London International Airport
My original plan was to fly to Kingston on Sunday. The weather didn’t play nice thanks to an approaching warm front. So, I decided to head west instead to London instead.
I took along a passenger, Sara, whom I’ve given a city tour before. This was the first time I’ve taken her on a X-Country flight. We hopped into a 172SP.
It was the first time the aircraft flew today, so I pre-warmed the engine using the portable heaters that are available at the school. I noticed (for the first time) that there was a placard stating that this aircraft was equipped with a Tanis heater and the plug was located on the underside of the cowling. Next time I’m at dispatch, I’m going to inquire about it and see if it is serviceable.
The airplane started on the first go! I wasn’t expecting that.
My flight plan was to take the “south route” around Pearsons Class “C” airspace. That involves flying along the shoreline until Oakville, then heading direct to London. This flight involved a few “firsts” for me:
– First time I’ve missed two calls from a controller, prompting him to ask how I read him.
– First time I’ve had to taxi at a controlled airport that was not my home airport.
– First time I had to change altitude for traffic, and missing such traffic by approx 300 feet.
– First time I’ve had to be vectored for downwind and base legs because I couldn’t find the airport during the day.
– First time I didn’t take off from the end of the runway, but partway down.
The flight to the airport seemd like to take forever. Looking at the GPS we were only grounding about 80 knots. 10 knots less than what I planned for. Enroute we were told by Toronto Terminal that there was a target, 2 miles orbiting at our altitude and he suggested that we descend 500 feet to 3000′ ASL. I complied and the traffic changed direction and passed over us in the descent. I was close enough to read the call-sign underneath his wing.
We were handed off to London tower about 15 miles back. There was another aircraft also inbound to London to my 9 o’clock. Tower cleared me to the left base for 15. I didn’t have the airport in sight, and let the tower know. He gave me vectors and it wasn’t until around 3 miles did I see the big weather radar dome (I think) that is located on the field.
I landed and exited on Taxiway Alpha. The taxiway is so wide that I was able to exit while other GA aircraft were waiting to take-off. I asked to get taxi instructions to the terminal building but was denied “due to security reasons”. I later found out that it was due to the fact that it was a secure area (being an international airport and such), for which you need a “Red Pass” to access. I was directed to an FBO where I could use the facilities.
This is when I realized that the Diamond Aircraft have their factory located here. As well as the “Katana Kafe“, which from looking at the menu, is hardly a cafe. Since we arrived at 3pm, the restaurant was closed (it reopened at 5pm for dinner). Dinner entrees were $28 and above. I thought cafe’s were supposed to be cheap? In the same building is the “Diamond swag shop”.
We were given taxi instructions to runway 15 (which was 10 seconds away, on taxiway alpha) and to hold behind 3 other aircraft waiting to depart. But before I could continue, I had to give way to a 737 that was on Golf. You don’t hear that everyday (or ever) at Buttonville. The controller told us the remaining runway (which was 4800′, plenty for a 172) at Alpha and that we were cleared to take off. One thing I found interesting was that I was given a squawk code but as soon as we were cleared of the control zone was told to squawk 1200. I guess the code I was given was just to keep track of airplanes in the circuit/cz at London?
The rest of the flight back was uneventful.
This was a good lesson for me, and being the first flight since snowfall, a refresher on how different things look now that contrast has been reduced significantly with everything being white and grey. Although my taxi instructions to the FBO were simple (literally, “straight ahead”), I did come prepared with a full size map of the airport to help me.
Paying closer attention to the radio to not miss radio calls wont be a mistake I will make again. I’m glad that the controllers at London were patient with me. They were courteous and helpful the entire way.
Another 2.4 hours in the logbook!