Monday, October 22, 2012

Clear Prop!

The phone rang today. It was my plane, wanting to know why I haven't been out to take it up in a couple of weeks. and since it was a beautiful fall day, with all the leaves changing colors and not a cloud in the blue sky, how could I refuse?

I launched and flew west, skating over the mountain ridges west of the airport.

Once I had ten miles and a couple of ridgelines between me and the airport, I turned north and took in the sight of this nifty little lake.

There's a parking area and a boat launch at the north end, but damned if I could find the road leading to it due to the thick foliage around it. Trying to find something from the air around this part of West Virginia is like looking for traffic on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, only without the AAA. You know it's down there, you just can't see it.

But look what I did see: A fort! A whole freaking FORT!
It's just north of the Potomac River, 16.2 miles from the Hagerstown, MD airport. I have truly never seen that before and had no idea what it was until I came back to the Lair and got on the computer. It's a Maryland State Park known as Fort Frederick.

From the MD DNR website:

The stone fort built in 1756 protected Maryland’s frontier settlers during the French and Indian War. Fort Frederick is unique because of its strong stone wall, large size, and roomy barracks. Fort Frederick also saw service during the American Revolution as a prison for British soldiers. For the next 131 years, the fort and surrounding lands were farmed. During the Civil War, Union troops were often stationed near the fort to guard the C & O Canal. In 1922, the State of Maryland acquired the fort. During the Great Depression of the 1930's, a company of the Civilian Conservation Corps restored the fort and began development of the state park. In 1975, the park reconstructed two soldier’s barracks inside the fort. These barracks are open seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day and on the weekends in the spring and fall. During those times, staff and volunteers dressed in 18th century clothing occupy the fort, demonstrating daily life in the 18th century.

Freaking cool. I had no idea. But you can bet on a road trip in the near future, followed by a blog post. And when the Illegal Alien Zombie Revolution comes (or the post-election rioting of disaffected Obama kool-aid drinkers), you can guess where I'm going to go hole up. That place looks seriously defensible and it's got farmland.

And here's a random shot looking back west along the Potomac River.

Heading east along the river, I then stumbled across this place.
Two small quarries surrounded by woods, with a railroad grade to the rear and one nice-sized house right in the middle. Heck, that house looks like it would be an even stronger redoubt than the fort. I'm gonna have to go make friends with those people before the collapse. If I'm really lucky, they've got a good-looking single daughter who likes to fly, shoot and do housework.

Next I flew down the Blue Ridge for a bit, following the Shenandoah River. On the other side of that ridge can be seen the Commonwealth of Virginia

Then it was back to the airport for a few touch-and-go practice landings. I put in four text-book landings, all without the slightest bounce, bang or squeal and no stall horn. Naturally, all of the CFIs at the FBO where the flight school is were gone for the day so no one saw those. There's never an audience when I've got my landings perfect, but on those occasions when I come in stupid, catch a gust or flare too high, drop like a rock and bounce down the runway like a drunken Kangaroo, that's when everyone who has ever worked at the airport for like the last ten years is going to be there watching. It never fails.

Still, a beautiful day and a flawless flight. Hard to beat that.


  1. Sounds like a PERFECT day.

  2. Looks like you had a great day! Get me up there trying to figure out the Turn and Balance indicator or just hand me the camera!

  3. @ Rev. Paul: It was truly a great day indeed.

    @ Keads: Any time you manage to get up here or even close by, there's a flight waiting.

  4. Nice day for flying, LOUSY day for working...sigh... Ft. Fredrick is one I also want to see, but until I can carry over there, I'm not going.

  5. When you check out the fort and the house in between the pits, you might check for a road or such that could be used as a landing strip. You know, just in case...

  6. Well a close-up view of the aerial shots I took of the fort shows no platforms or fighting steps inside the walls, so defenders can't shoot over them. That pretty much makes it a useless fortification, practically speaking. Ah well.

  7. Nice!

    I believe you can get to Ft. Frederick off the C&O towpath, too.

  8. Anonymous7:25 PM

    Thank-You for the pictures and tour

  9. I've camped inside the fort a handful of times. There is one stairway on the western wall that has a platform. Those stairs get really slick when the dew starts to fall. Just saying'. It really is a beautiful site.

  10. What a beautiful day and the fort from the air is awesome! Glad you had some good flying weather to enjoy that sweet bird without any extra stress.