The plan was to fly to Peach State Airport (GA2) near Williamson, Georgia. I had never been to Peach State, but had heard a lot about it. Just outside of Atlanta, under the veil of Atlanta’s Class Bravo Airspace, sits the little throw back in time, Candler Field. This is a 2400 foot grass strip, with trees at each end, and a hump in the middle. Our planned flight was direct KWRB to GA2. The blue line on the sectional above is our planned course.
On the ride out, I rode in the rear seat (could have sold tickets to see me getting in there). John did a nice job, needles centered, altitude solid as a rock. I had some time to enjoy the view and snap a few pictures. Also, the last couple of times I flew with my handheld GPS, it locked up on me during the flight. Not a real issue as far a flying goes because I fly with the sectional, navigation log, and my watch. I use the GPS for situational awareness. Over the past month I had researched the problem and performed the recommended fix. Since I was not flying, the trip out was a good time for an operational check.
Above, entering the upwind leg for runway 31. Note the trees and road at the near end of the runway. Also seen are the “hump” and the downhill run to the far end of the runway.
Some aircraft (like us) approached high and dropped to the runway as we cleared the trees and road.
I counted about 15 aircraft landing in the 1.5 hours we were there, including a T6-Texan and a Twin Beech Barron.
When it came time to leave, I climbed in the left seat and began to analyze the situation. I have not flown in 6 weeks. Here I am on an unfamiliar grass strip, 8 knot cross-wind, sloping runway, and an aircraft within 100 lbs of gross weight. No pressure. My instructor always told me (and repeated today) “Know your equipment, then trust your equipment”. I have practiced Soft Field take-offs (even from turf), and I have practiced Short-Field take-offs, but I have never done a Short-Soft-Field take-off with a very real obstacle 2400 feet away. But that is what we did, a Soft-Field roll, followed by a Short-field climb-out. From the aircraft performance charts I knew I could clear a 50 tree in 1650 feet. I had 2400 feet to clear a fence, then some trees. So I had about 800 feet of “cushion”. I used every bit of 1000 feet to get airborne, but I waited for the airspeed to build, keeping the nose light, and the up-wind wing down. At 55 knots N817AC took wing and clawed its way into the air. We used about 2/3 of the runway before we had the trees cleared, but we easily cleared the fence and trees at the departure end, although those tree tops sure looked close.
The flight home was short thanks to a 20 knot tailwind. We contacted Atlanta Approach about 25 miles north of Robins and were cleared into the Macon Terminal Radar Service Area (TRSA). We over flew Middle Georgia Regional Airport (KMCN) at 3500 feet and began a fairly rapid descent into the left downwind leg for Robins runway 33. With the tailwind and the descent, I saw a GPS ground speed of 136 knots. I believe the fastest I have experienced to date in a Warrior.
It was a beautiful day to be flying. It sure felt good to be back in the air.