Friday, July 29, 2011

Look! Up in the sky! It's...just me.

Off to fly on a windy, hazy, way hot day.

And my preferred aircraft was in the shop, so I got this one today.

It's actually newer and nicer than my usual aircraft...and it's got more gadgets. So I spent a few minutes familiarizing myself with this new panel and figuring out how the radios and other important stuff work in this one.
Here's Harpers Ferry, where the Shenandoah River flows into the Potomac. Like I said...hazy.So after I circled the town a couple times and went down to beat up some river rafters (while scrupulously abiding by all applicable FAA limits, because the FAA are our friends and have only our best interests in mind) I headed up the river.

Here's a quarry in Bakerton that I'd love to dive. See the caves in the wall? Old mine tunnels that go back in and down to a depth of 900 feet. They do allow swimming in this quarry but since a diver was killed here in 1994, it's off-limits to diving.

Here are the bridges crossing the Potomac into Shepherdstown.
And here's a dam on the Potomac. This is Dam #4, between Williamsport, MD and Shepherdstown.
On my return to the airport, I engaged in the usual game of "fuddle the tower", which is played by giving your location at 5 miles out, then waiting for the tower guy to call back and ask for your location again when he can't spot you. (Come on guys, they have this new thing called "Radar". You might want to invest in one. Just saying...) When they do spot you, or pretend to, they give you whatever pattern instructions will be the most difficult to set up for based on where you are. Fun!

So I made a couple of practice landings, just to keep current. I wanted to shoot five of them, but I got cut short on my third when a loud voice in my radio announced that "Decoy Zero Five" was at the hold-short requesting back-taxi and immediate departure. I was already cleared for the option but tower called me up on final (because I don't have enough to focus on already on a windy day final approach) and asked me if I planned to make this a full-stop landing. I knew that if I said no, they'd divert me away from the airport as soon as I lifted off again and make me stay outside the five-mile limit until Decoy 05 and any other Decoys that wanted to take off were clear of the field. That could take a while but there was no way that they were going to keep a C-5A idling at the hold-short line while a little Cessna shot touch-and-go approaches. So I told them that it'd be a full-stop, and on touch-down, I turned off onto the first taxi-way and headed back to the barn.

Here's Decoy 05, who started back-taxiing the second that I was clear of the active. Somebody's in a hurry.
But he's also bigger than me and he's probably doing something important, so I'm not arguing.
I love the feeling I get after a good day of flying, but it only seems to last until I watch those C-5 Galaxies fly away or I go inside the main terminal building and see all of the pictures of the F-86 Sabre jets that used to fly out of here. Once I see that stuff, I realize that I really didn't do a damn thing by way of comparison.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must now spend an hour or so looking for used F-86 jets for sale on the internet.


  1. You wrote, "I really didn't do a damn thing by way of comparison" but I must disagree. You had a real nice time sight-seeing and there's not a single thing wrong with that.
    Nice pictures! (Wanna see mine from Monument Valley?)

  2. Nah, you had a productive day... flight time is like trigger time, you NEED to do it to stay current, and that is what you did :-)

  3. About 10 years ago or so, I had the opportunity to take a tour of the flight deck of a C-5. Really cool. I wish I had taken pictures. My dad's cousin (my first cousin once removed?) was a colonel at the time and I forget his exact role, but he flew it up to Dallas for an Air Show where we got the grand tour. It is a pretty long climb from the cargo deck to the flight deck. It's hard to imagine that those beasts are designed to land on rough fields even though they never use the capability.

  4. @ NFO and ED: Yeah, it's good to stay current, but it's not like I'm defending the Free World from Communism...I'm just buzzing around bothering people.

  5. If you really want to take a chance I understand the Ruskies are selling off Mig-21s to private citizens.

  6. I hope to join you on that mission! What was up with the 172?

  7. The open space near the Shepherdstown bridges looks like the runway I used to use - All grass 2750 ft @ 620 MSL. No Galaxies taking off there...

  8. @ Murphy 0823 - OK, you may have just been drilling holes in the sky, but hey, a whole squadron of C-5s probably won't save us from Communism if two-and-a-half of our three branches of government are intent on moving that direction...