Pilots flying into AOPA’s Fly-In and Open House Saturday morning had to wait for the blue skies that were forecast earlier in the week.
“We couldn’t even see the runway,” said Greg Cohen, an AOPA staff member who was stationed on Frederick Municipal Airport’s Taxiway D early this morning to help park airplanes. “We didn’t park the first one until 8:15 or 8:30 a.m.”
That’s because the weather for the first hour of his shift was one-quarter mile visibility, 200 feet overcast, with a temperature/dew-point spread of zero.
But the weather lifted, and by 10 a.m. a steady stream of GA airplanes were arriving.
“I remember making the trip last year, and it was the same—low ceilings and visilibities,” said Joe Bordonaro, who flew a Lancair Columbia 400 from Morristown Municipal Airport in New Jersey. He had to wait an hour and a half before he could depart VFR.
So, what was it like flying the narrow corridor between the expanded Prohibited Area P-40 (the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md.) and the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)?
Bordonaro, who flew in VFR, said he was confused by a big red arc that appeared on his cockpit display. The arc is actually a speed ring surrounding the ADIZ, which requires VFR aircraft to slow to 230 knots.
“I knew it wasn’t the ADIZ, so I got flight following,” Bordonaro said, explaining that he wanted to be on the safe side. “I didn’t want to be followed by any Air Force jets.”
Other pilots opted for a different method to ensure they stayed clear of the sensitive airspace.
“No problem when you go IFR,” said Steve Kielkucki who flew from Philadelphia in his flying club’s Piper Turbo Lance equipped with a WAAS-enabled GPS receiver.
“It helped [filing IFR], but it hurt us because we had a ground stop at Philadelphia,” interjected Ed Fischer, who owns a part in the aircraft and will be flying the return leg.
AOPA’s “Zero Airspace Incursions Challenge” has a goal of zero ADIZ or P-40 incursions related to the fly-in. If everyone arriving and departing makes it without violating the airspace, AOPA will donate $5,000 to Civil Air Patrol (CAP) National Headquarters.
CAP cadets help AOPA direct aircraft on the ground during fly-in every year.
Israel Soriano, a 14-year-old cadet in the Upper Montgomery Composite Squadron in Maryland, volunteered to help direct aircraft at this year’s fly-in.
“I thought it was pretty cool getting to help,” Soriano said, who wants to become a pilot but has yet to be able to take his first flight. “How often does a kid get to help park planes and marshal planes?”
In addition, AOPA asked CAP squadrons east of the Mississippi River to station members at airports on Saturday morning and ensure pilots heading to the Washington, D.C., area that they were aware of the expanded prohibited area.