Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Oshkosh Dreamin'

Husband and I are thinking about going to Oshkosh this year! We can't decide whether to attempt flying into Oshkosh itself and camp under the wing of Good Dog, or whether we should fly into Appleton, stay at a hotel there, and drive back and forth to Oshkosh. \

Does anyone have experience making the trek? We're concerned about:
  1. the campground filling up (we're probably not going till the second weekend),
  2. the actual flight into Oshkosh (is it reasonable for two 200+ hour pilots to make that journey?),
  3. what the commute would be like to drive back and forth between Appleton- and find parking each day, and
  4. if it's reasonable to plan to be there about 2.5 days (or is that just way too short to make sense).
I'd love to hear from anyone who's made the pilgrimage and might be able to offer comments!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

When Accidents Happen

I recently read this post on "Fear of Landing" about a 16 year old boy (Sam Cross) who crashed while soloing a few years back. What an awful thing! It is certainly a sobering post to read for anyone who is going through or who has recently been through flight training. It's also so frustrating because it seems like this was one that was preventable!

Apparently, the student pilot was out doing pattern work (or circuits, since this occurred in the UK) at a towered airport. While on final (and I think after he had initially been cleared to land), he was asked by the Tower first to go-around, and then to turn to the left and do a 360 (an orbit) to allow faster traffic to land in front of him. The controllers in the Tower had just gone through a shift change, and the new controller apparently did not realize that this was a student pilot. Being asked to do a go-around, and especially something as unusual as a 360 off of final would be stress-inducing for any pilot. For this student pilot, he wasn't able to process and do what was asked while still "flying the airplane". As a result, he stalled, spun, and crashed.

My flight school has a policy that students flying solo should identify themselves to controllers as "student pilot" as part of each transmission. (i.e. "Cleared to land, 17N student pilot". When I was going through my cross countries, I remember scoffing at the need for this. I thought, "I don't want to advertise that I'm a student pilot! They'll just make fun of me if I goof up. Or they'll treat me as if I don't know anything!" I also remember being very grateful to be able to include that "student pilot" designation at times-- like on one transmission when I got mixed up which runway to land on, or another when I needed help withe slower progressive taxi instructions.

After reading this, I feel foolish for having felt so confident that I sometimes did not include this designation when checking in with a new controller. Now I see that this is more than just alerting a controller to the fact that you may not get the transmission just right-- it prepares them to help you move through the airspace in the safest way possible for everyone.

So fly safe out there! And don't be ashamed for someone to know that you're just learning. We all need help from time to time.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Good Dog's a Show Dog! (and a Bravo Dog!)

I recently posted about our trip down to Suffolk for the Virginia Regional Festival of Flight, but didn't blog about the Festival itself.

When we arrived on the field that morning, we noticed that our plane was still parked right we had left it-- on the line with the show planes! (We hadn't known where to park it, and were worried about finding someone to help us get our car, so we just left it in an open spot in front of the FBO). We asked inside the FBO if we should move the plane somewhere else given that we're not exactly a show plane (that's putting it mildly since the dog hasn't had a bath in a while!). They told us we could leave it there without a problem. It made us laugh a lot to see our plane sitting alongside all the showplanes-- and to see people walk up to it, obviously curious why a dirty 172 was sitting there with them!

This fly-in was much more casual than the AOPA one. We saw a lot of the same vendors that we had seen the previous weekend, but in a more relaxed atmosphere. We spent about 20 minutes talking to the ultralight guy that Husband met the weekend before. It was intriguing to think about being able to buy one of those little aircraft for as little as $32,000. And it sounds like maintenance is much cheaper. Of course, where we would fly it is another question. We daydreamed about keeping it at the airport we fly to when we go see my parents. That way, we could fly down to the airport there in our regular plane, land and switch planes, fly over to the valley where my parents live in the ultralight, and land on a pasture right there. Seems like it should be a time saver-- and then we could take little joyride flights around while we were there. Great idea, right? Makes me want to keep my Honda with 90,000+ miles just a little longer!

We bought a few things as we went-- though nothing so useful as the new flight bag; did I mention I like it?! We picked up another cool aviation-themed Hawaiian shirt. Well-actually, they're mailing it to us. Of course, I had to have one of the event shirts- it has all kinds of different planes on the back. And I found a pair of little stud earrings in the shape of an airplane.

After perusing the exhibits, and finding something with caffeine in it to keep Husband awake, we headed over to the seminar tents to catch the decision-making seminar that counted for a stamp in our Aviation Ambassador quest. The seminar consisted of the projecting of a dvd about decision making off of a laptop. The speaker was not working on the projector, so they just set the hand-held microphone next to the computer speaker. Aside from the annoying squeal when one of the narrators said anything with an "s" in it-- and some technical difficulties at the end, it was actually a somewhat interesting video. We never got to the second half of the seminar which was supposed to be on preventative maintenance that you could perform yourself. I'm not sure why no one had realized that you couldn't fit an introduction, 65 minute video, and a presentation on preventative maintenance into 1:15 time slot... but I won't complain. Especially because the one thing the expert did say about preventative maintenance was that airplanes were too complicated now, and you shouldn't do your own maintenance!

After that lively seminar, we followed about half of the seminar attendees over to the Virginia Aviation booth to get that elusive third stamp in our books. Then it was time to head out as we had plans in Philly that night. We had already taken care of getting fueled (they had a $.15/gal discount off of the self serve prices that weekend in honor of the show-- so gas was only a little over $4/gal! What a bargain!). After some discussion with the line guys on how to best get to the runway, we started up and headed to the active. For the weekend, the second runway was closed and being used as a taxiway... but there was no run-up area set aside. I had a little trouble deciding where to park for the run-up, but finally settled on a spot. Hopefully I didn't cause too much of a traffic jam.

And then we were off. Because of the fire, the TFR was now only 2 short miles off the end of the runway. I got a little confused about where I should be going, and where the TFR was. At one point, I thought I had accidentally clipped it, but I hadn't. Whew. Husband helped me get oriented and turned in the right direction. I was thankful to have him along. It was still verrrrry hazy, so we climbed as high as we could to get 1) over the Norfolk airspace, and 2) out of the haze. We finally got above it and sailed along at 7,500 feet over the coastline. We flew up the Delmarva peninsula, and had it been clear, it would have been beautiful (I have no doubt!). As it was, it was a nice flight. Husband even napped for a few minutes (first time that's happened while flying!). He woke up, though, when ATC helpfully alerted me to an oncoming plane at our altitude. We decided to descend early- and that turned out to be a good decision as the plane came quite close to us and we could not see it until the last minute. ATC even commented to us that we had made a good decision.

After that, we were handed off to Philly approach- only there was some confusion and they sent us to the wrong controller. We were glad to switch to someone else as the guy sounded like a jerk. Unfortunately, within 5 minutes, we were handed back to him. Oh well. Twice, he told us to turn in directions that seemed to have us heading straight for another plane. It made us very uncomfortable. Especially as we were then scolded for not maintaining the heading he gave us. He was right that we should have minimally told him we were turning for traffic- but there was not much open time on the frequency.

We ended up approaching Philly Int'l (PHL) straight in for Runway 35. The controller told us to watch for a Southwest jet approaching the runway crossing 35. We kept looking for it- and the controller kept asking for it. Finally, at the last second (while I'm trying to get the plane to go slower and slower), we saw the plane streak across in front of us. Because we hadn't been cleared to descend, I then had to do a forward slip to get us down in time. Husband thinks that because the controller wouldn't let us change frequencies to Tower until we had the jet in sight that we also couldn't be cleared to descend below a certain altitude. Does anyone know if that's a typical practice-- that you have to be with Tower before you can go below a certain altitude (in this case, 2500)?

After all of the excitement, we made it over to the FBO without any further excitement. Our first Bravo-class airport in our own plane! They didn't quite know what to make of our 172, but were very nice to us anyway. Because we purchased 15 gallons of fuel, the overnight fee ($49) was waived, and we only had to pay a $10 landing fee. The FBO was filled with charter pilots waiting for their flights. It was kinda funny to see so many pilots-- all dressed alike-- standing around staring out the windows or checking their email and voicemail. We must have looked ridiculous- after a full morning in the hot sun, and then a long hot flight, we were looking a bit scruffy!

We had a great time with our friends- E & S-- who had driven down from New Jersey to meet us. We had a great Cuban dinner at Alma de Cuba, went to see the new Cirque du Soleil show, and wrapped up with drinks and dessert at a fun upscale diner/martini bar called the Continental. Sunday morning, we all had breakfast and then went out to stroll around the city, see the Reading Terminal Market, take a duck tour, and have some really good cheese steaks. Then it was back to PHL for the trip home. We realized when we got in the cab, that we weren't really sure how to tell him how to get to the GA terminal- and he only knew where the main terminal was! Once we got that sorted out, we were on our way. Our only hiccup getting home was again knowing what altitude we had been cleared for. If they don't tell you, and you're taking off VFR from a class Bravo airport, should you assume you're cleared to fly in Bravo airspace? Something to ponder.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

AOPA Fly-In Madness

These posts are a little out of order... but that's how it goes sometimes!

I blogged about the AOPA Open House/Fly-in a few posts back. It was hot... but really fun. This was our third visit to this particular event. The first year we went, I was bribed into going with a promise to continue on out to the Baltimore inner harbor for dinner. Husband was getting serious about buying a plane and wanted to use the event to check out the options. The second year, we both were nearing completion on our private pilot certificates, fresh out of Sun'n'Fun, and couldn't wait to explore more of the flying community. This year, we're still newbies, at least compared to the grizzled old veteran pilots and their wives who have been to thirty of these shows, but we know the lay of the land and run into quite a few folks that we know. It feels good to finally feel "part of the community". There aren't a lot of communities left like the pilot community.

We were so late arriving that we missed the seminars we wanted to attend. We did head over and hear Phil Boyer say a little about general aviation, but left after a bit because it was hard to concentrate in the heat (and with so many shiny planes nearby!). So, we walked through the exhibitor tents and picked up information on the 99s (an international women's flying club), Angel Flight, Virginia airports, Tangier Island, and all kinds of other stuff. We also succumbed to the advertisements and bought the new AOPA/Sporty's flight bag, and of course- a new dog toy for Flyer!

(After completing a round-robin trip since then, I have to say, the new bag is much easier keep organized than our old Sporty bag. There are individual pockets for charts, pens, flashlights, and just about anything you could need.)

From there, we meandered over to the Frederick Flight School-- picking up a colleague of Husband's along the way who is also into flying. At the flight school, we met up with my housemate from senior year of college. What a blast! He's now working toward his CFI and running the computers at the flight school. After scoring a few burgers from the flight school's bbq, doing a lot of catching up-- and admiring his hangar and 182, we wandered back over to the exhibits to check out the myriad of planes.

There were quite a few to look at- old and new, big and small. I mostly focused on the C-182 and the Cessna 400. Nice planes! The Cessna dealer who sold us our plane was there and took good care of us, giving us tons of information on the two. We're already thinking ahead to what our next ride (i.e., investment) might be. Husband took a look at the Mustang, and the sales guy showing him around the plane gave him a nice Cessna hat so he wouldn't completely roast in the sun (Husband doesn't have much hair left, as you can see in most of our photos!). J, Husband's colleague, was checking out a lot of the flight share and flying club options as he's thinking of getting up to date on his currency and back in the flying game.

After a long time of looking around at the planes for sale (that standard air conditioning option on the C-400 was sounding GREAT!), we went inside the AOPA building to check out the other exhibits. We had our picture taken in the AOPA photo booth in front of a backdrop featuring the AOPA Get Your Glass sweepstakes plane, and watched some kids try (badly) to fly a Microsoft Flight Simulator setup with yoke and pedals. Though there were a few more things we could have seen, we then learned that my mom had caught an earlier flight in from Indianapolis, so it was time to turn for home.

Monday, June 16, 2008

From Smoke to Sweet Grass

What an exciting weekend!

Friday night, Husband and I loaded up the plane to head down to Suffolk for the VA Regional Festival of Flight. The start of the flight was fine, though a little hazy. We kept checking and double checking landmarks on the chart to make sure we had reasonable visibility. Husband was flying (I've been hogging the flight hours for way too long!), and the weather was looking good. As is our custom, we picked up flight following for our route which would take us from JYO (Leesburg), out of the ADIZ, over CJR (Culpepper), past RIC (Richmond), to SFQ (Suffolk). We settled on a cruise altitude of 5,500-- nice and smooth (and cool!). The cool air was nice given that it had been around 90 on the ground. Ugh!

As we neared RIC, we began to hear the controllers working frantically give IFR clearances, and the haze seemed to get much more intense. About the same time, during my usual checks of the weather and METARs along our route, I saw that RIC was now listed as IFR. Uh oh. We weren't going to directly overfly RIC, and we could tell that airports north and west of RIC were all still VFR-- which meant that we would likely not have a problem staying legal. But we were concerned about the decreasing visibility- we are VFR only pilots, so we definitely wanted to know what we were flying into. It looked like things were thinner up higher, so we notified Center that we were climbing to 7,500.

Around this same time, we first saw the big cloud of smoke on the horizon. Once we were up above most of the haze, we could see the cloud clearly. We couldn't see the ground very clearly (there was a lot of haze), but the smoke cloud stood out on the horizon- stretching straight up into the sky, seemingly endless on the blue horizon above the brownish gray band of haze.

In our weather briefing before leaving JYO, we had noticed a warning for smoke around the southern parts of Virginia. We learned that there were two huge wildfires (well, huge for us in the East!) right on the North Carolina border- just south of where we were headed. There were also two TFRs for the fires-- one just a few miles south of the airport for a controlled burn related to the wildfire. We evaluated our options-- but thought that we wouldn't have any problems. So we knew there was a big fire-- but we were definitely surprised by the far-reaching impact of the fire! The smoke cloud that we saw in Richmond was the cloud of smoke from the wildfire burning around 100 miles away!

Thankfully, things cleared up as we edged west of RIC, and continued on down to the south. As we neared SFQ, the controller told us a jump plane was just heading up to release (parachute) jumpers over the airport. We realized that the jumpers would be released right about the time we would be arriving over the field. After talking more with the controller, we decided to circle west of the field until we knew we wouldn't hit any jumper as we turned final to land! The other thing we saw, though, was that a huge cloud of smoke stretched right over the airport. In fact, though we knew where the airport should be, we couldn't actually see it. So, while we circled, we also talked to the pilot of the jump plane to learn what the conditions were. He said the smoke was well above traffic pattern, and that we should have no problem landing.

(Side note: the visibility on the AWOS for SFQ still reported visibility greater than 10 miles, even though there was a huge cloud of smoke hovering over the field and impacting visibility. Does anyone know the impact of smoke on automated weather services?)

Building on some recent online safety courses, we set up the autopilot just in case we entered cloud, started our descent to pattern altitude, and took the plunge. As we flew toward the field, we could see the thick smoke looming. I thought it might be like the haze earlier-- look solid, but then just be hazy once you're in it. I found out I was wrong, though, as we did pass through it momentarily on our descent to the field. Before we could even think about telling the autopilot to turn us around, we were through it (just barely!). We finally caught sight of the field (man was I glad!), and lined up for a downwind entry. The delay and circling we did to avoid the jumpers gave us some confidence that there weren't other planes about to pop out from the cloud of smoke, and we made our way to the ground, literally overshadowed by a cloud of smoke.

Once on the ground, we immediately recognized the smell of burning wood. In fact, neither of us opened our windows, even though it was boiling in the cockpit. The smell of the fire hit us even harder once we opened the doors and disembarked. It was like being at a campfire, in the path of the smoke-- only you couldn't escape this. It burned our throats and stung our eyes. I certainly wondered what we were doing flying into this place! How on earth could they hold a festival here the next day?

We had to stick around the field another 45 minutes or so, trying to get our rental car. The FBO closed much earlier than their website indicated, and our car keys were locked up tight inside. We finally convinced the manager to come out and let us in. He wasn't too happy given the long day he had put in getting ready for the show-- and the fact that he had to be in at 5am the next day. We tried to pay him for his troubles-- at least enough to replace the steak dinner he was cooking when we called... but given his status as a government employee, he wouldn't take it. Our wait paid off, though, when the hotel manager took pity on our long day and upgraded us to the presidential suite! Be sure to stop in at the Hilton Garden Inn if you're ever in Suffolk...

The smoke followed us (or maybe we followed it?) to the hotel and to dinner that night. Strangely, we didn't notice the smell after dinner, though we did still feel the thick, dense air. After a good night sleep, we had breakfast and headed back out to the airport. Stepping out of the car, we noticed something. One- the winds had shifted and the smoke was gone. Two- the smoke had been replaced by the intensely sweet smell of fresh cut sweet grass. What a difference... from smoke to sweet grass.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Flying into a Fly-In

Last Saturday was HOT! It was also the AOPA Fly-In in Frederick, MD, a short hop, skip, and a jump away from JYO. Husband and I have been looking forward to this fly-in for a long time, mostly because we'd be able to "fly in" instead of drive in. (We went last year and the year before that, but we didn't have our certificates yet.

Our departure from JYO was delayed by haze. The air was thick, hot, and steamy, even once it cleared enough to depart VFR. Usually, to fly up to Frederick, we can head out of the ADIZ and then turn to a head of around 350 and we're on the ground less than 30 minutes later. Because of the special procedures for the fly-in, we flew through the ADIZ to northeast of GAI, out through the WOOLY gate, and then joined up with the line of traffic to fly over the EMI VOR, turn right before the tower, up along a highway over a school and another water tower, then descend to land straight in. I flew the plane while Husband tried to figure out the procedures and listened to the temporary tower frequency. Sounds simple, right?

It actually wasn't too bad. Husband is good with maps and charts-- and our G1000 was a big help. I was on edge though-- and I think he was too-- both because of the heat and because the route took us within a very short distance of the ADIZ. Neither of us wanted to be the cause of an ADIZ bust!

We did hear someone bust the ADIZ as we were flying along the posted route-- the on-guard channel was hopping for a while as the controller barked out instructions to the guilty party (TURN RIGHT TO HEADING 360, DEPART THE ADIZ IMMEDIATELY). Later, we learned that the pilot was not going to Frederick, but had managed to stray into the ADIZ. When the guard started barking orders and scrambling whatever it is they scramble, the pilot then fled from the ADIZ, only to run straight into the expanded P-40 (restricted) airspace around Camp David! Poor guy had a BAD day.

We heard some of this on the frequency as we made our way through the AOPA hoops... so I was a bit flustered. As we approached the VOR where we would join the line of planes headed to FDK, we saw blip after blip appear onscreen on our MFD. I was a little nervous about making my way into line. The visibility wasn't great, so it was hard to trust that the other pilots would see and avoid us. Luckily, Husband had a handle on things and was a huge help.

We continually heard pilots announce their position on the tower frequency as they came into the area. This really confused me at first as the instructions clearly said not to talk to tower, but only to waggle your wings in affirmation if tower gave you instructions. For a while I was convinced that we should be communicating with tower, until we finally heard the tower state that all planes should maintain radio silence unless asked for specific information. That made me feel a bit better.

Somewhere over the school, we heard the tower recognize the plane in front of us, us, and the plane behind us (we were separated by about 3/4 mile between each). That was good, but it was strange to not answer on frequency, instead waggling our wings with vigor in response. After this point, things got a little hectic. The runway was looming in the windscreen-- right at my 2'o'clock. The plane in front of us didn't seem to be descending. Up until this point, I had been basically just following that plane, and since I hadn't heard a clearance, I didn't know whether to descend and prepare to land, or to stay high and follow the plane in front of us.

As I debated-- (and inadvertently made altitude and power changes to match my indecision), two things happened, 1) it became clear that the plane in front of us was not landing and was instead turning to parallel the runway; 2) I realized that Husband was telling me what to do. After a few moments, I was finally able to listen to what Husband was saying and I got us stabilized on short final and landed without incident.

Reviewing the approach and landing afterward, I realize a few things:
  1. I will know to look ahead of time (and listen) for what point the controllers are "recognizing" planes approaching the fly-in.
  2. I'll be more comfortable next time with the non-verbal communication aspect of these approaches.
  3. Husband and I need to be even more clear in these situations about what job each of us is filling. We almost always split the flying and navigating/communicating responsibilities. But the pilot flying typically is still able to follow the communications as they occur. In this case, it was very helpful to have a second person in the plane that could devote 100% attention to communicating and figuring out how to follow instructions. In these complex situations, we need to decide what the pilot must hear for him/herself and what (s)he can trust the copilot to hear/understand.
  4. This was a great example of needing to fly the plane first. I goofed and made some pretty big altitude and power changes when we were pretty close to the ground. Luckily, I never had the stall horn go off, and we were never in danger of being out of control. However, my pitch and power changes resulted in several wide airspeed swings (65-90) in a short amount of time and distance.
  5. Though I hope our next entrance to a fly-in is a little more polished, I can say that we didn't damage ourselves or the plane, we didn't bust any airspace, and the landing (in the end) was pretty respectable with distinct chirps for back and front wheels.

More next time on the fly-in itself!

Monday, June 2, 2008

T-Storms: See and Avoid

Husband was planning to be gone all day Sunday, and I wanted to do some flying while I still could. Thunderstorms were predicted for later in the day, so we decided to get out early and go for breakfast. This basically required a crow bar to get me out of bed early as I am not a morning person. I used to bounce right out of bed to go flying, but I guess I must be getting jaded as I now have to have a conversation with myself to make it out of bed early. It goes something like:
"Ok. Time to get up."
"Oh, but this Heavenly Bed is soooo soft. I don't wanna get up!"
"But there's an airplane out there waiting for you... and pretty nice weather. Don't you want to go flying?"
"Weeeeell.... Maybe. Though it doesn't sound that fun right this moment, I can sort of remember that when I actually am flying it's awfully fun. Then, there's
always the landing... that's fun."
"So that's it, you're going to get up!"
"In theory, yes. We'll see how it goes."

Luckily, at this point, Husband stepped in with some coffee. I don't drink it often, that way it really does the trick when I need it. Thank goodness for Husband! (Course, don't think he's too chivalrous-- he knows he only gets to go flying if he's able to get me out of bed!)

A little later on, I was glad to have gotten up early. The radar was showing storms-a-comin'. We had originally planned to head up to Lancaster for breakfast and a trip to the pilot shop there... but decided to instead head to York for those most excellent pancakes. Once we got off of JYO, though, we could see the buildups in the distance. A quick check of the Nexrad confirmed that the storms were already moving in. The briefer had said the storms were moving about 50 knots/hr, and it seems he was correct. So, we made a quick decision, did a 360 while we set things up, and then turned back for FDK. After a go-around (maybe we didn't quite get things set up, after all!), we re-entered the pattern and landed in variable and gusty wind.

Breakfast at FDK was pretty good-- though York pancakes still hold the title. Then we headed over to the flight school to pick up some charts for Husband. While in the flight school, we left a message for F, an old college friend recently rediscovered. After a quick preflight, we were back in the air and headed home. An uneventful flight with a nice landing. I always wondered if I really put the correct wing down on crosswind landings-- I'm not really able to think about it while doing it, I just instinctively do it. Sure enough, I do-- because this time, I somehow put the wrong wing down for a second, but realized it instantly and was able to correct in time for a good landing.

After landing, we stuck around to clean off all the dead bugs on the cowling and leading edges. Yuck. I guess it's bug season again. I'll need to keep a close eye on things to make sure birds don't try to nest in the elevator again. (See this AOPA blog about things nesting.) We also warned a couple of fellow pilots headed over to MRB about the buildups we'd seen. I think they changed their plans. I felt bad for being the bearer of bad news-- but who wants to fly into thunderstorms!?

Husband's Fun Day at the Races

I usually only post about my flight experiences-- but this time, I thought I'd share one of Husband's stories. (If I can wrangle any pics out of him, I'll post those, too!)

Husband's catching up to me in terms of hours of PIC and X-Country time! He flew to Canada and back yesterday for the Red Bull Air Races. I opted out of the trip for sanity's sake (life's been moving just a little too fast lately!), though I kind of wish I had joined him. He did take another pilot friend, K, who also went with him last year to the Reno Air Races.

They decided somewhat last minute to fly to Windsor (Canada) instead of DET in Detroit, so we had to scramble a bit to get together the appropriate paperwork. It wasn't as hard as it seems to do-- all the information you need is easy to get on AOPA's website. The only difficult piece was navigating the site to get the Radio Operator's License-- the web site is hard to navigate. (Thanks, Aviatrix, for your posts on crossing the border-- we read those a few times, as well!) We also were confused about the English proficiency requirement. In case anyone's wondering, the FAA has secured an extension through March 2009 for US pilots. I ended up contacting the AOPA pilot helpline to confirm that piece of information. I highly recommend using the helpline if you have a question. It was really easy, quick, and comforting to be able to ask someone so directly!

Now, Good Dog is all set with a custom's decal and the proper paperwork-- and we've learned more about how to file a VFR flight plan. For some reason, our flight school isn't that big on VFR flight plans-- maybe because of the confusion with filing an ADIZ flight plan? We almost always get flight following, but neither of us had ever filed anything other than an ADIZ flight plan.

Husband had a 30 knot headwind on the way over, but was able to cut time off the trip by going more or less direct to Sandusky. Our experience in the Washington area is that you almost never get cleared through the Bravo airspace. I think I've been offered it twice in two years of flying. Apparently, that's not necessarily the norm for other places, as he was cleared through the Bravo airspace around both PIT and CLE. They had an uneventful landing at Windsor, were quickly cleared through customs (in fact, the customs folks had him taxi directly over to the fuel pump and met him there so he wouldn't have to stop the engine and then restart it to fuel up).

The races sounded amazing (and I mean that literally- I could hear them over the phone!). He and K opted for the "box" tickets instead of just general admission. The seats had not been selling well, so the price was cut in half. No big dramas happened on the course-- though because Saturday's races were cancelled, they ran both the prelim and the finals on Sunday. The US customs people were very accommodating in helping him change his arrival time so that he could stay for the end of the races.

After the races, they headed back out and had an equally smooth transition back into the States. For all the fuss that you usually hear about crossing the border, the customs folks that he dealt with-- on both sides-- seemed very helpful and easy to work with. I was actually surprised when he called around 8:30 to say they were back at JYO-- I thought they'd be gone much longer! His total time away was around 13 hours-- 6.9 of which were with the engine running-- and that was with a 30 knot headwind!