After scrubbing three prior attempts we finally did it. For almost a year I have been planning on flying into Dulles International to go to the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space museum with my friend and fellow pilot Matt. We finally lucked out with the weather and maintenance. The trip would start at Morristown MMU then head to Wings Field LOM to pick up Matt then into the Washington DC SFRA and on to Dulles IAD.
Flying VFR into the SFRA takes a little more planning but it was actually pretty easy. You can find all of the information you need right here. Here is what worked for me, your mileage may vary. The first thing I did was take the online course. You must pass that course to fly anywhere within 60mi of the DCA VOR and I recommend you print out the certificate and keep it into your flight bag. Next I had to work on the flight plan. I picked the WOOLY entry gate and put that in for my departure point with a direct route to Dulles. I filed using the CSC Duats mobile website on my phone. The flight plan is always filed as IFR and in the comments you must write SFRA DUATS.
As we approached the Westminster VOR we contacted Potomac approach and they assigned us a transponder code. We were then cleared into the SFRA at 6,500ft. The next thing that happened was quite strange. As we approached the Class B airspace Potomac explained that they cannot clear me into the bravo, the next controller had to do that. So I had to spiral all the way down to 2,500ft only to be cleared into the bravo minutes later. It really didn’t make any sense but it worked and no F-16s where scrambled. We ended up being number two to land on runway 19C behind a Netjet. The FBO we chose was Landmark and they are right at the approach end of 19C. After taxing over we were shuttled right from the plane into the FBO’s building. I asked them to top off the fuel and asked for a shuttle to Udvar-Hazy. We were immediately off in a minivan on our way to the museum.
I won’t get into too much detail on the museum itself because you can find much better photos and history elsewhere online. To sum it up rather quickly, it is amazing. Just think of almost every historically significant airplane and it is there. Everywhere you look there are planes on the ground and hanging from the ceiling. I highly recommend making the trip out there.
Flying out was simply the reverse of flying in. The FBO picked us up at Udvar-Hazy. I squared up the bill with the front desk, filed the flight plan on my phone, and we were on our way. The landing fee and ramp fee came to $38. I think it was completely worth it. A taxi would have probably cost almost as much and would not have been even close to the level of service. The FBO even has free coffee which Matt gladly participated in. I used a free program for my Blackberry called GPS Logger II to log the flight path for the whole trip. You can see the flight plan part of our trip home on Flightaware.
The flight back was straight forward without any hiccups. We elected to stay down at 2,500ft the whole way to check out some scenery. This was by far my longest cross country to date and an awesome day trip. Total Hobbs time came out to 4.5hrs.I highly recommend giving it a try. Let me know how it works out for you.