Saturday, December 22, 2007

Jacksonville Craig Municipal Airport

A few weeks ago, someone who read this blog commented to me about the controllers at Craig saying that they were the meanest controllers. He also said he flew every day at Craig.

While I have encountered some less then congenial controllers here and at other airports, I think for the most part, the controllers at Craig are professional and very easy to deal with.

A few weeks ago, I was completing my FAA wings program and had been getting some recurring instrument training with an instructor from Sterling Flight Training. We had flown approaches at Cecil Field (VQQ) and were coming in on the ILS32 at CRG. The winds were from the east, so this would be a good time to practice crosswind technique. There were several planes in the pattern including helicopters doing flight training exercises and a banner tow pick-up getting ready to go. When I was handed off from Jax Approach to Craig Tower, I was on the ILS32 with a circle to 5. I asked the tower if I could continue and execute a touch and go on 32 to practice cross winds, then cancel IFR and remain in the pattern.

Considering that by the time I was on short final, there were five aircraft in the pattern for runway 5, I fully expected to be told to circle, but the controller was very kind and allowed me to land on 32. His hands were full with student pilots in both fixed and rotary aircraft, yet he was nice enough to accommodate me.

We made 7 landings that day since the Wings training requires a total of 3 hours of instruction. We practiced every imaginable type of landing - short, soft, no flap, partial flap. I managed to stop the plane inside of 500 feet on one landing and most were excellent landings.

In one instance, I had to side step the runway and go around because a student had landed way long and could not get off the runway in the first 2500 feet! In this case, we were told to make right traffic for that lap around the pattern.

In another instance, the banner tow plane cut across the pattern while climbing beneath me. I climbed to 1400 feet to give myself ample margin as he flew beneath me across my path. In this case, the controller didn't warn me about the banner tow, so I advised him that I had the tow plane in sight.

It was a great afternoon of flying with 2.0 hours total time with a good portion of that under simulated IMC. This gave me my FAA Wings qualifications in lieu of a BFR, so I'm good for two more years!

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