Lesson 101
12 March 1999
1.9 hours

Not Going There

My plan was to fly to Franklin Muni--about 52 nm to the southeast--and then stop at Wakefield on the way back.  There were only two problems with the plan.  One was that I'd had to reschedule because of rain and could only get the airplane for 0800, and the other was that it was already rather windy.  At FCI, it was 14 gusting 24 and right down the runway, but at 3,000 feet it was 340 at 45--meaning that it was going to take a lo-o-ong time to get home.  It also meant that the wind was going to be mostly crosswind on Wakefield's 2-20 runway.

Well, I struggled out of bed at 0630.  (The sun was already up, but it felt like "oh dark thirty," as the saying goes.)  I shoved in some breakfast and called for a weather briefing.  Sure enough--a beautiful, windy day.  I filed for Franklin, despite feeling groggy and uncomfortable about the wind.

At the airport, I met my passenger, preflighted, and we climbed in--and then I finally understood that I really didn't feel like fighting the headwind and the crosswind.  So instead I decided to just fly around and look at things.  I flew upwind for an hour--the heading was generally 340, although I wandered right and left of course as the scenery insisted, flying at 1,000 feet AGL most of the time, making 110 kts indicated and 65 to 85 kts over the ground.  Along the James River I went lower for a while, just to enjoy the scenery and  the feeling of flying! that you don't get farther from the ground.

After an hour I turned to the east and flew a curving route back downwind to FCI in only a few minutes.  As we neared the airport, my passenger, who had been rather quiet the whole flight, observed that red cars show up much more brilliantly from the air than any other color.  I took a look and saw that it was true--I'd simply assumed that white cars would be the most visible, but it's not so.  I think it's that there's not much natural red in the landscape.  And not much good in assumptions.

Back at the airport I did three touch-and-goes, then called it a nice day.  I sort of felt a little foollish about not following Plan A and going to Franklin and Wakefield.  But I know I did the right thing by listening to... whatever it is--intuition, or whatever.  So I think I learned something the easy way today.

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