Thursday, June 30, 2011

Florida to Nevada

Steve Chase and I left Melbourne, FL to deliver a Phoenix to Dave in Minden. Our first day took us to Wilbarger airport in Texas, after 9 hours, covering 1057nm.
Day 2 brought strong winds against the nose, and turbulent unstable air with strong lift. After fighting the air for a few hours, we gave up and toured Monument Valley down low. A strong thermal presented itself, so we shut down the engine, climbed to 16 grand, and began a run towards Lake Powell.

A beautiful cloud street ran all the way to Page, AZ, so we dolphin flew under the street, only needing 3 thermals between Monument Valley and Page, even though the wind was 20-25kts on the nose.

Looking back the way we had come, the beauty of Lake Powell late in the day was awesome. Day 2 only saw 696nm after a 7.8hr flight.

Day 3 took us into Minden after 430nm in 3.8 hrs.

Total distance for the trip was 2183nm, in 19.6 hours for an average speed of 111kts. Not too shabby on an east to west flight.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Last Leg: Panama City to Melbourne

Huge cells popped up all around us, going to over 40,000'. But our courseline stayed pretty clear. It was a beautiful flight in smooth air at 9,500'

Orlando let us fly right over the airport on the way home, which was a good thing because no other route was open to us.

Not counting demo flights, the total mileage was 3526nm. Total time, 32.6 hours. Average speed 108kts. Not too shabby for a round trip flight to Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas from homebase, Melbourne, Florida.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mom and Dad in Panama City

We spent 2 nights and one full day in Panama City with my folks. They live on the St. Andrews Bay with easy boat access into the Gulf. Mom and I shared some family time on the swing.

Dad took Bruce and I out on his Pearson 36. Sailing conditions were perfect.

Cranking along on a beam reach in the Pearson.

Dad's collection of boats.

Boerne to Houston to Panama City, FL

Bruce and I left Boerne the next morning bound for Houston. I flew with Robin (owner of Strikemaster jets, Pipers, Cessnas, and sports cars). He loved the Phoenix, but being a real wheeler dealer he either wants to swap a Stemme S-10 or an Aston Martin Vantage for the Phoenix. I'm trying to justify the Aston Martin to my wife.
Then it was onward to Panama City, Florida, and views of endless cloudstreets coming off the Gulf of Mexico.

Cruising at 9,500' we picked up a 17kt tailwind.

We made the next to last leg of the trip in 4.3 hours over 525nm. Not bad!

Longhollow Ranch to Boerne Stage

We left Lee and Bev headed for San Angelo and the next waiting pilot wanting to see the Phoenix. Unfortunately, the wind was still howling and we had almost a complete cloud cover. So a text message was sent to San Angelo and we veered to the next stop, Boerne Stage Airport just north of San Antonio. It was starting to get warm again so the sunshades came out to shelter us from the direct sun. These little beauties cut about 50% of the heat off of us, and only cost $4 at WalMart.

Typical cruise speeds of 102kts indicated, 119kts true, at 5000rpm, burning 4gph on the way to Boerne.

After landing at Boerne, it was once again my pleasure to go up with the world's friendliest flight instructor, Dave White.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Moriarty to Longhollow Ranch

Mark Mocho left his hangar door open and keys for his truck when we arrived in Moriarty. The next day Bruce checked out Bob Carlton's TST Bonus Jet. Bob took me up for an hour soaring flight in the jet powered glider, my first in this type! The jet engine is very automatic and easy for the pilot to control, probably easier than other piston powered self-launchers. Plus it is very cool!

Then we left Moriarty for Lee Clauser's Longhollow Ranch, south of Dallas. Lee has a beautiful property, airstrip, hangar, and workshop. All he needs is a plane like the Phoenix!

Once again it was blowing like stink so we couldn't risk more take-offs or landings so unfortunately Lee did not get a flight in the Phoenix. He did take us on a fantastic tour of the surrounding countryside. Here is a shot of Longhollow Ranch from a distance.

Wild turkey in the wild flowers (Indian Blanket) of Texas.

This was my second visit with Lee and Bev, and they are the epitome of Texas hospitality.

Salida to Moriarty, NM

After the soaring flight with Jim Shepard, Bruce and I climbed out over the Salida airport to 12,000' and headed south along the Sangre de Cristo range.

Great Sand Dunes National Monument outside of Alamosa, CO.

Approaching New Mexico with volcanoes out in the valley.

Santa Fe ski area just off the wingtip.


Jim Shepard hoste us in our own mountain cabin for 3 days during a snowstorm. (Well, I am a Florida boy now, so I can call it that - but known to locals as flurries - just enough to keep us grounded in this beautiful place). Jim's daughter Chelsea celebrated a birthday to everyone's delight.

We took a couple of hikes up into the canyon behind our cabin. It was great to be hiking in the mountains again.

It finally cleared enough for a flight with Jim, and we were even rewarded with some soaring conditions.

Looking north up the Collegiate Range - Mt. Princeton, Yale, and Harvard.

After a little over an hour we headed back to another landing in 30kt winds. I praise the steerable tailwheel of the Phoenix every time I pull one of these landings off.

Denver to Salida

Bruce Vogel and I launched out of Erie, CO in less than ideal conditions. Low clouds, rain, and snow in the high country. The XM Weather on the Garmin 496 took a long time to come up, and we decided that this was an imperative piece of equipment and would scrub the launch if it didn't download. But it did, so we were off. The conditions forced us around the east side of the DIA Class B, and then we met the mountains just north of Colorado Springs.

Bruce is a high time flight instructor, airline pilot, ATP with type ratings. Looking at the TL Elektronic Integra display gave him confidence that we could manage through the mountains in poor conditions in safety.

We navigated through the lower mountains between Colorado Springs and Salida, always taking the route shown on the 496 to avoid precip bands.

The route ahead did not look good, but the 496 kept showing a clear path between snow bands, so we continued. The dirt roads below looked perfect for a landing if the weather trapped us.

After squeaking through a low pass in the mountains into the Salida valley, Bruce and I were all smiles. It was gusting to 30kts with about a 30 degree crosswind at Salida. The first approach showed increasing crosswind so we went around for a second attempt. With Bruce calling out crosswind angles of 30, 20, 10, we touched down and taxied slowly to the ramp. We put the Phoenix in Jim Zeiset's hangar, the airport manager gave us a courtesy car, and we headed to Bonanza to meet with Jim Shepard.