On October 20th, my wife and I took a flight down to Charlottesville, Virginia to do a little leaf peeping and to visit one of her friends. It was the first time my wife had flown in N9295W, and only the second time she had come along with me.
The plan was to fly from Gaithersburg around the Dulles Class B airspace, and then down to Charlottesville. With moderate winds of 12 to 15 knots, it was expected to be a relatively pleasant flight once we got out of the shadow of the Dulles airspace, and for my wife, who is a nervous flier, this was a great thing. We departed out of Gaithersburg around 8:30 am. Upon contacting the controller for the SFRA, we were asked if we wanted flight following. When he learned what our destination was, he offered to clear us through the Dulles airspace directly. Jackpot!
We were vectored around the DC FRZ and to the east of Dulles (an area commonly called the “east Dulles transition”). The controller was quite accommodating, offering us a higher altitude if we wanted it, but with the purpose of the flight being that we wanted to see the leaves, we opted for an altitude of 2,500 feet outbound. Our flight path took us less than three miles from the Dulles International Airport – a true sight to behold from the air!
The flight to Charlottesville was glassy smooth and the landing superb with a good 6 knot crosswind directly across the runway. We taxied to the ramp, where we met Debbie’s friend. We had arranged to take her on a sightseeing flight of Charlottesville, so we headed back for the airplane and departed again, this time to wander around Charlottesville, which is to the south of the airport (and clear of the Charlottesville Class D airspace). There was a University of Virginia home game that day, so the airport was quite busy with incoming traffic destined for the game, so we made our way quickly out of the Delta airspace and to the south of Charlottesville.
The light breeze had increased to around 12 knots, still across the runway, and the second landing was acceptable, though well off the centerline. We taxied back to the ramp, and headed out of the airport to visit a corn maze. We spent several hours exploring the corn maze and the pumpkin patch, selecting a pumpkin to bring home and having a wonderful time.Our return flight was equally uneventful, and featured very calm winds once we reached Gaithersburg. It’s not uncommon for Gaithersburg to report wind speeds much lower than Dulles, and the winds were reporting calm for our landing. We touched down just after sunset, and headed to the ramp and then to dinner.
Debbie said that she enjoyed the flight and is looking forward to our next planned trip, down to Clemson, South Carolina for a homecoming game at the local university. A great day all around!