Tuesday, September 23, 2014


A new sign at KUKT
A busy week. Tuesday we had an excellent discovery flight with Andrea. She was enthusiastic and had a wonderful time in the air. This kind of flight makes flying fun. Wednesday Mark made his first solo flight in Sally. The winds had calmed following the mid-afternoon heat and provided the perfect day for a solo flight.  Three beautiful landings. Congratulations Mark!

Taking The Light Sport Adventure

Thursday was my planned departure day for a solo xcountry trip down to Charleston, SC.The forecaster saw nothing unusual and said that the weather maker was a weak low pressure trough just west of Washington DC, but he expected VFR conditions for the entire route of flight. I might even have a tailwind. I planned stops at Tappahannock, Virginia (KXSA) and another at Wayne Executive Jetport (KGWW) near Goldsboro, NC. Final destination would be Mount Pleasant (KLRO) just northeast of Charleston. Total distance right at 500nm.

It was overcast. Still VFR but a thin overcast layer at 6000'. I contacted Philadelphia Approach/Departure right after takeoff and soon got permission to enter the Class Bravo airspace. As Sally and I traveled south the layer continued to descend. We descended as well and leveled at about 3500' near The Bay Bridge Airport (W29). An extension of the Washington Class Bravo has a floor at 3500' so we went down another 100' or so to stay under the shelf and clear of clouds. We crossed over the Chesapeak talking all the time to Washington, Patomic, and Patuxent Controllers and soon began our descent into Tappahannock.

The Airport Manager greeted us at the pump and helped us with the self serve Avgas. (19.7 gallons @ $5.69). As we were fueling his fuel truck arrived. He told me if we had been 30 minutes later we would have got the gas for 20¢ cheaper! As I pumped he walked around Sally. "I didn't know Piper made a Light Sport." I explained a bit of her history. He nodded, then went over to look at the instruments. "Nice airplane." I buttoned her up and pulled clear of the pumps and watched a crop duster come in to take on a new load of chemicals. Dusty Crophopper is a big airplane. A normal takeoff and as I was departing I heard on Unicom "That sure is a pretty airplane".

The winds were not "unfavorable" and as I approached KGWW I decided to skip that fuel stop. I advised SEYMOUR JOHNSON Approach that my new destination was KLRO. I love my 696. The 175nm would take less than 2 hours with plenty of fuel for reserve. The weather was good with still a few clouds at 4500' so we stayed at 3500' and continued west bound. Smooth air, good visibility.

As we traveled south of Fayetville the conditions began to deteriorate. Convective buildups in the heat of the afternoon started to appear on the Nexrad weather display. The ceilings were dropping. Suddenly a moving object flashed by my head. I instinctively ducked out of the way! A quarter sized moth had found its way into the cockpit. I put up with the distraction, phew. The air was still calm but I tightened my shoulder harness anyway. When I contacted the FBO at 15 miles I couldn't make out their response. But a twin Cessna on an instrument appoach checked in at his initial approach fix and asked for my position. We decided I would take a #2 position behind him so I maneuvered for a 5 mile final. That worked out well. He was just clear of the runway by the time I landed. A good ground crew had the rental car waiting as I shut her down. (18.8 gallons @ $6.79. Free tie down.)

A thunderstorm cell was threatening to drench the field so I quickly got started putting the covers on. (Love bug season, yuck. I'm sure I trapped some in the cockpit.) As I worked, a couple walked out from the FBO across the ramp to look at Sally. They asked about her history, etc "I've seen some light sports before but none looked this good. This is what a Light Sport SHOULD look like!" True southern hospitality. I liked Charleston.

Video Notes:

Andrea's Discovery Flight
Charleston Flight

And then my cell phone died.

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