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Braden Fly-Out - N43 Trip Report

From ChapterGram Newsletter, October 2014

By Andre Kerstens, EAA Chapter 240

Andre Kerstens, a member of EAA Chapter 240 in Toughkenamon, Pennsylvania, was the sole participant of a fly-out to Braden Airpark (N43) in Easton, Pennsylvania, which was under threat of closure. The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority is under a court judgment to pay $26 million after losing a case resulting from it having taken land from a developer, and was planning to use the sale of Braden Airpark, appraised at about $3 million, as a way to raise money to help satisfy that judgment.

A decision on the airport’s fate was due October7, at which time the authority chose not to sell the airpark. Because of this, supporters of the airport and the local EAA chapter organized a fly-out to show the L-N Airport Authority that the airport is a popular destination, which helps fuel the local economy. As part of the fly-out, they also had organized an antique car show for which many dozens of cars had driven onto the field.

I left N57 (New Garden Airport, Toughkenamon) around 9 p.m. and arrived at N43 approximately 27 minutes later. This was my first flight outside of the FAA-assigned test area for my RV-7A’s Phase 1 testing, and the plane performed well just as it had done the first 40 hours of its flying life. I have ADS-B as part of my SkyView avionics setup, and as soon as I came within 15 miles of the airport, dozens of traffic alerts popped up on the screen.

No panic, I told myself, just keep your eyes outside of the cockpit and make sure you don’t get too close to other planes. Since I didn’t know exactly where the field was (I had never been there before) and it is a fairly short runway, I decided to overfly the airport at around 2,500 feet (pattern altitude is 1,400 feet at N43) so I could check it out and then turn around, descend to pattern altitude, and enter left crosswind for Runway 36, which the wind was favoring.

I had a Skylane in front of me on downwind, so I announced that I would be following him and land as Number 2. But alas, a Bonanza came out of nowhere and was flying next to me on base (a little further out than me). After acknowledging that we had seen each other, I got out of his way to let him land first. I discovered he had to do a go-around earlier and this was his second landing attempt.

It was quite bumpy on final, and I needed all my hands, feet, and eyes to keep the plane straight and set it down on the runway. No problem in the end, though, and someone was already waiting to guide me to a parking spot in the grass close to the event. My plane turned a lot of heads because of the unconventional sound it makes (I have a 6-cylinder Subaru up front), which was funny to see.

After shutdown I got out, walked over to the pilot registration booth, and bought myself a food ticket for the pancake breakfast. Met some nice folks in the queue - never saw such a long queue just for pancakes! - and had some nice conversations about the airport. I also met two pilots from an airport in Benton, Pennsylvania, who are organizing a ham roast fly-in for October 18. Since Benton is a grass strip, I probably won’t be flying there unless someone can take me in his taildragger as I’m always a little nervous about flying planes with nose wheels onto the grass. You never know if you will get stuck and nose over!

After I toured the planes and cars on the field a bit, it was time to hop into my plane and get back home, especially since the RC plane show would start in 20 minutes, which would make it challenging to take off. I taxied to the beginning of Runway 36 to do my run-up and turned lots of heads again, just like before. Many people also had walked to the flightline for the RC models show, so by the time I took off, a hundred cameras must had taken pictures of my RV taking to the sky! 

Twenty-five minutes later, I was back at N57 where I landed and taxied back to my hangar while thinking what a nice morning this had been. Pity that no one else from Chapter 240 was able to join!

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