Summer 2017 Trip Part 1

Our summer trip this year was overly ambitious and had to be scaled back to reasonable. Once we figured out what we could do versus what we wanted to do, we came up with a pretty good route.

We will first head to Forth Worth Texas and visit some friends and see the sights like tourists. Then it will be on to Grey Bull Wyoming to visit more friends at a dude ranch. Then over to Rapid City South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore and the Devil’s Tower. Then of to St Paul Minnesota to do a brewery tour and walk the river walk. Then a short stop at OSH, of course, and then we turn south, past the Chicago skyline, down to Crossville TN to visit family. From there a short hop over to Pidgeon Forge to play tourist. Ambitious but not impossible.
Distance: 3605 nm
Time: 29 hours
Fuel: 292 gallons

The first leg of the trip took us from Ocala, KOCF to 23M Clarke County for a fuel stop, and finally to KGPM Grand Prarie

We had to fly higher and a bit more north that planned as many thunderstorms popped up along the way.

The clouds looked like cypress knees. A bunch of cumulus towers two to three thousand feet tall and slowly climbing. My wife did a short time lapse of the flying as we cloud surfed.

I highly recommend 23M Clarke County airport as a fuel stop. Nice folks and very reasonably priced 100LL and 93 mogas. Here is a link to their facebook page

We climbed up to 10,500 for the leg from Clarke County to Grand Prairie to get above all the little towers of cumulus clouds. The Comanche really hums along happy at that altitude. I was able to lean it out well and burn about 8.5gph at about 130kts

We landed at Grand Prairie about 3pm local time and got our rental car and headed downtown. We decided to try something new and used and got a great little studio apartment right in the heart of downtown Fort Worth just off main street.

We walked around downtown for a while and then over to Risckys BBQ and had a great dinner and drinks. One of the local favorites is a local brewery just south of Forth Worth called Revolver Brewing. They have excellent brews. I highly recommend them.

End of day 1.

Day 3
After a really nice stay in Grand Prairie we departed out and headed northwest to Casper Wyoming with a mid-point fuel stop in Kansas at Scott City Municipal.

Flying out of Grand Prairie was much easier than I imagined. I had visions of getting routed all over the place and then abandoned as soon as I left the bravo. Instead I was instructed by the tower to fly runway heading and then contact regional departure. Once handed off to regional departure they gave me one vector change for the climb and then handed me off to Fort Worth Departure with no problems.

We continued north west and made a fuel stop at Scott City in Kansas. This is the second time we have made a stop in Kansas for fuel. Both of the airports we used had cement runways made of large square blocks. The tires sang out a song as we landed and taxied. The fuel was reasonably priced and they pumped for us.

Piper Comanche landing Scott City KS KTQK

We made our final hop from Scott City all the way to Casper Wyoming. The terrain began to change color, just like on the sectional a little while after our fuel stop.

I used the Hipsher IIP VOR as a navigation point to keep me clear of the restricted areas around Camp Guernsey and to keep me clear of the mountains just west of me. It was a relief to turn that final corner and head west into the valley right at Casper.

Piper Comanche Landing Casper Wyoming KCPR

We used Atlantic FBO on the field and got a ride to the hotel for the night. The folks at the FBO were really nice. Wife and I had a fantastic glass of lemonade, which really quenched our thirst after so many hours of flying. The hotel send a shuttle to pick us us and take us back. Fuel was reasonably priced, but I only took on the minimum as we are now in some really high Density altitude areas. Weight is really king out here.

Day 4

This morning we departed Casper as early as we could and then flew north west again along the river up to Grey Bull Wyoming. As you can see in the video below the density altitude, even early in the morning, is very high. We rolled a very long time before gaining enough speed to lift off the runway. Fortunately the runway at Casper is 7000 feet long and afforded us plenty of time.

Piper Comanche Departing Casper

Flying to Grey Bull was really easy. The route was even simpler. Just go west to the entrance to the valley then turn north and follow the river up to the airport.

Flying to Grey Bull

The airport was visible from a really long way off as it sat right at the top of the valley on the entrance to the river.

Piper Comanche Approach and landing Grey Bull WY

We then spent the day sight seeing with friends.