Log 16- IA, KS, NE


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September 2, 2005
Independence to Ames to Atlantic, Iowa

Yesterday's winds have died out and today there is barely a breeze disturbing the windsock as I take-off.  Dee leaves the airport at the same time and so I circle overhead taking pictures of the motorhome driving through the corn fields. 

Today I feel like I am really experiencing America's heartland as I fly over field after manicured field.  There is barely any land that is not planted in some crop and I delight in looking at all the different patterns I can spot in the fields below.  From a car this can get boring but from my perch on high I can completely change the perspective by simply climbing or descending a few hundred feet.  From 1,000 feet up I see patterns across the land while from 300 feet I get an intimate view of each farm and field I pass. 

Most every farm has a break of trees planted in an L shape protecting them from winds out of the North and West.  Some farms have nice lawns while others have brought their planted fields right up to the edge of the house and barns. 

I only have one corn maze on my route for today but like the others it is a treat that marks the mid point of my day crossing Iowa.

Sept 3, 2005
Atlantic, Iowa to Takio, Missouri to Sabetha, Kansas to York, Nebraska

After yesterday's sameness of the Iowa fields today is almost a cliché as I can literally notice the change in the landscape almost as I cross each state line.  Missouri brings me into some hills and trees, Kansas is drier and I see my first wheat fields while Nebraska is back to corn but not nearly so uniform as Iowa.  As I get closer to the 100th Meridian or 100 degrees of longitude west I see the land become drier and witness the first circular irrigated fields similar to ones that I have flown over so many times in my home state of Colorado. 

When I land at my first stop in Missouri I see from the signs that the airport is mostly used by crop dusters and since it is Saturday no one is around and the place is deserted.  My flight guide had said I would be able to buy fuel here so I am in a bit of a fix.   While I am busy calculating whether I can make it to the next airport, a local pilot drives up to go for a flight.  Fortunately all the locals have a key to the gas pump so I'm in luck.  He has no way to take a credit card but I have just enough cash to get some gas and be on my way.  

The next stop is Sabetha, Kansas and again the place is deserted though a friendly young man drives up moments after I land.  He is not a pilot but nevertheless is full of intelligent questions about the gyro.  I had not expected gas here but I see a pump so maybe this can save me an extra stop later on.  My new friend calls his father in law the mayor to ask how I get gas.  The mayor says to call the police which my friend does and sure enough 10 minutes later the town cop comes out and fills up my fuel tank.  Since I have no more cash left my new friend pays for the gas then drives me into town to an ATM.  When we get back to the airport he and his father watch me take-off and wave me on my way.  This is really small town America at its very best!

As I fly north into Nebraska the 15 knot southerly wind helps me on my way.  Fortunately my landing is on runway 17 which is directly into the wind.  Between yesterday and today I have landed on 3 grass strips which always make me a little happier.  It makes me feel like a barnstormer of the 1920's when I swoop in and land on the grass. 




September 4, 2005

Today starts with winds of 25 knots and predictions of the wind to hit 40 knots along our route so instead of flying I go to the airport and spend my day changing the oil and doing some regular maintenance.  


September 5, 2005
York to Cozad to North Platte, Nebraska

I want to beat the days heavy winds so Dee and I are up at 5:45 am.  I plan to pre-flight in the dark and get underway at first light.  These plans are upset when my 6 am call to flight service reveals thunderstorms just a few miles away.  By 7 am its pouring and there is lightning all around us.  To make matters worse I had left the gyro outside on the ramp and not put its rain cover over the engine.  I do not want to loose another day so I keep checking the weather to look for improvement.  By 11am it finally starts to clear and we head for the airport.  I go through my preflight then taxi out and begin my take-off roll.   The wind is howling at 25 knots straight down the runway so my rotors come quickly up to speed but the engine is not making full power so the gyro only climbs a few feet above the runway before I'm forced to land and taxi back to the ramp.

Despite my problem I feel worse for Dee who is at the constant mercy of the flying.  She is up early and ready to drive off in the darkness, then forced to wait 5 hours, then told she is going off to western Nebraska, and now I have to call her and tell her to wait again.  On top of all of this she has concerns for me flying in these strong winds. 

I'm not much of an engine mechanic but I get lucky in my first guess and find a wet spark plug wire.  After drying it out the engine makes full power so I call Dee and tell her I'll meet her in North Platte.  Our original destination for today had been Ogallala but given the late start we decide North Platte will be far enough.  

The first leg of the flight is to Cozad and I have picked it because it has a runway facing directly south into the wind.  The navigation today is easy because I can follow a road heading due west but once again I am forced to fly pointing 30 degrees sideways to account for the wind pushing me. 

As I fly along I pick up the wind reports from the airports I pass.  The lightest winds reported are 23 knots and the highest gusts are 34 knots reported as I pass Kearney.  Unfortunately crabbing into the wind is hurting my speed and I begin to worry about having enough gas.  I calculate and recalculate my reserves.   Unfortunately I burned up quite a bit with my wet spark plug problem and taxiing out twice and testing it to fix the problem.

Had I thought of this earlier I could have stopped at Kearney but now it is behind me.  There is one airport 10 miles closer than my intended destination but it is to the south directly into the wind and its runway does not face into the wind so the landing would be much harder.  I decide to press on to Cozad.   

As I land at Cozad it is blowing 29 knots fortunately right down the runway so the landing is very easy.  On landing I find I had only enough fuel for another 20  minutes flying.  I check with flight service and am told the winds will be lighter farther along my route.  Sure enough in another half hour the breeze is only 12 knots and is more of a tail wind so the flying is easy and pleasant. 

Up ahead of me I see a freight train and I race alongside waving to the conductor while I zig zag back and forth over his head. 

Just as I land at North Platte and throttle the engine back my cel phone rings- it is Dee telling me she has just arrived here too.




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This site was last updated 10/16/05

Copyright Rob Dubin 2005