Sunday, October 24, 2010

Flying into Logan International in a C182

It's not everyday that you get to fly into a large hub primary airport in a Cessna 182, but a recent flight with Angel Flight provided just such an opportunity.

Landing was a relative non-event. Enroute, Providence approach advised me that Logan was metering for all runways, but they would waive that if I could accept runway 32. I wasn't quite sure what that meant, but decided that it sounded ominous.  Requested three minutes to check the weather at KBOS, and returned to accept runway 32.  The approach into the "short" (5,000 ft) runway was quite memorable. Runway 32 is on the west most side of the field, closest to the bay and the financial district.  As I approached the field, I could see the skyline of the Boston financial district beginning to light up in the twilight, with a cruise ship departing the harbor---a pretty spectacular sight.

It didn't quite register where I was until I was taxiing down taxiway bravo, and was staring down the nose of a 737 (or maybe A320).

The ground controller was very helpful in providing progressive taxi instructions---it was probably all too clear that I was unfamiliar with the airport.  He was always one step ahead, providing instructions just when I was about to key the mic, and he got me around all the heavy traffic to the GA tarmac at the north end of the field.  And, of course, "GA" means corporate jets, not Cessna 182s around here. 68N felt quite out of place.

On the way out, I learned a few things. First, clearance delivery works like any other airport.  Second, you call clearance delivery (not ground) when you are ready to taxi. They will tell you to "monitor" ground. I wasn't quite sure what that meant, but I figured that since I was in no rush  I would just monitor the frequency as instructed for a while, rather than try to call in with "ready to taxi." I wouldn't have been able to get a word in edgewise, anyway, given the rapid fire instructions the ground controller was giving. Well, in a few minutes, the ground controller issued the taxi instructions.

Third, there is only one departure frequency at KBOS. Clearance expects you to know this, and will omit it from the clearance. If you ask, you sound silly. On the other hand, better to know before take-off than not.

Fourth, it is the only time you are likely to hear "Cessna 68N, give way to US Air 737 at charlie." 

Fifth, they expect you to be ready to go when you got to the runway.  That became clear given the rapid fire clip of the takeoff sequence.  It was basically "lineup and wait" followed by a "cleared for take off" a minute or so later to fit in the gaps in the landing traffic. So, no time for a proper run up at the end of the runway. Had to do a rolling run up while taxiing and the minute or so at a time that the "conga line" on the taxiway came to a halt. (A copilot would have been really handy.)

Sixth, remember that everyone else, especially that 737 in front of you is also going to be doing a rolling run up. One minute the C182 was waiting quietly in line, the next the entire plane was buffeting like mad. It took me a few seconds to figure out that the 737 in front had done its run up. I thought I had ample spacing with a couple hundred feet of clearance, but I will give the plane more room the next time.  Good thing the aircraft wasn't a 747, otherwise, I would have been a crumpled heap on the side of the taxiway.

Seventh, when the ground controller tells you to keep it tight with the plane in front, remember that you still want enough spacing so that you don't get blown off the taxiway.

Eighth, the 737 or something equally big behind you might not see little ol' you.  Turn on all the blazing lights.

Finally, when the tower controller tells you that they want you to turn left to 290 after takeoff (on runway 33L), they literally mean the second your wheels leave the ground. Otherwise, you are liable to have a 737 or something bigger fly up your tail. This will take you roughly directly over the control tower---the only time where you will be completely justified in "buzzing" the control tower---and over the financial district of Boston.  The latter, especially at night, is quite a nice fly over.

All in all, a pretty interesting experience.

[I would caution to add, however, that the landing fees (landing fee, Massport taxes, security charge, handling charge) at KBOS are exorbitant---around $250. Thank goodness the fees are waived for Angel Flights. Nearby airports like KBED are pretty expensive too, but less than generally $100.  $150 buys you a lot of rental car. And fuel is equally exorbitant.]

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