Friday, October 01, 2010

Windwood Resort - WV

Special thanks to Rob Schaffer for all his photos....

Today was the scheduled arrival date for the Pilots of America fly-in to (WV62) Windwood Resort in Davis, WV. 08Romeo was ready and my bags were packed, it was now in the hands of Mother Nature. I guess this would have been a great time to take advantage of my new rating but the thought of flying solid IMC even for a half hour with little actual time in the log book did not sit well. There will be plenty of opportunity to get my ticket wet under supervision and conditions with a better safety factor.

The cell phones were busy as I traded text messages with Adam and Rob along with private messages with the group on the POA forum. Rob was thinking of driving if he could not fly with me and I was watching the clock and weather. I set a hard time of 3pm as my latest window for launch. The wx at Wilmington started to break and the sun was now peaking through. Meanwhile, it was starting to rain at Wings field, they were all stuck. Rob and Ally decided to drive to Wilmington to meet me and together Rob and I were comfortable with the wx after a review to launch for Windwood.

Mother Nature had other ideas and after teasing us with some glimpses of blue sky and Sunshine she decided to roll in a layer around 3,000 feet. VFR conditions, of course, but that altitude was not going to get us across the mountains to Windwood. Rob and I regrouped and together decided on a plan of attack. We would launch out of KILG, VFR (visual flight rules) and climb for best altitude as possible. With the ceilings looking much better west of the Susquehanna River we felt very comfortable crossing under three thousand. We soon launched on a gusty crosswind take off from Wilmington. It was an exciting crab angle to say the least!

Despite the 25 to 30 knot winds that required a 15-17 degree crab on the way out to Windwood the ride was fairly smooth. Of course crossing any of the ridge lines provided thumps (more than bumps) but the sky was opening up and visibility was great. Rob and I split the crew duties, he had radios and nav, I flew the plane. I get to work radios and nav on the flight home. Rob announced our position for Windwood once we canceled flight following. Washington Center had advised they lost radar contact (due to surrounding mountains).

The winds were kicking pretty good in the valley and it was almost a direct cross wind for either runway 24/6. We were set up for a perfect left down wind for 6 but I needed to loose some altitude. I did a 360 degree turn to get down to pattern altitude and together we decided on runway two four. I was now on a long final and figuring out the winds knowing I had to hold a good crab angle. I gave it left rudder to bring the nose on center line and feel what rudder I would have left once over the trees, there wasn't much. I added in the second notch of flaps and Rob watched our over 50' obstacles (trees).
There is a displaced threshold so I wanted to just carry enough to get there once over the numbers. I set it down for what was looking like a great landing then it went to hell in a hand basket. I was a bit hot and the chirps of the stall horn were not from my flair but gusting winds. I porpoised when I landed and went for an immediate go around. This is why I choose runway two four, it was clear for the go round if we had to go around on runway six I would have had to out climb those large trees we just came over. It was a slow climb out from the field elevation of 3200 feet.

METAR KW99 012042Z AUTO 31012G20KT 10SM CLR 22/05 A2990

My second attempt was better, holding it off past the stone driveway (now paved) and set 08Romeo down with a long roll out for the turnaround at the end of the runway. It was good to be on the ground, I was getting hungry and my early morning start in the basement was now catching up with me. Some of the folks who drove in met us at the ramp to help tie down and get our bags to the hotel. I made sure 08Romeo was secure and quietly thanked her for a good ride and keeping me safe.

It didn't take long for the grilling to begin. Charcoal rolled from the bag and the flameage started as Rob, our designated chef, filled the air with those favorite summer time cookout smells. Burgers, dogs and plenty of slasa, chips, cookies and snacks filled the table in the upstairs game room, which seems to be our place to hangar fly. It was so nice to catch up with everyone as we all sat and chatted. I eventually ran out of gas and had to turn in. My day started at 3am and it had finally come to collect,I was beat. I said my goodnights and headed to the room where I decided to try and capture today's events here on my blog. It's late my eyes are tired and that king size bed is calling my name. I'm looking forward to more arrivals tomorrow, and not having to get up and feed the dogs!

Saturday October 2nd

Breakfast at the hotel restaurant was my first order of business. I showered, got my room squared away and headed downstairs. Rob and Ally was having breakfast with the Joe (the owner)and I didn't see any other POA folks seated. I picked a table facing the front windows and watched the fog roll through across the deck. Service is always fast and the food excellent at Amelia's. Two over medium, bacon, home fries with cheese and onions and a large OJ and hot tea, it all hit the spot. As I finished up a few more pilots and spouses were picking their tables and getting settled. It was a slow morning and we awaited word from Adam Z, the event organizer, on any update for his arrival. Chris from Atlanta had canceled yesterday afternoon and a to/from flight for Saturday only did not make any sense. Adam and Lee sent word they would not make it today either. The round trip one day flight so as to not have to deal with the forecast wx for Sunday really limits your time and activities. Everyone made good decision no matter how painful they are to deal with. We pilots tend to beat ourselves up on every go/no go decision that we make.
Ok, I did manage to upload a few pictures....
I was taught to weigh the options, know the escape routes and then decide. I used to beat myself up, now, I decide and move on, it is what it is and I'm always available to fly another day.There was plenty of fog in the valley and I guess it burned off between 9:30 and 10:00. I walked down to the ramp and took advantage of the morning dew on the plane to wipe off the bugs on the leading edges and clean the windows.
A few folks walked down to see Dan arriving in his 1940 Aeronca Chief. It was nice to hear his engine purr break the silence of the valley. He set the Chief down and taxied to the ramp at the approach end of two four. What a fun flying machine, and in very good shape. Dan did mention it was his first time on pavement in awhile and he tried landing on two four but wasn't happy with the airspeed once he had cleared the trees. He went around for a landing on runway six. Dan's comment, "the worst landing of the year with a bit of bounce quickly dampened with lots of up elevator", again pilots being hard on ourselves, it looked good from the ramp!
Hangar flying was in full swing and the day was shaping up very nice. Tim gave Dan a hop back to the lodge in his Miada and the rest of the crew headed back. I caught a ride back with Rob and Michael on Joe's 4 wheeler. The group was deciding on a Black falls excursion (pictured above)and was working out the transportation. I took a pass on the hiking adventure and instead hung out with Dan and another guest who flies a 1947 Piper Clipper. As any proud owner she provide a few pictures of her aircraft from her cell phone and Dan and I checked them out. The Clipper resembled a Pacer and after more discussion the production was switched to that aircraft.
In 1949, the Clipper sold for $2995. The average four place airplane on the market at that time cost over $5000. Only 736 Clippers were built in the one year of production. Pan Am Airlines, who traditionally called its famous luxury airliners "Clippers", took offense at Piper using the name for their light aircraft. As a result of this pressure Piper further refined the model, adding wing flaps, further fuel tanks and replaced the control sticks with yokes. A more powerful Lycoming O-290, 125 hp engine was installed and this model became the Piper PA-20 Pacer. Dan decided to head out and I walked down to the ramp with him to observe the hand prop start. The Chief came to life and Dan taxied out to runway six. The winds had picked up and he would have a crosswind to deal with. The Chief was off the ground very quickly and tracked over the ramp area to clear the approach end of two four and the tree obstacles, he was on his way. I watched as he flew out of view and the purr of his engine could no longer be heard, that looks like fun flying. I walked back to the lodge and decided to check wx and take a nap, hey, it's sort of vacation.Rob called from some point on the group excursion and we briefly talked about the wx moving in. We planned to have a late lunch when the group returned and make our decision about launching for home a day early. The wx forecast did not look good combined with the morning fog and the thought of being stuck on the ground required an exit plan. I tracked the wx and plotted a flight home to include a hop over the mountains to Grant County for fuel. The route would be the same as last years trip home; W99 ESL MRB EMI DQO KILG, and so I filed for a 4:30 departure just to be safe.
The group returned after hiking to various locations and exploring the Falls. It was decided to have a group late lunch and launch for home afterward. Michael and his Bride decided to pass on lunch and launch for home in Ohio with the thought of beating the storm to their home base before it got there. I read Michael's post once I got home and thought I would share. I will follow up on their arrival home along with tracking Ed's flight. We're stuck in Zanesville Ohio, having encountered the frontal system before we hit our destination. Good sense won out over my adventurous spirit, and I pulled the plug short of our destination. Our takeoff from WV62 was eventful, as I thought it might be. The aircraft didn't have its usual oompf that high and that hot. But we got away without any untoward debris in the gear. The flight was lovely until we hit central Ohio, and then the aforementioned frontal system. Wish us luck tomorrow. One of these days I need the IR.
Rob and I loaded the plane said our goodbyes and launched for Grant County (W99). It was a smooth ride over the mountain unlike last years rodeo experience. There was one aircraft, a Cessna 182 CAP flight, inbound ahead of us and landing on runway one three. We came over the mountain at 5,000 feet and had some altitude to loose to get to pattern altitude of 1,750 feet. Rob spotted the traffic and called it out while I positioned to enter the pattern. My landing was ok at best but we were on the ground and looking for the fuel pumps.
We took on 22 gallons I think or there abouts and saddled up for home. There was no Clearance delivery frequency or a remote communication frequency so we taxied out to complete the run up. Once the run up was completed I called the 800 Clearance Delivery number with the blue tooth in the lightspeed Zulu headset. I was put on hold and had the obnoxious music pumped into my ears, wow, they really need to change that stuff. This was not a good sign sitting on hold and I knew we were going to get some changes to the previously "expected" route I was texted. Sure enough, ESL V166 DQO was history, instead we received ESL V377 TOMAC V438 HGR V377 HAR V210 BUNTS DQO. Ok it was time to chug and plug but keep a watch on the void time for departure. I had most of the flight plan updated and launched for home. Departure procedure from runway six calls for a climb visually so as to cross airport at or above 2400 thence continue climb to 5000 northeast on heading 033° to intercept ESL R-213 direct to ESL. It was VFR conditions and I would not have radar contact with Washington Center for a few thousand feet so we departed and maintained visual for terrain avoidance.

Once climbing out and turning to ESL I turned over the flying duty to Rob. It was severe clear out and I had a good chance to concentrate on the 530 and 496 buttonology. I handled all the comm work and navigation. As you can see the intended route (black) and the amended route (red). I guess ATC wanted to keep us clear of the expanded P40 Presidential TFR. Once we crossed TOMAC we were directed to fly direct SCAPE eliminating the jog to the Hagerstown VOR. Rob was on the needles and doing a great job. Listening to the calls and flying in the system will advance his instrument training, besides he has great stick and rudder skills. Once approaching SCAPE Harrisburg approach helped us out and gave us a direct PADRE direct DQO (DuPont- Home), the blue highlighted route. We were handed off to Philly approach then again as we crossed into another sector. Finally with Wilmington in site and the current wx noted we were handed off to the Tower. Cleared visual two seven, cleared to land. Rob set me up in the right down wind and we transferred the controls for my base to final leg and landing. Once again, an ok at best landing followed by our short taxi to parking. I fetched the SUV for additional lighting on the ramp and Rob helped cover and tie down 08Romeo. An abbreviated get-away but a good decision to beat out the wx and arrive home safely.


Steve said...

Yet another fun year at Windwood, glad to see all the photos and hear that it went so well.

Turns out the wx would have likely prevented us from making the trip (rain and low cigs all weekend, plus some very high winds on Friday) so I suppose that makes having such a full schedule a bit easier to bear.

Gary said...


The winds were the pain on friday, which made for an interesting few landings on my arrival. The wx on Saturday was perfect but the storm system moving in needed some attention.

Rob and I decided it best to head home a day early rather than chance getting stuck. I don't mind getting the ticket wet but I didn't want to chance solid IMC. Besides there is noway I would get out early enough with all the ground fog covering the runway. If I can't see the other end I'm not racing toward it.

There is always next year!