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The view: KFFA – First Flight Airport; Kill Devil Hills, Dare County, North Carolina

The pilot: Steve Ellis

The photographer: Steve Ellis

The airplane: Van’s RV-4

The mission: Day trip to KFFA, First Flight Airport

The memory: First time to KFFA. A morning flight from KEZF, Shannon Airport Fredericksburg, VA.

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Steve Ellis
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3 replies
  1. Peter L Row
    Peter L Row says:

    I love your photo! Thanks for the memories!

    Our flying club sent everyone here on their solo long cross country. Lots of tradition. Remember, however, that the Wright brothers picked this place for its winds – so they could test their kite-prototypes. These same winds resulted in my first 91.3 moment. After three attempts to land thwarted by wind shear, I diverted to Elizabeth City. I fessed up to the guys at the FSDO there that I had diverted from my approved plan. They gave me some cookies while I un-jangled my nerves and subsequently finished the long cross country without event.

    My flight instructor was not happy with me for deviating from my authorized route. “You weren’t authorized to land there,” was his position. I thought he would have been happy that I had decided it was time to give up rather than continue to push a bad situation.

    I went back to “conquer” First Flight for my first flight as a private pilot, and several times thereafter. It is a fantastic place steeped in history.

    Twenty five years later, I tell this story to my students to reinforce that you are the pilot in command – you can do whatever is necessary for the safety of the aircraft. I also remind them that the FAA (FSDO) had no heartburn with my decision, and they won’t have any heartburn with your decision either, as long as it makes sense for safety. Because of this incident, my solo limitations sheet for all my students includes the statement (in bold):

    “14 CFR 91.3 is your friend. Do not hesitate to use it.”

    Peter Row

  2. Chris Papageorgiou
    Chris Papageorgiou says:

    That reminds me my student Roger who made similar decision (ADM) back in the late 80s. His long XC was terminated by him due to very low visibility (haze) over Alligator Alley and returned to KPIE .
    He was very worried about the conditions to the east and made the decision to return home without reaching KFLL.
    I was happy to see him exercise his privilege as PIC. We discussed the conditions encountered and supported his good ADM.He accomplished the XC later and learned a valuable lesson for life.
    There is always another better day to fly if you don’t like what you see.
    ” There is no job on Monday worth killing myself on Sunday” says my friend.
    – John H. B ( retired FAA Inspector)

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