Sunday, February 9, 2014

Airport Review: Falwell (W24), Virginia - A "Ski-Slope" Runway

Falwell's airport in Southwest Virginia has one of the most unique runways in all of Virginia, if not on the entire East Coast. You can only take off from runway 10, and land on runway 28, due to a massive runway gradient. Between the end of runway 10 and the opposite, runway 28, there is a 150+ foot drop down a pretty steep hill. Falwell's runway looks more like a ski-slope than anything else. People have been known to use it as such after a heavy snowfall!

Our flight from Hanover KOFP to Falwell W24 was a longer flight of 83nm (one way.) There and back, I flew a total of 2 hours simulated instrument flight time, which fulfilled the rest of my requirement towards the PPL. On the same day, I decided that I might as well start the Virginia Aviation Ambassadors Program: a program where you have an aviation "passport" for Virginia, acquiring a stamp for every visited airport. If you ever complete the book, you receive a very nice, free leather aviators jacket. (there are also sub-categories of achievement, where one can receive a free flight bag, etc.) Here's my book and the stamp I got from W24: 

We departed shortly after 4:30pm and arrived at Falwell just before 5:30pm. Our leg to W24 was at 4,500ft, route-mapping below provided from CloudAhoy: 

En-route to W24 

Descending into W24

Arrival at W24 (*note some GPS inaccuracy... we didn't miss the runway!)

As I took off my "foggles" (used for simulated instrument flight), for our descent, I was greeted with a pretty awesome sunset over the Virginian Mountains:

Shown below is a video of our arrival into Falwell W24, landing on runway 28. The footage was filmed with my GoPro Hero 3 and includes some time-lapse video, with most radio calls included. You can find more videos like this on my Youtube Channel: MartinsAviation1

As you could see in the video, we had a little trouble finding the airports FBO, which is hidden in the anthill layout of Falwell. If you try to find the FBO, just remember to take the lowest taxiway, which leads to the lowest point of the airport. Upon finding the FBO, we were greeted by a really friendly manager who walked out to put chocks on the plane, later leading us inside for our passport stamp. 

Our plane on W24's ramp (yes, I parked backwards in the spot!)

Falwell's FBO (not my photo)

As I alluded to above, Falwell's taxiways were like an anthill. Some leading seemingly nowhere, some leading directly to houses, and one leading to the FBO. All of this is built right on top of a steep hill! My instructor and I felt like we were off-roading in our little Tecnam. Make sure to add a lot of engine power while taxiing up the hill, so you don't get stuck! 

As planned, we departed runway 10, from the top of the hill. Our next route of flight would take us to Lynchburg KLYH, but that's for another article. One quick piece of advice for taking off... make sure you're not fooled by the steep hill, pay close attention to your airspeed, and rotate very gradually so there's no chance of a tail-strike. Below is a video of our takeoff with audio included:

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Falwell. W24 has become one of my favorite airports in Virginia, one I can't wait to visit again and show off to passengers with my PPL! 

Thanks for reading and watching,
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

1 comment:

  1. This is an amazing experience. I never knew such a runway existed. Keep up the safe flying and the videos coming!!


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Many Thanks, Happy Flying,
Swayne Martin