Monday, July 23, 2007

Dad's First Flight!

After a nap and a walk through the woods with Flyer, we were ready for our second flying adventure of the day-- a trip to Bay Bridge Airport with Dad! Bay Bridge is a nice little airport-- I've posted about it before. The trick with it is that to get there from JYO, you either have to go way around the outside of the ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone-- the big restricted area surrounding Washington), or you "thread the needle" between the edge of the Washington prohibited area and the Baltimore Class B airspace-- the whole time staying within the outer boundary of the ADIZ.

The difficulty with this-- for those who are not "familiar with ADIZ and FRZ procedures", as I am asked each time I file an ADIZ flight plan (i.e. each time I fly out of JYO!)-- is that you definitely don't want to stray into the prohibited area of the Washington air space. Remember the flight instructor and student from a few years ago who was all over the news for straying into the area and getting escorted by the black hawks? Yeah... you don't want to go past that bounday! On the other hand, just a few short miles away, is the 1300 ft shelf of the Baltimore airspace. Translation: you have, at times, a corridor about 5 miles wide, that you must stay within-- and you must stay below 2500 ft to stay out of the outermost shelf of the Baltimore airspace. (To understand Class Bravo airspace-- picture a big upside down wedding cake. The cake part is what you must stay out of-- unless you're cleared by the controller. Below and around it is where you're allowed to fly. Now, add onto all of this the fact that you have to stay in contact with Potomac (because you're still inside the ADIZ)... and you can see how it might be a nerve-wracking flight. In fact, I would not ever attempt this VFR, except that we have the magic G1000 and a great autopilot to help keep us out of trouble. So we obviously approached this trip with a great amount of care. I made sure to actually call and talk to the FSS (flight service station) briefer, instead of just filing on line. He had trouble filing the plan because nobody ever asks to do something like this-- most people on VFR flight plans want to get in and out of the ADIZ on the most direct and shortest route possible. The controllers were also a little perplexed. The one on the return trip, in particular, seemed concerned. After verifying our route of flight and waypoints, he laughed a little. A few minutes later, he came back to ask what equipment were in and if we had GPS on board. Husband replied with an emphatic, "Yes, we have Golf and it is well-programmed!" (with Golf indicates that we have GPS). Luckily, the only tense moments we had were the 2-3 minutes when we were flying toward a helicopter at the same altitude on the same route (in the opposite direction). I momentarily wondered what they would do to me if I broke the FRZ orBravo airspace in order to avoid a mid-air collision. We did finally get the helicopter in sight and were able to avoid it with only a slight right turn.

The picture above shows the GPS map that we followed. See the arched yellow line? That's the boundary of the prohibited area. See the straight line that bends at the top? That's our route of flight... we flew JYO to GAI to VPONX to VPOOP to W29. VPONX and VPOOP are two VFR waypoints that define the old VFR corridor. I teased Husband that he only wanted to do this flight so that he could make the controller say "VPOOP" over frequency!

The second nerve-wracking part of the trip (besides having my dad in the plane for the first time!) was the ladning into Bay Bridge. We knew the winds had picked up-- the continuous light chop that we endured tipped us off to that. But when we picked up weather and got close to Bay Bridge, we discovered that the winds had shifted such that there was about a 15 knot crosswind for our landing. I do pretty well with crosswinds... but this was a pretty stiff one. Luckily, there was not much gust factor... so while I had to put in almost full left rudder to keep the plane lined up with the runway, it wasn't shifting around or anything. Still, I was pretty relieved to feel the wind lighten a little as we dropped below the trees. I'm pretty sure I held my breath the whole way down short final... and I think my dad did too! But the landing was beautiful-- a near perfect crosswind landing. Three distinct chirps, nice and smooth, and lined up with the runway and on centerline. After we landed, Husband laughed-- "okay, you two up there can breathe now!"

Dad likes to get actions shots... so this is getting ready for departure from JYO.

And here we are coming out over the Chesapeake Bay. Beautiful, isn't it?! Don't you wish you could see airplane wake turbulence like you can see boat wake?

This is where we ate dinner (Hemmingways)-- and the one below is looking out over the water from our table.

Coming in over JYO, the schoolbuses signal our turn onto downwind... after a cross country, I'm always amazed at how relieved I am to see those yellow schoolbuses! And the other pic is lined up on short final.

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