I am fortunate in that my job has a few “fun” parts to it. One of the things I get to do a few times per year is move a plane across parts of the country. This particular trip was from Kansas back home to North Carolina. I broke it into a two-day trip to make it easier. The trip out was airline and, well, it was uneventful so I consider that a successful airline trip. The light aircraft model I was flying back was new to me, so I did a quick training hop with an instructor to familiarize myself with that plane and planned to launch first thing the next morning.
It was July, so an early start would also help to make the trip more comfortable – this was a little plane and the plan was to fly home at 9,500 feet and just enjoy the trip I hadn’t flown a model this small in about 20 years, so it would be a chance to re-familiarize myself with my aviation roots. I admit it, I’m spoiled with modern radios, navigation and autopilots, oh, and XM radio for current weather and entertainment. This was back to the basics, a single GPS receiver, no auto-pilot and no XM radio entertainment. At least I had a power-port to plug-in the iPhone and jack to put music into my headset. The trip would require two fuel stops and would be an easy trip. I launched about 7:30, headed out across the great plains and settled in for a long day of flying. Over the years I’ve lived all over the country, including Kansas, and have come to appreciate the beauty of the different geographies. The great plains are no different.
Over the years I have crossed the Mississippi River countless times, but it is a sight that I always look forward to. As I approach the river I start looking for it to appear on the horizon and see what is happening on the river that day. The barge traffic is always interesting to me.
The first fuel stop was in Jackson, TN and I made it a quick one. I had plenty of food and fluids with me, so I filled up the fuel tanks, used the facilities, settled the fuel bill and was back in the air in about 20 minutes. The next leg was shorter, I was going to Crossville, TN to top off the tanks before heading over the Appalachian Mountains home into North Carolina. When you look at a map, Tennessee looks like a long, skinny state; when you fly it lengthwise you confirm that statistic!
A quick fuel and pit-stop in Crossville and I was back in the air on the final leg. I fell in love with the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains in college. I’ve hiked and explored lots of different mountain chains in the US over the years, but something about the Blue Ridge Mountains continues to intrigue me and now tells me I am close to home when headed eastbound.
You never know what you will find flying across the country. I found this work of field art in South Carolina on the descent.
I landed after a total of just over 7 hours of flight time back home in North Carolina. Crawling out of the plane, I was reminded I’m not as young as I used to be. Still, it was a fun trip and a great way to spend the day!