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!

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