Ottawa: Return Check in
L Koutz <koutzl@...>
Larry Checking in. So many people came up to me at Ottawa and said they
enjoyed my travel reports, so here goes another...
Thursday night I looked at the weather channel and thought not again! There
was a front charging at Georgia that stretched from Texas to North Carolina.
On top of that someone in Canada left the freezer door open and all that air
was pouring south. It was shaping up to be a Cold weekend in Kansas. It
looked so bleak I didn't even bother to pack. Friday morning the situation
didn't look any better so I went to the office to get some things done.
While there I got a weather briefing from DUATS and printed it out. There
would be a head wind all the way and tops in the front were forecast to be
35- 40,000'. Well I don't need to know what the tops are I need to know what
the LOWEST tops are to get through the front on top. The weather guessers
don't give that! The flight would be a 735NM flight into a headwind from
Southern Ga. to Ottawa Kansas and having to cross a major weather front to
spend a week end freezing in Kansas. Things didn't look to good for the
trip. Well You know what I did, the flying won out. Stupid me rationalized
and thought, well I'll give it a try!
So I finish my work, rush home, pack some clothes and food in bags and off
to the airport I go. The weather in Valdosta is beautiful. Sunny and 85
degrees but off to the Northwest I can see the clouds. My plan is to stay
low and try to get through. If it gets too bad I can turn around and return.
So I load the plane and get off just before noon.
The weather is good to the Alabama border but clouds are forming over top
and I have to maneuver to avoid most of the drizzle and blacker clouds
overhead. I am being slowly driven to the deck by the clouds. Every once in
a while I get hit by some heavy drizzle and as the small water droplets move
across the canopy I wonder how far I REALLY can see through the rain
streaked canopy and hazy conditions. I have slowed the engine down to about
2100 RPM so the water droplets don't beat my prop to death and airspeed is
down to about 100- 120 mph. It ain't looking good! Then I break out to clear
visibility and just high clouds. It's tough to tell what is far ahead but
right now I can see the ground and the visibility is good. So I pick up the
pace and start to climb to about 3000'. As I go along I am still under a
high overcast but clouds are starting to form under me. I could still land
easily but the visibility is good. Well soon the clouds close below me and
now I have a medium deck of clouds to climb over and I top them at 6500'
just Southeast of Birmingham Al. The high clouds stop and there is beautiful
blue sky overhead! I catch sight of a commuter turboprop at my 11 o'clock
descending into Birmingham and the approach controller points Me out to him.
I like to monitor these frequencies when I am around big cities. That's
where I usually spot the most aircraft. So after Birmingham it's VFR on top
at 6500', blue skies above and bring on the radio. All the spooky cloud
stuff is soon forgotten as I have new things to occupy my mind.
I get cleared through Memphis class B airspace at 6500', they are usually
good about letting me through, and I notice the clouds below are breaking
up. I get to see the town through breaks and the mighty Mississippi. Now all
clouds are past and I think it's an easy cruise to Ottawa. I have been going
into about a 10 mph headwind the whole time and usually I can make Ottawa
non stop, but it is getting late on a Friday evening and I think I will need
some more gas so I stop at Springfield, MO., a larger controlled field which
I know will be open for a few gallons of gas. After landing I pop the canopy
and feel what is to come. Who turned off the heat! It's nippy as I pump a
few gallons of gas and go into pay. Well it happens to be customer
appreciation day! Free Food and 25 cents off gas! Great deal. I am in a
hurry to leave as I don't want to get to Ottawa after dark, so I go back
out, start up and taxi out. Ground control calls me up and reads a long list
of instructions and I am not ready! Been a long time since I have had to
"comply" with squawks, headings and altitudes to get out a of a field. I
watch as a low wing Piper tries to land in a stiff wind. Plane flares high
runs out of speed and plops down the last 5' of altitude, OUCH! Oh well, I
have probably done that myself.
The last leg was an easy run and I figure to get there just before dark. The
sun is going behind clouds and it is getting COLD. I have no cabin heat so
when the sun isn't shining it can get cold. I have to rub my hands together
a little to make sure they will function during the critical landing phase!
I hear chatter from 30 miles out so I know people are still there and
haven't run off to the Sirloin Stockade. A Bonanza lands just before me and
I feel frisky so I make a high speed pass down the runway and turn crosswind
to follow what turns out to be a turboprop modified DC-3 on downwind. He
lands and taxis off at the first exit. I land and am running parallel to him
on the runway as he goes on the taxiway. I look right and see this BIG
PLANE. Turns out there are three on the field. I thought, What kind of
fly-in is this going to be?
Its going to be a cold night and I am camping. In the melee just before
going to the steak house Spud Sporintz offers a bed in his house and it
doesn't take any arm twisting for me to say yes! I tie down, grab my bag and
we are off for food. After dinner with about 80 people attending and the
overview of what will be going on the next two days it's off with Spud who
lives 30 minutes away. I am ready to crash because it's been a long day.
The next day come early as Spud is hosting the D-fly meeting at 8 AM and we
need to shower, shave and have a half hour drive to get to Ottawa by 8. The
morning was a blur of talking, forums and just trying to stay warn. It was
below freezing the night before and I had 1/8" of frost all over my
aircraft. It made a pretty sight but since it was cold and windy, being
inside most of the day was the best option. There were not as many aircraft
as usual, any wonder! Paul Fisher, Q-200; Larry Koutz, Q-200; Les Hildebrand
Q-200; Sam Hoskins, Q-200; Jerry Kennedy(?), Q-2; Bruce Crain, Q-200; Terry
Crouch, Q-1 and a couple D-flys and other assorted planes braved the
elements to fly in. Not a bad turn out considering the weather. One Q-2
plane came by trailer from Valdosta Ga. going to California. Planes were
giving rides in the afternoon and no one twisted my arm hard enough to make
me haul out all the stuff I had piled in my plane, so I stayed parked. There
was a performance run, but all the speeds were distorted by the fact the
timing started from a standing start into a stiff headwind to the end of the
field and then a left turn to start the course. Dinner was good with LOTS
of food this year. Lots of Awards and prizes were given out and with a 1 in
9 chance of winning the BIG one (a GPS) I got NOTHING, NADA- I think it's
rigged. That's my story and I am sticking with it! I am NOT a loser I am
just psychically challenged for not picking the right tickets from the
start, you see that Suzie, can't you, with your new binoculars.
Sunday dawned sunny and not as cold. I dawdled around the airport talking
with people as I knew the weather would be good for the ride home. The
weather guesser said as much and the winds at 3, 6, 9000' were from the NE
at 10, N at 20 and NW at 30. So I would climb high to catch the tailwinds. I
also got a NOTAM about a restriction up to 15,000' around Birmingham and she
read off all these Lat, Long coordinates because of a motorcade. I wondered
what that was all about and sure wasn't going to plot all the coordinates! I
gassed up and even as cold as it was the motor started OK. The frost on the
plane was gone so it was time to leave. I took off, did a quick 180 turn and
made a high speed pass down the runway, turned to the Southeast and started
my climb. After a few minutes I looked at my CHT's and they were 400 degrees
and the EGT's were all about 1400 degrees. All higher than I had ever seen
them after only a few minutes of flight so I backed off the power and opened
the cowl flap and they quickly came down. I leveled at 7500' and was showing
about a 10 kt headwind component plus a lot of crab due to the wind. Where
was that tail wind? I had counted on it to get me home before dark. Now it
looked like I would get home just before dark and if I had any trouble I
might not make it home on Sunday. Dang! I shouldn't have stayed so long at
the airport at Ottawa. Oh Well! After about 30 minutes I climbed up to 9500'
and still had the headwind. With nothing to do but worry about getting home
on time I decided to check flight watch on 122.0. I usually didn't have any
luck talking to these guys but after I heard a few calls I call and asked
for the latest winds. It appears my tailwind didn't happen until higher up
so I climbed to 11,500' and I could tell in the climb that I had caught the
tail wind as the groundspeed got higher than my climb speed. So here we go.
10 kts on the tail IS 10 kts! Things were looking up. I was grooving to
Nancy Sinatra on the radio in "these boots were made for walkin". Caught a
tune about Memphis just as I flying over Memphis, Tenn. Heard a tune by
Jimmy Buffet talking about "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" I
had just finished a book he wrote called, "A pirate looks a 50". My wife
gave it to me because I just turned 50 last month. I must have been at some
transition altitude because I was occasionally getting a light choppy
turbulence and I really hated it because it was making it tough to sprinkle
the last of my inflight meal of cookie crumbs in my mouth with all the
buffeting going on. That 10 kt tail wind turned into a 20, 30, 40 then 50
kt tailwind over western Alabama. I could hardly believe it. I was doing the
mental arithmetic over and over. I was cooking along at 170 kts at 2550 RPM.
The winds died a little to 30 kts in Ga. and I calculated at 33 miles from
home I could start down. When the magic number came up I nosed over to 180
kts for a long slide to downwind and landing! Man, after that I feel the
NEED FOR SPEED! It was awesome!
Round trip time was 6.7 hours out. 5.4 hours back. 1556 NM, 129 kts average
ground speed, 192 kts highest ground speed. I was one happy puppy! Sleep
well! Larry Koutz