Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gary and Rob flew out to visit!

It took three tries (thanks to less-than-cooperative summer weather) but I finally met fellow bloggers Gary and Rob this afternoon! We tried to schedule a visit in May and were rained out; we then had the same problem in June. The stars finally aligned and they flew out together from Wilmington, DE (ILG) early this morning in Gary's Sundowner and landed at Wright Brothers around noon.

Landing on Runway 20 at Dayton Wright Brothers Airport

I had booked them some time at Stewart so they got their gear out of the plane and then immediately hopped in my car and drove to Waynesville. The 85 hp Cub and the Stearman were each reserved with an instructor for 1.5 hours so they could both get in some fun flying. Gary hopped in the Stearman first with CFI Joe and Rob went up in the Cub with CFI Dave. You may recall that Dave was my primary instructor and I have flown with Joe quite a bit as well. They're both awesome pilots and I knew Gary and Rob would have a good time with them.

Gary and Joe taking off in the Stearman - note the big grin on Gary's face!

Dave must have been explaining something to Rob as they taxied to the runway

I don't think the grin left his face the entire time he was in that seat!

Joe brought the Stearman right down the runway for a low pass - I was recording it on video using Rob's camera so I didn't snap any photos. You'll just have to take my word that it looked like it was way too much fun. Gary was still grinning after the ride ended and said he had an absolute blast. After everyone was back on the ground, Dave and Rob switched airplanes and took the Stearman up for about 20 minutes. Clearly they couldn't let Gary and Joe get away with all the fun, as they also made a sweet low pass - this time I took photos, one of which is below.

Dave and Rob, ready to take the PT-17 flying

Grass strip, vintage biplane, low pass - what more could you want?

We all chatted for a few minutes after the flying had ended. Both of them said they had a great time and I'm happy I was able to introduce them to the world of fun flying at Stewart. I also chatted with Dave briefly as he wants me to go up with him as a safety pilot sometime soon - that should be fun and I'm looking forward to it.

Since they had a somewhat tight schedule, we left the airport and I drove them to our house to pick up Gina. All four of us were hungry and we had a nice lunch at Milano's, just down the street from both our house and Wright Brothers. Thanks again for lunch, Gary! We finished up our food and then hopped back in the car for the short drive to the airport.

We said our goodbyes and then Gary and Rob were able to depart from Wright Brothers and avoid the weather. It had started raining just as we left Stewart and the rain continued until shortly before we finished lunch. They launched and headed north to avoid the rain and made it home safely. Their timing was perfect - less than 20 minutes after they took off, it started pouring at our house (we live a mile from Wright Brothers).

I'm really glad we all finally met each other in person. Frequent readers know one of my favorite things about this blog is all the great people it has brought me into contact with. Being able to meet up with fellow pilot bloggers is always a treat and today was no exception. Now I just need to fly east and say hello to Rob and Gary in their neck of the woods!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Oshkosh Video

I received an email request from Chris at Snap 180 Media to share this video on my blog. While I don't post everything on here that people ask me to, I think this is a pretty great-looking video from Oshkosh. This seemed like a fitting time to post it, what with Airventure underway and whatnot. Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2010 Summer Adventure - Recap

Now that the long flying adventure is in the books, it's time to reflect briefly on what it was like and what it all meant. Did we have an absolute blast? Heck yeah! Did I gain a bunch more flying experience? Indeed, no question about that. If you've missed any of the specific posts about the trip, check out the links below. Then scroll on down when you're ready for my final thoughts.

Trip Log
A comprehensive view of our track over the ground

One thing that I found beneficial about logging this many hours was how many times I had to refuel. Why is that, you ask? I was able to keep track of Hobbs time and gallons burned over an extended period for the first time in my flying career. We don't refuel the planes when landing at Stewart so I only compiled data for the first six legs, which I've posted below. I definitely enjoyed being able to see how altitude, power settings, and leaning the mixture affected my gallons per hour. I always flight plan for 9.0 gal/hr so it's nice to see that I'm leaving myself a small extra safety margin in real-world flying conditions.

Fuel Use
  • Leg 1 - 40I to JXN - 3,500 ft cruise - 16.2 gal / 1.8 hours = 9.0 gal/hr
  • Leg 2 - JXN to TVC - 4,500 ft cruise - 13.0 gal / 1.9 hours = 6.8 gal/hr
  • Leg 3 - TVC to 83D - 3,500 ft cruise - 7.5 gal / 0.9 hours = 8.3 gal/hr
  • Leg 4 - 83D to ESC - 4,500 ft cruise - 13.3 gal / 1.7 hours = 7.8 gal/hr
  • Leg 5 - ESC to OSH - 2,500 ft cruise - 13.2 gal / 1.6 hours = 8.3 gal/hr
  • Leg 6 - OSH to AZO - 3,500 ft cruise - 21.6 gal / 2.7 hours = 8.0 gal/hr
  • Overall Average - 84.8 gal / 10.6 hours = 8.0 gal/hr
People who have known me a while know that I tend to remember statistics. I didn't earn the nickname "Stat" at college basketball games for no reason. Often what I remember are things of the rather random variety, like much of what I'm going to list below.

Random Statistics
  • Hours Flown - 12.6
  • Landings - 7 full stop, 1 touch and go
  • Go Arounds - 1
  • PIC XC hours remaining to satisfy IR requirements - 2.1
  • Days grounded due to weather - 2
  • Diversions around weather - 3
  • Rental cars rented - 2
  • Minutes spent searching for lost rental car keys - 45
  • Most expensive 100LL - $4.61/gal (TVC)
  • Least expensive 100LL - $3.99/gal (AZO)
  • Total spent on 100LL - $365.27
  • Blue Angels watched - 6
  • Hours spent checking the weather on my cell phone in backwoods Michigan - many
  • (Authorized) flights through an active TFR - 2
  • Unique ATC facilities spoken to - 17
  • VFR flight plans filed and activated (and closed!) - 2
  • Great Lakes encircled - 1
  • Saab 340 FOs saying hi to us on UNICOM because they learned to fly at Stewart - 1
  • States added to my "I've flown there" list - 2
  • Other airplanes seen flying the Chicago VFR shoreline route - 0
  • $100 burgers eaten - 1
  • Bugs smashed - our fair share
  • Rain showers (nature's bug cleaner) flown through - 2
  • Towered airports landed at in my piloting career - 8
  • Number of towered airports added to that list on this trip - 5
  • Controllers who called me 2841L after I called in as 2814L - countless
Maybe it's just how my brain works but that pretty much sums up why I gained so much experience on this trip - and way more succinctly than I could have in paragraph form. Gina and I both had a great time and words can't describe some of the sights we saw; that's why I posted so many damn photos and videos. Flying over top of the Mackinac Bridge, landing at Oshkosh, passing by downtown Chicago eyes-level with the top of the Sears Tower... I could go on, but suffice it to say we saw and did some awesome things.

There's no doubt in my mind that this trip is one of those things I'm going to remember for the rest of my life. Regardless of what awesome flying adventures lie in our future, this has been and always will be our first really big trip. I'm glad our friends who are reading this enjoyed what I have posted as much as I enjoyed flying the trip, writing the posts, and editing the photos and videos. Sometimes this blog really is a labor of love and it really means a lot to me that so many of you take time out of your day to read a bit and say hello. Thanks again for sharing in this, our 2010 Summer Adventure!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Taking my sister's boyfriend up in the Cub

Plane: Cub, 85 hp
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Overcast, haze, 82 degrees, wind 250 degrees at 10 knots

My sister, who I took flying for the first time last year and then again with my dad on Father's Day weekend, came down to visit this weekend with her boyfriend. They spent Friday at Kings Island and then we all went to the Dayton Airshow yesterday. Gina and Lauren were going to spend a few hours this afternoon looking at bridesmaid's dresses so I figured Scott and I could find something more exciting to do. Not that there's anything wrong with wedding planning! :)

It was hot and humid this morning and some showers were moving through but the radar showed them beginning to dissipate. We hopped in the car to drive down to Stewart and I kept my hopes up that the weather would cooperate. The winds had picked up and were near the 10 knot maximum they allow for flying the taildraggers sans CFI, but it was straight down the runway and we were still ok to launch.

I ran through my preflight, which only took a few minutes even as I explained things to Scott - it is a Cub, after all. CFI Joe met us out there and we talked for a couple more minutes before climbing in. Joe gave us a prop and the 85 hp engine roared to life. I made sure the passenger was briefed and ready to fly, then taxied on to Runway 26 and we lifted off following a very short ground roll. Nothing like the big Cub coupled with a hefty headwind.

Unfortunately, it wasn't a great day for sightseeing. There were rain showers in most directions so I didn't venture more than 10 miles away from the airport. Visibility was also impaired by lots of haze - we still had 6 to 10 miles but I couldn't point out things like downtown Dayton or even Caesar Creek Lake. Scott definitely enjoyed the limited view, though, as I cruised at 2,000 feet around the local farmland. I took us down over top of the Wal-Mart on the north side of Lebanon and he was amused by how big it looks from the air.

We hadn't been up long but there wasn't much more to see. I also had forgotten our earplugs in the car so I figured it would be best to minimize my long-term hearing loss caused by flying a noisy old Cub with the door wide open. Coming in from the south, I followed US-42 up and entered the pattern on a 45 for landing Runway 26. The wind was still in line with the runway as I bounced slightly and then added a touch of power for a gentle touchdown.

Scott seemed to genuinely enjoy the flight and we took a walk around the field to look at a few more airplanes before driving home. It's always great to take someone new on their first GA flight. Maybe the next time him and my sister come down I'll take all four of us on a $100 burger run!

Today's Flight: 0.5 hours
Total Time: 170.6 hours

Friday, July 9, 2010

2010 Summer Adventure - Day 8

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: AZO-40I
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

Thursday, July 8, 2010

2010 Summer Adventure - Day 7 (Leg 2)

Plane: Cessna 172
Weather - OSH: Partly cloudy, 81 degrees, wind 300 degrees at 6 knots
Weather - UGN: Few clouds, 77 degrees, wind 110 degrees at 3 knots
Weather - AZO: Clear, 76 degrees, wind 310 degrees at 5 knots

I'll begin this post by warning you it's somewhat lengthy. This leg of the trip was absolutely incredible and I simply can't narrow down the photos any further. We saw so many great sights and I want to share as much as possible with you!

You may recall that my last post left off in Oshkosh, us having just arrived from Escanaba for a top-off and check of the weather. By the time we took a short break and I had spent some time on the computer checking out the weather it was already 6:30 pm Eastern time. Sunset at home is just past 9:00 pm and we had a solid 2.5 hour flight back. On top of that, the weather still wasn't great because the front had not yet moved through. I decided that we definitely would not be flying home tonight, so a new question arose...
where would we be going?

Part 1, Oshkosh (OSH) to Kalamazoo (AZO) - click the YouTube logo to view in full HD

I had called my sister as soon as I first checked the weather to see if she was at her apartment in Kalamazoo, MI. The front had pushed across Lake Michigan and we had a clear path around the lake to make it there. That also meant that we'd be able to fly the shoreline past downtown Chicago, something I had hoped to do on this trip. We also would avoid having to pay for a hotel for the night. Best of all, we would get to visit Kalamazoo - Gina and I graduated from Western Michigan University and are always excited to visit because we love the town. As you can see, this was about as many good things as a pilot can hope for in a diversion! I logged on to AOPA's Internet Flight Planner and figured out my route, then plotted it on my sectionals when we walked out to the plane.

Last-minute flight planning on the ground in Oshkosh

Highlighting the lines on the sectionals that will lead us to Kalamazoo

The plane had taken 13.2 gallons, good for an 8.3 gallon/hour fuel burn on the way down from Escanaba. We both climbed in and I ran through my checks and called Oshkosh Ground. It was a short taxi from Basler's ramp to Runway 27 and I held short briefly for a jet that had just landed. Tower cleared us for takeoff with a left turnout and I pushed in the throttle and said goodbye to Oshkosh. Gina took some great photos of the Airventure grounds as we climbed out. You could definitely see things beginning to take shape as they prepared for the week-long aviation celebration.

Passing over Camp Scholler and other Oshkosh landmarks

Preparations for Airventure were well under way

I contacted Milwaukee Approach as we flew over top of Fond du Lac for VFR Advisories. They gave us a squawk code and we continued south, passing over the Quad Graphics plant in Lomira that I visited on a trip when I was a college sophomore in 2005. We leveled at 5,500 feet but I don't think we remained there for more than 5-10 minutes before I had to descend down to 3,500 to get under the scattered clouds. There were some very tall and puffy cumulus out the window but none of them had any storms or precipitation falling out the bottom. Cruising direct towards Chicago at 3,500 would have put us in the way of Milwaukee's arrivals and departures so they vectored us around their airspace.

Quad Graphics' Lomira, WI plant - they have their own runway!

Flying between the big, puffy clouds at 5,500 feet

Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary - who knew you'd find this in Wisconsin?

The detour around Milwaukee lasted for a while - we flew 30 miles on our 190 degree vector until Approach had us turn back on course. Thanks to the joy of traveling as the crow flies, however, it added less than five total miles to the trip. Visibility was still good, easily at 15 miles or more, as I flew towards the shore of Lake Michigan.

One thing I wanted to do on this trip was add Illinois to my "states I've landed in" map. Although we had no real reason to stop there, I had decided early on in my planning that Waukegan (UGN) would be a perfect airport for this task. It was right on our course along the shoreline and wouldn't add more than a couple minutes to the flight.

I checked the ATIS and heard they were landing Runway 5, which would set us up nicely for a left base entry. Milwaukee cut us loose about this time and I contacted Waukegan Tower, 10 miles north inbound touch-and-go. They asked me to report a 2 mile left base and I acknowledged. Two other planes were in the pattern and they got in line behind us. Tower cleared us for the touch-and-go with a right turnout on course.

The landing was pretty good and I smoothly retracted the flaps while rolling along the concrete, added full power, and gently lifted off and turned back on course. I doubt the whole thing added even five minutes to this leg, but now I can officially say I've landed an airplane in Illinois. Yes, for the record, it's in the "just barely" category... but I'll take it!

Turning final at Waukegan Regional Airport (UGN)

Photo proof that I've piloted a plane on the ground in Illinois!
I climbed to 2,500 feet along the shoreline and prepared to call Chicago Approach for flight following. Suffice it to say I knew this was going to be a very busy chunk of airspace and that the controllers have a reputation of being less-than-forgiving at times. I've also heard that they often deny requests for VFR Advisories, but that didn't mean I wasn't going to ask!

I'll push aside any modesty and say that I'm quite proud of my radio work, especially on my initial call. Who you are, Where you are, What you want. I had all that ready in my head before I ever keyed the mic and I was as brief as possible. I have enough experience to know with total certainty that "sounding the part" definitely makes ATC more willing to work with you.

The controller responded back and she granted my request, gave us a squawk code, and went back to working lots and lots of traffic. We appeared to be the only plane flying VFR along the shore this evening but there was the usual flow in and out of O'Hare. At one point a United 747-400 passed directly overhead, surely headed to some far-off destination. The Chicago skyline slowly appeared out of the haze in front of us as we passed by the first shoreline checkpoint - Bahá'í Temple and Northwestern University.

Bahá'í House of Worship, north of Chicago - a checkpoint

Ryan Field, home of the Northwestern University football

United 747-400 departing O'Hare as we flew down the shoreline

Still level at 2,500 feet to remain below Chicago's Bravo airspace, we were handed off to another controller. He sounded a little more at ease than the first controller but the traffic load was similar so perhaps it was just a difference in personalities. Unlike the first controller, who was working O'Hare arrivals, this guy was working the traffic headed into and out of Midway. I heard numerous Southwest jets on the frequency as we made our way south towards downtown.

Part 2, Oshkosh (OSH) to Kalamazoo (AZO) - click the YouTube logo to view in full HD

The next stretch of the flight, which only lasted about 10 minutes, was simply spectacular. I've seen photos from other pilots that have flown the shoreline route past Chicago but doing it yourself is just an incredible experience. The buildings grew larger and larger until we were right beside them, looking eyes-level at the top of the Sears Tower. We crossed over the top of Navy Pier and past what should still be Meigs Field (don't get me started on that...) suspended in an entirely different world than the millions of people down below. Connections to my employer aside, I'm just going to stop writing here and just let you see for yourself because sometimes a picture absolutely is worth 1,000 words.

The Chicago skyline slowly begins appearing in the distance


Some folks were tubing on Lake Michigan

We were just about level with the top of the Sears Tower

Approaching the North Side

Lake Shore Drive and the Chicago Harbor

The new Trump Tower (left) and the Hancock Building (right)

Downtown and the mouth of the Chicago River

There was a concert going on in the pavilion in Millennium Park

Another view of the Chicago Harbor

Soldier Field, home of... Daaaaaa Bears!

Sadly, the spectacular view couldn't last forever...

I contacted the approach controller as we left the city behind and advised we would be climbing to 3,500 feet. At the same time, I confirmed with him that the Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over Gary was inactive. Earlier, during my flight planning in Oshkosh, I saw that a TFR for the Gary Airshow was in effect beginning today. While I was almost certain the show was over and the TFR had been deactivated for the day, I wanted to confirm with ATC since our route took us right through that airspace. Sure enough, it was no more and Chicago Approach coordinated our transition through Gary's Class Delta airspace.

Passing over the Chicago Skyway and Calumet River

The USAF Thunderbirds were on the ground in Gary for the airshow

Chicago canceled our flight following as we continued along the shoreline but the controller was kind enough to provide the frequency for South Bend Approach. I must say that the Chicago controllers (especially the second one) were incredibly helpful and I really appreciated their service. I had Gina dial in the frequency for South Bend and gave them a call. They gave us a new squawk code and we were radar contact for continued advisories all the way to Kalamazoo. I also asked them if they had anything on radar between us and the destination and they said our route was clear of weather.

We passed over some really scenic shoreline as I hugged the southern edge of Lake Michigan. Much of the land there is protected as part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. That's one thing I love about the eastern coast of Lake Michigan - all the sand dunes. Gina took some photos and I enjoyed the view as we passed over Michigan City and finally flew inland, leaving the lake behind.

A small portion of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Near Michigan City, IN - you can see the edge of the cold front on the horizon

Watching the sun begin to set over top of Lake Michigan

As we passed over Berrien Springs, I could tell that visibility was starting to reduce. I made a mental note of the airport we were flying over should we have to turn back and land. I also dialed in the AWOS at nearby airports to check the temperature/dew point spread. With the humidity I knew fog or clouds would eventually be forming but that appeared to be a few hours away and we were less than 20 minutes from our destination.

South Bend Approach handed us off to Kalamazoo Approach and I advised we were landing Kalamazoo - somehow that was lost in the handoff. It took a long time to spot the airport, even though I knew where it was in relation to some landmarks. I did live there for four years but I never flew GA during that time! I finally identified the airport by referencing two lakes and the large Pfizer manufacturing plant when we were probably eight miles out.

We were cleared to land Runway 35 when on an extended base, at least five miles from touchdown. My approach was very smooth and stabilized - a definite change from the usual pattern at Stewart but a great sight picture, especially with the rabbit (strobes) guiding us to the end of the runway. I brought the throttle to idle, flared, and gently let the mains of our trusty Skyhawk kiss the runway for a very smooth landing.

Final for Runway 35, Kalamazoo/Battle Creek Int'l Airport (AZO)

Ground gave us great, detailed instructions to taxi over to the GA parking. I enjoyed seeing the familiar airport from a new vantage point and noticed that the new airline terminal (only a plan on paper when I lived there) was well under construction. Gina texted my sister with instructions on where to pick us up and she drove her car over to meet us. Once I shut down, I attached my tiedown ropes and helped unload some of our things from the plane and then a lineman entered the key code so we could exit to the parking lot.

They're building a nice new airline terminal at AZO

This was the longest day of the trip in terms of flying hours (we flew 4.3 total) but it was also probably the most rewarding. I hesitate to say that because the views flying into Traverse City and over the Mackinac Bridge were something I'll never forget, but today was great all-around. I had to use plenty of Aeronautical Decision Making, both in the air and on the ground to deviate around and change our route/destination due to weather. I spent a lot of time talking to controllers and successfully navigated through some very busy and complex airspace. And to top all that off, Gina and I landed in Kalamazoo and got to go out to the bar and spend the night in the town where we first met nearly five years ago.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 2.7 hours
Total Time: 168.1 hours