by Alfred Poor
New York A
Big airports have control towers, and little airplanes have to talk to the tower before landing. Not all towers are open around the clock, however, which makes it possible for you to sneak into a big airport without talking to anyone at all.
Westchester Airport in White Plains may not be as large or as busy as Kennedy or Newark, but it still qualifies as a big airport. It has scheduled commercial flights, and along with its large general aviation activity, the air and the ground can get pretty crowded at times. The tower is only open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm, however, which means that an early morning flight will let you arrive (or depart) without being required to talk to air traffic controllers. In this flight, you’ll race the dawn from Lincoln Park to Westchester, with only the anglers along the Hudson and the early-morning commuters on the Tappan Zee Bridge on hand to witness your trip.
Planning a Route
The section of the chart shows your route, which is fairly simple. You’ll depart from Runway 1 at Lincoln Park, and climb out straight ahead until you reach a cruising altitude of 1,500 feet. Aside from the Class B airspace above you that starts at 3,000 feet, there is no special use airspace that you have to worry about. (The rectangular area to the northeast of Essex County Airport is printed in magenta, not blue, on the chart, which means that it is Class E airspace and only affects flights in instrument conditions. You don’t have to be concerned about it during VFR conditions.)
When you intercept the 75º radial for the Carmel VOR (CMK, 116.60), you’ll turn and follow it. After six to eight minutes on this heading, you probably will be able to spot the Tappan Zee Bridge crossing the
Hudson river; it should be a bit to the right of your course. Given the time of day—you’ll be flying in the dark—all you’ll see is a mass of orange street lights.
Head for the bridge, and when you reach it, you will spot the lights of Westchester Airport, which should be on your nose or slightly to the left. While an airport as large as Westchester does stand out dramatically in the dark in real life, it is still much easier to spot when flying FS5.1.
If you have trouble finding the airport, it is helpful to know that it is 14 nm from the Carmel VOR on the 216º radial. If you get lost, just dial that heading into the OBS on your NAV1 radio, and fly until the needle centers. Then fly either toward or away from the VOR depending on whether your DME readout is greater than 14 (fly toward the VOR) or less than 14 (fly away from the beacon). When the DME reads 14, you should be right over the field.
Assuming that you do find the field on the first try, you’ll want to be sure to be on the ground before the tower opens for business. We’ll assume that there are no other aircraft in the pattern, so you can make a straight-in approach for a landing on Runway 11.
Getting Ready to Fly
Setting up at Lincoln Park is easy; select the airport from the World Airports menu, on the “USA - New York Addon” list. This will place you right on Runway 1, ready for takeoff.
There’s one more setting to change, however. Choose the World Set Time and Season menu command, and then Set Exact Time. Set the time to 05 hours and 30 minutes. Then choose OK to return to the program.
According to the flight plan that I have worked out for you, that should give you at least 10 minutes to spare in order to get on the ground at Westchester before the tower opens for business. You should be able to make that with no trouble, so long as you don’t lose too much time getting lost en route.
And once you’re on the ground at Westchester, take a few minutes to sit in your plane on the ramp and watch the dawn break in the sky—it’s a beautiful sight.
< Situation file: XC-NYA3