Treats, Flyies, Snoozles!
The weather lately has been interesting: from cloudy dreary days, to rainy and freezing weather. Some days have seen below freezing temperatures, wind gusts of 20-40 mph in some areas, and plenty of snow to certain parts of the country wreaking havoc to holiday travel plans and resulting in large scale flight cancellations, stranded passengers and stranded baggage. Few days later, without much ado, the weather tilted to the opposite end of the pendulum – bright sunny skies, calm to light winds, and warmer temperatures.
Seeing 50’s and sometimes even 60’s in the forecast, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. During our last adventure flying to Hyde Field, Marianne had expressed an interest in participating in my stamp collecting flights. We were fortunate enough to identify a day and time that worked for both of us. Most importantly, finding an aircraft and good weather to suit the time. I reviewed my VA stamp book to identify airports that I still needed to collect stamps from. The closest airport with a nice long runway was Richmond Executive Chesterfield County Airport (FCI). Roundtrip easily doable in 2-3 hours and a good easy first flight to ease me back to regular flying and rebuilding my skills.
Typically, personal conflicts, weather, or aircraft related issues pose challenges before a flight. This time though a new unique challenge cropped up. As the day of the flight got closer, there were many emails of rampant kennel cough and overwhelmed vets in the area. Bummer! What to do with fido?
Fortunately, there were no concerns on all sides for a late addition of a new crew member to the flight manifest. It was a little closer to 1pm that Marianne and I set off with our brand-new crew member and honorary co-pawlet who had ensured all was good with the pre-flight briefing: barking orders on pre-flight checklists, ensuring there were no strangers lurking anywhere near or on the aircraft, treats and toys were tucked tightly in the bag on the ready, and seat belts fastened and secured before flight. Mission accomplished, it was time to settle back with a treat for a job well done, and monitor the flight to ensure nothing was amiss.
The weather was glorious: clear blue skies with abundant sunshine. We departed and flew south in content direct to FCI once we had exited the SFRA. Along the route, it was fairly quiet with very little traffic considering the holiday season. Other than a few bumps, and mostly re-learning techniques to maintain level flight and altitude we made it comfortably to our destination.
FCI, on the other had was fairly busy. There were at least 2 aircraft attempting to set up for entry into the pattern for a landing from the opposite direction. Although we could have set up for a straight in, we opted to assess the situation, and also give way to the two aircraft already making radio calls of their position and intention to land on runway 15. As we continued to track headwind attempting to locate the other two aircraft, a jet snuck in between those two aircraft with the pilot announcing his intention to make a straight in landing. And there were at least two other aircraft coming from other directions making radio calls of their intention to land FCI.
We landed without issue tracking behind the second aircraft who had flown an extended downwind to stay clear of the jet executing straight in landing. Maintaing sufficient distance so as to avoid having to do a go-around yet staying ahead of the two other aircraft intending to land, we turned final and descended. Fortunately, the aircraft ahead of us did a short landing and quick turn-off allowing us to also follow suit with a touch down and quick turn off and taxi to parking behind them.
A quick walk inside the terminal to collect my stamp, and brief walk outside for fido break, we were ready for our return trip. Although FCI does have a restaurant on the field, considering the timing of our flight, we did not stay to check it out.
The return flight was a breeze. A few bumps on the departure end, but calmer winds as we made our way back north. Fido was clearly well satisfied with first flying adventure, and our skills managing the flight, thus relaxed and napped on the way back – happy to leave the controls in our able hands without supervision.
Best co-pawlet ever!
Fido first flying adventure log: 2.6 hrs.
Not bad at all. Not at all bad.