Friday, August 14, 2009

An overnight trip to Michigan

Plane: Cessna 150
Route: 40I-Y47
Weather: Scattered clouds, 82 degrees, wind 170 degrees at 7 knots

This post is about the first leg of our overnight journey. To read about Saturday's trip from Michigan to Put In Bay and back to Stewart, click here.

Gina and I had been planning to take a day trip via airplane to Put In Bay to meet up with some other members of the Great Lakes Pilots group. Then she found out some old friends of hers were having an engagement party on Friday night. Since she had to work until about 4:30 there was no way we could have made it (and then flown to Put In Bay the next morning) had we driven. A perfect opportunity to showcase the utility of General Aviation, I say!

Our route, just about due North up to the Detroit area

I arrived at the airport around 4:30 in time to load the plane (all 55 pounds of luggage and gear I can carry with both of us and full fuel in the 150) and complete all my preflight checks. The right brake didn't feel right so I had someone come out and look at it. He just added a little brake fluid and all was well. Once Gina had arrived and we both strapped in, I went over my last checks. Then I taxied down to the very end of Runway 26, pushed in the throttle, and held the brakes so the engine could spool up before I began my takeoff roll. We were off about halfway down the 3,000 foot runway and slowly climbed away. Between the density altitude and being just under gross, it took that little 150 a few minutes to show a respectable climb rate.

After turning on course North of Stewart, I continued my climb to 5,500 and contacted Dayton Approach for Flight Following. It's been too long since I talked to ATC (which I blame on a lack of really going anywhere) and I did a decent job with my first few calls. This trip was definitely worth it if for no other reason than I spent a lot of time on the radio and felt much more on my game by the time all was said and done. As we approached Dayton International, I spotted an AirTran jet climbing quickly away just before ATC called the traffic. They told me to turn 90 degrees right but then immediately gave me a "cleared to resume on course" once I said I had the traffic in sight.

Video of our departure from Stewart and arrival at New Hudson

The route we took was quite similar to the route I took for my long solo cross-country flight last fall. My first destination that day was Bowling Green, just south of Toledo. Tonight we flew slightly West of that course and passed right over top of Toledo Express Airport (TOL). From there I went direct Ann Arbor (ARB) before turning towards Oakland Southwest (Y47) to remain clear of Detroit's Class Bravo airspace.

While there was still a fair amount of haze obstructing visibility, it did subside a bit as we flew into Michigan. I'm not sure if it was due to different weather or the air cooling as sunset approached - probably a little bit of both. As we flew over Ann Arbor, I began my descent. Having grown up in the area (I lived about 15 miles north of Ann Arbor from age four until I moved to Ohio two years ago) I could tell exactly where we were, even though it was my first time flying in that specific location. Detroit Approach pointed out one final plane before they told me to Squawk VFR and I went over to the CTAF. I made one 360 while descending to get all the way down to pattern altitude before getting any closer to the field. It was funny how low 2,000 feet felt to me after being at 5,500 for two hours.

Even though I knew exactly where the airport should be, it took me a while to find it. The runway is buried in amongst trees that line all four sides so it's not the most visible thing from the air. I ended up seeing all the hangars first and then made a smooth 45 degree entry to a left downwind for Runway 26. The wind was calm and we had the pattern to ourselves, so I opted for the quickest way in. Since the runway is a tad short (when you factor in a 900' displaced threshold for Runway 26 - it's 1,300' when landing on 8) and narrow, I set up for a short field landing.

Once I turned from base to final, I brought in all 40 degrees of flaps and slowed to about 50 knots. Then I managed the throttle to stay on my glide path and aimed right for the numbers. I was able to set us down smoothly just a few feet from the threshold and applied light brakes to hit the next turnoff. From there, it was a quick taxi up to the tiedowns where we met Gina's parents. The airport is only about 10 minutes from their house so they drove over to pick us up. Gina's mom, upon sight of the plane, somewhat unnervingly yelled out "it looks like a mosquito!" which I'm sure Cessna will take note of and use in future marketing campaigns.

Spaciousness of the trusty 150 aside, the flight was great. I got in some much-needed time talking to ATC and brushed up on my navigation skills. It was also the first trip where I really put my Lowrance 600c GPS to use. I even discovered a neat Vertical Navigation feature that pops up a message when you need to begin descending to be at pattern altitude before reaching the airport. And it was awesome to realize the utility of GA while racking up some cross-country hours. What would have been a 4 hour drive (from Stewart up to New Hudson) took about 2:15 from engine start to securing the tiedowns. Not bad... especially for a mosquito.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 2.3 hours
Total Time: 118.0 hours


  1. "it looks like a mosquito!" I was cracking up! I still remember Mary's face the first time she looked in a school cessna 172....I'm glad she got past all that. Sounds like a great flight and GA provides a fun way to get there vs a boring drive with all the nuts on the road.

    Good deal on working with FF and all comes back really quickly.

  2. Yeah it was definitely a funny comment. I've forgotten exactly what she said but rest assured there were some other amusing comments too. Not that I don't understand, as a 150 does probably look surprisingly small to most non-pilots.

    It certainly was a good trip... it was nice to stretch my wings for a change!

  3. Two years into my flying career and I have yet to land up at New Hudson. Next time you are up this way give me a shout (msmithdesign at g-mail dot com). You can pick me up for a trip around the pattern at Y47 in your mosquito!

  4. I'll definitely let you know!
    We flew right past you (you're at YIP, right?) on the way in and out. Seeing as both our families live up there and it's where we grew up, I'm sure there will be many more trips up to the area in the future.