Lately the weather has been less than ideal for fly outs, and May 11th was no exceptions. At the best the forecast was calling for MVFR with a 2,500 foot overcast and some rain in the afternoon.
Charlie Chapin, Nathan Welch and I met at 9:30 AM at OKV to fly the Pacer to Frederick. Jim Lum decided (after he got up in the morning) to fly his Navajo. So we had two airplanes attending. Tom Parry and Gueorgui Klissourov both decided to drive. We did catch up with Tom, but unfortunately never met up with Gueorgui.
We (in the Pacer) tried to call Potomac approach to request flight following (as it was suggested in the NOTAM), but the controller was quite busy and just told all aircraft calling with requests to "stand by". So we proceeded to MRB VOR and then on to Fort Detrick to follow the arrival procedure. Listening to the tower controller at FDK, she had her hands full and was instructing some pilots to hold at Fort Detrick, but by the time we got closer no one was holding anymore. However, sure enough when we reached Fort Detrick, she sent us into a hold. Luckily it took only one turn and we were able to proceed and land safely at FDK. Jim, who took off quite a bit later than us, managed to catch up with us (even though he was in a hold for a while over Harper's Ferry) and taxi up right behind us to get a parking spot beside ours.
After the airplanes were secure we started out journey to explore the fly in. With the weather being not that great the turnout was actually quite low, which also helped with the traffic flow. Nevertheless, there was still plenty to see. At 12:00 Noon the airport shut down for a demonstration of STOL (short take off and landing) presentation and for some DC-3s deploying parachute jumpers in WW-2 outfits. It is always very interesting to see demonstrations like this.
When it was time to leave after the airport opened up again, the "Conga" line got really long. I think when we got in line we were somewhere between number 20 and 25 for takeoff. Interesting, there are always some people who come up with "great ideas". Such as asking the controller for intersection departures, but the tower controller did a good job keeping everyone lined up.
Soon after takeoff flying at 3,000 feet under a solid cloud cover we hit a couple of rain showers, but overall it was still good MVFR flying. I had filed an IFR flight plan for the way back, but didn't get acknowledgement from ATC (via E-mail) that my flight plan was accepted until about 20 minutes before our scheduled departure. So if I would have really needed it, we could have gone IFR back to Winchester.
I let Nathan fly the Pacer back to OKV and challenged him with a practiced VOR-A approach. He did a good job getting us into Winchester, despite the short notice and first time for him flying my Pacer.
Overall not a bad fly out/drive out. I just wish the weather will cooperate a little better in the future.
Fly safe, Tailwinds and enjoy the ride!
Video provided by Jeff Deschamps
Line up for take off
WW-2 Para Troopers