Sunday, September 14, 2014

Solo flight to Michigan for a family visit

Plane: Cessna 172 
Route: 40I-OZW
Weather - 40I: Scattered clouds, 64 degrees, wind 090 degrees at 4 knots
Weather - OZW: Broken clouds, 60 degrees, wind 220 degrees at 8 knots

I needed to head up to Michigan to see my dad this afternoon. I drove up last week and wanted to save some time; the weather was also much more conducive to flying today. So, with the plane reserved for about 48 hours, I hopped in the 172 after lunch and pointed the nose north.

Highlights from tonight's slightly-less-than-two-hour flight (lots of ATC)

Columbus Approach quickly issued me a squawk code when I called for flight following abeam Wright Brothers. They turned me about 10 degrees right to stay clear of the arrivals/departures at DAY but the frequency was relatively calm; most calls were planes from the local drop zones announcing "jumpers away." Eventually I got cut loose at the end of their airspace near Lima.

North of Lima, I called Toledo Approach. They were able to get me into the system so I'd have flight following the rest of the way. That frequency was also pretty quiet, save for a few guys hugging Lake Erie's south shoreline on the way to Put-in-Bay.

Sometimes navigation's too easy; I followed this road for about 50 miles

Eventually I got handed off to Detroit Approach, which moved me about a mile west near Tecumseh to avoid a jump zone. Other than that, it was bumpy sailing the remainder of the way to Howell. A couple other planes were in the pattern but left the area before I entered. I crossed midfield to enter a left downwind for Runway 13. The wind was steady at 8-10 knots, a direct right crosswind that I negotiated on short final. Landing intentionally long to shorten my taxi to the fuel pad, I touched down pretty softly on the right main after a slight initial balloon.

I have to note that it was seriously bumpy. For the entire flight. Not enough to make me nauseous or anything (though I was glad to be flying solo) but the bumps never let up. I was constantly on the controls trying to maintain a semblance of the correct altitude and heading. Climbing to get above the bumps wasn't a great option since the cloud deck was broken (I'd have had to go to 7,500 feet to be high enough above the clouds - and find a hole to descend through in Michigan) and then I'd also be trading calm winds aloft for a headwind. On the flip side, visibility was spectacular - I spotted Detroit and Columbus from >60 miles away!

OZW has a beautiful new terminal (and intimidating ramp decorations)

The drive is between three and half and four hours; today's flight was a bit under two hours. Of course, I spent some time taxiing, running checklists, and filling up the tanks at the self-serve 100LL pump (with a $0.20/gal discount on weekends!) after I landed. However, the view was certainly a hell of a lot better and that qualifies as an unquestioned success in my book.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 2.2 hours
Total Time: 314.5 hours


  1. Time to spare....go by air! Awesome visibility in those shots, Nothing worse than getting beat up for an entire flight......but at least you added to the log book and even with the Bumps it beats the heck out of driving.

    1. Yep, it still saved a few minutes and the views were indeed awesome. With how little I've been flying this year, I'm certainly savoring every opportunity to put the pen the logbook!