On Wednesday, May 31, 2000, my 18-year-old nephew Jason was good enough to take me on a touring flight around the Memphis area. We took off from Olive Branch, Mississippi; flew up to Memphis International Airport for a landing on Runway 27; then up to Millington Municipal for a touch-and-go before returning to Olive Branch. Here are a few pictures of the experience:
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We first flew up from Olive Branch to Memphis, where we came to a full stop landing and parked at the Wilson Aviation Center for a Coke. Leaving Memphis International, we were given instructions to proceed to Runway 18L. Upon arriving there, we found we were competing for runway space with an American Airlines Fokker 100. Surprisingly, we were cleared out ahead of the Fokker.
In this shot we've pulled onto Runway 18-Left at MEM in front of the American Fokker and are beginning our takeoff roll. Looks like this runway has seen some very heavy use, undoubtedly helped along by many, many FedEx flights. Hard to tell based on the tire marks, but this is the newest runway at MEM, having only been completed a couple of years ago.
Liftoff from Runway 18L. You can see the reconstruction on Runway 18C going on in the foreground; by October 2000 this will be the 11,000-foot "World Runway". This was formerly Runway 18L before the present 18L was constructed. Northwest Airlines' hub operation is in full swing, as can be evidenced by the terminal in the distance. The numerous Northwest arrivals caused us a bit of difficulty in getting into Memphis on this trip.
Upon getting our takeoff clearance, Air Traffic Control directed us initially to a heading of 140 degrees, 40 degrees to the left of the runway heading of 180 degrees. Almost immediately, we were directed to fly a heading of 360, which is due north. Not only did this take us back toward our destination of Millington Municipal, it got us out of the way of the American F100 waiting behind us. This is the view of Memphis International as we came back by.
Our 360-degree heading also afforded us a excellent aerial view of the Federal Express Superhub. Not many planes around at this early hour (midnight is the time to be here), but one can get a sense of the size of this enormous facility, which handles enough business to make Memphis International the #1 airport in the WORLD for cargo volume for the past several years. That's Runway 9/27 running across the left side of the picture.