Friday, August 25, 2006

Fish Out of Water

The phone rang. Looking at the caller ID, I see it's MS. It's probably our fourth telephone conversation of the day, and who knows how many harassing e-mails have already been exchanged.

IFRP: "What?"

MS: "What are you doing tomorrow?"

IFRP: "Working. Like I do every Friday."

MS: "Marissa called from Angel Flight East. They need a pilot. I may not be able to go, I told her to call you. Take the mission, and if I can join you, I will."

IFRP: "Fine. I've worked hard enough this week, I'll do a good deed."

MS: "About time you did something good."

IFRP: "Eff off. I hate you."

MS: "The feeling's mutual."

Naturally, as these things go, MS had to slave away at the office and the IFR Pilot had no

The mission itself was straightforward. Pick up the passengers at Burke Lakefront, bring them to Tri-Cities Regional in Bristol/Johnson City/Kingsport, Tennessee. There, we'd meet up with the linking pilot, who would bring the passengers to their final destination, somewhere in Georgia.

Landing at Burke was no problem, as the IFR Pilot did his private pilot training there. But they are prepping for the Cleveland National Air Show this coming weekend, so there are runway and taxiway closures galore. The ground controller and I did battle, but we finally got on the same page, and takeoff ensued.

No matter your destination, IFR departures from Burke inevitably receive the following instruction: "Turn [left or right] heading 350 and contact departure."

Today's instruction: "Turn left heading 350 and contact departure."

No problem, except that this is just about exactly the opposite heading from the one we need to get to KTRI. And it takes us out over Lake Erie. Which I don't mind for a few minutes, but I really don't want to dilly-dally over the lake.

So, I'm obliged to pester ATC and request a turn on course. They quickly grant my request, and we make a 180-degree turn to our en-route heading. Within minutes, the passengers are fast asleep and the IFR Pilot is left to ponder life for the three-hour tour.

Approaching Bristol, it occurs to me that I've heard of this town before. You might have as well. You know, Bristol Motor Speedway. Hmmmm, wonder if they are having a race there this
weekend.... The FSS briefer didn't say anything about any special NOTAMS. They didn't ask me if I had a STMP slot reservation. The race must be another weekend.

Wrong. Way wrong. Completely wrong.

This is, in fact, Bristol Race Weekend.

There must have been five flights inbound on the ILS 23, due to the 3 mile visibility. The IFR Pilot wondered if he might draw his first actual hold. Not that he wanted one, mind you, as it's always been a somewhat weak point. (Add it to the list of things to work on during the next dual instruction session.)

Instead, we got a delay vector that brought us abeam wit
h the airport and then a 180-degree turn and then vectors back to the localizer. (NB: Remember to adjust the nav source switch on the autopilot when changing from following the GPS to the #1 NAV.) You can see it here on the track from Flight Aware -- note the big "S" on the flight path near KTRI:

We followed in "Bearskin 123," which I thought might be a military traffic, but turned out to be a charter from Northern Ontario in for the race.

The ramp was jam-packed with executive aircraft of all shapes and sizes, including Citations, Lear Jets, King Airs, race helicopters, and others.

Mike Hotel and his av-gas burning piston engine seemed very much out of place parked on the ramp today next to all of the Jet A burnders -- a bit like a fish out of water. See for yourself:

I took the opportunity to snap some pictures of the various aircraft favored by the "other half." Some of which bore markings of their owners/operators.

The flight home was uneventful. Took only 2 hours, thanks to the favorable tailwinds and the fact that the Home Base is 35 miles south of Burke, making the trip home just a little shorter.

And that's how the IFR Pilot spent Friday, playing hookey from work. Obligatory closing photo of the IFR Pilot doing his thang!


Jim Howard said...

Good post, excellent pictures.

Jason said...

Man, that piper of yours is a beaut - It can hold its own on that ramp! :)