Friday, July 20, 2012

M11 Scouting Trip

The  planning for the Cirrus Migration 11 is already in full swing!During the planning for M10, as a first time member of the organizing committee, I got a glimpse "behind the curtain" and was amazed how much effort goes into planning such an event.   Believe it or not, it takes a full year to plan the event due to all of the logistics that need to be sorted out!  Everything from location, lodging, speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, etc.

For M11 planning purposes,  this week I did a fun "scouting" trip to one of the potential sites (Mobile, AL).

Mobile is a beautiful and historic city right on the water on Mobile Bay along the gulf coast.

I flew up from Tampa on what was supposed to be a short, simple flight.  But due to the weather you see below, it started out as a grueling IFR takeoff in heavy rain. 
Thankfully, the Tampa approach ATC controllers were very helpful.  In fact, they seemed to offer me my deviations even before I asked for them! By the time I got out over the gulf, I was comfortably at 16000 FT, which turned out to be the "perfect" altitude, allowing me to skim along the cloud tops, which you can see below:
As I got closer to Mobile, the weather just kept improving and I had a visual clearance  into the Mobile Downtown airport that took me over the water of mobile bay and right over the shipping port.

When I arrived, Jerrry from the  Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau gave me a fantastic VIP tour of the city and several of the properties that we are considering.

I was surprised to learn some of the history of the area. For example, I never knew that the Mardi Gras celebrations in Mobile are rather intense (and second only to New Orleans).  I also didn't realize what a "walkable" place the Mobile downtown was.  

After finishing the tour, the weather started to deteriorate, as you can see below:

Oh well, another rainy takeoff :-(

Other than the dreary takeoffs, the majority of both flights looked like this:

But most importantly, another M11 planning task completed!

== T.J.==

Saturday, July 14, 2012

First Four Legged Passenger

Until today, all of my passengers were people.  But today was a long overdue flight... I loaded up my first four legged passenger (Tristan) in preparation for takeoff.

The route was rather simple (Ft Lauderdale to Tampa).  However, there were a bunch of clouds surrounding Ft Lauderdale around departure time. 

I filed a quick IFR flight plan with the full intention of canceling it as soon as I was above the clouds.

I was a little nervous about how Tristan would react to the noise of the engine powering up on takeoff.  But he did totally fine.  In fact, shortly after takeoff, he and his little purple bunny were fascinated by the clouds:

Tristan was a very helpful co-pilot and even pointed out a very photo worthy cloud formation that looked like a heart.
Heart shaped cloud formation
After all the excitement of the flight, both Tristan and his purple bunny were exhausted and fell right asleep!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dodging Weather On the Way Home to Florida

After having an awesome time @ the Cirrus Migration, it was time to make the journey back to FL.  Since there were over 150 planes all planning to leave on Sunday morning, I tried to get an early start to avoid the rush.  I left the hotel ~ 06:30 and even then there were a about a dozen other pilots with the same thought.

Since the weather was beautiful, I departed Duluth VFR to simplify the departure procedure.  Soon after departure we turned to make one last pass over the downtown and canal park area. The aerial bridge looks just as cool from the air as on the ground:
The Duluth Aerial Bridge from the ground 
The Duluth Canal Park area from the air
But the weather didn't stay perfect :-(
I couldn't figure out how to "maintain VFR" as the ATC advised.  When I was just south of Chicago,  I gave up, called Flight Service on the radio, and filed an IFR flight plan while at 11,500 FT.  I activated the flight plan with Chicago Center ATC and dodged/weaved through the weather.  After clearing the weather and all of the military airspace, I promptly cancelled the IFR flight plan and resumed my VFR trek southbound.

The flightaware log of the flight shows the odd track I flew:
After clearing all of the weather, I made a fuel stop in a tiny airport in Jeffersonville, Indiana and was very impressed with the Honaker FBO.  The line guy seemed so happy to see us and the whole staff was very accommodating (especially Kellye)!  After the quick break for food and fuel, it was time for the longest leg of the journey, which was KJVY > KFXE.  This segment was 782NM, which is my personal longest flight!

In fact, the R9 had "low fuel" indicators for the last 30 minutes and upon landing the analog fuel gauges looked like this:
~ 20 Gals remaining @ FXE ... Maybe could have kept going to Key West ;-)
Now with M10 complete, I can hardly wait for M11!