A Detour Through Dallas
After seven and a half hours of flight time from Richmond to Little Rock, Capt. Heins gave us until 10:00 hours (Central Standard Time) to get up and check out of our hotel.
Our crank time was 12 noon for the flight to Dallas, but after boarding the aircraft with our gear, we noticed that the Captain's aircraft was not loaded and several crew chiefs were standing around chatting about some maintenance issues. Start up was delayed for more than an hour.
I was a passenger for this short trip. Most of the way the scenery was pretty monotonous -- trees, houses and little change in terrain elevation. We made a fuel stop at Texarkana, Ark..
We began our arrival into Dallas/Ft. Worth along the helicopter route that follows Interstate 35 West. Air Traffic Control (ATC) gave us a transponder code and started to follow us on their radar systems, or so we thought.
But within five minutes, ATC started asking us why we had changed course, from heading west along the interstate to heading south. All four aircraft immediately reported over internal radio that ATC was mistaking us for someone else. Then, ATC gave directed us off of the standard helicopter route, though downtown Dallas and over Love Field.
The pilot in command suggested to me over the internal communication system that I grab my camera "cause not everybody gets to fly directly over Love Field," which was luckily clear of other aircraft. We then flew over Texas Stadium, Ranger Stadium, and Six Flags over Texas as ATC tried to get us back on course to land at Meachum International (KFTW) airport, just southwest of the Ft. Worth.
We taxied at dusk to our parking locations, realized we were in the wrong place, and spent the next half hour traversing the airfield to get to the right spot. (Circus music played in the back of my head during this whole exercise. We were showing our need for training.) Finally, we shut down, refueled, got the rental cars and headed for the hotel.
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