I hit a bird

Turkey Vulture vs Comanche

The particulars:

  • N8244P: 1964 Comanche 180.
  • TTAF: ~3200
  • SMOH ~900
  • STOH ~60

comanche-at-dons-shopI was descending out of 4000 about 12 miles south of KOCF, setting up for the ILS 36 approach, when a big black turkey vulture dove into my path and I chopped it up with the prop. Blood and guts everywhere. The right wing suffered some minor damage from the chunks hitting the leading edge. I think the worst part was when I realized I could not avoid the bird. I had just a split second to yank the yoke to the left and the bird hit the prop at about the 2 o’clock position. I think that saved me as the prop chewed it up and threw most of it down and to the right, away from the cockpit. The insurance company wants a tear down and inspection. The craft is now with my trusted mechanic Don and getting a tear down and inspection.

I guess the silver lining is that I did not die. Things could have gone way worse on this one. I was at 24 square in a descent at about 160 kts. That bird could have blasted through my windshield and disabled me with a much worse outcome.   Another silver lining, and perhaps the best one, is that a mechanic I really trust is doing the repairs. Some days I think someone is looking out for me. I have done so many foolish things that I should have long ago won a Darwin award. Yet here I am.

Converting to a Major Overhaul

I was really worried that my stabilator was damaged but none found. After a few conversations with Don, I am going to pay the extra and turn this into a major overhaul.  The prop is going out for inspection and repair, possibly overhaul. I will have to ask Don which is happening. It has maybe 100 hours on it. There was no visible damage I could see but always better safe than sorry.

Engine parts OK – somewhat

The engine is all apart. The good news is that the bottom end of the engine, factory new in 1975 ish, containing the crank and cam all looks good. The top end, which was recently overhauled – the cylinders, pistons, and rods etc, seems to be less than stellar workmanship.

AD needs to be done

While Don was tearing through the engine he also looked at the logs and discovered an AD – Airworthiness Directive that had not been done.

DATE: January 30, 2003 Service Bulletin No. 475C
(Supersedes Service Bulletin No. 475B)
Engineering Aspects are
FAA Approved
SUBJECT: Crankshaft Gear Modification and Assembly Procedures
MODELS AFFECTED: All Lycoming direct drive piston aircraft engines (including VO-360 and
IVO-360; excepting O-320-H, O-360-E, LO-360-E, TO-360-E, LTO-360-E,
and TIO-541 series engines).
TIME OF COMPLIANCE: During overhaul, after a propeller strike, or whenever crankshaft gear removal is required.

The infamous gear now in compliance with the scalloped edges.  As explained by my Mechanic “This pic is of the infamous AD crank gear. You will see the scalloped flange. It used to be solid round. The idea of the AD is so you can confirm that the gear is flush and tight on the crank by being able to slip a feeler gauge into the scalloped area to confirm it is flush with the end of the crank...”

AD complied

AD complied

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Crank or Not?

inspected-camMr. Don, my mechanic and I have been discussing reusing my existing cam and buying a new one. The plan was to buy a new one and if my existing came back with a yellow tag, we would sell it on eBay for someone looking for a used cam.  Don had a conversation with the shop that did my existing cam shaft and the shop owner stated that the failure rate is negligible between new and resurfaced cams.  The final point that was the clincher that made me decide to use the existing cam was that my existing cam is tried and true – we know it is good it already ran 900 hours without issue. Odds are that it will continue to perform just a good as a new one. In fact because it has already been stressed and found to sustain – it is just as likely to last as a new one.

Reassembly

The process of putting the engine back together was slow and careful.  Each part after thorough inspection was then carefully put back into the engine case and properly fitted.  The assembly took a couple of days and then installing the engine on the plane a few more days.  This is not a process to be rushed.

comanche-engine-on

 

 

 

 

 

Pulling the Dent

A chunk of the bird hit the leading edge of the right wing. leaving a golf ball sized dent.   The mechanic used a drill and dent puller to pull the dent back out.  Then some body filler and paint to smooth it out.  he also repainted the leading edge so it was pretty much invisible.

Before:

before-dent

 

 

 

 

 

After:

repaired-dent

 

 

 

 

 

Plane all back together 1/1/2016

After three months of waiting, the plane is back together and looking good.   The engine is running great and the dent is gone.  Hopefully no more issues for a while.

sunny-side-up-hangared

 

Our Summer Trip 2015 – Part 5

Departing Memphis, Heading to Nashville

The stop in Memphis was too short.  I really hope we get to go back and see more of this city. I especially want to go back to Beale street and try some of the other venues.   So with a full tummy we departed Memphis and turned north eastward to Nashville.  The flight took a little over an hour and provided us with some relaxing views of ever-growing mountainous terrain.

Our timing with John Tune could not have been better.  I called the airport a few weeks before our arrival to confirm fuel and tie down fees.  The nice young lady at the FBO informed me that the airport was closed for construction until august 10th at noon.  We landed at about 2 pm that day.   Only some of the taxi ways were open and we had to back taxi to get off the runway and then follow signs through a maze to park at the FBO.

Landing at John Tune from the West

Once we got clear of the airport and met up with our friend Joe, we had a lovely evening of socializing, drinking and smoking cigars on the front porch of the rectory.  Oh yeah, our friend Joe is on his way to becoming a priest.  His summer assignment put him at a local church in Nashville and we stayed with him at the church rectory.

Edleys-bbq-nashvilleWe all got a bit hungry and decided we needed dinner. Joe suggested a local place called Edley’s BBQ.  It did not disappoint. The food is served cafeteria style and includes a bar with local micro-brews.   I tried a few really good local brews and had some delicious brisket. I have to say the place was doing a brisk business and had quality eats.  This made for a really great stay in Nashville as it added to the fun of the trip.

After our visit we once again packed into the plane and flew off to Crossville Tennessee KCSV to visit more family.  Crossville is a golf mecca. If your thing is golf this town has everything for that.  One of the more unique experiences is the local flea market every first weekend of the month.  The whole main street of the town is taken over with flea market tents and vendors sell their wares up and down the street.   It is a really unique experience and made for a pleasant visit.

Leaving Crossville and Flying to Spartanburg

My wife had a business conference in Greensboro.  We made arrangements for her to meet her mother in Spartanburg TN as I had to get back to work the following day.  We departed Crossville early in the morning and flew over the smoky mountains. I finally understand where they got that name.  The valleys are full of low lying clouds, which gives the appearance of smoke in the valleys.

smokey-mountains

Link to the route on SkyVector

The flight over the mountains was about as picturesque as one could imagine.  The peaks and valleys made for some terrific pictures.  We flew over the mountains at about 9500 feet to make sure we had sufficient clearance over all the peaks.  ATC wanted us to climb up even higher. The only part that surprised me was how close Spartanburg airport seemed  to the southern side of the mountains.  Just a soon as we cleared the range to the south I had to put the plane in a descent to get us down to the altitude of the airport.   We saw some pretty high ground speeds as I descended into Spartanburg.

Crossville to Spartanburg

Nice airport there at Spartanburg.  The ground crew was very helpful and the fuel was reasonably priced.  Once I dropped off my wife and said goodbye, I climbed back in the plane for that last long leg all the way back to Ocala.    This part of the flight proved to be a bit more tricky.  Summer storms blew in over Tallahassee and then made a mess of the middle of the state all the way from southern Georgia to Ocala.

I used flight following on this leg and I am glad I did so.  As I was crossing over the southern border of Georgia, I could see huge thunderstorms ahead pouring out their fury right in my flight path.  Jacksonville Approach diverted me to the west coast and I flew home right behind the big storms.  This made for some unusual cloud formations that I have rarely seen.

Link to the route on SkyVector

Last 25 Minutes Coming Into Ocala

This concludes the Summer 2015 trip.  We had a great time.

The Numbers (Best Guess):

  • Total Distance: 2685nm
  • Flight Time: 23 hours
  • Fuel: 233 gallons

The Entire Route on Skyvector

Summer 2015 full route

Our Summer Trip 2015 – Part 4

After Oshkosh

As they say all good things must come to an end. Oshkosh was much fun and I am glad I got the experience.   I have high hopes that I will go again next year.  There is so much more to see and I really need the whole week to see everything.   The Airshow was exceptional each day.  I got to see some rare and exotic military aircraft, ate some good food and chatted with lots of pilots from all over the nation.

I ended up staying an extra night in Portage due to bad weather. The storms were really big and strong just to the south so I opted to stay on the ground an extra day and go early the next morning.  After another good meal and a solid night’s rest St Louis Arch Southbound on the Mississippiin Portage, I packed up the plane and flew back to St. Louis, where I landed at KCPS St. Louis Downtown.  One fun moment was the approach to the airport.  I was flying south, descending and was instructed to land on runway 12 by entering a left base. This approach put me right down the Mississippi river and gave me a great view of the arch.   Just after I snapped this pic the plane was forced straight up about 200 feet from a thermal.  Stuff went flying all over the cabin. Seems there is a giant turbine with big fans blowing straight up right there.  Scared me a bit, but I landed just fine without incident.

I spent the night there in St. Louis with the wife and the next morning we flew out to Arkansas to go camping.  We selected the Petit jean State Park camping site because they had an airport right next door.   The park is right next to the Arkansas river sitting up on a bluff high above the rest of the valley.

Link to the Route on Skyvector

Route from St. Louis to Petit-Jean

 

We did not go straight to the camp as we needed to stock up for the outing.  I called ahead to the airport in the next town called Russellville Regional KRUE to let them know we were coming, and to request the use of the crew car to go shopping at the local grocery store.   We landed after a couple hours of very warm flight.  The airport manager met us and gave us the keys to the crew car.  Nice folks there at Russellville.  I highly recommend the stop and patronage if you are in the area.

I picked Russellville, not only for the good name, but also because there was a Wal-Mart super center only a few miles away.  This made getting the groceries and other supplies we needed for camping very easy.  By planning ahead to pick up supplies here we did not have to cart a bunch of extra weight with us all the way from Florida.

We departed out of Russellville and flew to the Petit jean Airport.  It was a hot day and we were pretty close to max weight between all our supplies and food.  The climb out was slow, but steady and after a short climb I turned us on course and we flew to Petit jean.  The landscape along the way was really lush and green.  Lots of low hill, farmland and forest all mixed together and intertwined with rivers.  Very pretty country.

Camping at Petit Jean

Petit jean State park is located on top of a hill.  If you watch the video above you will see the Arkansas river borders this sudden change in elevation where the park resides on top.   It looked like someone built a huge mound and then sliced off the top and made it flat.  Very unique geography.

A YurtThe camping experience was not quite what we hoped.  Maybe it was just too hot and uncomfortable, or perhaps it was a bit too rustic.  We opted to stay in a yurt down on the lake front.  My logic was that we did not need to bring a tent, we would have electricity and gas cooking grill and bunk beds provided, so all we needed was food and clothes.   Unfortunately we were really far from everything else in the camp.  With the exceptional heat it was very hard to get about and sleeping at night was hot and sticky to say the least.  Next time we will book a cabin with A/C, or come here in the fall when it is cooler.  After four days of camping we departed Petit-Jean and headed for Memphis to visit some friends and have some BBQ.

Departing Petit-jean

We departed Petit jean on a hot day.  As you will see from the video above the Comanche did not climb all that well and I had to turn out from the rising terrain to avoid skimming the trees.  Really pretty flight all the way over to Memphis.  The rapidly changing geography made for some delightful scenery as we headed east towards the Mississippi river. There was one small moment of excitement. As we approached Searcy Municipal KSRC at about 3500 feet I spotted a flight of two C130 military transports flying a southerly route that would intersect ours.  I climbed up a bit and tuned to the local CTAF.  We were within a mile or less of each other when I heard them calling and was able to let them know where we were so that we avoided each other easily.  ATC must have warned them of our presence and they finally tuned in to talk to me.

Link to the Route on SkyVector

Landing at General Dewitt-Spain

The flight to Memphis took just about an hour.  I planned Dewitt Spain airport as it was closest to downtown, which made for easy access.    For some reason I still had it in my head that the Mississippi river was something romantic.  In reality it is one dirty water river that often goes over the banks and threatens all the towns along it’s shores. It demands respect.  While in the FBO at Dewitt Spain I saw a sign on the wall that showed how high the water had come in the last flood.  It was above the front door.  Basically the entire bottom floor of the building was underwater.  Quite a sobering reminder of the power of nature.

John and Tre AngottiWe met up with our friend and I took him and his son out for a fly in the Comanche.  I always enjoy introducing folks to the fine art of flying.  We went out over the city and around his home.  I let him take the controls after a few minutes of flight basics and he did pretty good maneuvering the plane around. I had to redirect them once as we were headed right into the Memphis Bravo.  Overall I would call the flight A success as he came back asking all sorts of questions about how to get his own plane and get a pilot’s licence.   Job complete, seed planted.

Memphis BBQ

Blues City Cafe bbqAfter that introduction to flight we ventured down to Beale street and went to the Blues City Cafe for some great BBQ.    Beale street is a unique experience with restaurants galore and music coming out of every doorway.  The swell of people, the mixture of food aromas and the sounds of blues playing made for one powerfully nostalgic trip that made us we want to stay for more.  We will have to go back and try some of the other establishments when we have a chance.

The food at Blues City was spectacular, and not just because I was really hungry from all the smells. I had a half rack of ribs that were so good it made me want to slap my mamma.   The wife tried the catfish and I traded her some ribs for a taste.  I have to say it was well worth the trip to try this place out.  The food was great.

After this fantastic meal with good friends we packed back into the plane and flew to Nashville to spend the night.   More on this topic in Part 5 – Stay tuned!

Our Summer Trip 2015 – Part 3

I landed safely at portage, had a great dinner and a good night of sleep.  I got up in the morning, got a weather brief from DUATS and then walked down to the plane.  I was so excited and nervous I could not eat breakfast.

FISK VFR Arrival To OSH

FISK VFR Arrival To OSH

I spent a good hour reviewing the NOTAM the night before and I had a good plan on getting to Airventure.   I looked at the sectional several times and tried to get a good idea of the location of the two checkpoints. As both of these points are GPS fixes it did make it pretty easy to find them. The actual locations of the fixes on the ground however are a different story.  More on that later. My first flight in was on Thursday and I wanted to get in early in the morning to have the least stressful landing experience.  I had experience flying int sun-n-fun in Lakeland FL and I knew that early was better than late. I did a good walk around inspection of the plane as I didn’t want yet another incident. I topped off the fuel, started the plane ran all the pre-flight checks, programmed the GPS with the route and launched off into the air.


VFR Route Portage to Oshkosh

VFR Route Portage to Oshkosh

The route from Portage to Airventure was pretty simple.  Take off and fly northeast towards RIPON, which also happens to be the name of the town where the fix is located, join the gaggle of aircraft headed to  FISKE and plan a landing at OSH. I knew from reading the NOTAM that I needed to be at 1800 feet and 90 knots.  Getting to that speed in a Comanche takes a subtle hand. Finding RIPON was really easy as it is a big town and the GPS fix is almost right in the middle so there is little chance of confusing this point.  FISKE is a different story.  When I reached RIPON I had a bit of trouble finding the railroad tracks.  They are not really visible from the air as there are trees grown on both sides of the track that obscure them from sight.  Once I figured out that the line of trees was the railroad tracks it made the navigation easier.

Note, that a straight line via GPS from RIPON to FISKE will not take you over the tracks you have to navigate visually as the tracks are slightly south of the direct route between the two fixes. I must admit I never really located FISKE visually on the ground  I just watched my GPS and listened carefully for the arrival crew to call out my aircraft.  They called me something like a Cherokee low wing so I had to guess that they meant me. I added the ATC audio to the video so that you hear what I heard.  I had some fun with the folks at FISKE and I found the chaos at OSH a bit frightening.  The tower folks seemed a bit stressed out.  This is a long video and it would not hurt my feelings if you skip ahead to the really good bits.

Flight from Portage to Oshkosh

Landing at Oshkosh is really no pressure.  Only hundreds of other pilots watching and critiquing your every move as you try to hit the dot on the runway and turn left into the grass before another aircraft climbs up your tail.   I did a pretty good job of landing on the orange dot and I think my landing way pretty good.  Some young smart-ass pilots were standing beside the flight line with scoreboards letting us know how they thought we did on the landing.  I was pleased to see that I got three 8s and one 9s. Due to the age of my Comanche I was entitled to park in the Vintage parking are, which was right next to runway 18/36 and the daily air show.  After landing I had to taxi quite a ways but it was very much worth it. I was able to lay under the wing of my plane and watch the air show in shaded comfort.


Oracle Plane Airventure Airshow

Oracle Plane Airventure Airshow

Describing the sights and sounds of Airventure is difficult.  Airplanes, people and something to see in every direction. One of my favorite things to do was walk around the vendor hangars.   Any company that has anything remotely to do with aircraft was there in these enormous hangars selling their wares.


Exhibit Hangars

Exhibit Hangars

There was every kind of product a pilot could ever imagine. Oh sure all the big names were there selling radios and GPS units.  What I really enjoyed were some of the quirky vendors selling cooling scarfs, memory foam seat cushions and miniature replicas of every sort of model of aircraft.  I did end up buying a few trinkets and a couple of spare parts for my bird but nothing all that spectacular.  That magneto repair at St. Louis ate up all my spending money. After a wonderful day, which concluded with a spectacular airshow, I was able to easily depart OSH.  I posted a few pics on my Facebook page and a friend who lives in the area saw the post.  She invited me to dinner with her family.  So I departed OSH, flew south until clear of the airspace , then turned east and headed to New Holstein.


Flying from Oshkosh to New Holstein

Flying from Oshkosh to New Holstein

The flight was pretty coming across the lake, over the wind turbines and landing in the grass at the airfield.

 

 

 
Departing from Oshkosh and flying to New Holstein I had a wonderful dinner and gabbed with old friends.  What a great evening.  Sorry, but I forgot to turn on the camera for the night flight from New Holstein back to portage.  I will just say the sky was dark and beautiful all the way back. Best night of sleep I had in a while.  Must have been all that fresh Wisconsin air. Stay tuned for part 4!

Our Summer Trip 2015 – Part 2

After spending a few days as tourists in St. Louis, My wife went to her conference and I flew north towards Oshkosh. The flight up there was very easy. I made one stop for refuel on the way up.
Link to the Route on Skyvector


Monmouth Airport C66

Monmouth Airport C66

I chose an airport a bit out of the way because airnav.com told me they had the least expensive fuel in the area and as usual they were correct.  I saved around 20 cents a gallon stopping here.  What a great little airport.  They had a homey FBO office on the end of the main hanger and a large agricultural spraying operation going on.  I had to negotiate my landing with a
couple of air tractors coming in and out as I was landing.  Nice folks at the FBO and they even helped me pump the gas.
Video of landing at Monmouth C66
I was experimenting with different positions for the camera on the airplane so you will notice the camera is on the right side and mounted a bit lower. My plan for Airventure was to stay at a hotel located next to a small municipal airport located in Portage Wisconsin.   Again I was influenced by the fuel prices on airnav and the ease of access to Oshkosh. I would fly in and out of Oshkosh each day and sleep in a bed at the hotel.  I must say it all worked out great.


Ridge Motor Inn

Ridge Motor Inn, Portage

The Ridge hotel, located about 3/4 of a mile and a short walk from the airport, was nothing fancy but it was inexpensive, had a bed, a good working shower and a restaurant that served simple comfort food and ice cold local beers.  My favorite beer for this trip was a local brew made by New Glarus Brewing called Spotted Cow and it was really tasty with a cheeseburger with an over easy egg on top.


New Glarus Spotted Cow Beer

New Glarus Spotted Cow Beer

Video of Landing at Portage C47


Portage Municipal Airport

Portage Municipal Airport

The Portage municipal airport was a great spot. The manager was a character!  He cussed like a sailor, yet went out of his way to be hospitable to all guests. The airport is located about 48 nautical miles southwest of Oshkosh, the flight would take me less that 20 minutes and  provided me with access to low price fuel.   I really enjoyed gabbing with all the pilots coming from and going to Oshkosh.  I will probably use this same place again as it was a gem.


Portage Municipal Airport FBO

Portage Municipal Airport FBO

After an uneventful yet enjoyable flight to Portage I put my knapsack over my shoulder and made the short walk over to the hotel for the night.  I needed to get plenty of rest and be ready for my first flight into Oshkosh.  After a good dinner and a couple of cold beers I kicked my feet up and relaxed and got prepared for the flight to Oshkosh the next day. Stay tuned… part
3 coming soon!

My Visit from the FAA

On July 18th I experienced a partial loss of power in my Piper Comanche while approaching the St. Louis Down town Airport.   I requested an expedited landing into the airfield as I thought it best to get on the ground.

Video of approach and landing at KCPS

 

A note about the video.  About 1:10 you will see the engine stumble and notice that it seems to sound different and run differently.  After the landing you will see the fire truck parade.  It seems the approach folks got a little excited and declared an emergency for me.  I requested an expedited landing as the engine starting running rough and I lost the ability to generate some power.  I did not declare an emergency I only requested an expedited landing as I was unsure if I could do a go around if it was needed.  In the end, it was discovered that my right magneto had a broken rotor brush.  Seems it was still working sometimes and was throwing the engine timing off.  It all ended safely so no worries.

After landing and filling out paperwork with the fire department, we went on our merry way and I thought that was the end of it all.  No it was not.  A few days later I got a call from a very polite gentleman from the local FSDO.  He wanted to let me know that because of the incident, he was tasked with investigating the situation and wanted to meet with me.  I agreed to meet and then he asked me to bring my log books.  I explained that I was on vacation and did not have that information with me.   No worries he said you can send that along later.

Before I got the call from the FAA representative a few fellow pilots urged me to fill out a NASA report.  That is essentially a report where a pilot tattles on themselves for what we did wrong, which can help if any legal actions might be taken. I am glad I did so and believe it was a wise precaution.  It also helped me to organize my thoughts and present my finding when I met with the FAA representative.

So we met at the FBO and he asked to see the regular documents – my medical certificate and my pilot’s license.  I produced them and showed them to him.  Then he asked me what happened and I explained pretty much what I wrote just below the video above.  I asked him why all the fuss as I never declared an emergency and only asked to be expedited as a precaution.

This was news to him.  He was not aware of those circumstances.  He seemed to understand though and he wrapped up the questions by asking to see the plane. I took him out to the plane and showed him the standard documents. AROW – Air Worthiness Certificate, Registration, Operators Manual, Weight and Balance.

He looked at the engine, took a picture of the data plate and that was pretty much it.  He asked if I would start the plane, which I did and I flipped to the right magneto and it started popping and backfiring and generally running like crap.  This seemed to satisfy him that an actual problem existed in the plane.

He asked me about my plan to get it fixed.  I told him I was going to take it to the local shop on the field.  he asked me to send him a copy of the log entry once it was fixed, plus copies of the most recent annual inspection entry and the AD compliance report.  I explained that it would be a few weeks as we were on vacation.  He gave me his business card and that was it for that day.

When I returned home I had an email from the FAA Inspector reiterating the request for the documents.  I scanned them and emailed them off to him the next day.   So now we wait. I have emailed him back and asked that when the report is finalized that he email a copy to me.

Our Summer Trip 2015 – Part 1

Hello All
The summer trip has come to an end. We had a good time. It was much shorter than planned but we still did some fun stuff.   Our trip this year took us from Ocala to St. Louis then on to Oshkosh, Petit Jean State park, Memphis, Nashville, Crossville, and Spartanburg.

Link to the whole trip on Skyvector

The first leg of the trip took us from Ocala to West Georgia Regional Airport in Carrolton Georgia for a refuel stop.  Nice little airport.  We borrowed the courtesy car and went into town to grab a quick lunch.  The cheap and quick option was a Subway sandwich shop just a few miles down the road. We returned to the airport, lunch in hand and gabbed with some other pilots in the lounge for a bit while we ate and then climbed back in the plane and flew on to our next destination – St. Louis.

West Georgia Regional Airport KCTJ

West Georgia Regional Airport KCTJ

Video of the Landing in Carrollton

After lunch and a refuel we continued on to our first destination KCPS St. Louis Downtown, which is located in Illinois across the river from St. Louis proper.  I must admit it was very cool to look down the runway at the St. Louis Arch just across the river.  The flight was pretty easy we had good weather and a light tailwind so we picked up a few extra knots and cruised at about 135 kts at a70% power setting.

St. Louis Downtown Airport

Video of the landing at St. Louis Downtown 

A note about the video.  About 1:10 you will see the engine stumble and notice that it seems to sound different and run differently.  After the landing you will see the fire truck parade.  It seems the approach folks got a little excited.  I requested an expedited landing as the engine starting running rough and I lost the ability to generate some power.  I did not declare an emergency I only requested an expedited landing as I was unsure if I could do a go around if it was needed.  In the end, it was discovered that my right mag had a broken rotor brush.  Seems it was still working sometimes and was throwing the engine timing off.  It all ended safely so no worries.  The repair was simple and was completed by the shop on the field in a few hours.

We called ahead and the FBO, Ideal Aviation, arranged a rental car and a hotel for us at very good rates. For the next four days we stayed at a Drury inn and Suites to the east of the airport in O’Fallen Illinois, which was a bout a 20 minute drive from downtown.  I must say I am a big fan of that hotel chain.  In addition to a complimentary hot breakfast they also offered a complimentary simple dinner and free adult beverages every evening.    We would get up in the morning and have a lovely breakfast and then spend the day as tourists and return for a hot dinner and a cold beer.  From now on I will try to stay at this chain when I travel.

IMG_20150721_203027

I have to say that visiting the Arch was pretty cool.  It was a very easy drive from our hotel.  We drove across the Mississippi river and then right into downtown.  Finding parking was very efficient and inexpensive.  A short walk got us from our parking to the steps of the courthouse, where the above picture was taken.  Then a quick walk across the street and into the park under the arch allowed for a close up view of this magnificent structure.

Another interesting stop was the Cahokia mounds.  This is the remnant of a native american city that lasted some 300 years.  They build pyramids and had a whole city with walls and even their own version of Stonehenge – but with wooden poles.   Here is a link to the museum website: http://www.cahokiamounds.org/

So this was our first few days in St. Louis.  After this my wife went to her conference, and I continued on to Airventure at oshkosh.  Stay tuned for part two.

Tips for Cross Country Flying

I’ve made several long distance cross country trips in my private aircraft. I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned.  This is by no means an exhaustive explanation of everything you need to know before taking a long trip.  Instead these are some key points I try to keep in mind while planning and flying over long distances in my own airplane.

The Entire Summer Trip Route

The Long Cross Country

 

Know Yourself

It is probably most important to understand your own experience and comfort level as a pilot. I remember my instructor talking about setting personal minimums.  I wrote my personal minimums on the inside cover of my log book and I still review them each time I write an entry.  Before tackling a long trip this would be a good item to review and keep in mind during the planning phase.  I know how much crosswind I can handle when landing my plane.  If the crosswind is too high I am going to rethink my choices.Windsock

One of the biggest killers of small aircraft pilots is a phenomenon called get-there-itis.  In get-there-itis, personal or external pressure clouds the vision and impairs judgment by causing a fixation on the original goal or destination combined with a total disregard for alternative course of action.  When you are getting ready to make a long trip check your own ideas about flying these long distances.  If you start using words such as “I have to be at this place by this time”, it might be a good time to take a step back and reevaluate your priorities for this trip.   Often pilots will develop get-there-itis and far exceed there own personal minimums by flying into conditions they would not normally attempt and find themselves in real trouble.

Know Your Aircraft

I most often fly a 1968 Cherokee 180 D.  After so many hours of flying I can tell when something is off just by the way the aircraft feels when I start it or when I am flying. I know pretty well how the plane is going to react to particular flight conditions.  Knowing these behaviors of the craft you are planning to fly is important.  I would not recommend taking a long trip in a plane I’ve never flown.  A better plan would be to get to know the plane on a few short trips and get comfortable with the particular quirks of that craft before ever attempting to make a long cross-country trip.

PA28 With 5 gallons of FuelFuel consumption is critical in a cross country flight and it is important to know how much fuel you can carry and how much your craft will burn in flight. I often plan to have more fuel than just the minimums at each landing site.  For example, my aircraft has a range of about 500 miles with day VFR reserves of 30 minutes.  Ever consider how little fuel 30 minutes represents?   In my plane that is about five gallons of fuel or two and half gallons in each tank.  The fuel gauges would barely be off the empty mark. I am not willing to take my plane down to that low of fuel.  A strong headwind can increase your fuel consumption considerably and leave your fuel tanks bone dry long before reaching your destination. For these reasons I always plan the legs of my flight to leave me with one hour of fuel upon reaching my destination.

Know Your Route

This may seem a bit fundamental but I try to have a really good idea of where I am going to fly. hudson-river I take a good amount of time in planning my route, which involves activities such as studying the terrain along my chosen path and making note of any distinctive landmarks or features. I also review approach procedures for my landing sites, and mentally note any alternate or emergency landing sites.  I often go on YouTube and look for videos from other pilots that are flying routes and landing at the airports I might use.   You would be surprised at how much you can glean from watching a video of someone landing at an airport you might use along your route.

 Have a Backup Plan or Two or Three

When flying cross-country I try to keep in mind that the trip is not just about getting there, but also about the journey.  Although I plan on going to my primary landing site, I also plan a secondary and even a tertiary landing site.  This idea ties into knowing yourself.  If you keep an attitude of enjoying the journey and not being rigidly committed to a specific destination you can make better decisions about when to choose an alternate landing site.

Storms South of MiamiWeather conditions can change rapidly and no forecast is perfect.  If I see that the conditions ahead in the direction of my primary landing site are not looking safe, I might land sooner or turn on an angle away from my route and away from the weather.  When I plan backup sites I often pick one that is before my primary destination and then I also pick one on an angle to secondary.  For example if my destination for the day is 400 miles due west I pick an alternate that is 350 miles west and then another that is north or south.  This way I have alternates and ways to escape bad weather.

Know the Weather Patterns

When planning a long cross-country trip, I start obsessing about the weather probably two weeks before. Weather patterns are often cyclic and getting to know how the weather will behave during your time in the air is vital to a safe flight.   The official sources such as aviationweather.gov , DUATS and 1800wxbrief.com are essential sources.  I also like to use Weather Underground’s interactive maps and detailed forecasts to help get a better picture of the weather along my route.  I tend to stay away from the full-time newsy cable weather products as they tend to exaggerate and sensationalize the weather and in my humble opinion often give inflated and emotional forecasts.

So there you go some tips on planning and making a safe cross country flight.  I hope something I shared here helps you have an enjoyable and safe trip.

My Resume

Russell Wright

1842 SE 6th Ave, Ocala, FL 34471 ● 727.638.1559 ● russ.wright@gmail.com

Summary of Qualifications

A patient educator and mentor who understands the unique needs of adult learners, in on-line, classroom and blended environments.  Experienced, performance-oriented information technology professional with 15+ years of leadership experience in enterprise level systems analysis and software development.  A strong leader and team contributor who works well in cross-functional teams.  A confident worker who enjoys software development and learning new skills.  A problem solver with excellent communication skills both verbal and written.  A capable researcher familiar with quantitative, qualitative and design science research techniques.

Technical Expertise

Languages: Python, PHP, SQL, Dot Net, Visual Basic, VB Script, Javascript, CSS
Frameworks: .NET 4.0, CodeIgniter
Databases: MSSQL Server, MySQL, Postgres, Oracle
Software: R Commander, SPSS, SAS, Visual Studio, Eclipse, MonoDevelop, Gedit, Netbeans, Apache, IIS, MS Office, Open Office, Piwik Analytics, Google Analytics, AW Stats
Concepts: Systems Analysis, SDLC, Object Oriented Design (OOD), UML, Unit Testing, Statistical Analysis, Cyber Security
Platforms: Unix/Linux, Mac OS X, MS Windows

 

Education

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Technology

Capella University- Minneapolis, MN

Dissertation focus: The application of persistence theory to the graduate admissions process.

 

Master of Science in Information Technology

Capella University – Minneapolis, MN

Concentration:  Application Development

 

Bachelor of Arts in English

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts – North Adams, MA

Concentration:  Writing and American Literature

 

Teaching Experience

Schiller International University, Largo, FL 2015-present

Adjunct Professor, MIS program

Conduct hybrid classes for the Masters in Information Systems program for topics such as Management of Information Systems, Database Design, Project Management and Data Communications and Networks.

 

Accomplishments

  • Currently leading a cohort of 25 foreign students though the MIS track courses.
  • Reworked and streamlined the course content in Blackboard for the MIS track.

 

College of Central Florida, Ocala, FL 2013 – Present

Associate Professor, BAS Program

Responsible for the overall function of the BAS program.  Teach on-line, on-campus and hybrid courses in MIS specialization.

 

Accomplishments:

  • Created course content for several Information Systems courses including Cyber Security Fundamentals, Advanced Programming Concepts with Python, Database Management Systems with SQL, Web Programming with PHP and Advanced Systems Analysis.
  • Wrote 2 textbooks – Dynamic Web Page Design with PHP, Database Systems SQL.
  • Working with faculty and staff increased the rigor of the courses and established clearer guidelines for course content.
  • Assisted with the promotion of the program which increased enrollment by 40%.

 

Strayer University, Tampa, FL 2012 – Present

Adjunct Faculty, Tampa East Campus

Conduct on-campus classes in the Computer Information Systems program for topics such as network essentials, interface design, project management and web development.

 

Accomplishments:

  • In collaboration with the campus dean reintroduced CIS classes to the campus. Successfully recruited and retained students to complete the CIS classes at that campus.

 

St. Petersburg College, St Petersburg, FL 2010 – Present

Adjunct Faculty, College of Computer & Information Technology

Conduct quality on-line classes in Information Technology topics such as network essentials, introduction to programming and system analysis and design for an average of 25 students per class.  Provide support to students on writing skills and technical issues.

 

Accomplishments:

  • Introduced new on-line classroom communication techniques, which improved student participation in on-line discussions and perception of connection to the campus.

 

Capella University, Minneapolis, MN 2010 – 2011

Teaching Assistant, School of Business and Technology

In conjunction with course instructor, develop course materials and assess student mastery of academic skills and competencies as determined by course outcomes.  Facilitate on-line discussions among students to assist in their understanding of course materials.  Assist students with locating resources through the website and on-line library.

 

Accomplishments:

  • Significantly improved the retention of at-risk students an average of 30%.
  • Introduced new information presentation techniques, with videos and presentations, which improved the learner’s perception of connection to the classroom.

 

Professional Experience

Stetson College of Law, Gulfport, FL 2009 – 2012

Senior Developer

Provide research and guidance to management on all aspects of web technology solutions.  Acted as a liaison between the IT and Communications groups.  Responsible for the development and maintenance of all college websites and web applications.  Recruited and qualified contract software developers for specific projects, and then act as the project manager for these jobs.  Used a variety of old and new technologies from classic ASP to VB.NET and PHP with MSSQL and MySQL databases.

 

Accomplishments:

  • Oversaw the conversion of existing eKtron cms website to in-house cms system for a $15,000 yearly savings.
  • Created custom private social networking site for admitted students, which contributed to an increase in yield of prospects within the admissions funnel.
  • Created custom clinic and internship application process using CodeIgniter php framework, which reduced application-processing time by 60% and significantly improved data accuracy.
  • Converted and consolidated several old classic asp websites to php resulting in a 50% reduction in the number of web servers used.

 

TextusLLC, Largo, FL 2005 – 2009

Partner & Chief Technology Officer

In partnership with another veteran developer, opened a website development and hosting shop.  Acted as Chief Technology Officer finding and planning the strategy for technology used within the organization.  Evaluated existing web technologies and found best solutions for the company information technology portfolio.  Company has hundreds of clients and many top professional web sites. Market niche is focused marketing for the customer’s website.

 

Accomplishments:

  • Planned company technology portfolio for hardware and software, which reduced costs by 30%.
  • Developed standardized procedures for website implementation increased productivity nearly two-fold.
  • Recruited and trained developers and support staff.

 

Site Dynamics – FKQ Advertising, Clearwater, FL 2004 – 2005

Contract Software Developer

Acted as an advisor to the development and project manager.  Researched technologies and provided advice on possible solutions.  Partnered with the developers on several projects; provided motivation and planning expertise on the development of multiple website projects.

 

Accomplishments:

  • Assisted in streamlining the development workflow reducing the delivery time by 20%.
  • Implemented a standardized systems analysis process to support development and documentation.
  • Created standardized project documentation templates for the development team.
  • Assisted in the analysis and upgrade of an internal custom groupware application through full development life-cycle resulting in a significant reduction of duplicated work.

 

Rita Technology Services, Tampa FL 2004

Contract Software Developer

Employed on a short-term contract with the city of Tampa traffic division to assist in the rewrite of an old Visual Basic application to more modern standards.  Acted as an interface between the users and the development team to assist in the collection and verification of user requirements.  Worked with other developers to convert and enhance the existing code base.

 

Accomplishments:

  • Interpreted user requirements documents into development specification documents.
  • Created multiple object oriented code modules for inclusion in larger application.
  • Collaborated with the development team to standardize the code format, which reduced rewrite time by several weeks.

 

BayCare HomeCare, Largo, FL 2003-2004

Senior Developer

One of three developers responsible for the maintenance of several in-house Visual Basic 6.0 software applications used for accounting and inventory maintenance. Researched and provided guidance to management on the best solutions for complex billing and tracking problems.

 

Accomplishments:

  • Created custom reports using Crystal Reports to assist the accounting office in streamlining the billing process.
  • Established a source code repository, which significantly reduced coding problems.
  • Recycled old computer parts and used free software to create the code repository server saving the company many thousands of dollars in hardware and software costs.

 

Diocese of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, FL 2003

Volunteer Software Developer

Conducted pro-bono consulting for organizations within the diocese. Assisted with youth programs as a technical support person providing assistance with servers and software solutions.

Accomplishments:

  • Created custom event tracking software solution resulting in an 80% reduction in time and effort spent planning.
  • Developed a web content management system for the organization saving them the cost of purchasing a product.

 

Computer Business Associates, Tampa, FL  2000-2003

Contract Software Developer

On assignment at Tech Data, served as the technical lead on an initiative for stocking and ordering applications, which required many skills, including diplomacy with the users and motivating discouraged developers. Provided status update presentations to management and suggested technical solutions to management for problems within the projects.

Accomplishments:

  • Successfully mentored two new VB developers on object oriented development techniques.
  • Wrote extensive documentation through a systems analysis process of a large order tracking application thus reducing the time needed to make program changes.
  • Significantly increased the security of many applications through code and security reviews.
  • Assisted the Seibel conversion team on conversion of VB applications, reducing the implementation time in half.

 

Compuware, Tampa, Florida 1997 – 2000

Consultant & Software Developer Three assignments:

St. Petersburg, FL.

On assignment at Franklin Templeton, served as a member of the software development team responsible for the upkeep of the production environment that tracked the results of investments. Served as the team leader through difficult projects, which required exceptional organizational skills.

Accomplishments:

  • Designed developed and deployed through full life cycle numerous Visual Basic applications to supplement the check management system.
  • Created extensive application documentation for VB applications.
  • Assisted in the design and creation of the client-server infrastructure from staff to hardware.
  • Provided production support for several systems that included troubleshooting, code maintenance and configuration management for both front and back end systems.
  • Lead the development team for a rewrite project to update some mission critical Visual Basic applications converting many parts of the project into COM objects.

 

On assignment at Tech Data Corporation, served as a team member and leader in the application development team supporting the ordering and warehouse departments.

Accomplishments:

  • Lead the design, development and deployment through full life cycle a Tech Faxing Suite using VB5 and SQL Server 6.5
  • Provided technical assistance and mentoring to development team on development techniques and issues.

 

On assignment at GTE (Verizon) Data Systems as a member of the ILEC and CLEC support teams.  Worked on several batch-file-processing applications for telephone billing.

Accomplishments:

  • Upgraded Visual Basic 3.0 and 4.0 applications to Visual Basic 5.0 by converting and updating API calls, and upgrading the data access to the most current DAO/RDO/ADO standards.
  • Lead developer for the Year 2000 Project (Y2K) for the telephone billing translation applications.
  • Successfully mentored and trained four other VB developers on VB 5 Object oriented techniques following the Kurata method.

 

Our Summer 2014 Trip Part 4

Day 23 August 1st

hudson-riverOn this day we departed Wurtsboro Sullivan airport and headed south down the Hudson river. I was so excited for this day as I had planned and read up on everything I needed to do to fly the Hudson River VFR corridor.

The Route on SkyVector

Flying down the Hudson at 1000 feet from where we started required me to get clearance through two Class D air spaces. The first one was Dutchess County (POU), where I accidentally called them “Poughkeepsie Tower” but at least they knew what I meant. The second one was Stewart (SWF) and they were both very accommodating and understood what I was doing.

There is a lot to see flying down the river. If I were to do this portion of the trip again I would have a tourist map next to me because there were so many things to see. At this point my wife was snapping pictures in all directions all the way to New Jersey.

Link to Faa Safety Doc

The FAA Safety site published a simple knee-board document that covers the basics of what one needs to know when flying down the Hudson VFR. This doc was very useful and easy to follow. The reporting points are very easy to see and made it no trouble whatsoever to self-announce at the designated points. I kept our airspeed relatively slow at about 90 knots, which made me feel less nervous and gave me time to see and plan for each potential hazard. Flying over the George Washington Bridge at 1000 feet is a bit intimidating, the first time, and I needed to focus to make sure I was clear of all obstacles.

The only time I got more than normal nervous was when we were approaching the Statue of Liberty. As I was passing the Colgate Clock, I could not get a word in on the CTAF as the heliport operators were chatting away about refueling and picking up passengers and who was getting the coffee. I slowed the plane down and finally blurted “Blue and White Cherokee, Colgate Clock, Southbound Jersey Side, 1000 feet, descending to 500 passing just east of the Lady, then ascending to 1000 over the Verrazano”.

the-ladyNow I had the helicopter pilots attention and they graciously agreed to stay west of the Lady for a minute while I passed. I thanked them for their willingness to cooperate and promised to get out of the way as quick as possible. We then continued over the Verrazano Bridge, followed the South Shore of Staten Island for a while and then headed south toward 3N6 Old Bridge Airport in Old Bridge New Jersey.
This airport is right next to a drag strip and from a distance it is hard to tell which one is the airport and which one is the drag strip as the are aligned almost parallel to each other. To be sure I overflew the field and then entered a right downwind pattern to landed to the south.

Nice folks at this airport. They charged me $5 a night for a tie down space. Fuel was reasonably priced, at least compared to other airports in the area. We stayed here three days visiting with the Wife’s family on Staten island.
My wife’s aunt really wanted to go for a ride in our plane. It seemed like a nice thing to do so I planned out a ride up the Hudson and back down. This time I was feeling much more confident in the trip and knew exactly how to handle the traffic and radio. We took off from Old bridge, turned north and came up the Hudson, flying on the right side (NYC) and got to see all the sights going north. We went all the way up to the Tappan Zee Bridge and then turned around and came back down on the Jersey side.

This time as we approached the Colgate clock I negotiated with the helicopter pilots and they let me get low and slow next to The Lady and I thanked them greatly for all their cooperation. My passengers really enjoyed being able to look Lady Liberty right in the eyes and take a picture of her. My wife’s aunt was quite funny. She asked me to go under the Verrazano. I did think about it for a moment but decided it was best to go over and not under.

We spent the next few days there on Staten Island visiting with family, cooking, eating and enjoying the summer weather. We had to delay our departure one day and perhaps it should have been two days.

Day 26 August 3rd

Today we departed Old Bridge New Jersey. The plan was to fly west on the north side of the Philadelphia airspace to the Pottstown VOR (PTW) then turn southwestward to the Westminster VOR (EMI) and then land at KGAI Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Maryland to visit an old friend. I spent quite a bit of time over the previous days making sure I knew exactly what I needed to do to fly into the restricted airspace around DC. Essentially it came down to at a minimum being on flight following and making sure they knew we were headed towards DC.

The planned Route on SkyVector

The weather that day was reporting as marginal VFR for the entire route. Broken ceilings were forecast for an average of 1500 feet the whole way. The cloud layer itself was only predicted to be about 100 feet thick. Once airborne from Old Bridge airport, I contacted ATC and got on flight following and made my intentions to enter the restricted space clear. They understood and issued me a squawk code and asked me specifics of my route. I explained that we would head west to the Pottstown VOR PTW then southwest to the Westminster VOR EMI then south to KGAI. We were all set with ATC and continued our flight.

The ride underneath the clouds was pretty rough so I decided to climb above it at the first opening, which we did. This was going great and were were essentially VFR on top of mostly solid cloud layer at about 2000 feet. All was going great until we got a bit east of Philadelphia, just past the Pottstown VOR. A second layer of clouds formed above me at about 3000 feet so I was now between layers. This was not a problem as I could clearly see sky between them all along our route. At least until all of sudden they closed up and I was in the midst of a moderate rain storm in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC).

I must admit I was caught off guard. The radar showed nothing and there were no rain storms predicted for that day. Also the weather conditions did not show a rain storm, at least not in the way I am used to seeing them. The weather that day was strange indeed.

I was not really worried about it as I have an instrument rating, but I am way out of currency. The storm however made things a bit hairy. So I radioed approach and let them know what happened. I instantly had the controller’s attention and he started helping me get back out. Turning back was not really an option as the clouds closed in around us and turning back would keep us in the same situation. I knew that the cloud layer ended at about 1200 feet so I reduced power, kept the wings level and began a slow descent out of the clouds. In the mean time ATC informed me that no airports along my route were VFR at this point.

The Actual Route on SkyVector

Great! Now we are stuck. I asked for vectors to the nearest VFR airport. The nearest one was KILG New Castle Airport in Wilmington, Delaware. The rain was pretty heavy at this point and we were getting pushed around some by the wind. I informed ATC about the storm and they had no idea there was rain happening at that location. I was instructed to continue my descent until clear of the clouds and report field in sight. I did as instructed and then landed on runway 14 at KILG.

As we were taxing in ground control informed me that Philadelphia ATC asked for a contact number. I supplied one and expected I was probably going to get an arse chewing for flying into IMC conditions. We parked at the FBO and topped off our fuel. I again checked all the weather conditions, and outside of this storm, everything along my route from this point showed MVFR. I was perplexed.
We made an attempt to get out of KILG and finish our flight to KGAI but it was no good. Low lying clouds all about and there was no safe route out. So, we landed again and spent the night at a nice hotel. The Atlantic Aviation FBO folks were so kind. After arranging a special rate for us at a hotel, they even gave us a ride over and said they would come pick us up in the morning if we called. I give them five stars for customer service. We got a good dinner in town, a hot shower and a good night of sleep.

Day 27 August 4th

kilg-to-kcsvThe weather this day was much better. We departed KILG and headed for our fuel stop of KMKJ Mountain Empire in Virginia. I got on flight following as soon as I could with Pittsburgh and I am glad I did. When I was doing my morning flight brief I saw the usual TFR’s in effect around DC, but ATC would not let me go directly through, so I had to route around DC. One interesting point. After my request for flight following the Philly ATC repeated twice to me “Maintain VFR at all times” I had the thought that they might have flagged my tail number, since my incident with the storm the day before.

The Route on SkyVector
I want to give some kudos to a great little airport in VA called Mountain Empire. KMKJ. These folks are super nice. Stopped for refuel once before and the service was excellent. Full service fueling at a lot less than any other airport in a 50 mile radius. If you have reason to stop it is a great place. We borrowed the courtesy car and drove a mile south to a local eatery called the Red Barn Restaurant and had a nice home-cooked meal. If you ever get the chance to stop in, try the stuffed peppers.

After refuel we took off again and continued on our way to Crossville, TN. I picked up flight following and again ATC again made me read back to them “Maintain VFR at all times”. Okay I was getting a bit paranoid.

KCSV Crossville Memorial-Whitson Field Airport in Crossville, Tennessee was a great little airport for our stop. Fuel was reasonably priced, parking was free and the airport was well kept. On the flight into the airport I requested the runway 26 ILS approach, just for practice as the weather was clear, only to find out that the glideslope was out of service. Oh well. Lastly the terrain around the airport was spectacular to view. To the south was a ridge line, to the north was some beautiful rolling hills and east to west was a river valley full of green fields. What a great view.

We spent the next week there in Crossville visiting my father-in-law at his summer condo. We had a great time sight-seeing and trying some local cuisine. What a wonderful place with lots of beautiful scenery.

Day 38 August 13th

kcsv-fd04On this day we departed Crossville for our final journey home. The weather was partly cloudy in Crossville but the clouds were plenty high enough that I could see the mountain ridges well below them. We took off and started flying south. I attempted to get on flight following immediately with Atlanta Approach but the radio reception was very weak until we flew just south of the first mountain range by the Hinch Mountain VOR. Once over the mountain range, I was able to pick up with ATC and get on flight following. The planned route was direct from Crossville all the way to Leeward Air Ranch as we left our car there with some friends.

 

 

The Planned Route on Skyvector

flight-aware-kcsv-kaysThe route took us through the Atlanta airspace. I asked for clearance through the class bravo and was granted. ATC gave me a fix point to fly to and then continue south. I asked for it twice and looked it up but could not find it. The point kept coming up somewhere down in South America. So I told ATC I would just fly around, instead of through their airspace. As we got closer to the southern border of Georgia, I could see the storm clouds ahead. I looked at the NEXRAD radar on my Garmin 396 GPS and sure enough there was a line of large thunderstorms right across northern Florida. At this point I made the decision to make a rest stop and check out the weather situation. I contacted Atlanta and let them know we would be diverting to KAYS Waycross-Ware County Airport in Waycross, Georgia

The Waycross airport is a really great facility. They have a nice pilot lounge with comfy chairs and a good planning room with modern computers. We waited out the storms for a few hours to see if they would move off to the east enough for us to get around them. Since it was near dinner time we borrowed a courtesy car and went into town and got a nice meal.

The Actual Route on Skyvector

kcsv-kays-kcty-fd04After we returned to the airport, I checked the weather again and the storms seemed to be dissipating some and no new ones were building behind them. We took off from Waycross and picked up flight following. The ATC at Jacksonville advised us that the best route around the storms was to turn east and fly to Cross City Airport KCTY, near the west coast of Florida and then fly somewhat southward until clear.

This seemed like a reasonable plan and so we headed out southeastward towards Cross City, which took us just outside the storm. In a strange way it felt good to see familiar cloud formations that were easier to interpret. I could tell exactly where the storm ended and where it was safe to fly.
cross-city-stormsWe proceeded south from Cross City past the storms until we were clear and then turned towards Leeward Air Ranch. As if not to be outdone, a single storm cloud was just east of Leeward and was dumping rain just west of the runway. This cloud was somewhat unique as it was dumping rain out if it’s side instead of the bottom. Fortunately it was far enough out of our way to make an easy landing at our destination.

rain-cloud-rainbow

Piper Cherokee Landing 18 at Leeward

The numbers (Best Estimates)

Miles traveled: 6600
Hours of flying: 68
Gallons of Fuel: 680

The Entire Route on Skyvector (Best Guess)

The Entire Summer Trip Route