Destination: Tangier Island--TGI
You don't need a reason to fly to Tangier Island. A trip to the small Virginia island, located in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, opens the prospects of a quite night at a B&B, some fresh Bay seafood or just a great view from the air as you cross the bay while the sun and sailboats play on the water. You never lose sight of land flying to Tangier Island unless the summer haze is unusually heavy. If arriving during the peak haze season be sure your instrument skills are up to speed, even if arriving VFR. Three miles of visibility in haze, over the water can be disorienting.
Early fall is the our favorite time of year for flying the Bay. The summer haze gives way to clear fall skies and the winter winds are still a few months distance. Bring a jacket along, even if the forecast suggests otherwise. The temperature on Tangier is often cooler than on the mainland just a few miles away.
Tangier Island was discovered in 1608 and named after the Moroccan coast by Captain John Smith. The island is only about a mile wide, and about three miles north to south. The runway sits on the west side of the island. There are about 800 residences on the island with most tourist arriving by boat for a day trip or overnight visit.
Transportation on the Island is mostly by bicycle or golf cart. There are a few municipal vehicles but cars are restricted. Bikes are available for rent but you can walk the entire island in about a hour. Afterward you can sit at the docks and enjoy a cold drink or lunch at the waterside snack bar. Restaurants with a full menu are only a few steps away where you can enjoy fresh crab cakes or other Island treats. For a serious meal check with the Chesapeake House for a home-style multi-course dinner. If you plan to dine or stay at the Chesapeake house check for availability before departure at 757-891-2331. Extensive Island information is available at www.tangierisland-va.com.
The runway on Tangier has suffered some erosion in recent years but was resurfaced over the winter and is now in good shape. Neither fuel nor service is available at the airport. The closest FBOs are at Accomack County Airport (MFV) on the Eastern Shore, about 20 miles southeast of Tangier, or at Hummel Field (W75) located at the mouth of the Rappahonnock River, about 30 NM to the southwest. There is plenty of ramp space available but bring ropes if you plan to stay long. A landing fee is sporadically collected if there is anyone at the airport.
VFR flight in the vicinity of Tangier requires close attention to restricted and military operation areas. R-4006 overlays the island and necessitates an approach below 3,500 MSL if the area is active. Right hand traffic is the rule for runway 2 due to another restricted area that is just west of the island. Check with approach control even if flight service advises that these areas are not active.
Other points of interest for pilots flying the Bay include the Pilot House restaurant at Hummel Field and Campbell Field Airport on the Eastern Shore where Gordon and Christine Campbell host "Soup on Sunday" most weekends at their grass strip just south of Accomack Airport. The Bay is a great natural resource and is beautiful from the air. Plan a day or a weekend flying the Chesapeake Bay including a stop at TGI.
By Mike Likavec