Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Happy Easter!!!--April 4, 2010
Woke up at 8:00 A.M. I actually slept rather nicely…which was very surprising to me. I only had a small pillow I had taken from my airplane and this leather couch. But I was tired. And I think I only woke up once or twice. It was surprisingly nice. I looked outside and was shocked to see heavy fog everywhere. So…
I took the van into town for breakfast. I grabbed some McDonald’s, then headed back. I met a guy taxiing in his Cessna 172. We talked for a short bit, but I was ready to hit the road. I guess 8-10 guys usually get together on Sunday mornings here…well, I was glad they didn’t today! I was sleepin’! I reminded the guy that it was Easter, and he seemed shocked to hear that. He said that’s probably why they weren’t there. I was shocked that he didn’t even know. Hmm.
I flew from there back to the flight plans in Ohio. And with the smooth air, I was able to knock the five lines out in 20 minutes. And then I turned west and headed for Lincoln, Illinois!!! I was only doing around 120 knots, though…I had a pretty stiff headwind.
And there I sat for the next few hours. There really just isn’t much to look at anywhere between Ohio and Illinois. Time was creeping by. Once I crossed into Illinois, though, I was giddy. I was trying to text Mom that I was 45 minutes out, but I didn’t get any reception. So I just plodded along.
Danville. Champaign. Decatur. Bloomington. Clinton. My old stomping grounds!
And then Lincoln. The flight over was mostly smooth at 4500 feet, but I grabbed the weather, and it was 14 knots gusting to 26. Ha! Sure enough, around 3000 feet, I had the bumps. But I put it on in. I beat my Mom and Dad from gettin’ there by about five minutes. Too bad! I was hopin’ they would get to see me come in…such is life, I guess.
But it was good to see them. Crazy had tagged along, too. We fueled up, then headed for grandma’s house. I guess they didn’t tell her that I was coming, so I ran through the corn field to surprise ‘em all! Kinda fun. Actually, it was fun. It’s just always good to see family. I spent about an hour and a half there, then decided I should move on. But to my west, I had been watching a line of clouds. And they were convective…so I waited. We had some rain, but nothing major.
Well, around 2:00, I headed over to the airport to take off, and that’s when I heard it. THUNDER. Not too far away. Yeah, um, no. I headed back to grandma’s to wait it out. I then went over to my old college to grab some internet to check it out. And wouldn’t ya know it, the only location for convective activity was right where I was. Perfect! It was pouring down rain now, and the thunder was still rumbling.
I headed back to grandma’s and waited some more. They said they had hail there (less than a mile from the airport). And mammatus clouds were showing off their beauty everywhere. Finally, about a half hour later, I made the decision. I was off. The crew came out to watch me take off, and I headed due west. It was still a bit bumpy, but I had to push through it.
And oh, how the time just drug on!!! I had four hours to my destination of McCook, Nebraska. I needed someone to talk to! But that never happened. Well, I passed the Illinois River, then the Mississippi River…then Approach called me up.
“93Y, moderate to extreme precipitation, 12 o’clock, 50 miles.”
I acknowledged that and just waited.
Well, the time came soon enough. Right in front of me was a pretty thick downpour…it looked like a huge anvil. Or a monstrous tornado…it just had that wedge shape to it. Of course, I knew that it was just rain, but it looked gorgeous!!! I was very regretful that I think I left my camera back in Ohio at the airport I spent the night at. Oh, how I wanted to have that right now.
Well, I deviated to the south, all the while keeping my eye on it. It was pretty gnarly. And then I saw it. Lightning. Crap. I had to get out of here quick! I located the nearest airport and made a beeline path for it. More lightning. Now I’m familiar with how you shouldn’t be closer than 20 miles to any thunderstorm, and on and on. I knew exactly what I was dealing with here. But it just popped up so quickly! This was not even on the radar when I left just an hour ago! As I was landing, I saw another storm to the west…just starting to form.
I landed at Kirksville, Missouri, with the large thunderstorm literally just thirteen miles to the north. I watched the lightning on the way in. And the storm to the west now had lightning. Yikes! About 10 minutes after I landed, it just poured and poured. It sounded like hail, but I never saw anything. I sat on the ground for about 30 minutes and checked the radar. MORE storms were moving FAST from the southwest. I didn’t have much of a window.
But I went for it. If I could just get west quick enough, I’d be good.
So I took off on Runway 36, the exact opposite of what I landed on just 30 minutes ago. It was 200 at 20 knots…now it was 300 at 10. Crazy stuff. The flight was kind of exciting, too. I had more rain to dodge, and I just watched the shafts from the sky. The controller was calling out moderate to extreme precipitation and actually encouraged me to go north. I had the visual, though, and actually went southwest. It proved to be a great idea. I was able to stay clear of the rain and storms.
And I came out on the other side unscathed! I was still only doing 115-120 knots, but I was getting there.
And the rest of the flight was just looooooooooooooong.
I had another 3 ½ hours in the sky…over Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. It was painful. At one point, I was just one of two airplanes talking to control. It is sooooooo desolate out here. I watched the sunset, then had about another 30 minutes to go.
I finally spotted McCook but didn’t have a map to know any of the frequencies. I flew over to see if it was towered or not, and I didn’t see one, so I just called up 122.8. I circled and came in to land.
And I was the only one there! The airport was so barren. It was huge but barren. I literally heard the squeak of the rotating beacon as it spun. Unbelievable. I called up a guy to come out and fuel me, and I toyed with going further, but I was fried. The last hour of flight was painful. I was completely and totally fried. So I called it a day.
I had 8.7 hours of flying today. Wow.
They gave me a beat-up Caprice Classic to keep overnight. And what a treat that was. It couldn’t idle, the brakes were stiff, and it liked to die. FREQUENTLY. I kid you not, this car died on me over ten times in under an hour. I would lose my power steering and have HARD times keeping it where I wanted it to go, especially if on a turn. At one point, I ended up on top of a curb with four headlights pointing at me. It was not pretty. Another time I was stalled out at a stoplight for a couple of minutes, trying to crank it over. All I could smell was the gas fumes. It was nothing short of comical. I was talking to that car like you wouldn’t believe. In just an hour!!!
I grabbed a bite to eat, then found a dive hotel. But it was still $50! I hate hotels.
I went to bed VERY VERY VERY tired at 11:00 P.M. I am so beat. My head hurts.
And I miss my camera. Thunderstorms, fields, the Caprice. All of these I want to have pictures of.
Colorado tomorrow. I was told tonight I’d be needing the oxygen for this project. Here we go!