Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Class Bravo - B is for BUSY!

Last Friday, Christy and I flew to Charlotte Douglas Airport from Craig so that we could go to my 25th Davidson College reunion. The flight up was fairly uneventful. We planned to leave at 2pm, but didn't depart until 4:15 - that's one of the advantages of flying private planes - no schedule to adhere to.

I've flown through the Class B at CLT before, but this was the first time that I have landed there. It was quite an experience.

About 40 miles south of CLT, ATC began to give me vectors for my approach. They turned me to the northeast and then every few minutes turned me 10 degrees more and more easterly. We were dropped down to 4000 feet before entering the class B. Initially, I was told to expect runway 23, but after being vectored for the downwind to 23 and pushed further and further northeast of the airport, I was subsequently told that I was being switched to 18 Left. A steady stream of heavy jets were lined up for 23 and for 18 Right. The were being brought in below me and I was eventually vectored for a base leg to 18 that took me across the path for 23 above the stream of jets. The controller gave me rapid and frequent instructions - turn to 360, then 340 then back to 360 then decend ... bang bang bang... one right after the other. Finally I was handed off to the tower and was cleared to land on 18L but I was asked to keep my speed up as much as possible. I dropped in at 140 knots and pulled power at 2 miles out, leveled until the speed dropped below flap extension speed. I progressively added flaps to full and brought her down on the numbers. As I rolled out, the tower asked if I could stop before runway 23. I said that I could and I stopped the plane. Christy was wide-eyed with all the activity around us. She wondered if a plane would be coming in behind us, but the TIS showed nothing lined up for our runway. After sitting for about 30 seconds, a large jet landed from left to right on runway 23.

It was very exciting for both of us.

More details to follow...