Weather - AZO: Partly cloudy, light rain, 81 degrees, wind 080 degrees at 7 knots
Weather - 40I: Mostly cloudy, 82 degrees, wind 030 degrees at 8 knots
Gina and I spent a great night in Kalamazoo - we stayed with my sister and went out to some old haunts for a few drinks with her and her boyfriend. As I mentioned at the end of the post about yesterday's flight, we each spent four years in Kzoo while attending Western Michigan University (Go Broncos!) and love the city. It was great to crash for a night at my sister's after a night on the town - all while having avoided trying to fly home while dodging bad weather. That was last night, however, and we did still have to get ourselves and the airplane home.
Kalamazoo (AZO) to Waynesville (40I) - click the YouTube logo to view in full HD
It took a while for the low overcast that formed overnight to clear and it was about 3:30 in the afternoon before we left for the airport. Some storms had popped up on radar along our route but it looked like we'd be able to fly around them. My mom and her fiancé happened to be driving in to Kalamazoo for the annual Blues Festival and they met us at the airport for a brief hello. We all chatted as Gina and I loaded the plane and then said our goodbyes and got the engine started.
This beautiful Cessna 170 was parked next to us on the GA ramp
I taxied over to the self-serve pumps owned by the Kalamazoo Pilots Association and topped off the tanks. Even though I'm reimbursed for the cost of fuel, I can't justify $5.50/gal from Duncan Aviation when I can fill it myself for $4.00/gal! I added 21.6 gallons, not bad considering we had logged 2.7 hours on our flight from Oshkosh yesterday afternoon. It started to rain as I was adding fuel but it was just a light passing shower. Everything secure and ready to go, I called Clearance Delivery to request VFR Advisories and the controller then cleared me to taxi to the runway.
We took off on Runway 5 and were cleared on course as soon as I was handed over to the departure controller. He asked me to turn back east briefly for traffic and then we were cleared back on course for good. I climbed to 3,500 feet and we enjoyed a slight tailwind as we passed below the scattered clouds. Visibility was good and we passed through a light rain shower and were treated to a rainbow somewhere near the Michigan/Indiana state line.
Kalamazoo's new airline terminal
Our first rainbow of the day, over top of US-12
Fort Wayne Approach advised us of moderate precipitation they were picking up on radar when we were north of town. I could see the dark cloud but I could also see straight through it, so it was obvious little rain was falling to the ground. We flew right under the cloud and the ride was smooth with only about two minutes of light rain. I called the controller on the other side and gave him a PIREP noting the lack of any significant precip.
Approaching a cloud that was light to moderate on FWA Approach's radar
Another view of the dark cloud right before flying underneath it
We saw this angelic-looking cloud after flying clear of the light precip
Looking over I-469 towards Fort Wayne
As we passed by Fort Wayne, we could see a much more menacing cell ahead near Decatur, IN that the controller had advised was moderate to heavy on radar. The rain shaft was clearly extending all the way to the ground so I knew we would be flying around it. The controller said we would be able to divert to either direction and remain clear but I elected to fly west since that was upwind of the storm. It was a slightly longer diversion but I thought it made more sense to have the storm moving away from us than to be trying to get out of its way in time.
Construction on the US-24 realignment east of Fort Wayne
US-30 and the original Lincoln Highway - we drive this from Dayton to Kalamazoo
This moderate to heavy cell was just south of Decatur, IN
Passing the heavy rain and about to turn back on course
Once I had navigated clear of that cell our ride was clear and smooth until we approached Dayton. Visibility was at least 10 miles and the haze was not a factor. There's not much scenery except endless farms during that stretch but the tailwind had increased and the miles quickly ticked off the imaginary odometer.
Dayton Approach had us fly west of the airport (our original route took us about three miles west of the main runway) to remain clear of the departure corridor. Usually they can clear us over the top but I couldn't climb higher than 3,500 feet due to the clouds. No harm though, as the vector took us close to our friends' house and I was able to snap some aerial photos for them.
Phillipsburg Airport (3I7) is about 8 miles due west of Dayton Int'l
The sky was becoming darker in front of us and the haze was increasing. Visibility was probably in the 7-10 mile range, even though every AWOS was still reporting 10+ miles on the ground. Approach cleared us to turn back on course direct Stewart when we were four miles from the dark clouds (a moderate to heavy cell on their radar) so I was able to avoid the weather without any issues.
Flying over the large tower farm on the east side of Dayton
I checked the AWOS at Wright Brothers as we passed over I-75, the Dayton Mall, and our neighborhood. The winds were from the north, so I planned on landing Runway 26 at Stewart to put the wind on my nose on the base leg. We could see another sizable cell out over Caesar Creek Lake, with the rain extending all the way to the ground, as we approached the airport.
I crossed midfield and saw the windsock was clearly indicating a wind from the east. Not terribly surprising, given all the localized weather we were flying around. I simply turned crosswind over the end of the runway and positioned us on a left downwind for landing on Runway 8.
While the winds on the ground were from the east, the winds aloft were definitely out of the north. The tailwind on my base leg left us well off the centerline on final. I made a gentle bank and corrected our position so that we were back on centerline by short final. I also found us quite high but was able to put in all 40 degrees of flaps and bring us down. Being so familiar with Stewart, I knew I could do both without any unsafe maneuvering or a go around. Plus, landing long has its advantages since it shortens the taxi to the 172's tiedown. I floated briefly and then held the nose off as the mains touched for a very soft touchdown... finally back home on the grass after an eight day flying adventure!
Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 2.0 hours
Total Time: 170.1 hours