Monday, August 23, 2010

Panama City to Brenham, TX

The wind and clouds were against us as we departed Panama City bound for Boerne Stage airfield outside of San Antonio. We made it out of the new Panama City International airport just before a black wall of rain and gust front shut down the airport. Then President Obama was going to create a 30nm TFR for the rest of the afternoon, so it was get out of Dodge fast. We picked up flight following to help us through the complicated military airspaces, and continued climbing as necessary to avoid the low level shears created by the developing cunimbs. But the cloud scenery was spectacular, and we had ample windows in the clouds to descend through if necessary. With XM weather on board we could always see around the next corner of the clouds, even though we couldn't.

Dennis did most of the flying, and we shared communications responsibilities depending on the circumstances. I handled the Garmin 496 and XM weather duties, since I was familiar with the 496. The normal route for me was along the Gulf Coast, but the majority of bad weather was there this time around, so we flew about 20 miles inland, around the towering clouds.

Dennis wasn't sure which navigation instrument to settle on, so we tried out my 496, mounted temporarily atop the panel with the car beanbag mount, and a piece of foam wedged over the top to prevent it getting frisky in rough air. As I said, we were against the wind, so we were running hard at 5500rpm to make the best speed possible. You can see in this photo that we are at 10,500', with an indicated 103kts, which is about 120kts true. Ground speed on the gps is 111kts.

Then we made it into Texas and better conditions. But we had burned too much fuel running at 5500rpm to make Boerne in one leg, and picked Brenham, TX (11R) as a fuel stop. They have a cool soda shop on the airport which makes great burgers and milkshakes with 50's clad waitresses, so it was a perfect stop.
581nm in 5.6 hours; burned 26 gallons for 4.6gph and averaged 104kts.

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