Monday, September 05, 2005

Bloomington Trip Summary

The map above shows my routing. WP1, WP2 & WP3 are detours given on my instrument flight out to Bloomington. I figured they would happen. It isn't often that a large airport like Cincinnati allows you to cross through their airspace directly above, especially during peak times. But I figured, rather than filing a flight plan with something different, I would just let them decide where to send me. Much easier, and at least it leaves the possibility of a direct route.

That flight was about as easy as if could be. Instrument flight, but hardly a puff of cloud to be seen, and only a little over 3 hours, including warmup, taxi and shutdown. The folks at BMG Aviation made sure I had a very relaxing time. I can't report on the helpfulness of the other FBO on the field, but these guys were great. I would highly recommend them.

Within 3 minutes of walking in the door, I was in my rental car and driving off to the wedding. They made sure it was a good trip, and if I am ever back in that area flying, I would fly out of my way to stay there again.

Having blown a tire on takeoff yesterday, I drove to Bloomfield, and flew the Remos G3 from Shawnee Field, and spent a couple hours talking to the dealer there. That was only the second sport plane I've flown, but it handled much more like a sport plane should, compared to the CT. And I got to add another grass strip to my list.

I managed to get myself up at 6 this morning, to get ready for the flight home. Yet again, I was looking to have near perfect weather. Instead of filing IFR for a nonstop back home, I opted for a little bit of airport-hopping. It doesn't really add much time to the total trip, and sometimes it is a lot more fun than just sitting in cruise flight the whole time.

This time, my tires managed to remain inflated for the entire takeoff, and I headed southeast toward Grissom Municipal Airport in Bedford, IN. It was still a quiet Indiana morning when I did the touch & go there, and turned east. Next stop was Madison, IN, 46 nautical miles away.

Normally when I do a bit of airport-hopping, I will try to cover as many as I can in that distance, but I was interested in keeping a relatively straight path, and not delay anything too long, since DC was back at home, waiting for me to report how it went. In good weather, there isn't a whole lot of challenge in many of these airports. Flat terrain with only the occasional obstacle, makes them easy to handle. Since most of my flying has been in the mountains, I do sometimes get a kick out of how flat it is.

Next airport was Fleming-Mason, in Flemingsburg, Kentucky. Here, and at my next stop in Ashland, KY, the terrain became a little hillier, and more wooded, but West Virginia is where it can always get interesting.

My first stop in WV was near the town of Milton, at Ona Airpark- a little strip just off the side of Interstate 64, and 10 miles east of Huntington. This one got interesting. Entering the pattern, I noticed how close the hills are to the runway. I was landing on runway 7, and that meant that on takeoff, I would have to quickly get airborne and hang a right turn, or I might only clear the hill by a couple hundred feet. Loaded down on a hot summer day, that would prove even more interesting. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of room, so I came in just over the trees, executed a touch & go, then gained altitude as quickly as possible before the terrain in front of me.

I still had plenty of fuel, but I wanted a little bit of a break to stretch, so I made my way another 30 miles to Charleston, WV (Charlie West, to the locals). This is a class C airport, which I knew would have fuel services even on a holiday. Any time I go into a C or B, I know to expect a little delay, but this time I was happily surprised. I was able to shoot straight over to a 3 mile final on runway 15, and taxi in with no delay at all. I had been there before a couple years ago, but only shooting an instrument approach. We never landed. And I had never had the perspective from final on 15, which takes you over some rough terrain, then a steep dropoff down to the interstate, and back uphill to the airport.

Only one more airport left before heading home, and I had chosen Summersville, WV. This one was perhaps the most scenic of all the airports I visited this weekend. I couldn't quite understand what the FBO operator said about the winds, so I entered a downwind for runway 4, and took a look. Basically calm, so I continued for that runway. The Google map doesn't show the airport. It is roughly center, just north of the lake. The photo on the map doesn't quite do it justice. The lake was a bit low today, so the terrain around seemed that much higher. Almost like fjords. Approach was right over the lake.

From there, it was a little under 100 miles back home. Up to this point, I'd had clear skies and a total lack of turbulence for the whole trip, but that changed. The last segment was nonstop moderate turbulence, with clouds slowly dropping lower, the farther east I flew. This, of course, was as terrain was rising. In some places, I had to drop to within 1,000 feet of the peaks. Much lower than that, and I would have filed for instruments.

Returning home was uneventful. The whole trip took 7.3 hours. It should have been more like 6.5, but with headwinds flying both directions, everything was slowed. I never once saw a tailwind. Headwinds were expected going west, but by the time I was coming back, the area of high pressure had settled in, and I was flying the south side of that. With a faster plane, I might have deviated a little north to catch the other side of that system, but in this case, it would only have added to the flight time.

At any rate, the roundtrip drive time would have been closer to 20 hours,and I get to add another new type of airplane to my list, and 8 new airports. So I'm happy.


At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you liked Summersville. Come back anytime.


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