Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Flying with my Nephew

Tony is my 16 year old nephew who lives in Odessa, Florida. He's an intelligent and artistic young man with great potential. He is an outstanding guitarist and a wonderful big brother to his three younger siblings.

He's flown with me before and has shown himself to be a very calm flyer.

This would be his first flight in a plane with the G1000 cockpit, so I was interested in seeing how he would interface with the new instrumentation. We started the engine and I explained a few things to him. As we were completing our pre-taxi checklist, another aircraft landed and they wanted our parking spot - it was the last one with tiedowns.

"Cessna 63-Foxtrot, are you listening?" came the call from the plane that had taxied up to the small parking area.

"Affirmative. What can I do for you?", I replied.

"If you're getting ready to leave, we'll just park back in that spot", said the local.

Apparently, I had taken his spot. I replied, "We'll get out of your way. Any advice as to where we should park when we return?"

Since the FBO was closed, parking was a free-for-all. The parking areas on the grass were all taken and all of the paved areas appeared to be taken, too. The airport is building numerous new hangars, but they had to tear down some to make room for the new - consequently, parking is at a premium, especially on Thanksgiving.

The other pilot said there was a spot beyond the fuel depot or I could park on the grass anywhere.

Tony and I took off down runway 32 and headed north out from under the Class B airspace at Tampa. I handed over the controls to Tony after explaining the HSI and the altitude read outs. I had toyed with using the reversion mode on the PFD/MFD so he would have the full instrumentation directly in front of him, but this would precluded the traffic display. There were many aircraft in the area and TPA is a busy airport, so I didn't want to take unnecessary chances.

Tony did a remarkable job of flying the plane. He maintained altitude very close to the PTS standard. He was able to turn to specific headings and to maintain level flight very well once I explained the attitude indicator.

I had him turn left to 270 and we flew until we crossed the Veteran's expressway. We were at 2300 feet, well below the Class B shelf which begins at 3000 feet. Crossing the Veteran's, we flew South until we spotted landmarks that identified his neighborhood. We then circled his home and then flew straight back to Tampa North.

As we approached Tampa North, a Comanche radioed his position and intentions and I did the same. I had him on our traffic scope and I was closer to the airport. I descended to pattern altitude and advised that I was entering the left downwind for 32, full stop. The Comanche advised that he would take position behind me...but he was coming from the southeast and I was coming from the west. I could see him coming straight at me as I was on downwind. I called out to him, "Comanche, I've got you in sight. You'll pass directly overhead." It's a good thing that I had already descended below pattern altitude or we would have been on a collision course. I'm not sure why he chose this entry - he could have made a straight-in approach and we would have been safer. Instead, he entered by flying the opposite direction in the downwind - which would have been the Right Downwind for 14, but he was landing on 32.

I suppose that I could have declared that I was going to fly a straight-in for 14 which would have saved taxi time, but with other planes in the pattern, I figured standard approaches would be best. Also, other planes had been using 32 earlier and although there was little wind, what wind there was favored 32.

After touching down, I advised the Comanche that I would taxi to the end of the runway to make room for him to land - he was right behind me in the pattern and taxiing back while he was on final would have forced him to go around. He landed and then taxiied all the way to the end, too. He could have turned around mid way down the runway, but maybe his plane couldn't turn so tightly.

With collisions and crashes averted, we taxiied very rapidly to the other end of the airport and parked in the grass beyond the gas pumps.

Tony did a great job flying - maybe one day, he'll get his certificate.

0.8 hours of sightseeing with my nephew.

David West

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