Monday, July 16, 2007

New Airports Are Fun!

To continue our tour of airports in the area, Husband and I flew to the Williamsburg/Jamestown airport (JGG) Sunday. It was a great flight. We decided to get flight following to help us make sure we didn't accidentally wander into any of the potential hazzards along our route. In addition to the usual MOAs and restricted areas, the FSS briefer mentioned parachute jumping, an aerial circus, unmanned rocket launches, and a few others that I can remember now! But though we did hear the radio calls for the jumpers, our trip down was pretty quiet. We flew out of the ADIZ over the Cassanova VOR, and then turned on heading for JGG.

We had fun picking out different points on the chart and finding them on our route. And I think I finally have the autopilot sort of figured out-- at least for the basics (nav, heading, alt, and up/down). It was nice and cool at altitude (5500 feet)-- a great change from the 95 degree heat on the ground. As we got close to JGG, we were very happy to have flight following-- another plane had just taken off from the airport, and was on an IFR plan. They were ascending to our altitude as we were descending to where they had just come from... not a good combination. With the light haze, we had a hard time seeing them. We finally did get a visual on them, and after the quick turn to the right to avoid them, we got down to the business of our approach.

We thought we'd be coming in on more or less of a 45 for the left downwind to the desired runway... Unfortunately, we had miscalculated our approach in relation to the runway. So at the last minute, after a few very confusing seconds, we realized we needed to overfly the runway, do a right turn to enter the 45 for the downwind. This took out over the water-- which is getting less scary now that I done it three or four times-- but is still a little startling. After all the craziness, I was a little high and my airspeed was all over the place. Turning final, I thought we were way high. With Husband calling out airspeeds, and also reminding me that the runway was shorter and a lot narrower to what I'm used to... I decided at the last minute to do a go around and get more set up for landing.

This time around, though we did exchange calls with another plane in the pattern, I was much more set up for landing. There was a decent crosswind- with a little bit of gust to it, so my landing wasn't perfectly smooth... but it wasn't too bad. At that point, I was just pretty happy to be on the ground! We made our way over to the FBO-- that also housed Charly's, a great little cafe. By the time we took our seats (outside, under an umbrella, overlooking the runway!), our plane had already been refueled per our instructions. We had a great lunch-- sandwiches on homemade bread! As we sat there, we saw about 6 or 7 other planes land. That made me feel a lot better about my landing! Only one of them was any good. The others were all a little sketchy in one way or another.

Our flight home was also mostly uneventful. We played with the clouds a little, though. We still have trouble knowing how far away we are from them, so we have a lot of conversations like this: (Husband) "Do you think we'll be below that cloud layer when we reach altitude?" (Me) "I don't know. Maybe. I guess let's keep climbing, and if they are at our level, then we'll go back down." (a few minutes go by) (Me) "I think those are at our level. I think we can go up to 8500 and go over them, we'd still be able to see the ground and everything." (a few more minutes go by) "Hmmm. I can't tell if those are at our level or not. What do you think? And do you think we're two thousand feet away from that little one over there?" (Husband) "I don't know. I can't tell up here." (Me) "Well, do you think we'd be able to see a plane on the other side of this cloud to see if they were heading straight at us?" In the end, we decide that the clouds are a little to close for comfort, so we end up cruising at 4500. Not nearly as cool at that altitude, but that's ok by me!

One strange thing that happened... we heard a conversation between two pilots about a plane crash in the area. We never could tell what/where the crash was... but then a little later, we heard a Coast Guard pilot talking to a controller about doing a search and rescue mission-- and it sounded like what the pilots had been talking about. Scary.

ooh! And I think we're going to take my dad up for a flight this coming Saturday! Yay!

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