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08/22/08

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May26, 2005
HEF-FDK-N57-ILG-7N7
Manassas, VA to Fredrick, MD to New Garden, PA to Wilmington, DE to Pittstown, NJ

Another trip with 5 states in one day which is different than Texas which was 5 days for one state.  My departure from Virginia was less eventful than my arrival.  I had filed the special flight plan required for the Washington, DC area since I was flying away and not toward DC it was simpler.  The controller asked me to climb to 2,500 feet which assured her reception of both my transponder signal and my voice on the radio.  This worked fine and I flew NW until I exited the Air Defense zone around DC where she turned me loose and closed out my flight plan.

Once outside of the airspace I turned north staying 1 mile outside the edge of the circle of protected space.  As I neared the northern edge of DC's airspace at about the 10 o'clock position the mountains ran right up to the circle.  On my chart it had looked like I could skirt between the mountains and the closed area but according to my GPS I would be illegal unless I jumped over the mountain ridge which I did.

My first stop was Fredrick, Maryland home offices for the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association.  AOPA is an incredibly dynamic organization that publishes several flying magazines, lobbys on behalf of pilots, and offers insurance, legal and flight information services to its members.  They were interested in my trip and took a few photos of me and my gyro in front of the building, as well as giving me a first class tour and advice on my route ahead. 

From Maryland I flew over beautiful countryside of green fields and spectacular houses.  These palatial homes each sat in the middle of acres of mowed grass and most featured pools, tennis courts, guest houses, riding stables and horses.

Next was a quick touch and go in New Garden, Pennsylvania followed by a stop in Wilmington, Delaware.  Wilmington was a good size airport with a control tower but seemed quiet when I arrived.  The wind was light but very shifty and the runway I was cleared in to was not the best for me.  As I came down final approach I noticed the windsock shifting all over the place and I ended up landing with a tailwind- never a good idea in a gyro, but fortunately a last minute burst of power gave me a gentle if sloppy landing. The FBO was very quiet and after pumping in just 5 gallons of gas I took off for our final destination just 12 miles away.

The tower controller was totally unfamiliar with gyroplanes first asking me to take off like  a helicopter right from the ramp, then when I told him I needed a runway he cleared me to taxi to runway 1.  As I started to taxi towards the assigned runway I realized I would have a tailwind again so I informed him gyros were very sensitive to tail winds, whereupon he instructed me to taxi to runway 9 which would be perfect as it was right into the wind. 

After that he continued to ask me all sorts of questions about gyros for the entire time I taxied, then after I took off we continued the Q&A until I was 5 miles from the airport.  Most tower conversations are very businesslike and this type of banter is highly unusual.  In 500 hours of airplane flying I have had only a very few of them yet in the gyro it happens almost every single time.   This time our conversation went on so long that finally another pilot trying to land just broke in on top of us to get a word in edgewise to the tower.  I could sympathize with the other pilot trying to get clearance to land and the tower controller was understandably embarrassed and quickly got back to business.

Ten minutes later I was dropping down to land at Spitfire airport in Pedricktown, NJ, my 5th state for the day.  Standing on the side of the runway I saw Dee and several of the local pilots.  Fortunately my landing was a smooth one. 

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This site was last updated 06/12/06

Copyright Rob Dubin 2005