Manassas, VA to Fredrick, MD to New Garden, PA to Wilmington, DE to
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
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
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.