Learning Experiences

January 2009 Issue

The Right Way

I’ve always liked visiting unfamiliar airports; one can learn a lot by watching how other pilots deal with each facility’s different quirks. It’s educational. At least the watching is—arriving at an unfamiliar airport can be nerve-racking. Or worse. My favorite unfamiliar airport story involves the Williamsport (Penn.) Regional Airport (IPT). This night flight was long enough ago that the Piper Aircraft Company still had a manufacturing presence on the field. I was a mere private pilot, working on my instrument rating. Although I was night-current, I took some extra precautions for this flight. I had plenty of fuel, for one thing, along with current VFR charts. Since I also was an instrument student, I brought along a set of approach plates, opened to IPT’s airport diagram. I had reviewed the runway layout, made sure someone would be there to greet me and my passenger, and was well within the airplane’s weight and balance limitations. The flight went smoothly and soon we were letting down through a clear night sky with the city’s lights beckoning. Like a moth to the flame.

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