Saturday, November 19, 2005

Day 18: Mississippi to Pennsylvania

And awake early I did. Spencer the security guard had to lock up at 5am so he got me up at 4:30. I had wanted an early morning so it worked out well. He had been in and out all through the night and I felt like I was on a ship running at night and it was time for my watch. So stuffed my sleeping bag, collected my flight back and backpack and headed out to the plane. I was very pleasantly surprised to find a high overcast cloud ceiling. It was clear and cold when I had gone to sleep before doing so I had noticed that there was a bit of frost building up on the Freddy's surfaces. Frost being very detrimental to smooth airflow, thus to lift, thus to my safety, I was happy to see the clouds had covered over - warming the air below them by not letting the earth's infrared radiation pass through. There were wet spots on the pavement where the water from the melted frost had dripped off Fred's wings. I was in luck.

I had my normal breakfast of a banana followed by grape-nuts, rehydrated dried milk and raisons in the usual position of standing under the starboard (right) wing, holding the door open. Breakfast completed, I got the cockpit in order, put the video camera back on it's tripod next to the my seat, put the still camera within easy reach, put my flight bag where the co-pilot seat was, and opened the side pocket to expose the items that I will have on my lap and others I need within easy reach: on my lap: the kneeboard which was switched to the right thigh, the cross-country navigation log, and the area's chart. Then within reach, the circular flight computer, the airport directory and pens and pencils. I preflighted the plane by headlight while just a touch of light was coming over the horizon. Ten minutes later, all the surfaces and connections checked, a bit of fuel drained from four spots was checked and put back into the tanks, and I was ready to go. I hopped up into my seat strapped in and started the engine. There was enough light to find a field to land in should I have to make a forced landing so I deemed ourselves ready to hit the skies. The runway was a little dark still so I turned on the taxi and runway lights by clicking the microphone switch 7 times. The white, blue, green and red lights come on like magic. Turned on all the lights in the cockpit, including the red one that lights up all the instruments and we taxied to the runway, ran-up the engine and took off into the morning twilight. Fantastic it was, my favorite lift off. There was still a bit of cloud cover, but there was a great red band stretching horizontally across the horizon.

Headed west first to see Alabama for the first time and then turned north to land in Sparta, Tennessee. Gas and go is the phrase, so I gassed and went. Over Kentucky and then was heading into West Virginia when I found myself over endless tall hills that had no flat areas around them. I could see the Appalachian mountains far to the east and I was over the foothills of those mountains. But a quick look around revealed no spots to land, should an engine decide to stop working and it would be as unforgiving a landing as one in the mountains. So I altered course to the north to get me back to the farm lands and into Ohio. I landed in Gallipolis, Ohio and then took off for the third leg of the day and eventually landed in Indiana, Pennsylvania at the Jimmy Stewart Airport. The Stewarts lived there and Jimmy evidently was quite a pilot as well as an actor.


I was extremely well taken care off by the airport folks there, Boyd and his wife Joanne. (They are now reading these emails - Hi Boyd) They gave me food, the pilot's lounge to sleep in, even a hat that had the airport's name on it. We chatted for a while, they left and I planned the last day of flying home.

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