Sunday, June 12, 2011


Monday morning came too soon. After a wonderful stay in Branson it was time to head back across the Mississippi. Flight planning was more direct this time. It would be just under 1000 miles. The weather was good although very light tailwinds.The system just wasn't there to help push us along.
As I taxied for take off I noted something strange, I had indicated airspeed. But I also had get started 'itis' and continued with the checklists. Takeoff on the 7000+ foot runway was normal, but I got to my rotate speed much too early, and she felt 'mushy' lifting off. Higher altitude, humid, full load were all good excuses but not the right reason. During the climb out she continued to accelerate and as I looked again at the digital airspeed the tape was red and yellow instead of Green.  The steam gauge also showed us near the top of the yellow arc. Something was wrong. Called the tower to let them know we would be coming back in to check out an airspeed problem. Interesting to land with an unreliable airspeed indication, so it was VERY nice to have that huge runway in front of me. I taxied back in at about 80kts.

It turned out to be a blocked pitot static system. They have 'mud-daubers' in Missouri which are little wasps that love to build their muddy nests inside of airplane pitot tubes. (My wife had asked if we shouldn't take the cover with us; "Nah, it will only be a few days." Another lesson learned. I also learned how the expert dissembles the system, cleans it, and re-installs it. (The hit to the check book wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be...another good experience.)

So buttoned and ready to go, we tried it again.  This time no additional problems so we were off on course to M30. It was uneventful until I started my landing brief. The on board AOPA airport directory (I love my 696) said that M30 had no fuel! I had checked and planned with so this was a surprise. I'm still not sure what information was more current since I decided not to test it and diverted to KCIR. Just a little place a few miles from the river, cheap gas and stale crackers, we stayed long enough to catch our breath and refuel before getting on our way.

An uneventful flight into KFFT. This would be our lay over point and I had checked to insure multiple hotels in the area. I did not make reservations and was surprised to find my first two choices all booked up. The FBO staff was fantastic. They called and then took us to a nice hotel in town. (A great rest stop!) The Airport Manager picked us up the next morning to take us back to the airport.

Next planned stop was KMGW. Planning showed a large storm north of Pittsburgh making its way south. As we started to begin our descent the clouds got gloomier and visibility deteriorated. My fuel planning was good and was mentally calculating a missed approach and short flight t an alternate when I heard another plane on CTAF. She was VFR shooting touch & goes. We got in just before the rain started. They had a very nice restaurant and comfortable lounge which helped us pass about a 2.5 hour delay.

Fueled and rested we headed for home. Weather was no longer a factor, the HS34 was working, all was right wit the world.  It was a great flight.

997 mile, 53 gallons, 8.6 hours, and 1 great adventure.

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