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Safety of Flight Operations

To ensure safe operations out of W73 please be aware of the airport configuration, the adjoining terrain, the FAA airspace and nearby P-40. Please scroll through this page or click on the links below to proceed directly to the topics on the below:

At the Airport
Flight Operations Patterns
Premature Termination of the Tow (PT3)
FAA Controlled Airspace
P40 TFR and Washington DC SFRA

At the Airport

Like any airport, M-ASA asks that children and pets remain clear of the aircraft operations.  This includes assembly, towing, launching and landing of tow planes and gliders.  Do not cross runways while operations are in progress.  Only licensed drivers may operate vehicles on the airport.  Vehicles should stay off the three runways as much as possible.  Since W73 is a public use airport, we experience takeoff and landing traffic at all hours of the day.  Because of our proximity to Camp David and the underground Pentagon, we occasionally see military helicopters use the airport as a practice field.

Flight Operations Patterns

All departures from W73 are made to the south-east using Runway 15. Similarly, all landings are made to the northwest using runway 33. This is due to the slope of the runway surface as well as the high terrain to the west north west of the airport.
  • Runway 15/33C is the paved runway. It is 2700’ x 50’ and comprised of asphalt. It is primarily used during glider operations for launches.
  • Runway 33L is the primary glider landing area. It provides 1800’ x 250’ of turf. Left traffic is used when landing on this surface.
  • Runway 33R is on the other side of the pavement. It serves as the primary tow plane landing area although often gliders will also use it during glider operations. It consists of 2000’ x 160’ of turf. Right traffic is generally flown to the surface.
Airport radio communications are conducted on 123.300 MHz.

W73 Flight Operations

Premature Termination of the Tow (PT3)

The airport is surrounded by numerous cultivated fields that provide adequate landing areas in the event of a PT3 before reaching an altitude at which the pilot can return to the airport.  Referring to the graphic below, the optional landing areas will be presented to the pilot in this sequence:

  1. Land straight ahead on the asphalt runway 15.
  2. Land straight ahead in the overrun field beyond runway 15.
  3. Make a shallow left turn and land in one of two hay fields to your left.  Notice there is a line of brush with a barbed wire fence at the boundary between these fields.  Normally by October, the hay has been harvested, bailed and removed from these two fields.  Take a good look at these two fields before you fly for the first time at W73.
  4. Left Turn-out:  In a climbing left turn you are in position to complete a 180 degree turn after a PT3 and land at the private airfield Karlindo that parallels the runways at W73.  This field is just 1300 feet (1/4 mile) northeast of W73’s main runway, at least 1200 feet long by 100 feet wide, and is well maintained year round.
  5. Right Turn-out:  There are 3-4 fields that closely parallel your flight path on a right turn-out as shown in the graphic below.
  6. High tailwind landing after a PT3.  It’s a rare day at W73 that we have a strong southeast wind, but it has happened.  Your first reaction after a low-altitude rope break with a high tail wind might be to fully open your spoilers and dive for the runway.  However, if you find yourself high, another alternative is to close your spoilers and land beyond runway 33C on the up-sloping overrun on the north side of Pecher Road.  This overrun is well maintained and approximately 1000 feet long by 70 feet wide.  Use extreme caution since your flight path will take you over the grid and across Pecher Road. 


Low Altitude Rope Break Options


W73 is fortunate to have many landing options.  The asphalt runway and two parallel grass runways provide adequate room to land several gliders simultaneously, if necessary.  The graphics below shows many of the options for normal and emergency landings.  The main asphalt runway is 2700 by 50 feet with no runway lights.  The grass runway to its southwest (33L) is the same length as the asphalt runway and is no less than 275 feet wide.  This can easily support two simultaneous landings if well coordinated between pilots.  The grass runway between the main runway and the taxiway (33R) has 1900 feet of usable length and is 160 feet wide.  Be conscious of the shallow drainage ditch that crosses the approach end.

The tow planes normally fly a right pattern for 33R.  Gliders usually fly a left pattern for 33L, but can fly either pattern if conditions warrant.  Do not “cross over” to the opposite runway; for example, do not fly a left pattern to land on 33R.  With a strong southwest wind, some pilots fly a right pattern to avoid turbulence from the ski hill and trees adjacent to the runway.  Since takeoffs are conducted downhill on 15 (hard surface), gliders and tow planes don’t normally land on 33C, but occasionally do when there are no conflicts with launching aircraft.  Pilots should minimize radio calls by making only one call when entering downwind.  Runway 15 is unmarked and closed for normal landings. 


FAA Controlled Airspace

In addition to a number of small general aviation airports in the region
, the  area around our airfield contains a number of airspace restrictions that will require the pilots to be constantly aware of their location with respect to FAA controlled airspace listed below. The wise pilot will understand their locations and dimensions. All pilots are cautioned to refer to the most current data and information from the FAA in all cases prior to flight. Here is the FAA TFR web page for checking TFRs and NOTAMS.  You will need to filter by state or airport to get to the TFRs and NOTAMs affecting W73.

  • P-40 Prohibited area (3nm radius)
  • P-40 TFR when NOTAM’d (10nm radius)
  • R-4009 Restricted area (3nm, overlies P-40)
  • Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Class B airspace
  • Washington DC Metropolitan SFRA and FRZ
  • Hagerstown Class D airspace
  • Martinsburg Class D airspace
  • Harrisburg TRSA and Class D airspace
  • University Park Class D airspace
  • Frederick Municipal Airport Class D airspace
  • R-5803 and R-5801 restricted airspace near the Letterkenney Army Depot Class A airspace
The air traffic in the vicinity of the Frederick Municipal Airport (KFDK) can be very active.  FDK is the second busiest airport in Maryland next to BWI and lies just eight miles to the north of the Potomac Class B and Washington DC Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA).  The airspace in the vicinity of FDK is shared with airliners descending into Washington-Dulles airport thirty miles to the south.  The north-to-south arrival pattern for flights from New York, New England and international airports take the heavy metal as low as 4000 feet over the FDK airport.  Airliners can be frequently seen lower to the southwest of FDK being vectored on downwind and base legs to runway 19 at Dulles.  Local low-altitude east-west airway traffic can be assigned to altitudes as low as 3300 feet near FDK.

P40 Temporary Flight Restrictions

The Mid-Atlantic Soaring Center (W73) is just over eight miles from the center of prohibited airspace P-40 at Camp David, normally a 3nm radius.  When the President is in residence, a 10nm Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is placed around P-40.  M-ASA has an FAA waiver to fly when the TFR is “hot” requiring specific procedures and communications to be followed with four Federal agencies and one Military agency.  M-ASA has successfully flown during TFRs since 2003, even during R4N contests.  Therefore it’s important to our soaring club that our record and relationship with the federal authorities be maintained. To fly from M-ASC (W73) when the TFR is in effect, each pilot and aircraft must be on the Secret Service Approved List. If you wish to fly during a TFR it is highly recommended you apply to be added to the list. Please read the P-40 TFR Information on this web site for further details and pilot requirements.

You should be aware there are sometimes TFRs that affect both P-40 and HGR. In that situation we will not able to fly since our waiver only applies to P-40 and not to other TFRs.

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