Home > Lessons, Uncategorized > Atlantic City Gamble (part 2 – the return)

Atlantic City Gamble (part 2 – the return)

After a somewhat successful adventure in the casino and a nice meal we head back to the airport. It’s getting dark, which is the idea, as I prep the plane. By the time we’re ready to go it is dark. We contact “departure control” they hand us off to “ground control” and they hand us off to the “tower”, whewwwww. We’re holding short just off the runway make the turn onto this HUGE runway and the lights down the runway are totally amazing and awesome!

A set of five lines illuminate the entire length of the runway. I give the plane (now topped off and full of gas so VERY heavy) full throttle and we lumber down the runway. It takes us even longer to get airborne but the runway was huge and with the view of the lights it was very fun. As we lift off the lines of the runway behave like a perfect set of vector graphics (yes I spend too much time with computers) that are behaving with appropriate perspective. The sky at takeoff time was also totally clear at KACY and we had a terrific view of the whole surrounding area.

The KACY control tower tells us that he can’t see our transponder (with the squawk code) and that we should turn it on. We inform him that it is on. He says that he doesn’t see anything from us. We wind up cycling (turning it on and off) the transponder a couple of times. Still nothing. Now if we lived in most parts of the country this wouldn’t be a disaster and we would just keep in touch with the various controllers. However we were going to KGAI which is under the Washington DC areas SFRA (Special Flight Rules Area) where it is MANDATORY that you fly with a functioning transponder. My instructor asks where we would like to spend the night if the SFRA folks don’t let us in.

So we’re headed away from Atlantic City and the weather is much nicer, we climb to 4500ft which gives us a much nicer view. We have a tail wind on the way back and we’re hitting about 115mph actual ground speed which is great. As we get to the Dover Delaware area we are handed off to Dover control and he tells us that he has us observed on radar, which means that he see’s our transponder! Whewwwww that’s a good sign. The clouds start getting a little more dense and lower as we get the the Baltimore (KBWI) area and we ask for permission to cross over BWI (which is a class B, bravo airspace) the controllers were great and let us through. As the clouds got lower we asked and received permission to fly lower and went down to 3500 ft at one point, then just as we were about to go into another really dense looking cloud the controller vectored us to 2500 ft and around the cloud. Although the controller wasn’t really doing that for clouds, he was doing that for his traffic management, we were just living lucky at that point. After passing the BWI area, we couldn’t really see the airport because of clouds but other parts of the city looks very cool at night, we were eventually handed off to Potomac Control, this was the big test of our transponder also.

Potomac Control didn’t say anything about the transponder, so they must be seeing us, I was very relieved to not have to spend the night somewhere. We head off direct to Gaithersburg, and eventually see KGAI’s beacon. Potomac control releases us, we angle right in to the 45 of the downwind leg. Start descending do the downwind, base, final all just fine and even have a decent landing. We’re home!  Son and friend were mostly playing poker against each other via iPads in the back seat for most of the trip back…oy 😉

 

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