Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Flying an aerial hitchhiker to West Virginia

Plane: Cessna 182 RG
Weather - MGY: Broken clouds, 67 degrees, wind 030 degrees at 6 knots
Weather - MGW: Clear, 63 degrees, wind calm

Mike sent me an IM this afternoon and asked if I wanted to fly to WV on an interesting mission. I forget the exact connection but Matthew Karsten, a.k.a. The Expert Vagabond, is a friend of a friend. He's in the midst of one heck of an adventure, hitchhiking his way across the country and writing about it on his impressive travel website. Matthew was in Columbus looking for a ride east today and Mike offered to do his part to help out.

So we met at Wright Brothers around 5:00 and were soon climbing out over the clouds, heading east towards Ohio State University Airport. There was a bit of a dual mission, as Mike needs to log some approaches under the hood to stay instrument current - hence me tagging along. We were on flight following with Columbus Approach and got cleared to fly the RNAV 9R into OSU.

Xenia, OH - which has been hit by three tornados since 1974!

London, OH and the Madison Correctional Institution

Crossing the Scioto River with downtown Columbus in the distance

Final for Runway 9R at KOSU

Bonus points to any airport with a public observation tower!

We met Matthew in the terminal and chatted for about 15 minutes while the line folks added 40 gallons of Avgas to the 182's fuel tanks. He had traveled to Columbus from Colorado by way of a big rig - roughly 1200 miles in one shot! This would be his second time in a small plane, and I think his very first in a four-seater.

He was really looking forward to the trip and asked a bunch of great questions about flight training and general aviation. Mike and I enjoyed the chat and continued answering questions and explaining things as we loaded into the airplane. After we were settled, Mike started the engine and got clearance to taxi back to Runway 9R for takeoff.

Hitchhiker and pilot prior to climbing into the airplane to fly to WV

OSU's campus is in between us and downtown Columbus in this shot

Mike pointing something out while climbing to 7,500 feet

Matthew seemed to be enjoying the view!

There were some scattered clouds that thinned out as we flew east

Passing directly over top of Zanesville, OH

Fracking = lots of chopped-off hilltops in the region

The winds aloft were light and we were making good time to Morgantown. Mike and I pointed out some of the neat things you can see from above in this part of the country - hills with flattened tops where they're drilling for natural gas, coal mines, all the coal-fired power plants along the Ohio River, and the rolling terrain. We also chatted about how much time you can save by flying in areas like this where there simply aren't many roads that cut straight across the landscape.

Maxing out at 213 MPH groundspeed on descent into MGW

Morgantown, WV

Matthew was still enjoying the heck out of the flight shortly before landing

Final for Runway 36 at Morgantown Municipal Airport

On the ground, we probably talked for another 30 minutes about Matthew's plans as he continues on his journey. He was going to stay the night in Morgantown and then continue east - first towards Washington, DC and ultimately up the east coast to Boston. He has a flight from Boston to Mexico in a few weeks and then he's going to spend three months living down there. It's certainly not a lifestyle for everyone but you can't deny it's one heck of a journey!

Mike and I actually flew to Morgantown a couple years ago on a Pilots N Paws flight. The FBO still has a great pilot lounge but we were sad to see the new management has apparently started charging a $15 landing fee for the privilege of using their chocks. Ouch! Although we enjoyed our meal at Ali Baba back in 2011 (it's still open) I don't think MGW is going to be such an easy sell as a $100 hamburger destination anymore.

The sun was getting low in the sky as we taxied for takeoff

Flying over West Virginia University's campus on our way home

The flight home was uneventful as the sun slowly got lower in the sky and eventually dipped below the horizon. Winds were still relatively calm and we maintained about 150 knots across the ground. The pattern at Wright Brothers was clear and the radio silent as we turned final for Runway 20. Mike touched down gently and we quickly washed the bugs off the plane and locked N757YG up in her hangar.

It was a fun little evening trip to WV and back. I enjoy tagging along like this sometimes since it affords me the opportunity to use my good camera in the air. Best of luck to Matthew as he continues his trek across the country - and beyond!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.2 hours (SIC)
Total Time: 280.8 hours


  1. For a second there, I thought maybe you flew the same hitchhiker I flew back in July. Clearly not, but it got me to wondering...just how many people are hitchhiking their way across the country these days?

    1. I can fault neither your logic nor your arithmetic.

  2. Pretty soon there will be a dedicated hitchhiker's lounge at all these FBOs. Just wait!

    Thanks again for the lift guys. :)