Up at the crack of dawn again, this time to carry out Operation Flight Bag Repatriation. In a way it was actually interesting that I had a genuine need to go somewhere. Some would say that going to see the future wife would be a good enough excuse, but that wasn’t to be. Women require time and effort(or so I’m told), unfortunately I had little time and my efforts were spent on trying to get in and out of Flagstaff before the weather kicked off again.
One benefit I guess, was the fact that most of the flight planning was mostly completed previously and it was just a matter of calculating for the new winds aloft. I arrived at the school for 0730 and got the flight plan filed for 0810. I got airborne for 0820 so pretty much on schedule. With the east bound runway in use the Class B transition didn’t really make much sense for the departure so I opted for the transition of Falcon. This went fairly seamlessly, as did the rest of the flight. Mountains were still amazing, Sedona still looked beautiful and you could still see Humphreys peak from miles out, although it took a bit longer to come into the picture today because of a little bit of haze that hadn’t been there the last few days.
It was a quick turnaround in Flagstaff, I offered as much praise as I could to the staff at the FBO for minding my bag, they seemed happy that it got back to its owner. After a few more “Thanks” and “fair play to ye’s” I went back out, preflighted the aircraft, did a bags check(new SOP) and got going.
The trip up had been flown at 10,500ft and the tip back at 9,500ft. I had a good 20 knots of tail wind on the way up so, I pulled back a little on the power and let winds do more of the work and added a little on the way back to compensate, somewhat, for the lost time. This is theoretically the most efficient way to take on head and tail winds. A concept that took me a long time to get my head around, but basically if you slow down in a tail wind condition you get the benefits of that tail wind for longer and if you speed up in a head wind you’re fighting it for less time.
I had planned to just transition Falcon on the way back to Chandler, but the controller cleared me through the Westbound transition without me asking for it, so I said to myself why not. He gradually stepped me down in altitude, from nine five(9,500ft), to seven five, to six, to five and eventually to four five for the transition over the western end of Phoenix international. This actually worked pretty well, it put me on a base leg for the currently active runways 4 left and 4 right. However, just as I was turning on to final the controller reported to all stations that the winds had changed 210 degrees at 10 and that the runway may change. This is basically a full 10 knot tail wind, so I requested to come in on a runway 22. Which made the controller busy for a few minutes turning all aircraft around to get them lined up for a landing on the reciprocal runway. For me it meant continuing the approach, performing a low pass and climb out eventually performing a 270 degree turn to put me back on a base leg for the 22 right.
Anyone who’s not an aerosexual probably hasn’t understood a word of all that, so apologies. Basically, I gave the controller a heightened work load trying to turn 5 or 6 aircraft around in the confines of a small area. But, it was to the benefit of everyone. 20 knots difference in wind speed is a considerable amount of extra energy to dissipate when landing. Especially when there’s no justifiable reason to be accepting the tail wind.
I realised today that lack of sleep due to all the early starts and whatever effects of jet lag were still there, is catching up on me. Found myself thinking of my bed on the way back this morning, which isn’t a great state of mind to be in when operating an aircraft on your own. On that note, I’m going to take tomorrow off, so have a bit of a night out tonight and then chill out most of tomorrow before planning my next move. I picked up maps to cover Moab and the Grand Canyon SFAR(Special Federal Aviation Regulation), which contains the special flight rules associated with the Grand Canyon. It’s something I really want to get done before I leave and would be a massive wasted opportunity not doing it.
So a complete discharge of the batteries tonight, a complete recharge tomorrow and back to flying Sunday. Nearly 19hours done now, so close to half way there. But, plenty left to do next week and the weathers looking like turning. It might be a close run to the finish line.
Normally, I’ve been throwing in a few pictures to help you in visualising what I’ve been up to. But, there’s not been a whole amount new to show you from today, as it was basically my third time on this route. But, here’s a few new ones none the less.