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Kitty Hawk Flight Log


December 17th, 1903 – Kitty Hawk, Outer Banks, North Carolina

On the windy sand dunes, 2 brothers did what we take for granted today. 

Fast Forward 110 years: 17 December 2013 

0430 Local (pronounced zero dark thirty)

The alarm goes off next to my bed.  Auspiciously, the alarm radio is playing “Learn to Fly”

by the Foo Fighters.  ( )

 0450 – In the car and working my way through coffee number 1, I wish the

Lockheed-Martin Flight Services briefer “Happy Anniversary”.  Forecast:

Severe Clear. 

0550 – Wheels up, climbing to 5500 feet where a 28 Kt tailwind awaits me. All 6 cylinders of the 2013 Cessna Skylane 182 Nav III are preaching their story to anyone who will listen.  Even a Harley can’t compare with the sound of a 230HP IO-540. 

0700 – Wheels down, Dare County Airport, Manteo NC on Roanoke Island.   This is the staging area for today’s events.  We are the first to arrive this morning, my company traffic is 15 minutes behind (Cessna 172, doesn’t pedal as fast, and they wanted a practice approach).

0800 – Briefing starts.  Gordon “Yard Sale” Bowers, the pilot of the T-28 and Air Boss goes over the flight schedule.  13 Aircraft will depart at precise intervals timed to arrive at the First Flight Monument and do a circle at 1000 (AGL, MSL, it’s all the same here).

There will be a series of ceremonies on the ground near the monument.  At 1035 local – the time of the Wright Brother’s first flight – the ground ceremonies will pause.   The first airplane (a yellow J-3 cub) will arrive overhead and we become the ceremony. 

Aircraft are scheduled with 120 seconds between.  This means that our circle has to be exactly 60 seconds and roll out on departure heading as the next aircraft is only 60 seconds behind you.  Do you have your turn radius and angle of bank calculator handy? 

Answer: 29 degrees, 1600 ft radius at 100Kts Va. (It was going to be 90 second intervals, if had we departed on runway 5 from Dare County, however due to winds, we were departing 23 and had to fly a pattern to get oriented towards the monument.  So it was decided to increase the spacing)  The Monument is exactly 6 nautical miles on a 015 heading from Dare Co Airport.  The only in-flight radio call required is advising Monument Ground 1 mile inbound so they can synchronize the announcements.  

Airplanes were sorted slowest to fastest.   The cub would go first, followed by the Ercoupe, then a Fairchild PT-19, a Fairchild PT-23, 2 Cessna 172, 2 Cessna 182 (me), a Swift GC-1, a Beech Bonanza, and the T-28B Trojan ( ). “Miss Virginia” a DC-3 would be second to last followed by the Berlin Airlift “Spirit of Freedom” Douglas C-54 Skymaster aka “The Candy Bomber”. ( ) 

0955 – Preflight inspections are complete, pictures are taken, time to mount up and start the engines. 

1015  - run-ups complete, all aircraft lined up on taxiway A. 

1029 – First aircraft departs 1033 – Aircraft calls in on CTAF reporting arrival.  Air Boss informs them that the airport is NOTAMed closed and will reopen by 1115.   Not much real estate to land on out here, and FFA (First Flight) is also NOTAMed closed.  Air Boss finally has pity, and has her orbit at 500 feet ½ mile off the arrival end of the runway we’re departing on.  After one of the Fairchilds departs, he slips her in.   I think we lost 30 seconds, but he was able to make it up. 

1047 – Arrival on Monument. 

1110 – Shutdown back at Dare County 

1230 – Lunch sponsored by the First Flight Society.  At the next table was

Col “Red” Smith, WWII Veteran (and Korea, and Vietnam).  The last airplane he flew in uniform was the F-4 Phantom.  The latest US Parks Superintendent for the area (the Monument is administered by the US Parks Service) gives a presentation on improvements to the park building and facilities for the next few years. 

1515 – Back at Dare County Airport, wheels up for the trip back to RDU.  We depart and go back to the Monument for 3 more passes and photos.   A helicopter troop carrier makes a low approach over FFA while we are circling.  Didn’t get a picture though, damn camouflage works…  Earlier in the day during the ceremony,  3 F-15 Eagles from Seymour-Johnson AFB passed overhead off to the side.  They weren’t part of the schedule due to sequestration, but someone must have been “on the ball” when scheduling training flights. 

1530 – 4500 feet VFR and we have a 41Kt head wind.   Groundspeed is only 95 kts. We go down to 3000 where it is only 29Kts. 

1705 – Down safe at RDU.

2145 – Zonked out  

This was my 2nd overfly event, my first being 2011.  2012 was weathered out with 700’ ceilings.

It was my 3rd pilgrimage to First Flight on Dec 17 (I took some friends on a day trip in 2006).

I can’t imagine a better way to commemorate the anniversary, than being where it started, and doing from the air.  4 NC Wing Civil Air Patrol aircraft participated yesterday.  

Picture Set is here if you want to browse: Kitty Hawk Photos

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