Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Today at KBDR (cont'd)

Watching the weather forecasts this past weekend, it became quite clear that a Monday morning flight from the DC area to Bridgeport's Sikorsky Memorial Airport (KBDR) was a Bad Idea. Hurricane Sandy was on the way and so I resolved to travel a day early.

I believe I could have made the flight on Sunday afternoon, but it didn't seem quite right to be flying an airplane TO an airport that most people were trying to fly away FROM.

KBDR's airport elevation is 10 feet above Mean Sea Level. The National Weather Service was predicting a storm surge in excess of 10 feet on top of an astronomical high tide. You can do the math.

So I opted to leave N631S in its hangar at KVKX and to take AmTrak. I spent Monday morning getting my office secured and the afternoon and evening listening to Sandy's sound and fury outside my window while hoping that the power would stay on – which it did.

At noon today I drove over to KBDR to have a look at what Sandy had wrought...and came away very happy with the decision to leave N631S in Maryland.

That lake over on the other side of the airplane is a couple of feet deep and Runway 6-24 lies at the bottom of it. Yes, that's the glide slope transmitter for the ILS Rwy 6 approach over on the far side.
There stands the BDR VOR transmitter across the pond. Runway 6-24 runs left to right, about halfway from where I was standing to the VOR. You can see that the flooding continues off to the left, to where Runway 11-29 lies. It's under water as well. The airport is closed indefinitely.

The rumor mill is operational, of course. I've been told that there is no plan for dewatering the field because no one has any idea of how it could be done. The airport was built on marsh so there's no place to send the water. A couple of years ago heavy spring rains left a large pond between the two runways. It took many weeks for the water in that pond to subside.

Over on the other side of the field, a T-hangar collapsed during the height of the storm, taking out two airplanes – a fairly new Bonanza that was in the hangar and a nice Mooney that was tied down next to it. In addition, a number of airplanes are reported to have been partly immersed in the flooding...and that's salt water.

So on the plus side of the ledger, I can congratulate myself for leaving N631S in a safer location as Sandy passed through. On the minus side, I may have to arrange to use a much less convenient airport (likely Waterbury-Oxford, KOXC) for my travels.

Of course, I'm in better shape than the folks who have airplanes at KBDR. Even the ones that came through the storm in good shape are faced with a problem...they haven't got a runway.

UPDATE 11/1/2012: I spoke with the Operations office at KBDR this afternoon, and learned that to the amazement and gratification of all, the airport has re-opened.

Runway lights, REIL's, taxiway lights, PAPI's/VASI's, VOR and ILS all OTS. Night ops not advised.

Runway 11-29 is still under water but 6-24 is open, as are a useful array of taxiways. As the ops guy noted to me, the water "subsided amazingly fast. Tuesday we were calling it Lake Sikorsky and figured it was there for a while."



Chris said...

A good choice, indeed. Glad 31 Sierra is ok.

John said...

I was hoping for your pictures, post-hurricane. (Still remember the vacant JFK from the last one). You did not disappoint.

LarryPetro said...

Frank, on Saturday afternoon, I flew my plane from VKX to Smoketown, which at the time was directly on Sandy's forecast track. An apparently odd decision. But, the plane was due in for annual before the 1st. And, Dutchland Aviation has a strong, steel truss hangar, into which they moved my plane Saturday afternoon.

Glad to hear your plane fared well at VKX. I lent my VKX hangar to Paul Hamilton for his C172RG, which otherwise would have been tied down outside.