Monday, August 15, 2011

Heading home after Migration

After a packed few days in Colorado Springs, it was time to head home on Sunday.  However, this time no scenic route ... (Direct Colorado Springs to Tampa Executive with a quick turn at one of my regular fuel stops in Tallulah, LA)

Migration was a great way for me to meet (and reacquaint with) fellow cirrus pilots from around the country. Of course, there were also a few cool, new products to see as well.

While I definitely learned a few things, the highlight of the trip was a flight that I took with Trip Taylor.  His plane was outfitted with the new R9 synthetic vision and he was gracious enough to allow me to tag along on one of his demo flights.  The R9 "Syn Vis" is not yet certified, but Trip's plane has been reclassified as "experimental" in order to keep the plane flying legally.

Because of all the terrain nearby, Colorado Springs was a perfect place to demo "Syn Vis".

The flight was a bit bumpy ... But I was able to put a short video clip together, which you can see below:

Overall, I was very impressed with how seamless the "Syn Vis" was incorporated into the R9 platform.  Much to my surprise, it was not distracting at all!  As soon as it gets certified, I am eager to load up the  software on my plane.
After this journey, I am now @ 48 states!  (Only New Mexico and Hawaii left)

I have also started to think about what comes after the 50th state... (Maybe Canadian Provinces, Caribbean islands, or possibly other types of aircraft/ratings)  

Let me know if you have any suggestions??

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Migration 9 Trip Summary

I have finally arrived in Colorado Springs and the journey was quite amazing!

It is hard to summarize a 4200 mile trip.   (But here goes...)

Some of it what was "as expected " ; Some of it reinforced how flexible you need to be on a journey like this. 
Between weather, customs formalities, spotty radar, icing, even the exact route was not as planned.  You can see the "planned vs actual" route below:

The blue line was the planned route.  The magenta line was the actual route.  As you can see, I tried to follow my plan.  But needed to make lots of adjustments along the way.

On my first leg from Tampa to Hopkinsville, KY, the weather in the picture below forced me to do an enroute diversion to Shelbyville,TN:

I landed and topped off minutes before it started pouring!

After the storm passed, I continued to Sioux Falls, SD where I did my first overnight.
The next day started mostly as planned Sioux Falls,SD > Bismarck, ND > Glasgow, MT.

As I made my final Preparations to enter Canadian airspace, the Canadian authorities (Canpass) informed me that the Kamloops customs was "Closed for the day" So I had to pick an alternate destination and chose Kelowna, British Columbia.

With a new destination, I entered Canadian airspace for the first time to find more surprises. While crossing the Rockies, Edmonton ATC informed me that radar coverage would be "lost over the
 Rockies", which was not very comforting!  They gave me a frequency and told me to "try calling Vancouver" in ~ 30-45 minutes.

Luckily, the weather was good and of course the view over the Rockies was breathtaking.
(I am still trying to sort through the pix to make a Picassa album.)

Kelowna turned out to be a wonderful destination.  The  airport is rather  unique due to the terrain.  It is in a valley, which causes you to fly an unusual approach with a fairly steep descent. (Still working on editing that video)

The next day I flew to Ketchikan, Alaska, which was a very challenging flight.   Canadian ATC instructions/phraseology is just a little different than the US.  But I managed several surprise instructions and even a last minute approach change and had an incredible landing, which is shown in the video below:

After that landing (and enjoying Alaskan hospitality and seafood), I thought that Ketchikan would be the highlight of the journey.  But after a couple of more states, the real highlight of the trip materialized in Leadville, CO.  Lake County Airport in Leadville, CO is the highest airport in North America @ 9927 MSL.  I landed there on a precision approach with a "circle to land" into an 18 KT headwind Gusting to 28 KTs, (Perhaps NOTmy most elegant landing... But certainly  one of the most difficult and satisfying landings I had done in a long time.  

As you can see from the pic below, they really do issue certificates for landing there!!
After Leadville, a short 20 minute flight to Colorado Springs and I was warmly greeted by the staff of Colorado Jet Center.  So after this incredible journey, I am now ready for the main event (Migration 9), which is scheduled to start tomorrow morning.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Scenic Route to M9

As some of you know, this  week is the 9th annual Cirrus migration, known as M9.  While not as big as Osh Kosh or Sun N Fun, it is the biggest Cirrus event of the year.  This year, M9 is being held in Colorado Springs.  Cirrus pilots from around the country (and even a few from other countries) will be by flying their aircraft into KCOS for the event.

I wanted to make the journey to M9 memorable by taking a scenic route to get there.  In addition, this was a great excuse to work on my 50 state quest.  You can see my planned route in the video clip below:

It might be a bit ambitious... But this route should include stops in 7 new states and even a FIRST venture into Canadian airspace!

But every experienced pilot I spoke to about it, warned me that a trip like this requires a few things:
1. Detailed planning about routes, alternate routes, procedures, etc
2. A well maintained and prepared aircraft.
3. Flexibility DURING the flight

As a result, I've been planning for weeks...  Looking at lots of charts... Making sure the plane was in perfect shape in terms of maintenance.  Much to the surprise of the line crew in Tampa, I even  made sure the TKS de-ice fluid was full while  it was 95 degrees on the ramp in Tampa!

I am really trying to follow the advice .... We will see at the end of the week how it goes...

You can follow along in near real time on Flight Aware .... Or just wait till later this week to see my next post...(Hopefully I should be able to get some cool pix along the way.)

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