A Clemson Homecoming Weekend

Flying to Clemson, SC. Somewhere over Virginia.

This past weekend, Debbie and I flew down to Clemson, SC to visit her alma mater for homecoming weekend. From the very earliest 10 day forecast, the weekend was forecast to be clear and calm; the nor’easter that affected New York and New Jersey had moved far enough north that winds were not a concern along our route of flight (other than a very spiffy 15 knot tailwind we had), and we were blessed with absolutely clear conditions for nearly 500 miles in all directions. There was low fog in the hills of the Shenandoah mountains, and we could clearly see snow left over from Superstorm Sandy’s appearance in the Maryland and Virginia area.

Final approach to Runway 25 in Clemson, SC.

We headed towards the Martinsburg VOR in West Virginia to work our way around the Dulles Class B airspace, though with a significant headwind I requested a clearance to begin heading south as quickly as possible. I was cleared through Bravo airspace, and we climbed to 8,500 feet. Our route took us over the Shenandoah National Forest, over Roanoke, VA and to the east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.

Along our route, I had an opportunity to see a perfect example of “upslope fog”, where moist air had been pushed up the side of a mountain to create cloudy conditions. The stable air prevented dramatic vertical development, but the opportunity to see such an interesting natural occurrence was exciting.

Upslope fog in Central Virginia

Final approach to Runway 25 in Clemson, SC.

About 30 miles from Clemson, we descended to 3,500 feet to execute the RNAV 25 approach. This approach flies directly over the town and the university, giving Debbie an opportunity to view and photograph the town. At DH I executed the missed approach, and we circled Clemson to give Debbie a few more minutes to take pictures and see the places she visited when she was in school. Debbie was thrilled to see her college town from the air, and took lots of pictures! She had lots of fun pointing out the places she spent her time during college.

Death Valley stadium at Clemson, SC

We had a lovely weekend watching the Clemson Tigers beat the Maryland Terrapins 45-10, and visiting with old friends that Debbie knew during her college days. With the flight being only three hours we had a lot more time to visit on Friday.

At the football game in Death Valley

Flying over the low fog in South Carolina.

By Sunday morning, high pressure had firmly rooted itself over the eastern seaboard, and the winds had reversed from a northwesterly wind to a southeasterly wind, giving us a sweet 20 knot tailwind for our return trip. We headed out of Clemson, climbed over the fog that was lifting over South Carolina, and made the return trip in 25 fewer minutes than the outbound leg on Friday. All told, we flew a total of 6.3 hours round trip, and we’re looking forward to our next trip in the spring to Savannah, GA.

On the ground at Clemson/Oconee County Airport