A couple weeks ago, I went on a really long cross-country flight…
It all started with the need to be at the home office (Minneapolis) of the company for which I work. This just happened to be around the time that the Quickie Spring Fling Fly-In was scheduled in Decorah, IA. Finally, I was past due to visit my Mom in Missouri.
What is one to do in this situation??
Saddle up in your airplane and hit the friendly skies – what else?
So, on a Tuesday I took off with my airplane loaded to the brim with fuel, laptop computer, clothes, etc… and headed northeast.
Cross-country flight planning always involves a bit of luck. I can make Minneapolis with one fuel stop in my RV-3. IF!! If the winds AND my bladder cooperate. I’ve learned that I can’t count on either of them. So, I planned for two stops.
The flight across New Mexico and Texas was uneventful and as expected – a very light tail wind.
As I approached my first fuel stop, the winds REALLY picked up. I stayed down low and took advantage of them.
I stopped in Hugoton, TX (HQG) in a nice 25-30 knot breeze. After fueling and departing, I once again stayed low and flew with the wind. By this time, I was zipping right along at a nice 180-185 knot groundspeed.
This continued all the way to my second stop at York, NE (JYR). However; it had only been about 1.5 hours since my last stop. I really did not need to stop yet but did not have enough fuel to make my destination. Bummer. Had I known that the winds would be as forecast and helping me all the way, I would have most certainly made it a one stop trip. No chance of that now.
Any cross-country flight across the Midwest is interesting due to weather. However; the scenery… please do not be offended… is not so great. I cannot imagine spending ALL of my flying time in this area. The terrain is flat and divided into squares and circles – not much else. It makes for pretty boring photos. This makes me very happy to live where the flying is so spectacular!
I stopped at York, NE where the winds were once again “significant”. I don’t recall what the wind was exactly but gusting over thirty knots for sure. To make it worse, it was 96 degrees on the ground! Wow! Apparently the high temperature a few days prior was near freezing – what a turn around!!
The departure was interesting. Density altitude due to the high temperature was not even as high as my home airport elevation so no worries there. BUT… the heat!! Wow, my little RV-3 did great. I climbed a thousand feet or so and the cylinder head temperature was approaching 400 degrees so I throttle back and let her cool down. Before long I was several thousand feet up and out of the worst of it.
All was well until I reached the Minnesota border. I’m not sure what happens there but the weather took a turn for the worse. Still high winds but clouds and rain were added in. The landing at Airlake (LVN) was another “interesting” one due to “significant” wind (and crosswind). I filled up with fuel and asked the local FBO to tuck Daisy away in their hangar. She deserved a treat for doing such a great job!
According to my GPS, I had flown 1022 statute miles in 5.5 hours while burning a total of 41.75 gallons of fuel. An average of 185 mph. My fuel burn was 24.5 mpg. Pretty awesome!!