Lesson 296-342 (a.k.a. N123XM flying hours)
July 23 - August 13
2400 nautical miles
2760 statute miles

+ many local flights
= 45.8 hours of flying

2005 SeaRey Trip
to the Midwest
Georgian Bay

Hammondsport, NY

Part 1

The morning of Saturday, 23 July 2005, looked good for beginning a trip to visit a friend in Illinois and a cousin in Iowa and Oshkosh and a SeaRey bunch in Ontario.

I was somewhat anxious about the first part of the trip--crossing the Appalachian Mountains--because a similar crossing last year was mostly scud-running in low clouds for 150 miles, trusting the altimeter to keep me clear of obscured ridges, and I wasn't eager to repeat that exercise at
. all.  This year the weather was more favorable, but there had been a few last-minute maintenance problems to attend to.  Finally, the airplane and the weather both were ready.  In order to arrive at Oshkosh in time and still have good visits along the way, the first day was going to be a long one--from Richmond, Virginia, to the Missippi River.  Here are some of the highlights.

Technically, the Great Smoky Mountains were south of my route, but the mountains near the Virginia-West Virginia state line looked rather smoky anyway--only it was clouds, not smoke.

Not many level places to land there.  Except here--maybe.  (I didn't try, but was tempted.)

The first stop, after about 3 hours, was for GAS--that is, for gasolene at KGAS, Gallia-Meigs Field, Gallipolis, Ohio.  (They say gal-uh-po-LEESE there.) This was my first view of the place as I followed the river west to its confluence with the Ohio.

From the air it's easy to tell which waterways are well cared for.  The Ohio River is a lot clearer than the.Kanawha.

The runway at GAS lies parallel to the Ohio, on the west bank and just this side of where a highway cuts diagonally through a hill.

And this is the view from the other side:

I discovered that when I got down to pattern altitude and turned onto the downwind leg for runway 05, the airport disappeared behind the hill until I was almost ready to turn final.  It was almost like mountain flying.

A dam and lock on the Ohio, near Cincinnati:

Southwest of Cincinnati I circled the house of another SeaRey owner, Bob Toerner, and the marina where he ties the airplane down.  ("WP 2" on the map above.)  You might just see his white SeaRey on the grass, near the middle.

No time that day for hanging around, though.  I did a splash-and-go on the Ohio in front of Bob's house and then turned west again, hoping to reach Quincy, Illinois, before dark.  Arrived there about half an hour past sunset, after flying the last two hours into the setting sun that lit up the hazy sky and turned it translucent, like skim milk, so that I had to look almost straight down just to stay rightside up.

Here's the guy I visited there, Terry Henert, a pilot and dentist, playing catch with his talented dog, Peanut:

At first I thought she was bouncing the ball with her nose, but another photo showed that she bites at it.  She's been winning all sorts of titles and accolades at dog trials all over the Midwest.

Next stop was my cousin Peggy and her family, on their farm west of Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Their place is the one on this side--the south side--of the road.  The actual farm is... well, there's a whole lot of it--something like a whole section, or more.  (A section is one square mile.)

Here's Peggy and Gordon, in front of their neighbor Gene Black's hangar.

Gene Black kindly consented to let me land on his 2000 x 60 foot grass airstrip, and kept my SeaRey safe from a storm in his huge "machine shed."   (It takes huge sheds to house the huge farm machines.)  Gene's runway is N-S and is surrounded on two and a half sides by cornfields.  He said that the wind wouldn't be any problem down below the top of the corn.  And that was so--the corn was about 10 feet tall.

Here's how Google Earth sees it:

Here are Peggy and Gordon and family--some of them--at home:

I could have stayed there forever (well, okay, make that "forever"--but I really enjoyed it).  Peggy is the middle daughter of my favorite aunt and uncle (my father's brother) and visiting her was like going home again.  But Oshkosh had already begun, and it was time to head for the Seaplane Base there.  First, though, there was a morning of SeaRey rides, with water landings and photo ops of the Chalstrom families' farms.  Here's Peggy and Gordon's elder son, Bryan, thinking of getting back into flying--and looking the part:

He did most of the flying to that lake and back and seemed to be enjoying it.

With mixed feelings, I took off from Gene Black's lovely green airstrip one last time...

...and turned east northeast, toward Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

You might think that all they grow in Iowa is corn--yes?

Not so.  They also grow propellers!

And they like modern art:

Looking south at Prarie Du Chien.

What has five eyes and runs south?

(It's a terrible old joke--and one of my favorites.  The photo contains a hint.)

In good time I arrived at the Oshkosh Seaplane Base.  The volunteers unloaded the SeaRey at the new U-shaped dock 4--all my camping gear, my pack, and my flight bag--and then towed the airplane out to a buoy in the lagoon.

If you've never been to Oshkosh--well, I'm not about to try showing you what it's like here.  I camped four nights at the Seaplane Base, rode the shuttle bus to the main field in the morning and back late in the afternoon, after the daily airshow.  I'd been there two times before.  And I
still haven't seen the half of it.

Oshkosh is all airplanes. (Except for the several-hundred-thousand people who show up every day all week.)  I looked at airplanes, watched airplanes, sat in airplanes, talked airplanes, dreamt airplanes--all of that and more.  Here are pictures of only three:

A P-40, the fighter flown early in WW II by the Flying Tigers, the Tuskegee Airmen, and many other US and allied pilots.  I had a gleaming red plastic model of one when I was a kid at that time.

This is Molt Taylor's Aircar.  It really flew, if you spread out the wings and tail and fastened them on.  Without them, it was a four-passenger car.  More or less.  But it was heavy and slow, both in the air and on the road.  Neat, though!

SpaceShipOne was there, too.  I was surprised to see that despite Burt Rutan's clever shuttlecock maneuver for re-entering the atmosphere, the paint still burnt off the nose.

Okay, so much for Oshkosh. 

Here endeth Part The First.  The next part of the trip took me to the north, to the east, and back to the south.

Go directly to Part 2(Opens in its own window.  This window will stay open, too, to economize on bandwidth.)

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