A Family Adventure

in the mountains, ocean, and air

This is the first post of our 2024 Trip to Utah.

During preparation to fly to Utah for a backpacking trip through the Happy Canyon Narrows, the weather was looking like it might be a challenge. The plan was for me to use some vacation time to fly the airplane to Salt Lake City while Emilie and Isaac would fly out by airline so that we could spend Isaac’s school vacation in Utah instead of flying to and from Utah. I would meet them on Saturday, the first day of Isaac’s vacation. We would use a similar strategy at the end of the vacation.

The forecasts were showing multiple strong weather fronts that would impede my progress. A bit of research suggested that if I left a day and a half earlier than planned, I might be able to run down the east coast and get around the southern end of the first weather front. Later, I would probably need to sit on the ground while the second front passed over. Tuesday morning was spent madly getting packed so as to fly to Lynchburg, VA (KLYH) where I would spend the first night with Emilie’s parents. This should put me in a good place to get around the southern end of the Appalachians and the first weather front the next day. By 1:00pm on Tuesday afternoon, we had everything weighed and packed in the airplane. The trip to Lynchburg was uneventful and even had somewhat favorable winds and ATC cleared me through the DC area airspace (just the “Class Bravo”, not the more restricted stuff) without my asking.

Tuesday Photos


Clouds on the Allegheny Ridge

The next day the weather forecasts and reports seemed to indicate a good chance of heading directly west from Lynchburg and across Kentucky. During climb out from KLYH, I looked west and was discouraged by the very poor visibility, but it wasn’t long until I had climbed above the low level haze and things were looking good. Things were looking good except for the headwinds. I stayed as low as the haze and Appalachians would permit so as to not get into the stronger winds up higher. It was a bumpy ride.

5.7 hours of bumping and rocking and rolling later I landed in Sikeston, MO (KSIK) for fuel and other needs. I sat on the ground (literally on the ground with my back against one of the tires) and tried to figure out whether to zig or zag. This style of cross country flight is a game of chess where you try to figure out where the weather will be for the next couple of days and plan a route that has you in the right place the next two mornings for further progress. I also need to choose a destination that I could arrive at before the FBO closed and when transportation and lodging could be found. In some cases that can be done any time, but often things get a lot harder after 5pm. Seeing no good moves on the playing board, I eventually settled on Lawrence, KS (KLWC) which is a bit west of Kansas City (MO or KS, take your pick)

Wednesday Photos


Waiting for the rain to clear

That night into Thursday morning, the second weather front passed over resulting in tornadoes to the south east of Kansas City, but nothing serious hit KLWC. I had picked a stop that was just about far enough west. Though the storms had passed KLWC by the next morning, the low clouds, poor visibility and scattered rain showers had not and the front was not moving. Though I am often happy to fly with one or two of those issues, the combination of all three kept me on the ground until well after lunch. At least the rain softened the bugs for easier cleaning of the windshield and wing leading edges.

The plan was to stop somewhat short of the Rockies in a place that would enable crossing through Marshall pass the following day. Even if I could have arrived in time to cross the Rockies, I wouldn’t be going. A nearby pass equipped with a weather station was reporting headwinds of 40 kts gusting to 60 kts.

A short distance west of KLWC, the clouds cleared and I went up to 7,500 ft where the Bearhawk would be a bit faster. As I progressed westward, the crosswinds turned a bit favorable and offered a small tailwind component enabling me to arrive in Pueblo, CO (KPUB) before the FBO closed up.

Thursday Photos

Airport stops

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More posts coming at 2024 Trip to Utah


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