Planes, Trains, Automobiles

“An evening in Tangier Island”

Rush hour in DC is a nightmare! To think I could get to Manassas airport in an hour was wish full thinking. On a good weekend in light traffic it generally takes me 45 minutes to an hour. The trip out of DC was almost straight forward: a twenty minute train ride out to Alexandria to pick up my car at the metro station. Then the nightmare began. With almost every highway backed up, it was a ridiculous two hours later with endless stop and go driving, trying to find a highway that would get me to the airport fastest, that I finally arrived an hour late for my evening flight to Tangier Island organized by my flight school.

A quick pre-flight after filing a DC ADIZ exit and my instructor and I were off in the Piper Arrow II, one of the two aircraft still available. All the fancy aircraft with the latest avionics were all taken and had long left for TGI. Still, I was hoping to complete my commercial training this year and this was the only aircraft available at my flight school with retractable gear unless I wanted to combine it with a multi-engine rating as well.

The sun was still high in the sky although it was past 5:00 pm. Not a cloud in sight, it was going to be a perfect evening flight to Tangier Island just an hour southeast of DC. Tangier Island is a tiny island of about 0.2 square miles in the Chesapeake bay between Maryland and Virginia,  boasting a total population of 500, an airport, one post office, two churches, a wild beach, one police man and this year graduated 4 boys and one girl from high school according to our guide. Transportation is mostly achieved in two wheelers and golf carts. A boat service is offered daily from Reedville, VA and Crisfield, MD to tourists interested in an island getaway in one of the bed and breakfasts located on the island.

Exiting the ADIZ from the Fluky gate, we flew direct to BRV, thence tracking the 140 radial from BRV to STEIN, direct east till we intercepted the 010 radial from Cape Charles that would lead us directly to the airport. With minimal avionics on board, it was essential to relearn the VOR tracking procedures to follow the course and maintain correct headings with the needle centered. The almost still air made this an easy feat. And with some tailwinds aiding and abetting with us, we made good time to TGI, Arriving two hours later than the planned time but still in time for a sumptuous meal of crab cakes, sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, beans, pickled beets, fresh apple sauce, yummy bread pudding with corn, slice of lemon cake and fresh baked warm bread at Hilda Crocketts B&B restaurant with the other guests from the flight school who had arrived well ahead of us.

Tangier Island is a tiny but unique getaway to escape the Washington beltway traffic and airspace for a quiet dinner if you like crab cakes or small town atmosphere or just need that $100 crab burger getaway that is within easy distance. This reminded me of another similar albeit more exciting and challenging flight I had flown off the coast of California to Catalina Island with my friend Michelle T. G.

With glorious views of the setting sun ahead of us we made our way back. The airways were almost silent and the return journey was uneventful. Retracing our path back to BRV, it was time to don the foggles and set up for an ILS approach back into HEF. Touching down with an almost perfect landing and receiving kudos from my instructor, rounded up another perfect day. One filled with planes, trains and automobiles!

See also:

My Forbes Wheels Up Blog
Avalon: Airport in the Sky
Tangier Island

8 thoughts on “Planes, Trains, Automobiles

  1. SKY July 23, 2010 / 12:43 am


    I stumbled upon your blog on Forbes and followed you here. Hope that’s not considered stalking!

    I too am a Private Pilot who started flying in California (KSNS) a few years ago (I lived in Richmond, VA before that). I’ve since moved to the Chicago area. No, the scenery is not what I was used to. I miss flying to all the wonderful places that the west coast has to offer. The Midwest is different, but flying in itself is the reward.

    BTW, I too am an Indian. I have made the acquaintance of a few other Indians here in the US who are also pilots. Hope to read more about your passion for flying!


    BTW, Camp Scholler apparently is flooded with a whole lot of rain this week. I hope it drains before next week when I plan to be there. My wife and I are going to camp for a few days.


    • flynthings October 2, 2010 / 2:18 pm


      Thanks for the follow. Happy camping in OSH. It was flooded prior to Airventure this year as well. Hope it is going to be dried out for your trip!


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