Operation: 28 Huge Success

To quote Portal “This was a triumph / I’m making a note here / huge success / it’s hard to overstate my satisfaction”.

Goal 1: Have fun in the airplane: absolutely attained.

Goal 2: 28 takeoffs and landings at different airports in a single day: not so much. I gave up on that one pretty quick with everywhere within 150nm forecasted (and the forecasts were right as we watched through the day) crosswinds gusting to 28 knots. First route idea? Scrapped. Second? Scrapped. So everything I’d done detailed was out the window, we were going to have to make it up as we went. We preflighted, checked the map one last time and the winds were far more reasonable East, by the time you hit St. Louis – so we pointed the nose that way. Nathan had the idea of following the Missouri river, so that’s what we did, leading to an interesting ATC conversation.

“65 hotel, confirm destination is 1H0?”
“Affirmative, we’re taking the scenic route along the Missouri river banks.”
“OH! That route’s better anyway.”

I was joined by Nathan (the guy who got me into flying small airplanes) and his girlfriend Jenne Lou. We’re all three pilots, and hopefully Nathan and I didn’t teach her any bad habits from the midwest – but there’s no question she’s good at flying airplanes. After training and flying in Boston, “eehhhhhh just follow the river” and controllers that strike up short conversations with you was completely new to her. They use airplanes for lots of “freedom” things up there but out in this simpler airspace the term takes on a whole new meaning. This was their first experience flying the G1000 and my first experience really taking it away from home. The situational awareness it brings to the party is really something else. XM weather was nice to check on a couple things, and for making the airshow TFR at Columbia big and yellow. I’m a believer in the extra safety it brings to the party, and we didn’t even have the MFD (multi-function display) for most of the flight (we duplicated the PFD (primary flight display) onto it.)

With flight following to get us through the KC class Bravo (wow the frequencies in central MO were quiet) we made it to Washington, MO KFYG after deciding we didn’t need to go as far as planned. Winds there were something like 4 knots. Nothing like when we left (and it actually WAS gusting 28-30 at Lawrence) It was a great airport to stop at anyway – reasonable fuel, and they have a large covered pavilion with picnic tables. We chose to break into the packed sandwiches inside the air conditioned terminal, hung out there for a couple hours and started planning. We had several reasonable options staying in Eastern Missouri with reasonable / comfortable winds.

After finding the key to the airplane (I “lost” in the door lock) South to St. Clair, Southwest to Sullivan, Southwest to Cuba, Southwest to Rolla and then to Jefferson City whose primary runway was 12 – it was actually the worst crosswind of the day but by this point we were getting quite hot (unlike the trip out, this was all low altitude with 20ish miles between stops with outside air temperatures in the high 90s and small airplanes are usually ovens down low) and really needed a break. On landing at Jefferson City the FBO pointed us to the free ice cream in the freezer by the pilot lounge. They didn’t have to tell us twice – that and more rest / water helped a lot.

We cut a couple more airports that would require backtracking out of the route for the trip back and made Jefferson City to Boonville, Marshall and Higginsville where we planned to stop for fuel and head home. But self-serve fuel wasn’t working, and one of the local pilots wasn’t sure who to call.

So we climbed back in the airplane, and make the 26nm trip to Warrensburg where Nathan went to college and fueled up, got a group photo and launched for home through the KC Bravo again.

We got back into Lawrence about 30 minutes before the FBO closed and the plane was due back, though it took most of that time to get everything gathered back up and clean the airplane out a bit.

I fly single pilot (or in a situation with an instructor who’s trying to keep my workload high) a very large majority of the time and I cannot express how incredible it was to have three pilots in the plane. I didn’t have to look at a chart all day – just a quick request for whatever information I needed and I had field elevation / frequencies from the back seat with flying help from the right while I reset avionics, briefed through and got ready for the next landing. If I’d tried this solo it would not have been nearly as fun and probably just a huge frustration. The flight was not a success on the back of any of us individually – it was 100% team. We were totally exhausted by the time we got back and probably couldn’t have done much more without being at an unsafe level of fatigue.

At Warrensburg I found out between takeoffs / landings / touch and goes and go-arounds we were at 26 loggable operations. Make it to Lawrence it’d be 28. It’s not 28 airports in a day, but the weather just did not cooperate with those goals. We flew 565.2 miles in the day, put 6.1 hours on the Hobbs meter (and  and I don’t think the fun meter goes high enough for any reading other than “pegged”.

Thanks Nathan and Jenne Lou for coming down from Boston and helping make this dream / goal reality.

I believe this was on the 5th landing? I was busy at the time 🙂

I don’t think words can describe how much I love the wind computer on the G1000. This was actually on short final – ground winds were 10kts but a few hundred feet up was a different story. No gusts, super easy to correct for.

Jenne Lou trimming the plane out for better speed (we trued at 120kias a decent amount. The 172 really impressed me.)

Nathan flies and checks out the Android EFB options. (editorially, I am not impressed even though they are a lot cheaper. They’re so clunky. iPad + ForeFlight 4 life!)

No clue where this was. I’ve got a few runway shots we tried to get when we remembered.

I think this was Marshall – they had some pretty awesome house locations (for those who like airplane noise.)

The worst crosswind of the day at Jefferson City. The airport is really picturesque, especially with the state capitol on the other side of the river.

Higginsville I think.

No idea here either.

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