Sunday, September 20, 2015

Flying friends and a scenic flight over WMU before returning home

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: AZO-40I
Weather - AZO: Clear, 68 degrees, wind light and variable
Weather - 40I: Scattered clouds, 72 degrees, wind 080 degrees at 7 knots

After a great weekend in Kalamazoo - awesome friends and hosts in Jeff and Cassie, Shawarma, Sweetwater's, Arcadia, Bell's, Maggie's (stew!) and a WMU football win at Waldo Stadium - it was time to head home. But first we wanted to thank said hosts by treating them to a view of town from above. We left their house around noon to head to the airport; Duncan aviation had 14L parked out on the ramp when we arrived. I settled the fuel/hangar bill and did my preflight then we all climbed on board.

Jeff has flown in a small plane before, a long time ago with his grandpa I believe, and was excited. Cassie was slightly apprehensive. Both, however, were up for flying and all four of us climbed into the 172. We left all our bags in their car for weight and balance reasons. After checking the ATIS, calling clearance, and then being cleared to taxi by ground, we were rolling along Runway 17 for takeoff around 1pm.

I flew over campus, pointing out the familiar buildings, then continued north over their neighborhood; both spotted their house down below. We continued west over US-131 and WMU's engineering campus, home to Elson S. Floyd Hall, before Cassie was ready to land. I called Kalamazoo Approach and was cleared directly back to the airport. We landed 15-20 minutes after takeoff and taxied back to Duncan.

Another great trip where flying cut over half the time off driving

We thanked them again for their wonderful hospitality all weekend, grabbed our bags from the car, said goodbye, and loaded the plane up for the return trip. Engine running again, I contacted clearance and asked if we could fly north to circle over campus for photos before turning on course for Ohio; the controller kindly cleared us as requested. Again we taxied to the north end of Runway 17, I did a runup, and tower cleared us for takeoff.

Looking east over WMU's campus towards downtown Kalamazoo

The Seelye Center, Waldo Stadium, and Haymes Field

West Campus, WMU's main campus, from the south

West Campus, WMU's main campus, from the west

Looking across West Campus towards Waldo Stadium and East Campus

Western Heights, WMU's new residence halls, are in the left-center

WMU's massive new Valley Dining Center under construction

Downtown Kalamazoo with Gull Road stretching to the NE

The epicenter of downtown Kalamazoo

WMU's new Medical School in downtown Kalamazoo

Photo detour complete, I pointed the plane south and told the controller we were ready to proceed on course. Originally I planned to cruise at 3,500 feet but it was quite bumpy so I leveled at 5,500 instead. Compared to the marginal conditions of less than 48 hours prior, this afternoon's weather was damn near perfect. Everything smoothed out and we cruised along in relative quiet save for an occasional call over the radio.

Kalamazoo - Battle Creek International Airport (AZO)

Gina apparently wasn't very interested in the awesome views today

The rather new highway alignment of US-24 NE of Fort Wayne, IN

US-30, the historic Lincoln Highway, and the wind farm along the OH/IN border

Enroute we were passed from Kalamazoo Approach to Fort Wayne Approach to Columbus Approach. Until relatively close to Dayton the skies were completely clear and visibility was superb. ATC called out one traffic advisory north of Fort Wayne that I eventually spotted, a small plane in the pattern at De Kalb County Airport.

Grand Lake and Lakefield Airport (CQA)

Dayton International Airport (DAY)

Downtown Dayton, the Great Miami River, and WPAFB / USAFM 

A broken cloud layer developed close to home but it was at 6,000 feet and I was at 5,500 - just within VFR cloud separation requirements. This was important at that point as ATC instructed us to hold altitude until we were past the arrival and departure corridor at DAY. Soon after passing the big airport, the controller had me descend to 3,000 feet.

We were cut loose - radar services terminated, squawk VFR - about when we crossed I-675, or roughly 10 miles north of Stewart. The jump plane was occasionally dropping meat missiles and the Champ was in the pattern; I sequenced in amidst the usual controlled chaos. It was windy but right down the runway and I landed gently on Runway 08.

Total flight time, including circling for photos - two hours. Definitely beats the drive.

Skyhawks that smell like Sweetwater's are pretty sweet, too.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 2.8 hours
Total Time: 341.5 hours


  1. Nice!

    Greats shots of town! I'd heard that the former Upjohn/Pharmacia/Pfizer Building 267 now houses the WMU Medical School. At one point, I was supposed to move my lab to that building, but then Pfizer found an easier way to manage its R&D assets in town. That was a lifetime ago.

    Looks like some construction between the Dunan ramp and Rwy 5. Do you know what's going on?

    1. I'm starting to see why you lug your DSLR around everywhere... :)

      Yep, the old pick-a-pharmaceutical-company building is now home to the Med School. Haven't set foot in it yet but the photos of the renovations are impressive.

      Not completely sure about the ramp, though I think it's just some concrete replacement work on the taxiways and runways (5/23 and 9/27 are also closed).

    2. I imagine that the renovations would have to be impressive. The place was pretty drab in the days in remember.

  2. Great pics, as always! Nice to be able to fly to/from a game AND spend time with friends.

    1. Thanks! It's definitely a great way to get up to Kzoo - just under two hours versus over four by car. We've tried to fly once or twice over the past couple years but the weather didn't cooperate so it was nice that it finally worked out again.