A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

This is the first day of our two week flying and hiking trip to the Rockies. Read stories from the rest of the trip.


Wednesday before we departed for Utah, I started planning food. Luckily we have a spreadsheet for backpacking trips. I plugged in 7 days and 2.7 people. Then I rounded everything up for good measure since we wouldn’t be carrying it on our backs.

As the weekend approached, the Saturday forecast stayed sunny. It looked like the weather would cooperate.

Left wing so full of fuel, Isaac can touch it.

Friday afternoon, Tyson and Isaac filled the Bearhawk’s main tanks and auxiliary tanks with 100 gallons of fuel. Friday evening we started packing. The camping gear was easy, same as for backpacking. Tools to repair the airplane? Tyson brought wrenches, most of our small tool box, and gaffer’s tape. I threw in PB&J sandwiches and grapes for lunch. Then a few last this-es and thats. Tyson weighed everything as he put it in the plane. We were very heavy but it was 10AM. No time to repack everything.


Ready to go

I, Emilie, flew the first leg. It was bumpy over the Green Mountains. When turbulence picked up a wing, the mass of the fuel wanted to keep rolling. On the other hand, pushing the stick forward a tiny bit made the nose dive. One time, when I reached back to grab a snack, the wobbles and bounces were so pronounced that Tyson worried something was wrong.

“No,” I told him, “it just flies a little different.”

We flew past Mount Greylock and the Thunderbolt ski trail.

Not far into New York, my bladder started complaining. So much for filling the aux tanks to go long distance. We never again filled the aux tanks on the trip. No fun to fly, and not worth it since I couldn’t go any longer than the main tanks. I landed at Cooperstown, NY (K23). An hour’s flight. We ate lunch, stretched our legs, and watched two gyrocopters take off. The local pilots said we should come back the next week for their big fly in. Maybe next year. Then it was Tyson’s turn to fly.

Tailwinds going west

The prevailing winds in the continental US blow from west to east. One pilot I emailed suggested

“When flying westbound across the Midwest (which is usually into a headwind) I fly as low as possible without hitting anything. And I do mean, fly low, like at 500-1,000 ft.”

Instead, a low pressure in the Mid-Atlantic was driving easterly winds. Tyson climbed up to 8,500 feet above sea level. We made 130kts ground speed. Up that high, we were also above the bumps. I took a nap.

Fields to wet to plant

When I woke up, we were over western Ohio. The ground beneath us was now flat with brown farm fields. I saw tractors out planting the fields. We clearly still had a tailwind because the dust from the tractors blew west.

40 minutes from Glenndale, scattered clouds appeared beneath us and started thickening. We descended before it was an issue. Our host, Michelle, was a little concerned about us landing. The nearby public Kokomo airport reported 30kt winds perpendicular to Glenndale’s runway. Tyson had no troubles. By our standards, Glenndale is a nice, long grass runway with trees on the east side blocking the wind.

Tyson flew 4.5 hours that day.

Glenndale (8I3)

Michelle (our host) and Emilie

The Glenndale runway is about the same length as Brookline, but they have a lot more houses along the runway and a lot more hangars. They even have a communal building where they hold pot luck dinners on Fridays. Michelle and Ron cooked dinner for us and some of the other locals. Their house wasn’t big enough, so Judy and Chuck hosted us. After dinner we got a tour of all the different planes and projects around the airport. Everyone seemed to have a project or three in the back of their hangar. A few people had bits of airplanes left from when a tornado passed through ten years ago. I also learned that it’s late in the year for the farm fields to still be brown. They’ve been too wet from the spring rains to plant yet.

To Be Continued

Check back for the rest of the flight out to Utah.

[Update] Day 2 posted at Flight West Across the Plains

All Photos