Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Crazy Takeoff and the Most Delicious-Smelling Place I've Smelled

We both randomly woke up early the next morning and Mark already had an email from the dogsitters. It turned out they were having a hard time with Wembley, to the point that they couldn't even get her outside. We hemmed and hawed for a while about whether or not to continue the trip or just head home, and eventually decided to fly to our first fuel stop to the west then reevaluate things there.

Since it was a little too early to go anywhere for breakfast, we had some granola bars in the room before checking out and driving back to the airport. We were the only ones there, and we were topped off and taxiing by 8am.

At W24 you take off on Runway 10, which is downhill. The slight problem is you have to taxi uphill to get there...I had to use almost full power at one point to keep moving on the taxiway! We eventually made it to the top of the hill, I did a runup, and we pulled out on the runway for takeoff.

Holy. Monkeys.

That was by far one of the craziest takeoffs I've ever done. You can only see a small section of the runway when you start rolling, then you crest the hill and it's like going over the first drop on a roller coaster. You quickly realize that there's no going back, you're taking off one way or another, and just as you reach flying speed the ground drops away from you and you're suddenly about 50 feet in the air. It was insane. I want to go back!

We made a left turn out to the west and started climbing. We passed downtown Lynchburg on our way toward the mountains.

The winds were still strong out of the west that morning, though not as strong as they had been the day before. I climbed up to 6500' to top all of the terrain along the way, and almost immediately flew into some mountain waves. Up 300', down 300'. Up 300', down 300'. I could not hold a steady altitude for anything, and I was making constant pitch and power adjustments to try to stop the climbs and descents. Our ground speed was atrocious (at one point during the climb, we registered a disgusting 38 knots, though most of the cruise was spent between 65 to 80kts), and this was not one of my favorite legs of the trip. At least it was a smooth ride, despite the constant up and down.

After a little while we started to descend below the scattered cloud layer. Our ground speed picked up, though the turbulence did, too. Some of the scenery in West Virginia was absolutely gorgeous, though.

Our first stop was Beckely (BKW). The terrain around the airport was kind of crazy, like the previous picture - lots of mountains with deep, deep ravines, and the airport sat on top, almost on a plateau. It was a bit of an optical illusion and made it hard to want to descend in the pattern, so I wound up coming in higher and faster than I meant to. (The wind didn't help, either...I think the gusts were getting close to 20kt.) Thankfully, they have a nice long runway, so I slipped away some altitude and made it down just fine.

It was a little confusing to figure out where to go on the airport to get fuel, but we eventually sorted it out, topped off the plane, and checked our email again. It turned out that Wembley was doing much better with the dogsitters, so we decided to continue on!

We decided to stay under the clouds on the next leg so we could keep the higher ground speed. It was a bit bumpy, but whatever...I wanted to see something higher than 75kts on my GPS! Even with the slightly higher ground speed, it felt like we flew over sections of strip mines forever.

We eventually cleared the mountains and crossed over into Kentucky. It was a nice change of scenery!

As I was descending to land in Frankfort, Mark started taking pictures of a bunch of buildings on his side of the plane. It turns out it was Buffalo Trace Distillery. It was huge!

Downwind for Capital City Airport (FFT). We landed, tied down, and thanks to a ride from Kendrick at the FBO, were at Buffalo Trace Distillery within half an hour of shutting down!

Buffalo Trace gives free tours, and we managed to join one shortly after we arrived. It starts with a short video, then the guide takes you through a few of the buildings.

Let's see...I'll take THAT one.   :)

This is only a tiny fraction of the barrels they have in their warehouses. The smell was amazing! The plywood panels in the middle of the floor are removable so they can roll the barrels around if needed.

We got to walk through one of their small bottling rooms, too. It was really cool to see the small scale of the operation...I liked the boxes of cork bottle toppers just sitting around.

They had just bottled some Blanton's, too. That's one of Mark's favorites. We learned that there are eight different horse bottle toppers...I had never noticed that they were different!

We got to do some tastings at the end of the tour. Everything was really good! I was really impressed by the vodka they make; it was dangerously smooth. They also had Bourbon Cream (think Bailey's Irish Cream, but made with bourbon), which was especially good paired with root beer. Needless to say, we bought a few things in the gift shop on the way out.   :)

We were starving by the time the tour ended, so we called a cab to go into town for some lunch. We had a little time for some extra exploring while we waited for the cab.

I love how you can see the barrels through the windows.

The door to one of the warehouses was open, so we poked our heads in  (and took a deeeeeep breath haha).

Buffalo Trace Distillery is by far one of the most interesting-smelling places I've ever been; it seemed like you could walk ten feet in any given direction and encounter a completely different delicious smell.

Our cab eventually came and we took a short ride into town. Kendrick from the FBO had recommended Capital Cellars for lunch; it's a liquor store/bar/sandwich and snack type place. It was great!

This was some sort of open-faced sun-dried tomato pesto panini. I couldn't stop shoveling it into my mouth. I liked the Chex Mix on the side, too.   :)

They had a pretty good drink selection (and awesome prices!), so we tried a few things. I don't remember everything we tried, though the 10 year Pappy was gooood. Mark didn't want to like it because there's so much hype around it, but it was pretty tasty. The bartender, Katrina, was really cool, and we had a good time talking to her and a random guy who was sitting a couple seats down (and turns out, has a son who flies a Mooney).

After lunch and drinks, we spent a little time wandering around Frankfort. There were a few neat shops (including a secret hidden attic bookstore that had all kinds of crazy old books). We eventually called a cab to go pick up our things and head to the hotel. There was a fairly long wait, so we went back to Capital Cellars, had some mint juleps (which were as delicious as you'd hope a Kentucky mint julep would be), then eventually met up with the cab. We made a quick stop at the airport to grab our bags, then went to the hotel and called it a day.

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