First trip to Gaston’s and some instrument flying

My friend John and I met out at the airport this morning to go flying together.  We had attempted to fly last Sunday morning, but the weather didn’t look good, so we postponed.

We had a couple of goals.  First, was just to go flying together and enjoy our club airplane.  Second, we both wanted to do a little bit of hood time.  Third, I wanted to go do a landing and takeoff at Gaston’s resort and lean on John’s experience flying down there to show me how it was done.  On the way back, I got a bonus in that I was able to do 2 landings and pattern work flying from the right seat of the airplane.

I was first to fly, took off and while we were still in the pattern at Willow, I got on instruments and put the hood on.  The plan was to shoot the RNAV approach into Baxter County (runway 23) since it was right on our way to Gastons.  I called up Memphis Center as we leveled off at 3,000 but they were not able to see us on the radar.  We continued the approach, staying VFR.  All went well, and about 200 ft above decision height, I looked up and the runway was right there.   We broke off the approach and headed over to Gaston’s.

The approach and landing at Gaston’s are not terribly difficult.  The only issues are that there aren’t a lot of good go around options and there is a little bit of a dogleg required just before you reach the threshold.

We walked around and checked out the resort, then headed back out to the airplane, where John flew us back.  The takeoff out of Gaston’s is a little tricky.  The airport is 1 way in, 1 way out, and the same trees that cause you to dogleg on the way in, loom pretty large at the end of the runway.  With good technique and engine performance, they are not a factor, but it definitely helps to see someone else do it first.

After we were off, John went under the hood and I gave him “radar vectors” back to Willow.  In the pattern, I was able to practice flying and landing from the right seat.