Thursday, February 12, 2009

One Wild Ride

I just got back from a trip from Concord, NC to Northwest Arkansas. The ride out there was uneventful, just the way I like them to be. We landed at KNXA and visited the Regional Jet Center FBO. WOW! What a nice place that is. It had free food and drinks, a weight room, personal bedroom in the event that you had to stay there overnight. They also had personal offices so that you could work on your laptop in a private room, if you wanted. They had lots of hangar space to put the plane up for the night and the ground and desk crews were extremely courteous and complete.

We had a nice stay in Arkansas, visiting Dickson Street which was located in the middle of the University of Arkansas. Lots of nice restaurants and shops and places to get a drink. Really nice!

Then came our trip home. The weather in Rock Hill, our first stop, was not going to be all that bad, but the winds were very high and gusty. Our trip home brought us to FL320, where we saw 150 kts straight on the tail, bringing our ground speed to just under 500 kts. WOOOOO-SOOIEEEE, as they say in Arkansas! That's moving on for a King Air 350.

Once we were about 50 miles outside of Rock Hill, SC, and having descended to about 10,000 ft, then the wild ride started. It wasn't so bad at first, but once we descended to 3000 feet, it was really bad. Winds were 18 kts gusting to 32 kts and the plane was being tossed around pretty good. The landing was nice however, and we said goodbye to our passengers, tidied up the plane, and prepared for our 9 minute hop from Rock Hill to Concord, NC.

The weather was deteriorating, but still not too bad that we couldn't get in to Concord. We departed Rock Hill to the south and circled Charlotte on the east side to set up for an ILS to 20 at Concord. The winds seemed to have picked up considerably, 24 kts gusting to 38 kts, and ranging from 210 to 240 degrees. Needless to say, it was a really wild ride down the ILS. I had my seatbelt tied tight, and still managed to smash my head on the cockpit ceiling several times. This landing was going to be: 'put it down on the runway and slam on reverse props as fast as you can.'

Well, add that to the experience bank. The ride was not impossible, but extremely challenging. And not something that I would really want my passengers to entertain. I am glad that we were empty on that leg. But I can see how well the King Air 350 handles inclement weather...quite nicely!

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