Monday, October 21, 2013

To the Summit - Day 1

Departing 7N8
Finally we woke to good weather. Tuesday morning brought clear skies and mild winds. A little fog restricted visibility in some of the low areas but I was convinced that would burn off by the time we were ready to fly. A call to Lockheed Martin confirmed it would be a good day to travel south VFR. No unusual TFRs or NOTAMs either.

The first worry about traveling in a light sport airplane is weight. I loaded all of Sally's gear (canopy cover, engine plugs, chocks, tie downs, oil, etc) in the right wing locker. I put our shared overnight bag in the other locker. A shared suitcase for a week of clothing went behind my seat, my flight bag went behind hers. In between went the cooler with snacks and water and behind that some small bags of cosmetics, shoes and other light items. I had a little over 10 gallons in each side, planing on 6 gals/hr for 2 hours. One final walk around the plane confirmed we were ready. "Clear!"

I noted that the Hobbs meter read 300 hrs. I pushed the button to reset the trip timer and officially started our new adventure. Sally climbed easily in the cool air. The mountains still wore their summer colors and while the visibility wasn't  crystal it was good enough to admire the Pennsylvania farms. West is even, we climbed to 6500' and contacted Allentown Departure for Flight Following. (Even with a government shutdown they welcomed us to the system and provided us with a "squawk" code.) Cruise checks completed we settled in and enjoyed the smooth air to Maryland.

Greater Cumberland Regional airport is a NICE airport. It reminded me a little of Lockhaven as it is screened behind some mountains and the runways are hidden until you pass over the last ridge. The FBO facility looks new and obviously was designed to handle larger traffic. After shutdown we were quickly met by a linesman in a golf cart who took our fuel order and then offered to drive us to the on field restaurant.  We were the only people around and felt a little sad that this beautiful airport wasn't being used by more folks. Lunch was great and we highly recommend this as a great "$100 Hamburger" destination. As we were warming up getting ready for departure a group of 4 Cubs came in for lunch. I hope they are regulars here.

We departed and again climbed to 6500' and received Flight Following. We were just above the haze layer so had a nice horizon to use as a reference. All of Sally's systems were working well. I kept the throttle set between 5300 and 5400 RPM which was yielding over 110 KTS True Airspeed (TAS). She was sipping 6 gals/hr. Head winds put us over the ground around 100 KTS. Lawrence County Airpark is on the southern tip of Ohio. It is a fuel stop only. Kathy rested in the "lounge" with a few dozen Stink Bugs while I refueled the plane. You really don't need to go here.

Still smooth at 6500', we sat back and enjoyed the ride. Kathy was on the sunny side (left seat) and searched for her blanket to use as a sun shade. After a short while she was asleep. About an hour out I got a DSAB error that we had lost GPS Navigation. The autopilot lights showed it had defaulted to heading mode. I cycled the autopilot and did a DSAB reconfiguration but could not correct the fault. Easy to keep on the purple line by adjust the heading knob every so often, but I don't like it when we have any kind of failure. It makes me think "What's next?"

Bowling Green Kentucky is another beautiful airport, and this one IS busy. CO-MAR Aviation runs a 5 star FBO and couldn't be more friendly. The lineman brought us in under the big awning the jets use and helped us with our overnight bag. Then we decided to taxi over to the free tie down spot and cover Sally for the night. I had made hotel reservations and free transportation was provided by the FBO. This was a great choice for our overnight stay.

Home of the Corvette.
CO-MAR gets a good discount at the Holiday Inn. Accommodations were first class and the Hotel Restaurant was great. I usually plan to fly to different airports during my cross country flights. I like to see different places when I have the chance. However this was a perfect halfway point and I knew I couldn't beat the service. I decided I would plan to return here on my way home.

First day summary: 632 miles in 5.1 hours. (GPS time)

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