One of Tim's friends from pilot training is here for Blue Flag and he came over for dinner the other night. He's entertaining the idea of going to Korea for his remote tour, so we talked a lot about our time spent on the ROK. Most of our friends didn't like Korea much, but we had fun. We had just come from Fayetteville, NC, so I was ready to experience something that didn't involve strip clubs and car dealerships lining the streets. I was wrong on one count, but.... We did our best to take advantage of our location, and I chose to start working on my private pilot's license. I searched back through my copy of our old website and found this entry from August 2004:
About 2 weeks ago, I had my long dual cross-country (with my instructor, Marty). We went all over the place. We started by flying north to Seoul AB, which is just south of the Han River. We could see Seoul - it was great! Had some difficulties with ATC. Lots of us calling on the radio and them not answering. They were probably trying to figure out who we were and what to say back to us. Big language barrier. I tried to come in for a touch and go there after following 2 helicopters in, and at the last minute they told us to go around. Greeeat. Good practice though. All that after ATC telling us that we couldn't land and to keep heading north. That would have put us into Seoul's airspace, and too close to the Blue House (Seoul's White House) for my comfort. Next was Wonju, directly east and in the mountains. They let us do a low approach there, but not land. We were going to continue southeast to an airstrip that is uncontrolled and where "pedestrians and livestock have free access to the runway" but the weather didn't look good, so we skipped that leg and went south to Jungwon. They wouldn't let us land either, so we went to the next one, R-510. That's a ROK Army base with 2 runways - one that's only 1600 feet long. Marty wanted me to land on that one. In contrast, I think Osan's runway is 9000' long. But I did it - and landed in about half the runway length. Then we took off and headed back to Osan, where it was raining. It was a great cross country! Now I have to do it solo...
And from earlier that summer, after I had just started flying:
On perhaps my second solo, I headed out to the northwest training area to do some ground work. S-turns, turns around a point, simple stuff that keeps you fairly close to the ground. I go back to the flight office to fill out my logbook and pay for the prop time afterwards and Ms. Cho comes running over to me with wide eyes. "You go to Incheon airspace! You not suppose to go there!" I looked at her a little skeptically. Yes, the northwest training area was in the direction of Incheon, but I was no where near the international airport. "They call here, tell me you go in their airspace. They call 2 time!" Now she had me worried. I mean, it was my second solo flight. Maybe I was in their airspace. Oh my GOD, maybe I was in their airspace and didn't know it! GAH! I whipped out my map and pointed to where I had been. I mean, I think I had been there, right? Who really knew for sure. I only had like 20 hours under my belt. I spent the rest of the afternoon all stressed out. When Tim got home I told him my story, and after we looked at the map again, he reassured me that I was not in their airspace.
Sometime I'll post about our trip to New Zealand; that was perhaps the coolest place we have ever been.
For now, Kate is shrieking in her room (it's naptime, don't you know) and Claire is (I hope) sleeping. Time for me to start packing.