August 31, 2005
Mentone, Indiana to Lansing and Peru, Illinois
For the past 6 weeks I have been chomping at
the bit to go flying. Being grounded has been misery but finally my
broken arm has healed, the cast has come off and I'm good to go.
After spending yesterday checking over the gyro and
doing minor maintenance today we will be off again on our adventure. I
start the day with a few touch and go's and everything is running smooth and
my landings are fine. With a quick wave to Dee I head west for
Illinois. Along the way I have planned to fly over two of the many
mazes that farmers have carved into their corn fields.
I had been worried that our delay would mean I was
flying over brown fields that had been harvested but fortunately the corn is
still a vibrant green and flying over field after field is magnificent.
At my first stop in Illinois at Lansing I find a
great Irish pub right at the airport. The patrons, waitress and
bartender are all very friendly and it makes for a memorable lunch though
they think I'm a bit daft flying cross country in "that wee litt'l thing."
The afternoon passes quickly and before long I'm
meeting Dee at the Illinois Valley Airport in Peru and the first day back in
the saddle is behind me.
September 1, 2005
Peru, Illinois to Platteville, Wisconsin to Rushford, Minnesota to
Yesterday's moderate breezes have piped up and I am
looking at winds that range from 15-33 knots today. The first part of
the trip I will be heading north so they will be quartering headwinds, but
after I turn south to travel from Minnesota back to Iowa to meet Dee they
should be quartering tailwinds.
I pass another of the mazes that I have mapped out
on my GPS then I cross into Wisconsin and the land begins to have some hills
and trees to break up the pattern of corn and bean fields.
At the airport in Platteville the man who fills my
gas tank is surprised that he does not know me. He reasons that anyone
flying such a tiny toy aircraft must live nearby so he is shocked
momentarily speechless when I tell him I have flown over 5,000 miles.
Just as he is trying to frame all this another local comes racing up in
paint splattered clothes. He says he lives 10 miles away and when he
saw me fly over his house heading in the direction of the airport he dropped
his paintbrush and raced up here hoping to see my gyro. It turns out
he had built and flown a gyro glider many years ago.
I enjoy my time talking with these friendly
gentlemen but I have many miles to travel today so I'm forced to say my
goodbyes and take-off into the blue. Before long I see the land dropping into a deeper gorge filled with trees.
I have been ignoring my maps while steering by GPS but now I pull out the
aeronautical chart and am surprised to see the gorge just ahead of me is the
I instantly feel a stab in my chest and my head
swims with the scenes we have seen on TV this week of the floods and
devastation in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. I feel guilty to
be up here looking over all this beauty when there is so much misery farther
down this same river. On our entire trip around the U.S. this year our
longest stops to simply explore the countryside had been in Louisiana and
the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We had celebrated St.
Patrick's day in New Orleans, paddled canoes in the flooded bayous to the
south and later bicycled along the ocean in Gulfport and Biloxi. How
will those wonderful places and people ever rebuild their homes and their
I am in a somber mood when I land at Rushford,
Minnesota but the outgoing friendliness of Mike who runs the airport livens
me up. After fueling I call flight service to find out that
the winds which have been building all day are expected to hit 35 knots or
more this afternoon, and what had been a headwind from the left on my way
north would now be a headwind from the right going south- no tailwind.
I decide it will be best to wait until near sunset
when the winds should die down. Mike offers me use of the courtesy car
to go into town for lunch so I leave my peanut butter and jelly sandwich in
the gyro and drive to the creamery for a delicious lunch followed by two
scoops of their fantastic ice cream.
At the airport I pass several hours reading
magazines and napping waiting for the winds to calm. Eventually I
takeoff in 25 knots or more towards sunset. The first part of the trip
I am forced to fly nearly sideways to account for how the wind is pushing
me. However as the sun sinks lower the evening finally gets calm and I
end the trip touching down in a flat calm in the darkness at Independence,