Sunday, May 28, 2006

Rest Stop #3

Mike Hotel is securely tied down on the ramp in El Dorado, Arkansas. AW and the IFR Pilot are camped out at the Country Inn Suites and Hotel, while MS is with relatives.

The day began with an unwelcome awakening. The boys hit Lubbock hard last night -- some more than others, but who's counting -- then retired to the room. MS claimed the big bed, AW grabbed the cot, and the IFR Pilot got the fold out couch. When the sun finally rousted us, no one was really ready to go. But we had to get out of Lubbock before it was too late or too hot.

The IFR Pilot was flying the first (and turns out, only) leg of the day. We carefully briefed out takeoff procedures, including setting a definite abort point. Using KLBB's runway 17L, we taxied all the way to the end of the 11,500 foot runway. When the IFR Pilot moved Mike Hotel into position, he made sure to use every inch of available space. The abort point was the intersecting runway 26. If we weren't off the ground and climbing at least 200 to 300 feet per minute, then we were putting back down. That still left several thousand feet to land and slow. In addition, gear were to stay down until we were assured that we were not going to abort. That made for a bit of a compromise, as we'd obviously climb better with the gear retracted, but we judged it better to leave the wheels hanging until we were sure that we were not going to abort the takeoff and land on the remaining runway.

We quickly accelerated to 70 knots, but getting to 75 took, relatively speaking, a looooong time. Eventually we did, and we climbed into ground effect. Climb rate was meager -- maybe 200 feet per minute -- in the warm, sticky air. We soon committed to continuing and the IFR Pilot called for gear up and flaps up. That helped and we started seeing 400 fpm climb rates.

After that, it was basically a 90 degree turn to a heading of 090, and direct to our destination -- Southern Arkansas Regional Airport at Goodwin Field (KELD). MS wanted to stop here to see Mrs. MS and Young Little MS, who were visiting relatives. Along the way, we passed a Southwest flight inbound to KLBB. It passed perhaps a half-mile north of us. Always cool to have that happen.

It took nearly 3 hours, during which we moved from seeing yellow terrain on the WAC charts to green, truly a welcome sight after so much time in the desert southwest. We passed north of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Class Bravo, which was very busy. We even had an American flight pass in front of us, descending for the approach into DFW.

Just east of DFW's airspace, the clouds were rising and there was convective activity to the southeast being depicted on the trusty Garmin 396. So, we descended from the relative comfort of 9,500 MSL to 3,500 MSL to get underneath and hopefully keep ourselves out of any unwanted weather. Fortunately, it was no where near as choppy as you might have thought, flying underneath lots of puffy cumulus clouds.

Eventually, we passed our original intended point of landing, Magnolia Airport, which was rejected because (a) the FBO is closed on Sundays, and (b) the runway is only 4400 feet and we wanted more for our near gross-weight takeoff. ELD offered three runways, so we were confident that we could have a takeoff into the wind with minimal crosswind component and added pavement.

What was supposed to be a couple of hour delayed became an overnight stay when MS phone and advised that Young Master MS was ailing and they were off to visit the local witch doctorphysician. After many hours of waiting and a very short visit, MS phoned and advised that Young Master MS had a possible infection and they were off to fetch some medicine. MS would be crashing with Mrs. MS's family, so the IFR Pilot and AW grabbed a local room at the near-new Country Inn Suites.

The plan is to blast off at 7:00 local tomorrow, before things heat up too much. One fuel stop and we should be at the home base not too late after lunch time. It looks like it might be possible to go direct to the Home Base, but there's no reason to do that. We'll just find the cheapest fuel stop at about the halfway point and put down there. MS and the IFR Pilot can switch seats, and we can each get closer to the 10 hours with CFI that the insurance company wants us to have before we commence solo flight in 2MH.

Sorry no pictures today, the IFR Pilot did all the flying and left the camera in the baggage compartment.... See y'all tomorrow.

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