said 010. He responded that would take me into the restricted zone, what heading. Cape Charles, Salisbury and ILG. He acknowledged. Another controller came on and asked if I was familiar with the jamie intersection, I acknowledged affirmative, she turned me direct. Jamie intersection is north of cape Charles on the Victor 1 airway and a bit of a short cut, it works.

We had some call outs for traffic along the way, one off the nose and low 500 feet and another aircraft heading north at our one o' clock same altitude and five miles. Saw the guy pass low and off our right heading south and the other aircraft we only caught a glimpse of. It was funny, the approach controller gave me an updated position report on the north bound and had to pause so he could remember what type it was, I responded Cessna 150...He said yes, that's it,the Cessna 150.

We passed over Salisbury and eventually was handed off to Dover, this is where the fun started. I guess every newbie controller has to start somewhere and today was our lucky day, he was at Dover. This poor kid had calls messed up, squawk codes every which way and almost had me confused. There was a senior guy there and he jumped in a few times answering requests. One pilot, obviously being a dope acknowledged yes ma'am to the newbie, his voice wasn't that high pitched, I think the pilot was busting his stones since he got his call screwed up a few time.

I cancelled flight following as I was about to be handed off to Philly, I rather hear whats going on from the Wilmington tower when I'm so close. I had the ATIS so I called in to report. After the initial exchange I advised 15 south, inbound full stop , information romeo and 3000 level. I was advised to report 3mile left base runway two seven. Sweet, I'm heading north so it's a simple left turn to base. Best laid plans....I was soon directed to follow a Cessna turning base, I was now number two to land. I slowed down and added in flaps, two notches which had me flying at 80 knots. The Cessna turned final while I just made base and I slowed a bit more. I am now on final and the Cessna is touching down, I pull more power and add the last notch of flaps. The Cessna rolls to just about a complete stop! Oh crap! I start to step right as the tower calls 08Romeo go around step right go around, I acknowledge. I add full power wait to see positive climb on the VSI then take out a notch. Climb looking good I retract the next two notches a step at a time with continued positive climb. The tower direct me to make right closed traffic, I acknowledge and break right not even to midfield. I check power, my position and the where abouts of the Cessna pilot. I'm cleared to land and pull off another good landing even with the added excitement. I plan on stopping by the tower tomorrow and getting their take on what happened. I know most of the crew there and would like to hear what they have to say. A fun day, almost uneventful, but a good day flying none the less.



Jim said...

Great write up, Gary. Sounds like you had an eventful day! That was extra cool that you got to share airspace with the AF2.

I'm curious, were they using the "Air Force Two" callsign? I thought I'd heard/read once that they only used the designator if the VIP was on board. That would have been very memorable if you'd shared airspace with the VPOTUS, although I'd doubt he'd be riding along for T/Gs, and imagine a TFR bubble would have also beeen following the plane. :)

I got up in the air yesterday as well. Hadn't flown in about 5 weeks and the ceilings up here were kinda low first thing yesterday am, so I just used the time to play in the pattern and work on some short field landings. Banged out 5 landings in 0.8, including a taxi back to have the mechanic investigate a bad mag. Fun stuff!

Gary said...


No, they did not use AF2, as you stated, that's only in use when Biden is on board. The size of the jet and the paint is what caught my eye.

Glad you got some left seat time. The ceiling was low when we left. I rode along at 4500 then climbed to 6500 closer to the Bay.

Wow, 5 in .08, that's takin' care of business!

Steve said...

Great stuff as always, Gary. All your writeups are really keeping me sane having been on the ground (not counting commercial) for so freaking long! Seriously, I've flown 16K miles since I last sat in the left seat...