I guess it’s about time I finish the race blogging…..sorry for the delay! I notice from our blog statistics that a few of our faithful followers check back regularly for an update….my apologies for being lax in getting this written. The saga continues…
As we departed West Virginia we knew we had to make a decision about altitude. For the first time on our race, we had some “mountain” terrain to deal with. This meant we would have to be careful to clear the tops, but we also had to stay clear of clouds. This race was being flown VFR…so we couldn’t pass through the clouds that were forming at the 4000′ level. Our intel told us that while we would see cloud cover for about 2/3 of the flight – the clouds broke up as we neared Frederick. We decided that in this case altitude was our best bet, and we climbed to 7500′ to be up and over the clouds.
We stayed here as long as we could – and used flight following to be sure we were “keeping in touch” with someone. As we neared Frederick, we began to look for a way down. The clouds did not look like they had thinned out at all, and we began to think we would have to make S turns to lose altitude and avoid the clouds. ATC wasn’t responding to us as we requested making an altitude change and by the time they did, we started to find our way down without much turning. The clouds were thinning out – and we were able to make a relatively straight descent.
Now…I know Frederick is my home airport…but I have to be honest…I’ve not really flown all that often around here. Most of the trips I’ve taken have been to the northeast so coming in from the West was new to me. Heather and I were reading the sectional to see what to expect for the terrain – and as we came over the second ridge (we were getting low by now…) we strained to find the airport. Once we got it in sight we identified the runway for the fly by and checked our procedures one last time. We knew the altitude, made our 1 mile out call, and spotted the timers at the timing line.