Sunday, April 15, 2012

Flight from Winter Haven, FL to Huntingburg, IN

Lambada at sunrise.

Loaded up for the flight to IN. There isn't much spare room in a Lambada and the area behind the seats was filled with a few parts flying with the plane to its new home. Jeff took my sleeping bag with him to VA so I was able to fit the rest of my stuff in the passenger seat. I've got to work on this minimalist thing...

Departing Winter Haven I make one climbing circle for a view of the airfield and surrounding area that was my home for a few nights.

Flying north over central Florida there are long stretches of little more than forest and swamp. There were fields within the Lambada's gliding range however it would still be a long, long walk out. It was a balance between moderate headwinds higher and enough altitude to safely cross these remote areas.

Cruising on course. Low clouds in the distance had me checking AWOS further along the route and hoping that the forecast clearing would occur as expected. Northern FL and southern GA was still IFR with low clouds and visibility.

Cruising on top. Beautiful, but looks worse than it really is. In the distance there were openings to let back down through and I knew daytime heating would shortly break up this low layer. The tanks were mostly full giving me many hours if needed. Approaching Gainesville, FL I diverted over to Keystone, FL (42J) for a quick stop. Eating a breakfast bar on the ramp I could see the sky had changed. The air had warmed, and once back in the air these clouds were gone.

I topped off the tanks at Waycross, GA (AYS). For the duration of Sun-n-Fun the airport offers free barbecue sandwiches or hot dogs, chips and a drink to transitioning aircraft.

Navigating with the Garmin 496 makes cross-country flight so easy. It provides airspace and airport information along the route and almost eliminates the need for paper maps. It is always a good idea to follow along with a map too. Here, my course passes over power lines that can be seen running NW-SE in the background of this image.

Above or below? Down low there was less headwind, but it was warm, hazy and a little bumpy. Above, smooth and cool but a 10 kt headwind. I chose above for most of the flight. This kept me over airspace and traffic and the smooth clear air made the fight much more comfortable.

Originally, I had planned on leaving Florida on Saturday. An extra day at Sun-n-Fun was nice and there was a low pressure system, the back edge of which is seen here, had showers and thunderstorms all along the route. Sunday, much better!

A couple times the cumulus cloud tops were higher than my 8,500 foot cruise and 10,500 might not have been enough either so I dipped below. The same up and down that is an annoyance to power pilots is what gives life to sailplanes enabling them to stay up all afternoon and cover hundreds of miles. I circled as this ASK-21 was towed aloft behind a Pawnee out of Monroe Ga (D73)

Watching the scenery pass is something that I will never grow tired of. Lake Sidney Lanier NE of Atlanta with its blue waters and fractal shoreline busy with boaters on a Sunday afternoon.

Just before a brief stop at Mark Anton (2A0), Chickamauga Lake near Chattanooga, TN reflects the afternoon sun.

An hour later I cross the Ohio River just 20 miles south of my destination. Several barges are visible moving up and down the river.

Descending towards Huntingburg, IN the late afternoon sun, clouds and haze create one of those memorable moments at the end of my flight.

Huntingburg, IN (HNB)

Mission accomplished! Joe Kulbeth the Lambada dealer for the US ready to put 871LP into the hanger. From here this plane will head to the west coast to be sold.

Thank you Jeff for suggesting that I could ferry this plane, Larry Stahl for the flight down to FL, Both Joe Kulbeth and Laren Pitcairn (the owner) for trusting me with this beautiful bird, and Bob Bennett for time off from work with zero notice. (Actually it was more like -3 hours notice. "Anyone seen George tonight?")
Laren, good luck with your new Stemme!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sun-n-Fun 2012

It's Friday morning and I'm in Lakeland FL attending the annual EAA Sun-n-Fun convention. This was totally unexpected as just 48 hours I had no plans on being here! We had arrived Thursday afternoon after a flight from Petersburg WV in a Cessna 172 XP. Originally the plan was to get a ride over to Sun-n-Fun for camping on the air show grounds but it was getting late and the sun was already close the the horizon. Jeff and I set up camp at Winter Haven along with 3 other tents. There were bathroom and shower facilities for campers as well as picnic tables and a fire pit. By Friday morning we decided that simply staying at Winter Haven and riding the $5 shuttle back and forth was the best plan. First stop was in the Ultralight area. The powered parachutes had already landed after their early morning calm air flights and the heavier ultralight and LSA aircraft were in the air. I believe this is an Eagle, designed in the mid 70's.
Just Aircraft - Highlander. 110 mph cruise, 300 ft ground roll takeoff and landing with 100 hp Rotax 912S
Airplanes, CAP and Mennonite(?)
Shades are a must when watching air shows...
Rotax 912iS Fuel injected 100HP. A digital control unit manages fuel flow from start to finish resulting in a 21% decrease in fuel usage.
Display for 912iS.
Savannah S - Rotax 912S. Cruise 111 mph, stall 30 mph, 1200 fpm climb.
Jeff trying on for size...
Space and weight limitations limited me to carrying my general use Sigma 17-70. For air shows a little more reach is desirable.
Maybe all my dog of a 150 needs is a few more propeller blades...
Transitioning from hover to forward flight.
Vought F4U Corsair
L39 and Mig 15 in formation.
On friday night when returning from dinner we were greeted by a campfire, Smores and flying talk
The winds had already picked up on Saturday as we left in the shuttle from Winter Haven for Lakeland. Turning out of the airport I caught a momentary view of the tent in the distance and noticed it didn't look quite right. Returning, we found one of fiberglass poles had snapped allowing the tent to collapse in the wind. It's good we went back to check because a line of showers passed through later in the afternoon bringing 40+ mph winds and a brief shower. Our stuff would have been soaked.
Again on Saturday the Thunderbirds flew. Loud and fast. I'm always amazed as how quickly fighter jets go from takeoff to blasting across the sky at unreal speeds.
Thank you to our shuttle driver Tracy for the lift back and forth to the show and also with the help when the tent collapsed!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Flight to Florida

Finally, an opportunity to add a post to the SoarCNY blog! Wednesday morning just as I was falling asleep after a long night at work, my phone beeped with an incoming text message. I had forgotten to turn down the volume as I usually do each morning. It was odd that a message would come at that hour so I got out of bed to check it out. It was from my friend and flying buddy Jeff who had moved to Virginia last fall asking if I was interested if ferrying a UTM Lambada motor-glider from Melborne Florida to Indiana.

For a change, it didn't take long for me to decide I wanted to do this. I wrote then called Jeff, got out of bed and started planning. Jeff was headed to Florida with Larry Stahl the manager of Petersburg, WV airport (W99) in a Cessna Hawk XP and there was room for me. Needless to say there was no sleep for me that morning. Between working out details of the non-flying transportation, packing for the trip which included a couple days camping at Sun-n-Fun, and flight planning for the Melborne - Hunterburg, IN flight I was busy right up to the point when my wife Sharon and I began the 8 hour drive to Petersburg.

En route I called the Fort Hill Hotel in Petersburg and confirmed that we were on the way. We wouldn't arrive until about midnight, but they made arrangements for our after office hours arrival. The room was very reasonably priced and clean. By the time I climbed into bed I had been up about 36 hours and fell asleep instantly, sleeping soundly until the alarm woke me at 6:30 and in time to meet Jeff and his son Warren for breakfast in town before heading to the airport.

N5323R was ready to go in the hangar at W99 and we loaded our luggage in the back and next to me in the back seat.

The winds were blowing about 20 kts on the ground as we departed and there was a "rotor cloud" stretching N-S and hovering just to the west of the airport. I was expecting some serious turbulence downwind of the hills and had my belt and shoulder straps clinched tight as we departed. Larry who has flown this area and towed gliders here for many years, turned the plane shortly after liftoff away from the promise of a wild ride in the vicinity of that rotor. We missed most of the bumps as we climbed SE into the cool clear morning air towards cruising altitude.

We did however benefit from the 50 kt winds blowing across the mountains. As we passed diagionaly through the "up" portions of wave downwind of the hills our climb rate soared. Look at the Rate of Climb indicator in the lower center of the instrument panels visible portion. It shows 2,000 feet per minute climb as we approach 8,500'! Of course, in the "down" areas of wave we barely climbed or even descended...

Larry Stahl

Jeff Shingleton

Leaving the Shenandoah Valley behind we pass the James River as it flows out of the hills towards the Chesapeake Bay.

Rockingham Speedway in NC

Waycross, GA. (AYS)
This is the place to stop on the way to or from Sun-n-Fun. For the entire run of the event the airport welcomes transitioning pilots with a choice of barbecue sandwiches or hot dogs, chips and soda or sweet tea. FREE!

From my position in the back it was difficult to see forward, but the view out the sides and back were just fine...

After a long day down low in the haze we reach our destination. Here we are downwind at Winter Haven.

At Winter Haven Airport with the line crew ready to tow 23R to its tie-down. Larry's son Alan was waiting for us when we arrived.

With the sun sinking low we discovered that the Winter Haven airport was set up for camping for pilots going to Sun-n-Fun. There were bathrooms and showers, a fire pit and a 5 dollar shuttle to Lakeland Linder Airport leaving and returning many times during the day. We decided that it was a better idea to set up right here at the airport than later in the dark at Sun-n-Fun. The airport staff was wonderful. We stayed 3 nights at Winter Haven.

In a few days I'll have photos from Sun-n-Fun and after that the flight to Indiana...