Sunday, December 5, 2010

The next state (OK) - State # 33

The states are now getting further (and harder) .... But that's OK ... Today was a beautiful day to fly... My intended destination was Dallas.  But I was compelled to make a slight detour to land in a new state(Oklahoma).  The route is shown below:

The weather forecast showed a little bit of IFR along my route ... But nothing scary.

When I got to the airport, I found the DirecTV blimp was in town for the Bucs game today. When blimps visit, they park right next to my hanger.  Check it out:

Since I needed to do a bunch of Chart/GPS updates anyway, I set the updates running and went to chat with the blimp crew.  Unfortunately, I didn't plug the plane into external power and apparently I spent too much time gabbing.  By the time I returned, the battery had discharged enough that I couldn't start the plane normally!  I called the line crew for help and luckily Jose was able to give me a jump start.
After everything was sorted out, I was finally ready to go (total delay ~ 55 minutes).  The delay was not concerning ;  But the fast approaching showers were.  By the time I did my run-up and was really ready to depart, it was raining and the ceilings were dropping fast.  So I picked up my IFR clearance from the ground and took off in the rain.  Here is what the screen looked like right after takeoff:

After bumping along in the rain for a few minutes, I broke out on top of the clouds and it was smooth sailing from that point on direct to HEVVN (pronounced "Heaven")@ 16k feet. 

The HEVVN intersection is a common nav aid that I use over the Gulf of Mexico.  By using this fix, I can stay clear of the international warning areas over the gulf and at the same time stay close enough to land for safety reasons.  Besides it just sounds cool when ATC instructs you to "go direct Heaven"!

As I got closer to my fuel stop in Meridian, I heard a bunch of military traffic on the radio.  There is a lot of military training done around Meridian.  So you usually get to see some cool airplanes in this area.  In particular, today there were 2 T-38s flying formation very close to the traffic pattern.  After I got cleared to land on runway 1, the T-38s asked for permission to do a low pass alongside runway 1.  I was shocked to hear the controller say "approved as requested"!  Seconds after I touched down, the 2 T38s zoomed overhead @ ~ 30 feet AGL and ~100 feet left of centerline.  After passing the runway, they did a near vertical climb and circled around for a full stop on the same runway.

They parked right next to me and I even got to meet them!  I couldn't get a picture during their low pass, but here they are parked on the tarmac (the 2 gray ones): 
They even let me climb up to the cockpit!  See for yourself:
Doesn't look to hard... Does it??

Believe it or not, on the other side of where I parked was an F-18!

After a quick lunch, it was time to move on ... I still needed to land in Durant, OK and then get to Dallas.
Rest of the trip was rather uneventful, except for the 60-70 knot headwinds, which seemed like Mother Nature's way of tormenting me on both legs today!  See for yourself:

Despite true airspeeds in excess of 190 knots, I was frequently traveling at ground speeds a slow as  ~ 120-130 knots. 

The stop in Durant, OK was really quite interesting... The airport is right next door to the Choctaw Casino and the FBO is quite memorable... (But it is getting late now and I will have to save that story for another time.)

For now, I am HOPING to ride some huge tailwinds on the home!

== T.J.==

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