Some Sun n' Fun

Some of us ForeFlighters made the voyage down to KLAL last weekend to spend some time at Sun n Fun. This was my first trip to the show and I was lucky enough to go in super-style. I caught a ride in a friend's JetProp turboprop.

Here's the GPS track for our landing.

That was by far the most nerve racking approach I have ever experienced. We had to fit into a line of smaller aircraft all making the same visual approach. We flew over the smoke stacks as stated in the approach description and then started looking for nearby aircraft. Quickly we found RV-6s and Cessnas all around and Doug, our pilot, settled in behind an RV in front of us. For a while we had aircraft beside us and one VERY close behind us but over a minute or so they sorted themselves out into a line.

We started playing follow the leader with the aircraft in front until they missed the turn toward the airport. We discussed for a moment whether to follow them or go ahead and make the proper turn. Doug made the executive decision to make the turn as we were told earlier by the ATIS.

So we started following another airplane and I watched to our right to see what the guys who missed the turn were doing. They finally turned and started coming our way but now we were in front.

The tower started calling for the "Malibu" to make the turn on downwind so we did - Doug made it with a good bank so the guy on the ground would know we got the instruction. The tower said "good job Malibu" and kept encouraging everyone in the pattern that they were doing great.

Since there's no time to talk back and forth when so many planes are so close the tower just barks out orders based on the color/type of your airplane and you have to figure out if he's talking to you. You don't respond verbally but instead make the aircraft do what was requested in an obvious fashion - all the while with you head on a swivel looking for other traffic.

We were told to land in the middle of the runway which Doug did to perfection. We were landing as another airplane was landing in front of us and another was landing behind us. It felt very wrong to be sharing a runway like that but it worked out just fine. We just had to make sure we kept our speed up enough that the guy behind us had room but not so much that we plowed into the guy in front.

We spent 2 days at the show and then spent Saturday checking out St. Petersburg. The show was pretty good, though no where near as impressive as Oshkosh. We spent some time with the "other" Jason Miller from The Finer Points and Rod Rakic from myTransponder, among other great folks.

We met quite a few ForeFlight users - this gave us a great chance to get feedback on new feature ideas as well as tell people about our latest 2.3 release.

I took very few pictures at the show but here's one of Doug (left) and Tyson (right) at the AOPA pavillion.


Anonymous said…
Sounds like a fairly normal approach at SnF... Usually, I try to find somebody north or east of the powerplant and get in line then. Makes it a bit easier for others to find you.

And don't ya just love it when somebody has trouble following the plane in front? I had some guy in a Cardinal in front of me start slowing down, and descending, and drifting well off to the left. #%!$@??? I told the backseater to padlock him and we moved on up the line. He ended up 2 planes behind us the downwind.

As with OSH, the trick is to arrive first thing in the AM. Being number 2 into OSH in the morning makes things VERY simple.
Callsign Echo said…
That sounds nerve-racking, but fun. Wish I could have made it down there.

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