December Airport of the Month - Minute Man Airfield (6B6)
Written by CHI Dispatcher Joe Palmer
It was a calm December evening and Kam and I hopped on the opportunity to do our December Airport of the Month. We invited one of our renters, Brendon D. to follow us. Below is the airport information and planned route.
After an extensive discussion of the route, Kam and I hopped in 311VA, with Brendon following close behind in 271VA. We were losing daylight, but the sunset did not disappoint.
After a quick left turnout to the southwest, Kam and I utilized the autopilot system incorporated in the Dynon Skyview HDX. After selecting Heading and Altitude Hold, all we had to do was turn the dials to our desired heading. We switched to NAV mode with our route programmed and it brought us all the way to Minute Man. This helped ease the workload and focus our attention towards our wingman Brendon, and look out for traffic. Luckily, the skies weren't busy.
Since our route was fairly simple and shorter than our usual "Airport of the Months", we arrived at Minute Man in less than 30 minutes. To our surprise, we could not spot the runway despite activating the runway lights. We eventually spotted the runway and entered the pattern, but it was hard to see with surrounding terrain and neighborhoods. We elected to do a low approach since we could not see the airport environment clearly. Despite this, we had a great view of Christmas decorations and surrounding airports on the way back.
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT)
The most important lesson learned from this flight is to not fly to an airport like Minute Man at night unless you are familiar with the environment. Having not been there before, Kam, Brendon, and I assumed that the runway lights would be bright enough to land upon arrival. We also thought that the sun would stay up a bit longer, but this was not the case. Better planning would have combatted this.
Also, establishing good communication with your wingman is vital. Since I was lead, I had to pick up the ATIS and relay altimeter settings, winds, preferred runway, and other information so Brendon could safely follow me in. Additionally, there was no ATIS for Minute Man and I had to get it from Hanscom (KBED). Luckily, this was all planned ahead of time and the communication was efficient between me and Brendon.
Lastly, Kam and I exercised adequate Crew Resource Management during the whole flight. I worked the autopilot while Kam tuned in frequencies and looked out for traffic. Night flying can be unforgiving and keeping an eye out for traffic is more of an issue. I was happy I had Kam along for the flight.
This flight was pretty relaxing with the smooth air, pretty lights down below, and chatting on the formation frequency with Brendon. A lot of lessons were learned in the short flight and we hope to return and land at Minute Man in the near future.
Thanks for tagging along Brendon!