So yesterday, Stretch came out and we went out to the airport for a flight to Carroll County Airport in Westminster, Maryland. The day was cool and the skies were clear below 8,000 feet, but it was pretty windy early in thew morning. No issues for take-off since the wind was right down the runway, but I took off knowing that it was setting me up for a wicked crosswind landing at Carroll County.
Our flight path took us right over Antietam Battlefield. It looked great from up here, especially with a tailwind pushing us at nearly 120 knots groundspeed.
Here we are at Westminster. We see below us one aircraft--a Diamond--on the taxiway that just landed, one Beechcraft Bonanza taking flight from the runway below us, and one really big one sitting over in the parking area--a B-17G.
So I entered the right-traffic pattern for Runway 34, thankful that I'd heard the plane ahead of me set up for right traffic, the preferred pattern for this field, so that I didn't enter a standard left downwind and look like a total prat in front of all those people down there. (Note to self: pay a bit more attention to unfamiliar airport info when planning flights, you prat.)
As I called my base turn, I then heard over the radio one of the coolest bits of traffic ever: "Westminster traffic, P--51 Mustang inbound long right downwind. I'm looking for the Cessna."
OMG. A P-51 is looking for me? How cool is that! My finger hovered over the radio button and my right hand gripped the throttle a bit tighter, and the words "Fight's on" were on my lips...all I had to do was climb up above him, get on his six, and come down out of the sun, and...Sigh. I turned final and came in for a landing that was interesting due to the crosswind and the weight of a certain passenger known to those who've met him as "not a small guy". I flared, bounced, and came back down on my right main so hard that for a few seconds I was sure that I'd blown a tire. And as I taxied into the parking area, the Mustang came in from behind and made a low knife-edge pass down the runway, his 1,200hp Rolls Royce Merlin V-12 engine clearly audible over my Continental O-300-D, even in my cockpit.
Heck, I shoulda stayed up there. I coulda took him.
Anyway, here's that B-17 some more.
Collings Foundation Boeing B-17G, "Nine-O-Nine"
Below: 1,200 HP Wright Cyclone Model R-1820-97 engine with Hamilton Standard propeller.
More pics later, both of the B-17 (inside shots) and the P-51. Pity that I didn't get video of a few of the other landings that pilots were making out there before the winds died at around noon. Let's just say that I wasn't the only one making a hash of it with those gusty crosswinds, and watching a few of those alone was worth coming out here for, or would have been if I hadn't been a member of their club.