Monday, March 10, 2008

Calvin Nelson's Private Plane

Mr. Nelson is an intellectual property attorney at my firm in Washington, DC. His busy work and travel schedule frequently require flexible travel arrangements so as to minimize any lack of productivity. An important bar event required that he be in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Thursday. It so happened that I was scheduled also to attend the event. Always eager to please the rising stars and power brokers of my firm, I volunteered to fly Mr. Nelson to Charlottesville.

It had been windy all day, so I postponed our departure until after 5 p.m. The wind still was 8 knots, gusting to 18 knots, but right down the runway. I did a thorough preflight inspection while Mr. Nelson walked around and looked at the planes, then we climbed in and took off. Once we were airborne, the ride was really smooth. We hit a bit of mountain wave activity as we approached the Shenandoah Mountains. It wasn't bumpy at all - just a constant, steady descent for a while despite our efforts to climb. Mr. Nelson didn't even notice. We didn't have to cross any mountains, so I stayed as far from them as possible while still avoiding Class B airspace.

It was a short flight, less than 45 minutes, but it was smooth and beautiful. It got dark while we were flying, but the winds had cleared the air and we could see the Charlottesville airport from 20 miles away at our altitude of 4,500 feet. Our heading was south by southeast, and the Charlottesville tower cleared us to land straight in on Runway 21. The effect was that we had just about the longest final approach I've experienced -- we started a slow descent about 15 miles out that continued straight to the runway.

Mr. Nelson flew the plane for most of the trip once we were outside the DC Air Defense Identification Zone. He first practiced holding altitude while we continued on course. We were in a hurry to arrive because of our late start, but we did take the time for him to turn to the left and then back on course to feel what it's like to turn the plane. (You can see his turns in the middle of the long straight leg to Charlottesville, above.) I have every confidence that Mr. Nelson would make a great pilot if he could find time in his demanding schedule to take lessons.

The next day, Mr. Nelson had further engagements, so I flew back alone, stopping for fuel in Culpeper, Virginia. It was a smooth flight, and I was treated to a beautiful sunset. A good landing back at Gaithersburg, and another flying business trip was complete.


Anonymous Scarlett said...

Keep up the good work.

4:50 PM  

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