Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Planning The Next Big X-Country

After getting serious about "My 50 State Quest", I have come to realize how much planning is involved.  The first 25 states just sort of happened as a byproduct of Work, Angel Flights, and General Joyrides.  However, the next 25 states will require much more active planning.

So here we are, near the end of September, and I am hoping to make it to a few new states in October.  In general, I am thinking about the following options:  

Option 1 (Northeast) -  If I head to the northeast, I might be able to finish a bunch of smaller states and do it before winter arrives.  Since I don't have any burning desire to fly to cold places in the winter. this might be a good idea in October.  In addition, this would give me a good excuse to visit some relatives in Raleigh along the way.

Here is the general route I am considering:

The total distance would be ~ 2200 nm and probably 5 new states.

Option 2 (Colorado) - One of the other destinations I have been looking forward to flying to, is Colorado.  The Eagle/Vail airport, where my family and I go every year to ski, is a must visit.  Then of course every pilot knows about Leadville, which is the highest airport in the country. Lastly, Colorado Springs, which is close to the Air Force Academy/museum is also a popular pilot destination.

The general route is shown below:

The total distance would be ~ 2800 nm and likely 3 new states.

So next step, later tonight if I can stay awake (or more likely l8r in the week) is to start looking for fly-ins, or cool places to land/visit somewhere close to my intended route.  If anyone has suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or email me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Angel Flight This Week

This week I flew a particularly memorable Angel Flight!

As with all of my Angel flights, I never take pictures en route.  So this post will not have my usual airborne scenery/pix.  This is mostly out of courtesy to the patients/passengers.  These folks are often going through the toughest times of their lives and I wouldn't want to make them uncomfortable in any way...

On this trip, I transported a very brave, young man, who suffered from cystic hygroma.  I never heard of this condition prior to this flight.  It is a form of birth defect that has numerous very painful symptoms.  My passenger needed to go for "another round" of facial reconstructive surgery at Arkansas Children's Hospital.  His condition was so severe that he could not eat solid food.  Instead, for the majority of his life, he has been feeding himself by syringe and IV directly into his stomach.  Despite all of his challenges in life, I was struck by how positive and upbeat his attitude was!  (Hopefully, someday soon he will be able to eat a regular meal!!)

I flew him from Leesburg, FL to Meridian, MS, which is ~ halfway, and met up with another Angel Flight pilot that completed the journey to Little Rock.

The portion of the the route I flew is shown below:

These AF trips are by far my most important flights!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Trip Home from Chicago to Tampa (States 24 & 25)

Finished work early... Now time to go home from Chicago... I just couldn't resist taking a slight detour to land in 2 new states.

The route is show below and includes a quick lunch in Iowa and an even quicker stop in Missouri.

But this makes state # 25!!!

Weather was CAVU after getting above the cloud deck... (But quite bumpy below that)
I expected the midwest to have lots of farmland... But didn't expect all the windmills... Who knew how green 
IL would be!!

The mighty Mississippi River really didn't look that grand in Iowa.  (Way cooler in  Louisiana)
Burlington, IA was an awesome find... Great little airport, multiple instrument approaches and 
even a really cool local restaurant walking distance from the airport... (Hearty lunch of 
Iowa corn-fed beef really hits the spot)
Beleive it or not, Burlington is a commercial airport.  The airport terminal was incredibly small! ... Notice the baggage claim area that serves all 4 commercial
flights that arrive here daily from Chicago and St Louis.
Onward to the next stop (next state) Hannibal, Missouri (STATE # 25!!!)
On the way to Hannibal, Mo, a really cool bridge crossing the Mississippi.
No matter state you land in, always some cool planes to see... This was the towplane used by the 
local flight school to for sailplane lessons.
OK enough detours... Really, really time to go home now... Cruising @ 17500 FT... With oxygen and a really nice tailwind!  Almost Home!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Trip to Lexington (State # 23)

In my ongoing quest to land in all 50 states, today I landed in state # 23!!

My routing, as shown below, was nearly direct... (other than a little maneuvering around a couple MOAs)
It has been ~ 3 weeks since my last IFR X-Country.  Fortunately, today's trip was rather 
uneventful.  The weather was near perfect (just a couple a broken cloud deck below me)

 ATC congestion was very light for most of the trip, which gave me plenty of time to take pix.

Here is really cool airport just northeast of Atlanta (KMLJ), which looked very cool from the air...
NOTE TO SELF: Need to come back and land here... Looks like an island or an aircraft carrier.

After Atlanta, time to cross to some small mountains (ok maybe hills)... But scenic either way!

Another cool airport (KRHP) in a valley between two ridges.  Looks like it could be quite challenging 
to land there in weather.

As I got close to Lexington, it became surprisingly crowded and didn't really have time to take pix. 
I found out later that it was due to a horse show in town this week.

The inside of the FBO was really first class including both decor and service.