Sunday, November 26, 2006

Around Florida in Under 6 Hours

or...How I spent my Thanksgiving Vacation

Between Wednesday evening and Friday night, I accumulated 7.3 hours of flying time - 5.5 of that was cross-country. I encountered at least one situation that I had not encountered before and I flew in areas that I had not flown in before.

It all began Wednesday evening when I took N1463F up for a little night flying. I had previously reserved the plane from 5pm Wed through midnight Friday to give me plenty of flexibility to go to my sister's for Thanksgiving. Our plans had changed, so we decided to leave on Thursday morning. I felt bad that someone else wouldn't be using the plane, but I didn't want to take a chance on there not being adequate fuel for my flights from CRG to X39 and then to F45. Refueling would be an issue on Thanksgiving day as most places are closed and we were planning to fly from X39 to F45 first thing on Friday morning.

I filed an instrument plan for a round trip to CRG with a SGJ (St. Augustine) as a stop. The plane was not quite full of fuel, but there would be someone at Sterling to refuel until 7pm, so I should have no problems.

The weather all day at CRG was overcast with a very close temp/dewpoint spread. The engine started easily and I taxied to the departure runway after getting the ATIS and my clearance. The climb out was uneventful. I requested vectors for the ILS31 approach at St. Augustine. I listened to the ATIS at SGJ and learned that the glideslope was out of service and the ILS was unmonitored. The NOTAMs mentioned the unmonitored situation, but not the glideslope - this would have to be a localizer approach. ATC gave me vectors and cleared me for the approach - and told me about the glideslope.

I was handed off to St. Augustine tower and a very nice lady controller cleared me for the option. I had initially planned to make a low approach, but there was no traffic around and since this was night, I opted to make this one a stop and go. I flew the localizer and descended to decision height. When I was a mile out I looked up and saw the runway looming ahead of me. I touched down smoothly and braked to a halt. I then pulled the flaps, pushed the power and I was rolling again.

ATC had previously told me to fly 360 and climb to 2000 following my approach, so at 700 feet I started to make my right turn. The tower handed me back to ATC who asked my intentions at CRG. I requested the ILS32 and was told to expect the ILS 32 circle to 23.

I briefed the approach and tuned the appropriate radios, listened to the ATIS, adjusted the barometer. Since this is a G1000 panel plane, there is no turning the heading indicator to the magnetic compass which is nice - although I suspect it will create some bad habits when I fly aircraft with steam gauges.

I was cleared and handed off to Craig tower. The tower advised me to circle northeast to runway 23 and to advise of the circle. MDA for a circling is 500', so I decided that I would begin my circle at 500. I would imagine that the homes in the area don't care for that so much...but they bought houses next to a very old airport, didn't they!?

I touched down a little long and the controller told me to go all the way to Bravo-2 then taxi to the ramp - this actually saved me a bit of time as I could make an almost straight in taxi to Sterling.

This flight took exactly 1.0 hours with just a little actual instrument time at the beginning of the flight...the skies had cleared pretty quickly.

Flight #2 comes in the next post.

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