Saturday, September 10, 2016

August 2nd: The Trip Finally Ends!

It was almost a week before I was able to get back to Ohio. I didn't like how empty my hangar looked with my C172 gone! Luckily, the weather cooperated the following Tuesday, so I met Frank at HWY nice and early for the flight to Ohio.

My friends Ralph and Bobbie own this beautiful C182 and offered it as a ride to Ohio. Frank had me file an IFR flight plan and sit left seat for the flight so I could get a bit of practice with the G1000 glass cockpit system.

It is a LOT different than my plane! I've flown a bit with this system before, though, so I wasn't clueless, just a little rusty. We picked up our IFR clearance, plugged everything into the autopilot, and enjoyed the view while the plane flew us to Ohio.

Our routing took us almost directly over the same flight path I'd flown just a couple weeks earlier.

The clouds filled in below us after a little while. It was especially cool to see the steam from the power plants rising up through the low layer. The clouds broke up again by the time we got to CDI, so we canceled IFR and entered the traffic pattern. I somehow nailed the landing, which was a nice way to end the flight!   :)

Yay!! I think I may have actually cheered when I was rolling out on landing and saw my plane waiting for me.   :)

Frank checked the weather for the flight back and made sure I was set before heading back in the C182. I topped off and preflighted, double checked the weather, then said goodbye to the guys in the FBO. They took really good care of me (and didn't even charge me a tiedown fee for getting weathered in!), and I'll definitely be stopping here again when I head west!

Goodbye, CDI...I'll see you again someday!

Since I had just flown the exact route I'd be flying back, I knew that the clouds might occasionally be a little thick below me, but that I could easily stay VFR the entire time. I climbed up to 7500' and settled in for the 2-ish hour flight. At first, the flight was really easy and the clouds were no factor...

...but after a little while the clouds started to rise a bit higher and up to my altitude. I had to start to pick my way around them a bit, deviating a little left and right as I went. I didn't exactly like the look of the clouds at a couple points...

...but I always made sure I had an out if I needed one, and never flew myself into a situation where I had no options.

At one point I had to deviate so far off course to miss a few buildups that it seemed like it made more sense to descend below the clouds instead. That worked well for a few miles, but when I started to get to higher terrain I found myself watching for wind turbines a bit harder than I liked. I still had more than 1000' between me and the ground at all times, but it was taking more effort than it was worth to stay down low so I climbed back up to 7500'.

I still had to pick my way around some clouds, but oh well. I had plenty of fuel, so it was just a matter of having patience with the deviations.

I eventually crossed back into Virginia and decided it really was time to descend below the clouds. I came down below the layer a couple of ridgelines west of my home field, and rather than try to squeeze between the ridges and the clouds, I decided to fly north up one of the valleys to lower terrain before crossing the last set of ridges. After that, it was an easy 20 minutes the rest of the way home and into the pattern.

And trip was over!!

Overall, it was a great trip. I wound up putting 17 hours on the airplane round trip and had a lot of fun doing so. I'm not sure when I'll get back to Oshkosh again (I've already decided that next time, I want to take a full 2 weeks off from work so that I don't have to rush home for weather), but I'm sure I'll get back there someday. I had a great time in Ohio and Oshkosh, and it was a lot of fun catching up with friends along the way. My airport buddies were also fantastic about making sure I had a way to get my plane back...I'm really grateful to have such good friends down here!   :)

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