April Airport of the Month: Westfield-Barnes Regional (KBAF)
Written by CHI Aerospace Dispatcher Zach S.
Over the last few weeks as Hunter S. and I have continued to work on building our hours we’ve remained within about 70NM of Pease. Recently, on a beautifully clear day, we decided to head a little further and test our luck in catching some F15’s from the 104th Fighter Wing located at Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport.
For our route of flight, we decided that we would fly direct to Barnes at a cruising altitude of 6500’ on the way there and at 5500’ on our way back.
After a thorough pre-flight of the aircraft, N626NA, we hopped on in, fired up, and took off. Once PSM tower instructed us to begin our southwesterly turn-out, we had a great view of a pair of Rhode Island ANG C130’s on a practice ILS approach.
The air at altitude was fairly smooth - with just a few bumps here and there - and for once, we didn’t have any headwind!
After about 45 minutes in the air, we began to maneuver ourselves around the CEF Class D airspace and we called up to BAF tower when we were about 15 miles to the North/Northwest.
“RV N626NA, Westfield Tower… enter a left downwind for runway 02, report midfield and say intentions”
And that is just what we did. We heard that a few F15’s had received their taxi clearance, so we opted into doing a full-stop/taxi-back to watch some afterburner from the hold short. After turning left off of runway 02 and onto taxiway A, we taxied back to 02 via B E.
Right as we pulled up behind the twin-engine aircraft holding short of the runway, we heard the F15’s cleared for takeoff and, well, let’s just say that it was AWESOME!
We were slightly delayed getting back into the air due to wake turbulence avoidance and a few other aircraft that were before us for arrival and departure, but soon enough, we were airborne again. Once again, we would have wished to spend more time watching the “Eagles”, but I guess we now have an excuse to return!
The flight coming home was fairly uneventful - we cruised at 5500’ for a majority of the flight, but we did climb up to 7500’ for about 15 miles to clear a small area of clouds.
Once we got within 25NM of PSM, we tuned into 128.4 (Tower frequency) and started listening to boost our situational awareness. There were a few aircraft in the pattern and a pair of KC46’s in the overhead break - pretty busy for PSM - but the team up in the tower handled it incredibly well. In order to stay out of the way of the heavy KC46’s, we deviated a few miles to the east towards the coast before proceeding inbound for the right downwind to runway 16.
All-in-all, BAF is a great destination airport. Whether you’re looking to fulfill one of your commercial 100NM XC requirements or are simply hoping to see some fast planes, it is certainly an airport I’d recommend and will definitely return there myself sometime in the near future.