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Hi there everyone!

 

Dave here with a much-needed update to the site.  There's been quite a few accomplishments over the past couple of months (despite the dismal weather) along with important changes to the way VFR flights are to be conducted within Ottawa's Terminal Airspace. Use the mini-menu below to see the various sections.

Student Accomplishments
NavCanada VFR Codes Information
DiamondFest London 2004 OAS TRIP!!
The Grahams: Newsletter Contribution

 

Student Accomplishments

 

In March:

First Solo:  Greg Michaud and Matt Szynanowicz

Night Rating:  Ricky Forbes and Neil Spriggs

Multi-Engine: Bill Michael

In April:

First Solo:  Rob Stein, Jason Dugay, Joshua Giguere, Shaun Wasylnuk, and Alex Talton

PPL:  Robert Taillefer, Rob Stein

IFR: Umar (telletubbie) Islam

Class IV Instructor:  Alex Meson

Class III Instructor:  Gabriel Vahey

CONGRATULATIONS TO ONE AND ALL!

 

NavCanada VFR Code Information

Effective April 15th some important changes took place to the way VFR Codes are now assigned in Ottawa's Terminal Airspace. You must now call ahead to get your code.

Below is a 'VFR Codes for Dummies' document compiled by our own Kate Duncan.

If you are NOT filing a flight plan, AT LEAST 30 MINUTES (but not more than 60 minutes) BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT:

1) Dial 1-866-VFR-CODE (1-866-837-2633)

2) Tell the operator:

a) Type of Aircraft
b) Registration of Aircraft
c) Point of departure and destination (let them know if it is a round trip, i.e. practice area and back)
d) Requested altitude

3) The operator MAY give you a 4-digit transponder code at this point. Write this code down and set your transponder accordingly.

4) If the operator does NOT give you a code, you will get one on initial contact with Ottawa ATC.

  • Your initial call to Clearance Delivery will be: "Clearance, Katana FWSH with information Alpha." They should already have your intentions.
  • If your code has not been entered into the system yet (i.e. if it was less than 30 mins since you called) the controller will allow you to taxi and run-up, and will get back to you with your code.
  • If you change your mind as to your route, IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL. Inform Clearance of your new intentions.
  • Initial calls to Terminal will be "Terminal, Katana FWSH". You do NOT need to tell them where you are and what you want to do. The point of the whole system is to prevent extended radio calls to expedite traffic movement.
  • There is a 2 to 3 month transition period while all the bugs are ironed out of the system, so if you come across anything that doesn't work (i.e. your code isn't ready within 30 mins) the folks at the Ottawa Control Tower want to know EACH TIME IT HAPPENS so that they can pass on the inconsistencies. It is in YOUR best interest to call them if you are inconvenienced.

DIAMONDFEST 2004/London Airshow

On June 25-27 2004, Friday to Sunday, we'd like to get
all OAS aircraft down to London for this event. The
flight will take you through Toronto's Airspace, and it
will be a great learning experience, plus the folks at
Diamond Aircraft have special things going on for
Diamond Owners/Operators so we'll have extra things to
do there (factory tours, etc) besides the airshows.

OAS gets free admission into the airshow. The costs to
you will include Flight Time (approximately 3 hours
each way), food (except for a free BBQ on Friday
night)and accomodation (we are investigating camping,
and if you are more interested in a Hotel, we can get
special deals).

If you are interested, call Kate at OAS (737-2933). We
may be able to get you in touch with another pilot so
you can split the cost of the trip. Let me know ASAP if
you want to book a hotel room, as we have to do this
right away. As far as the camping thing goes, I will
get in touch with potential campers as soon as we know
more details. Student pilots - talk to your instructor
for arrangements.

The Grahams Newsletter Contribution

Playing Tourist in the US Capital City

Often when flying, what started out as a trip to one place ended as a trip to another. Our goal was to fly to Florida for Sun-N-Fun for the annual fly-in, but as the weekend approached it was clear that the weather might not let us do that. There were 3 LOWs connected with fronts - just like a string of pearls. They started in Texas, then over to North Florida, and headed up the east coast towards North Carolina. It looked liked the rain and low clouds would block the way to Florida for several days. So we decided that we would start the trip anyway and head to Washington DC as we could play tourist for a couple of days as the rain passed. As it turned out it was many more days than that and luckily DC had lots to offer.

We got up early on the Saturday morning and it was going to be a gorgeous day. The plan was to fly to Kitchener with Keegan, our dog, and leave her with Darin's parents. Then over to Buffalo to clear Customs and down to DC. We were in the air by 9am and into Kitchener before noon to meet the parents at the airport. When we landed we immediately called Customs at Buffalo International to give them two hours notice, checked the weather and filed a flight plan for departure at 1pm. We had a great lunch at the airport café. We departed on time and got to Buffalo about 45min later, taxiing over to Prior Aviation FBO. The Customs officer was waiting for us to arrive and after a few simple questions we were cleared on our way.

All in all, Buffalo (BUF) is a good place to land and clear Customs. It has two nice long runways, not much jet traffic to wait for, great Customs service, and the $5 landing fee is more than made up for by the very cheap US 100LL. Just a small word of wisdom…ATC in the US doesn't close or open flight plans (which we knew), and you need to contact FSS (by phone or radio), but it seems you need to do it pretty quickly upon landing. We had only been 30min on the ground in Buffalo (clearing Customs and using the washroom) before FSS had initiated SAR procedures and tracked us down. I suspect there had been some miscommunication about the flight plan or something as we were well within the 1 hour from ETA…or, maybe they are extra careful these days when small planes crossing the border. Anyway, we had learned to call them before using the washroom next time.

We planned for a 3:30 departure to DC for a 3 hour VFR flight along IFR routes. There were no planned TFR zones along the way as GWBush was in Texas for Easter, but we used the IFR routes and radio flight-following just in case things changed. One also needs to note that there is an ADIZ around DC…a no-fly-zone about 10nm radius and an ADIZ about 30nm radius. So you actually can't fly to DC, unless you want to be visited up-close by some military aircraft or shot down…either way you won't be getting to your destination. We chose to go to Gaithersburg (GAI) which is in the ADIZ and about 25nm from DC. Filling a flight plan is a must to go into the ADIZ (both a regular flight plan and a special ADIZ plan), and is easily done with FSS. You also need to get the appropriate frequencies for Potomac Approach that you must contact about 10nm from the ADIZ to let them know your intentions and that you have a flight plan. They then give you a transponder code and clear you into the ADIZ. Our flight path took us over the Westminster VOR, which is one of the few entry points into the ADIZ…another good reason to use the IFR routes and get flight following for appropriate radio hand-off to keep you out of trouble.

The trip was uneventful. The sky was clear but a little hazy and bumpy over the Appalachians. The flight-following from ATC and FSS along the route was excellent and the hand-off to Potomac Approach and into the ADIZ went without a flaw…almost as easy as getting a VFR code on a flight plan for flying into Ottawa terminal. We landed in Gaithersburg (actually called Montgomery Airpark) within minutes of our planned ETA of 6:30pm. With the prior lesson learned, we immediately closed the flight plan with FSS. The staff at the FBO took good care of the plane as we organized ground transport and a hotel. A good thing about Gaithersburg is that there 's a subway METRO line (a 10min taxi ride from the airport) that goes directly to downtown DC. Time from airport to downtown was about 40min at a total cost of only $15 for the taxi and METRO for both of us. And once downtown, by using the METRO or walking there is no need for a car. Just as we got settled at the hotel and had a quick dinner at one of the many great DC seafood restaurants, it began to rain. It had been a long day with over 6 hours of flying, crossing the border and safely passing the ADIZ barrier, so it was time for a good night sleep.

Indeed the rain came. In fact it held on for 4 days, heavy at times with thunderstorms and the clouds were often so low you couldn't see the top of the Washington Monument. Thankfully we had lots to do. During the day we did the museum thing seeing the National Air and Space and Natural History museums in the Smithsonian block. One of the new attractions is the International Spy Museum where there is a great collection on spying from the Civil War, the WWs, and the Cold War with the Russians. There are also exhibits of famous spies like James Bond, Maxwell Smart and the Man from U.N.C.L.E. The new Udvar-Hazy aircraft museum at Dulles (via bus shuttle from Air and Space Museum downtown) is phenomenal! It is a huge hangar with lots, and I mean LOTS, of planes…the Enterprise space shuttle, a Concorde, an SR71 Blackbird, a DC 10, the Enola Gay, and many other unique and special aircraft. The rain finally stopped on Thursday but the winds were gusting 30kts and it would have been a very bumpy ride. We would have had just enough time to buzz down to Florida, turn around and get back to Ottawa, with no time to spend at Sun-N-Fun…and that's if the weather held. So, we decided to stay and do the walking tour of downtown DC while the sun was shining…the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam, Korean and new WWII memorials, Arlington Cemetery, etc. After 5 days of touristing we were all walked-out having done an estimated 50sm of walking - we should have had the GPS track!

Friday arrived and it looked like clear weather. We flew back the way we came. Getting out of the ADIZ was also straightforward by filing a flight plan, getting a transponder code and making sure the code is set before take-off. A quick stop in Buffalo to file and call Canadian Customs. Landing in Kitchener and using CANPASS was a breeze. But, severe thunderstorms and hail kept us in Kitchener. Low clouds, heavy rain, high winds and thunderstorms don't always let you get to where you want…even with both of us having IFR ratings.

Going to Washington DC made for a great trip. If we had left Ottawa and headed direct south the trip would have only been 4.5 hours and could have been easily done in just over half a day including clearing Customs. Crossing the border and getting in and out of the ADIZ are relatively simple and FSS was very patient and helpful explaining procedures…all you need to do is plan ahead and follow the rules. Gaithersburg is a good place to land and get into DC, with no car required. As such, we would suggest it to anyone looking for an extended weekend visit (3-4 sunny days!) with lots to see and do.

Darin & Lisa Graham
fly@bluesideup.ca

 

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