Thursday, June 05, 2008

Big Easy, Re-Re-Re-Dux

MS and the IFR Pilot are back from what has become an annual rite of passage: Taking in New Orleans. A quick review of the logbook shows we were there in April of '05 with 78S, and in December of '06, March of '07, and now May of '08, all with Mike Hotel.

Flying down on Sunday, we battled serious headwinds and hot temperatures, stopping twice for fuel. Our first refuel was in KBWG (Bowling Green, Kentucky). We nearly had a heart attacks when the FBO quoted us $6.77 for avgas! Fortunately, we had spotted a self-serve pump. The list price of $5.50 suddenly seemed far more reasonable.

Skipping lunch, we blasted back off and dodged thunderstorms throughout Kentucky and Tennessee. Mississippi wasn't much better, either, but we pulled it off and remained VFR the entire way. Our first fuel stop was aborted when ATC advised that they -- unsolicitedly (is that a word?) -- had called ahead and the FBO had just closed. Of course, we could pay an extra $50 for a call-out. Umm, no thanks, we still had lots of fuel, we'll push on. Ended up stopping at Bobby L. Chain Memorial Airport in Hattiesburg, for a super-quick fill up that wasn't unreasonably priced. After that, it was just 45 minutes direct to the Big Easy, where MS made the nice landing that was the subject of the prior post. Also captured some of those nice images you saw in June 2nd's "Guess The IFR Pilot's Location, Part Deux," so no pictures here of that flight.

We did what most folk visiting New Orleans do: In between MS attending a conference and the IFR Pilot hanging out with former co-workers, we ate unreasonable amounts of food and walked around the French Quarter. List of establishments visited in our Sunday evening to Wednesday-morning whirlwind visit:
Waddling back to the W for lights-out, I aptly remarked to MS: "Good thing no dessert, or we'd have to redo the weight and balance for sure!"

Wednesday morning, we jetted off, enjoying a fierce tailwind that gave us 150+ KIAS groundspeeds. We made it from Lakefront to our refueling stop in Tullahoma, Tennessee in 2.7 short hours, VFR all the way. The radar picture in Ohio was pretty ugly at the time:

Weighing our options, we elected to grab the crew car and go for lunch. Unfortunately, the culinary talents of Tullahoma, Tennessee do not favorably compare to those of New Orleans. As a result, we ended up at Applebees. Being the world-renowned gastronomes that we are, however, we didn't let this stop us. We'll have two of those "Ultimate Trios," and MS threw in a salad to boot. (He's always pretending to be health-conscious, you know.)

One interesting sight at KTHA was the DC-3 parked on the ramp. While MS fuddled with the weather computer, the IFR Pilot grabbed the camera and attempted some "artistic" photography:

Also, the airport had a wind tetrahedron. It looked to be balanced rather precariously, though I suspect it's actually perfectly balanced so that it can rotate with the wind.

Shortly, MS had a plan. Instead of proceeding northeast direct for the Home Base, we'd fly more to the north, wait for things to move to the east, and sneak in around the back end of things. And that's pretty much how things worked out. If memory serves (and I'll admit I read the USA Today and slept while MS was carrying the laboring oar), our route ended up being something like:

According to the flight planner, this route added maybe twenty minutes to the flight, but it kept us very, very safe. The route also took us over a couple of intersections that reinforced the notion that, despite widespread opinion to the contrary, the FAA really does have a sense of humor:

Let's just hope that no one ever misconstrues ATC's instruction to proceed "Direct Jim Beam, then Bourbon."

As we made our way around Cincinnati's airspace toward Dayton, we could see the ominous remains of the front we had avoided and which was headed further east. The display on the 396 reinforced what we could tell just from looking at this beast -- it wasn't to be taken lightly!

Amazingly, however, we remained dry throughout, and MS recorded only about .2 in IMC after we received a pop-up clearance from Mansfield Approach so we could descend through the clouds to VFR below. Some of it was captured for your viewing pleasure:

Once clear of the clouds, it was a milk run back to the Home Base to test MS's landing skills once again. Once again, you get to judge for yourself:

With that, our latest junket came to a conclusion.

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