“First will be xxxx aircraft, then John in xxxx will follow on and next will be…” continued Bob from our flight school, who had planned the whole flyout to the last minute detail.
I wondered how in the world we were going to keep the order straight leave alone spot the aircraft in front of us. Countless times ATC gives traffic warnings routinely. Only on a rare occasion am I ever able to spot the traffic. Often, I rely on ATC to tell me that I was clear of the traffic or to provide me deviations to avoid the traffic.
Maybe it will all work out, I thought.
Being on a C172 and in no hurry to exit the Hudson river corridor, I and my passengers opted to fly second last.
Seeing an email informing of the closure of Hyde Field piqued my curiosity. While living and flying in California, there were several occasions when the local aviation groups coalesced, strategized, and organized events and fly-ins to support endangered airports. Santa Monica, Oxnard and Oceano airports come to mind. And how can we forget the abrupt midnight bulldozing of Meigs Field in 2003? Out of curiosity I started to research the reasoning behind this abrupt closure. Although I have flown out of Potomac Airport (VKX), one of the “Maryland 3” airports, I have never flown into or out of Hyde Field. As I pondered the closing announcement, an intriguing idea started to take shape: How about doing a flight into Hyde Field and recording a landing before it closes?
Washington Executive Airport (W32) or Hyde Field, is a public-use general aviation (GA) airport located near Clinton, MD. It is one of the “Maryland 3” airports located within the Washington, D.C. Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ), and subject to the Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) restrictions imposed by the FAA. The third airport being College Park (CGS).
Hyde field was built by Arthur Hyde and opened in 1934 as a training field for United States Army aviators to support primary flight training during WW2. The earliest known depiction in a sectional chart was in the 1941 Washington Sectional Chart, which depicted Hyde Field as a commercial / municipal airport. Earliest known aerial photo from 1943 depicts the airfield as having four runways. A 1960 Jeppesen Airway Manual depicts two runways. Hyde Field currently has a single runway. Due to the onerous SFRA restrictions leading to declining revenues at the airport, in 2008 there were plans to shut it down and redevelop the land. The airport has been on sale for the past 15 years with the latest sale in 2020 falling through and ending up in bankruptcy court.
A recent AOPA article from Feb 2022 on following John Wilkes booth’s escape route notes: “Civil War buffs and conspiracy theorists will want to visit the Surratt House Museum, three miles northeast in Clinton, Maryland… The Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum is located 17 miles southeast of the airfield. Mudd was the doctor who set the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth on the morning after Lincoln’s assassination…. Booth fled south from Mudd’s to Pope’s Creek, where he boarded a boat to cross the Potomac River into Virginia. Today, that spot is close to Captain Billy’s Crab House and Gilligan’s Pier (a steak and seafood restaurant that is operated seasonally). Enjoy a lunch of Maryland blue crabs at one of these waterfront restaurants and contemplate Booth paddling across the river in the dark of night, trying to make his escape.”
A little after 10 am, Marianne and I set off from Maryland Airport (2W5) in the Citabria, not the same one I did my tailwheel training, but a similar one. It really is a fun aircraft to fly, and it was great to be back in the air in it. A couple of touch and goes to refamiliarize myself again with stick and rudder flying, and off we went for the short hop to Hyde Field. The weather gods had relented. It was calm, and pristine day with clear blue skies. Rain was expected later in the night and next day, but for now, it was perfect flying weather. We couldn’t have asked for a better day for our brief flying adventure.
We had already negotiated our arrival into Hyde Field with the airport manager, filed a FRZ flight plan, received clearance, and within a few minutes we arrived at our destination. The runway was already in a sorry state for lack of maintenance. And no, we did not visit Surratt House Museum, or contemplate Booth’s escape across the Potomac over crab cakes. We did walk around the airport checking out the abandoned and dilapidated hangars and contemplated the loss of the airport to GA. Out of the more than 100 aircraft based at the airport, only 30 still remain according to the Airport Manager. By the end of the month, they too will be gone, as developers tear down everything and begin construction of residential houses. After topping off at the self-serve fuel station, we retraced our path and the short return trip back to Maryland airport.
It was a trip down memory lane for Marianne who had originally based her aircraft there decades ago. When I had reached out to her to gauge her interest, she was immediately enthusiastic to participate in the adventure. It is saddening to see the airport close, but the location, the closeness to Washington DC, mere steps away from Andrews Air Force Base, the stringent FRZ requirements, residential neighborhoods, and a host of other factors likely contributed to the fate of the airport. GA Airports constantly face such challenges and will continue to face them.
Come 5pm November 30, 2022, Hyde Field will be no more. This single landing is symbolic at best, but a show of support for an airport that once served its purpose.
“A Mediterranean resort off the coast of Southern California”
Now that my Instrument training was finally over, I was ready for new adventures. The past few months had been hectic and nerve racking. Instrument training is very demanding and I am glad that, it is finally behind me. Browsing through “Fun places to fly in California” I thought I may as well start with the first airport listed there, which happened to be Avalon. I have wanted to fly to Avalon for sometime now. I had been under the misapprehension that I needed some kind of checkout prior to attempting to fly there. As it turned out, the flying club I rented from had no such restriction.
Finally this year, I had the opportunity to attend Airventure 2002. It was well worth the effort to travel to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. We arrived in Oshkosh on Friday afternoon. The place was brimming with people and with luck we found a decent site to pitch tent and settle in. Camp Scholler is not only a fun place to camp but is also very close to the action, within walking distance to the airport and the airshow. There are shuttle buses that operate on a regular basis between the campground, the entrance to the airshow, seaplane base and the EAA Museum.
This year marked the 50th anniversary of Airventure. It is estimated that more than 750,000 attended this year; an estimated 10,000 aircraft were flown with a total of 2503 showplanes.
Don’t remember when last I did this (file and fly an IFR flight plan), maybe way back in 2005 (see Partial Panel). By the way this almost would have become a Partial Panel flight if we hadn’t switched aircraft!
Arriving early at the airport, we discovered that the aircraft had a steady “Low Vac” annunciator display on. Running the engine for a while did nothing for it. The plan was to file and fly under instrument flight rules (IFR). Thunderstorms were in the forecast for the afternoon. When are they never? That in itself was challenging, so definitely didn’t want to work with fewer avionics.
Finding airports with Cafes on the field is extremely challenging in the Mid Atlantic. Even websites like AOPA airports, Airport Facility Directory, Airnav or even ForeFlight don’t contain accurate information sometimes. I unearthed SFQ a few months back through reading some user comments and scouring the web for information on Virginia airports with restaurants on the field.
Attitudes Cafe officially opened last April (2013), but they have unpredictable schedules, are open only Friday through Sunday, don’t answer the phone mostly, and possibly closed during holidays (Dec-Jan). They do have a Facebook page, where the most current information might be posted.
It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, Of all things physical and metaphysical, Of all things human and all things super-human, Of all true manifestations of the head, Of the heart, of the soul, That the life is recognizable in its expression, That form ever follows function. This is the law.
— Louis H. Sullivan
If I were asked to name my second passion, I would have to say it is Architecture. With a sister studying Architecture, I grew up surrounded with designs, drafting, discussions on famous architects such as Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright and The Fountainhead. In my spare time I pored over my sister’s books with flashy images of buildings from around the world; mesmerized by the intricate designs, lofty skyscrapers and flowing structures that could only be imagined and executed by the intellect of man.
Falling Water is a masterpiece by architect Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW). Nestled in a valley in rural Pennsylvania, away from civilization, it is one of the most enduring buildings designed by FLW that propelled him to fame and success. It was built for the Kaufman family in the 1930s as a weekend home and is now preserved by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and open to the public as a museum.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…” — from the Gettysburg Address by US President Abraham Lincoln (Nov 19, 1863)
The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the American Civil War. Confederate army led by General Robert E. Lee was defeated by the Union army led by Maj. General George Mead ending Lee’s invasion of the North. The battle fought over 3 days between July 1-3, 1863 had the most casualties of the American Civil War. The famous Gettysburg Address was given by the then US President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA. History abounds here.