Technically Speaking: Operating at VPC
We need to discuss our performance at VPC lately and how we are doing in regards to our responsibility in following the Cartersville Pattern and Procedures document, that binds us in the way that we operate and blend in at VPC. As you all should know, this document is incorporated in the Airport Operating Manual. Once upon a time, we came very close to losing our privilege to operate out of VPC. We need to continually train new VPC UL pilots about our special operating procedure at VPC and strive to improve our own individual performance at our home field.
As a whole, I think that we are doing a very good job individually, but… I DONT THINK THAT WE ARE DOING AS WELL WHEN WE GET TOGETHER AS A GROUP. Take the Club fly-out for the camp over event at Suches last Saturday, July 20th, 02. I had just finished a test flight of my Hummelbird and saw all the guys at Bens hanger and I went over to visit. No, I wasnt able to attend the fly-out & camp over (bummer). I just wanted to say hello, chit-chat and greet the guys.
A great gaggle of ULs had gathered for the trip and what a fun group we have. After a short visit, the word was given to fireem up and pilots scrambled for their vehicles. I still get a boost when these things fire up and taxi out - what a beautiful sight it was! So many different colors and designs; we certainly are privileged to be able to take part in this sport. Wow, these things really appeal to our natural senses, such as: touch, sight, hearing and smell. The colors were beautiful on such a nice summer morning and the engines were running - four stroke & two stroke engines roared and the smell of burning fuel and oil were everywhere. The pilots were hands-on and these things were going flying, and away they went!!! The ULs taxied out for a departure on the Default Runway , runway 19. Oh-oh…thats when the Murphy factor kicked in.
Wouldnt ya know it; as soon as the guys were all in a line on the taxiway, guess what came up taxiing behind them? Yea, a huge corporate twin engine jet, a twin engine recip, and a Cessna 172. I had hoped to see some splendid UL taxiway work and chivalry (you know, yield to all other aircraft). Well, I didnt see it. I hope that there were radio communications that clarified the situation - aircraft to UL, but I can only describe what I saw as a bystander and how the Airport Authority or the designated FAA Safety Counselor might have perceive it. Yea, we answer to them!
Well, it was a parking lot out there! All of the ULs went down to the second taxiway intersection from the end for takeoff and those that couldnt fit onto the taxiway intersection, sat there stuck on the taxiway; aircraft were in the pattern and on final, so the ULs were stuck. Then, there was that huge corporate twin-engine jet, a twin-engine recip, and a Cessna 172, also in line behind the ULs. What a cluster ! This is where we screwed up.
Our ULs should have used both the second and third taxiway intersections for departure and alternated takeoffs, after yielding to the GA planes. Further, our ULs that were unable to clear the taxiway, at either of the taxiway intersections, should have taxied off of the taxiway onto the grass, to let the GA planes pass by. Does anyone doubt that our vehicles are better suited to the grass than the heavies? After all, we operate out of tuff & unimproved grass strips all of the time. This would have helped eliminate the taxiway congestion and allowed the GA planes to get by us and proceed to the run up area at the departure end of runway 19. This was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate our generosity and attest to our commitment to our harmonious relationship with the Corporate and General Aviation groups. Also, this is where the ULs could have gotten another at-a-boy and yielded to the corporate jet, twin and GA plane(s). We didnt do this either.
We can do better. Ask any Club officer, or myself, for a copy of the VPC Pattern and Procedure document if you dont have one. Please review it and help us do the right things - knowledge is power and we are required to know and implement these practices at VPC.
Michael Budman Prosser