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!

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