The forecast was for 9000 ft thermals in the Agulia valley where we were flying out of Samply airport, a small grass strip West of Phoenix about 75 miles. The famous Tony Smolder ask if any one wanted to fly to the Grand Canyon. Of course I did and 2 others also wanted to try it, Robert and Eric.
Tony led the flight and waited till we all got to 8000 over the valley. We then we headed toward the Bradshaw Mt's. and Prescott . We got to 12000 working lift over the Bradshaw's and easily glided over Prescott valley and on towards Mingus Mt.. At Mingus we climbed to 12 to 13000 ft. and then flew NE over the Cottonwood valley and toward Sedona where some clouds in the mountains formed a street towards Humphrey peak. We stopped for fuel up to 12 to 13 again and we would glide down to around 8000 and then search for lift . We all stayed together and used each others thermals . Tony somehow always found the good ones 8 to 900 FPM lift and was always ahead of us. We climbed under the clouds over the red rock formations at Sedona and then past Flagstaff to snow covered Humphrey peak where we had to stop because there were no clouds further towards the Canyon . Tony then called it off and said, this is what we call drag and drop and he left us there! ....
So I was a little worried about this . I was 125 miles from anything familiar and had the least XC air time of anyone in the group. I was at 14500 and wanted to make to 15 and turn the peak so I worked near the peak for a while wasting valuable time, till I hit 15000 then flew and turned directly over it and then aimed toward Sedona where Tony and Eric were , at least 30 miles away. I could not see anyone but they said there was lift where we found it on the way up..By the time I got there the lift was gone and so were they ..I was at 8500 and scratched back to 10 before I tried to cross the huge Cottonwood valley . Cottonwood airport is on the East side of Mingus Mt. in the valley so I knew I could land there. I made it to the East side of Mingus at 7500 which is about the same height as the Mountain . I scratched and scratched and called Robert on the radio and ask where he hit any lift around Mingus. He said under the small clouds to the South which did save my ass and got up to 9000 .
I only got to 9000 one more time and made back after a long time struggling late in the day with few weak thermals to work . I was happy to see the melon fields near Samply come into view....
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Neither Kate and her instructor or myself have been too happy with the acceleration and climb on our little Cessna, so a trip to the Sensenich propeller shop in Lancaster was needed.
Departing Marcellus in the morning we were headed towards MVFR or IFR weather that was forecast to improve within the next hour or two.
A short hop over some low clouds on the way to top off the tanks in Cortland. Skies below opened as we passed Homer and we easily descended for landing at Cortland.
With full tanks it was a slow climb to 4,500, then about 5,500 to avoid could tops as we passed through Binghamton's airspace to the VOR and V499 south. Smooth easy cruising above the clouds. Eventually we settled in at 6,500. A nice WNW breeze at altitude gave us a good wind correction angle and we cruised along at 90 mph over the high forests of northern PA.
About an hour and a half out it was time for a short break. A slight diversion from our route brought us to Bloomsburg PA nestled up against the Susquehanna River. With all of its meandering through the hills we pass over this river about 3 times as we head south.
Parked at Bloomsburg.
The downside to river front property...
At Sensenich hanger.
It was decided on the advice of the technician there, that our prop was due for an overhaul. After 23 years in service it had developed enough roughness that it needed to be profiled as well as re-pitched about 2".
Lancaster's terminal (side view).
Jeff and I had lunch at the Fiorintino's Resturant inside. The special was soup and crabcake sandwiches. It was good. While eating I watched a continuous stream of aircraft departing on RWY 31 directly in front of us. I noticed how they all seemed to climb so fast and strong and wondered how we were going to look in comparison...
The down side to airplanes...
Another fuel stop at Hazleton, PA.
With full fuel, again it was a slow climb. Fortunately, with 2 glider pilots onboard we knew what to do as we entered a thermal.
Pull up and circle!
Power plant along the Susquehanna.
Jeff and I
Back in NY we swung by Frozen Ocean where Jeff's Lambada is living while Skaneateles has its runway repaved.
The main runway has been closed for a few weeks, but the 3,000' grass cross strip remained open.