Saturday, August 30, 2014

DAY 3: ILLINOIS to NEBRASKA

DAY 3: Illinois to Nebraska

No hail!!  I had some nervous moments watching through the window, hoping not to see the tell-tale bounce of a hail stone.  Just down pour after down pour and thunder all around, but thankfully never right on top of us.  I took the liberty and risk of a lightning far off lightning strike and had my first shower of the trip.  As I was the only one at the airport, I stripped down and outside I went for just a brief moment. 

The night went well mostly.  No more storms, I could rest in relative peace as I slept inside the office on my sleeping pad.  Relative peace except for exceptionally loud crickets at 4:30 in the morning!  They are crazy.  I would yell at them and they would go silent for about 10 seconds.  And then they’d start right up again, and I’d yell, “What did I just say!!!”  To no avail.  They quieted a bit later after I dragged my sleeping gear into a different room and got a little more rest.

I wasn’t able to get right off the ground in the morning as there was very little visibility, so I did some other things and eventually got off the ground at around 10:00am.  It was an uneventful flight though I landed early because the airport I was planning to land at had huge thunderstorms in front of it.  I had hoped the airport was going to be in the middle of a gap in the stormy front, but things were moving more slowly to the north than I had hoped.  I quickly found an alternate, Lake Ozark, Missouri.  Storms all around within an hour and I was happily eating my lunch as it poured outside.  No hail!  There were thunderstorms all around so I relaxed a bit and then went for a bike ride to the lake as I had landed in the middle of a state park!  Good hills and good roads.  I found the lake went for another very fast swim as more storms were approaching.  There were a few others swimming and obviously paying no head to the thunder.  Two of the three were making out in the water and the third indicated he’d just smoked some good weed, said they were going to party tonight and then asked how big my dick was.  Back to the plane! 

This one reminded me of Cloud City in Star Wars. 


I got poured on as I stood under a tree with my bike hoping the lighting part of the storm wasn’t going to come right overhead.  It thankfully did not and I braved light rain as I climbed back up the steep hill to the airport.  I got the plane ready, changed my clothes, bought a quart of oil and was ready to leave before the next storms rolled in.  The two guys at the office, and the ones who refueled Freddy, asked me, “You okay?”  I said I was fine.  “You go for a bike ride?”  “Yeah, down to the lake and then back around past the airport.”  “Aren’t you tired?!”  with a tone to suggest, why would anyone get exercise, because then one is going to feel tired…  I chuckled and explained I had been sitting most of the day and had a bit more sitting to do.  They wished me well, and we said goodbye. 

Off I went leaving the storms behind, bound for Nebraska.  After an hour I was finally through the stationary front!  It seemed to have taken a whole day.  But then up at 8,500 feet I noticed the hinge rod to the cowling flap that covers part of the engine was starting to work itself out.  It had done this before and I had tried to prevent it by taping the end of the hinges.  This had worked for a few flights but it must have vibrated itself through the tape.  I did not want the whole rod to come out as then the cowling would have flapped in the 94 knot breeze maybe torn itself off, maybe damaged part of the tail as it flew off. 

So after watching it closely I determined it might be coming farther out, so I explained to the controller who was following me that I was diverting to land at the airport that was only a few miles away.  He asked me if I needed to declare an emergency, and I said no, but he nicely had me contact him after I was safely on the ground.  Very nice to have a controller ready to do anything it took to help me safely on the ground.



I landed in Kansas and was refueled by a nice guy named Rodrick, I belive it was, who may be reading this now.  He is a pilot and it was fun to discuss the joys of flying.  I asked him how he likes living in Lawrence, Kansas, and he said he loves it because of the sunsets and the people. 


Off again I went, fly around the heavy precipitation that looked like a wall of water, then headed into Nebraska toward the setting sun.  All was quiet, the air was calm, no other planes and a beautiful sunset.  I laughed out loud as I was flying along thinking of how much I love to fly.  The radios, the headsets, the dials and gauges, the sunsets, the moonrises, all the buttons and knobs, the exploration…
Sunset and the moon is up!
I landed at Superior, Nebraska and being that no one was at the airport and there was no automated weather broadcast over the radio, I did the old school: fly over the airport, look at the windsock, and land appropriately.  I saw the windsock indicating a breeze from the North, so I landed accordingly into the wind after first taking a spin around the small industrial town and checking out the football game which was undoubtedly the town activity.  Friday night lights!  As I came in on my final approach, I clicked the mic 7 times and the runway lights came to life as if I was landing the space shuttle.  I always loving turning on the lights like that.  It’s as if the airport is saying, “WE GOT ONE COMING IN, LET’S BE WELCOMING AND READY FOR HIM!”

Within a few seconds of engine shut down, I heard the cows in the distant.  Welcoming again.  I’ve checked out the little office.  Bathrooms, outlets, sink and table and couches.  Not a bad little spot for a beautiful sunset touchdown.  As I stand at my standing office with computer on the horizontal stabilizer, I see lighting far off in the distance.  No thunder so we may be alright.  I’ll have to check the forecast before I pick inside our out for sleeping tonight. 

Freddy’s all put to bed, tied down with an old climbing rope.  Now to try to get myself ready for bed.  I’m now within striking distance of Lander if tomorrow’s weather is decent.  Looking forward to being there but have been loving this voyage in the sky. 
Thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far.  Much happens in the course of a day in the sky.


There’s a pretty cool website that tracks flights, can send alerts, and show graphs of speed altitude.  For any interested it’s www.flightaware.com, they also have an app for iPhones/iPads.  On the lower left of the website is an orange box that says “LIVE FLIGHT TRACKER” and then “PRIVATE FLIGHT TRACKER”   Put in “N7202G” where it says “Flight/Tail#”  It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty awesome.  That’s enough out of me. 

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