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First XC in Awhile!!


Oct 1, 2019
I haven’t flown XC in quite awhile, though I did go a few months ago as a safety pilot on a simulated instrument cross country in VMC. My son at Virginia Tech wanted to come home for the weekend, and the weather was good, so I went in the club 172N.


First I needed my landings to carry a passenger. So I made those. Only a few planes in the pattern. The first one wasn’t pretty (I actually taxied back after that one), but the next two were decent. After my last one, I took off from KOFP (Hanover Virginia near Richmond) to KBCB (Blacksburg, Virginia Tech). I had done my briefing through ForeFlight and selected a cruising altitude of 6,500 feet. It was a nice day - no bumps at all. As I climbed out, I called up Potomac approach and got flight following to Blacksburg.


After I passed Farmville, I was handed off to the friendly Roanoke Approach controller. She was really busy with Liberty students at Lynchburg. The mountains were getting bigger. I kept checking Forefligjt, but it assured me (as did the MEA) that I was well above any terrain.


Above is the radar facility on Apple Orchard Mountain. I had hiked up to it from the Blue Ridge Parkway in July after dropping my son off. Here is a picture:


Video of my hike:

I was handed off to the next controller - another Roanoke Approach controller. Basically from Hanover, you fly directly over Lynchburg and Roanoke to get to Blacksburg. She had me fly south to stay clear of the approach end they were using at Roanoke.


it was now clear the mountains were all well below me. After I passed the city, the controller allowed me to resume my own navigation. As I got closer to Blacksburg I saw clouds right about at my altitude. Fortunately, it was time to begin my descent. I was told to change to advisory and squawk VFR which I did.

I had already picked up the weather beforehand and knew the winds were calm. I heard a plane depart using runway 31. So I planned to cross midfield and enter the downwind for 31. Just then, a Cardinal called up and announced they were heading for the downwind for 13 “the preferred runway at Virginia Tech”. I knew from that statement that I chose the wrong runway and that calling the airport “Blacksburg” on Unicom was incorrect.

I did the full pattern and came in on 13 being sure to call the airport by the correct name. I landed long because I had too much speed over the numbers. This was good because the FBO was way down the runway.

I had called that morning to get the low-down about the airport, crew car, etc. I had told them the car would be great because my son had his laundry. We laughed at that. But they had said that the crew car is often gone after 2pm when the jets start arriving.

So when the line guy chocked my wheels and I opened the door, he asked me if I was the laundry flight!! We had a good laugh again.



My son took a shuttle to the airport right from his dorm-the airport is just by the football stadium (which I flew over on base to 13) and his dorm is on the other side of the football stadium. We loaded up the laundry. I paid for my fuel. Then we took off for home. At the departure end of 13, you faced Lane Stadium (football field) and Cassell Coliseum (basketball arena) just in front before you pulled on to the runway.


Climbing out was neat with a mountain in front of us (comfortably far away) and a hill beside us. When I flew past that hill to the left, I turned to continue climbing up between the hills (all very comfortably far away!!). I got back to Roanoke Approach, and got back on flight following, this time at 7,500.


I was navigation to the south of the approach end of Roanoke again, but the controller told me I could fly direct. When I had told him that, he said, “When you’re with me, you don’t have to worry about it”. So we turned direct to Hanover.

The flight home was just the same as the flight up. Smooth and uneventful. The next controller at Lynchburg was super busy with the Liberty Aviation students. My cousins son is in that program at Hanover, in fact.


We got some good views of Southside Virginia and the James River. I saw the two big form buildings at Longwood in Farmville where my nephew goes.

As we approached the southwestern outskirts of Richmond, Potomac approach had me descend to 5,500ft to send some approaching traffic overhead. I got down quickly!!

About 15 miles out, he terminated radar services, and I switched to advisory one plane departing and two in the pattern. By the time I got to Hanover, it was just one, and I followed him on downwind and landed right behind him. My best landing of the day.

I put the plane away. In all, a great trip! And I’m pleased my cross country skills were still ok. I’m definitely hoping to do more soon. More pictures below.
More pictures.





Looks like that Cardinal was the Hokie Flying Club.

They told me the airport closed at 7pm, but they could come back and let me in if I needed to stay later (I didn’t). But they said to be sure to get away before the Saab 2000 returns with the women’s soccer team. Looks like that got in at 11:30pm!! From St Louis. But that could not have been the soccer team since they played UNC.
The jet that landed after me appeared to be a Beechjet. Two women in business attire got off. Was wondering if it was college business or NCAA or something. They came from Teterboro
Wow, sounds like a great trip!
Thanks for sharing.

I never knew about that airport.

The only thought I ever gave to aviation during my time there was during a football game my freshman year…a small plane towing a banner that said SAVE ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY AT VPI”…something along those lines...circled Lane Stadium. “Virginia Tech” was used informally, but it was not until a couple of years later that the administration decided to make that the “official” name in all correspondence, signing, athletic gear, etc.

(I actually have a humorous story about that.)

Perfect use of GA! Good to see you getting back into the xc flights. Enjoyed the write up, thanks for sharing the ride.
Thanks! Appreciate it.
Wonder if ATC would let me use “Laundry” as a call sign when I make that run
David, great photos and great write-up. :)

Welcome back!!!
Cool deal, thanks for sharing your trip.
Does your son have any interest in flying?
Not a ton. I hope he will one day. Or one of my 4 boys will. We will see
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