Pilotage to Buffalo Continued…

This Sunday, January 8, 2011 was my first class since the holidays. Well actually it wasn’t. I had booked a class for the day before, Saturday at 3.oopm as a plane wasn’t available at 8.00 am when I usually like to fly. Tim called me at around 11.00 am or so on Saturday stating that a plane was available and was wondering if I would be available for training from 1.00pm to 3.00pm instead of 3.00pm to 5.00pm. I said I was available and so reached the flight school at 12.45pm and there were many people there. I’m assuming many students must have booked flights after an absence due to the holidays, or, a number of people might have been given a Discovery Flight as a holiday gift. I didn’t see Tim and went to check myself in, when Mike at the front desk seemed surprised to see me and asked, “What time is your lesson?” I replied that I had booked it from 3.00pm to 5.00pm but Tim called and said a plane was available from 1.00pm to 3.00pm. “Oh, he didn’t inform me; could you wait a little and not sign in just yet?” I replied in the affirmative and waited about 20 minutes or so when Tim came out of his office. I thought he was out with another student and was delayed, but he greeted me and said “Sorry to have kept you waiting, my Ground School Class with a student went a little longer than I had planned. Have you already done the pre-flight check?” I said no and that Mike said he wasn’t aware of my class from 1.00pm. So Tim went and spoke with Mike and said, “I really apologize, but the plane I thought was available has in fact gone in for its 100 hour service. I just saw that it was available, not knowing that it was going in for service and called you. “No problem Tim, these things happen”, I said. He said you could come back for the 3.o0pm class, but I was in no mood now. I said, “Let’s just continue tomorrow at 8.00am”. “Oh okay, again I’m very sorry”, said Tim, and with that I left and to return on Sunday, today.

I arrived at 7.55 am on a beautiful, calm and sunny Sunday morning. The temperature was -8 degrees Celsius but it was a lovely day. After I had completed my pre-flight check, I greeted Tim and he was ready to go. So after we boarded the plane and all the checks were completed and we were taxiing to the runway for takeoff, Tim said, “Here’s the map, not fly us to Buffalo!” I was surprised as I wasn’t expecting this at all, and “What? Is this a pop-quiz Tim?” and we both laughed. Pilotage isn’t that bad really, and especially in this case I’d already flown to Buffalo before. I looked at the map and saw that Bedfellow was 330 degrees NW of Crystal airport and I knew therefore, to fly in that direction. Then I referred to the map again for the check points, where I found the split in the road as before, and that we needed to be to the left of it. There were the 10 mile lakes on my right i.e. two relatively large lakes outside of Crystal airport, then some other check points also. Buffalo is only 30 miles from Crystal and before we knew it was in sight as we were traveling at 170 mph or so. Buffalo is surrounded by three lakes, two large ones and one small one. The two large ones are on the north and west of the landing strip and the small one is on the south side, and there it was. Once we reached there, we had to decide which side of the strip we were going to land from. This is an uncontrolled airport; otherwise ATC would have informed us which side of the one airstrip we could land on. So as we were deciding this we announced on the Buffalo CTAF frequency (Obtained from the sectional map) that we were approaching Buffalo airport and were going to land. The day was wonderful and bright and I was hoping the sun wouldn’t shine in my face during landing. We found that it would be easier to land on Runway 18, simply because of the way we were approaching the airport. I got in to the Air Traffic Pattern at 45 degrees in the downwind and then into base and final, and then landed the plane. We didn’t stop, we just continued as we were going to practice some landings here. After about 6-7 takeoffs and landings, Tim said, “Okay, now just the way you brought us here, take us back home”, and that’s how today’s lesson ended.


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