Finally got some time to do a little editing. We took off from Valdez Alaska at 9:30 PM in early June. The next few videos I’ll be posting in the coming weeks are from this flight. We were up for an hour and a half and were in day conditions the entire flight. Got back down on the ground around 11:00 PM. Summer flying in Alaska has its advantages. 🙂
Im really excited about the next few videos I’ll be sharing with you all. My family and I were able to go home to Valdez Alaska to visit the grandpa and grandma for a week. The weather was very cooperative and we were blessed with blue skies and snow capped mountains. I broke our first flight into three videos as I found it very difficult to cut any of it out during editing. The scenery is just stunning. Growing up here I never truly appreciated the backdrop that surrounds the town of Valdez. I hope you enjoy this first episode. We took off from Valdez Airport PAVD or VDZ and head up the first valley accessible from town. Mineral Creek has some active gold mines and is groomed all winter with some spectacular cross country skiing trails.
The Music in this show.
Artist: Dan Tharp
Artist: Justin Gordon
Song: “Shack Song:
Artist: Dan Tharp
Spring time offers a nice breath of fresh air and the beginnings of longer days. Getting out flying after work is near impossible during the winter. By the time you get out to the plane and do your preflight you had better be night current. With daylight stretching later into the evenings I was able to hop out of work and make my way to the airport with the sun still high in the sky. After a preflight and a fuel up I was up in the air skimming over the abundance of lakes found in Northern Minnesota. Follow along for a glimpse of a relaxing afternoon flight.
Intro Music by Dan Tharp
Check out Dans other music over at http://dantharpmusic.com/
Mesmerize by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
On a beautiful spring day. Winds were light and variable and skies were clear below 12,000. A perfect day for an afternoon flight. Glenn and I hopped in the plane and went out for a little sight seeing over areas he duck hunts in the fall. From there we flew north up to Lake Kabetogma and then turned East staying just south of Namikan Lake and the international border, making our way back to Orr, MN. Sure was a nice spot landing back at home.
A co-worker of mine has a yearly camping trip with some buddies up on Namakan lake that borders Minnesota and Canada. He has been a little hesitant to go flying with me. I’ve had my ticket for a couple of years now and pester him often in the office to go up for a flight with me. Well a couple days ago the weather was looking amazing. I wanted to be sure to have nice and smooth air for him since this would be his first GA flight. That can be somewhat difficult to find during the hot summer months with the density altitude sky rocketing and the afternoon thermals making most flights a little bouncy. It just so happened the weather fit the bill nicely. It was warm, but there was little to no wind which made for some very calm skies.
After preflighting the plane I called up flight service to get a wather briefing and to file a flight plan. Normally on a local sightseeing flight I wouldn’t file a flight plan, but since we would be dipping in and out of Canada as we flew along these border lakes, it is required to file a flight plan. We took off out of KORB and headed North up to Namakan. There are lakes all over Minnesota, but as we approached the border it sure was undeniably apparent. As we flew over Namakan and turned East, lake after lake after lake lined up like dominos as far as the eye could see. We traveled east over Rainy Lake and Crain Lake before ascending above 4,000 ft. MSL as we entered the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. We continued East over Lac La Croix, then on to Crooked Lake where we caught a glimpse of Curtain Falls that empties out of Crooked Lake and into Iron Lake. From there we headed South to Trout Lake and then Lake Vermilion and back to Orr.
It was a great day for a flight and it was fun getting Troy up for his first flight and give them the opportunity to see some of the area he’s traveled through by boat from the air.
My wife (Erin) has relatives who live over in Door County Wisconsin. We visit them every other year or so which typically involves about an eight hour drive from our place in northern Minnesota. I’ve been thinking of taking the next trip out there by air as it would drastically reduce the travel time. We have a two year old and a 4 month old. The 4 month old hates driving in the car. I figure 3 hrs in the plane with a stop along the way for a new diaper and a snack sure beats eight hours in the car or ten to eleven hours if you count stops along the way. Erin wanted me to take the flight on my own first before brining the kids along so I could get familiar with the route and the airport over in Door County which is KSUE.
So I put together a route in Foreflight with a little detour around the end of Lake Superior so I wouldn’t have to fly over much big water. I put in waypoints every 20 – 40 nm so I would be able to cross reference on a paper chart if my electronics were to fail. I also worked out a cheat sheet that had all of the times between checkpoints and estimated arrival times for each checkpoint. Also I created a cheat sheet for my kneeboard, on this sheet I had the airports along the way with their runway headings (colored green if they were a turf runway), pattern altitudes, CTAF, and AWOS frequencies incase I needed to divert at any point during the flight. I also commandeered Erin’s uncle to join me for the round trip. We would fly over and meet up with his brother and nephew for lunch and then fly home. He would help me with keeping track of times between checkpoints, not to mention a little company for the hours in the sky.
The morning we went to take off the weather looked great at our departure in KORB. Clear below 12,000 and winds right down the runway less than 10 kts. The route was clear as well with a nice tail wind to scoot us right along. The wind in KSUE however was a little bit on the edge of my personal minimums. We were looking at a quartering cross wind of 9 gusting 14 kts. Which I don’t deal with very often. If these had been direct cross winds I would have probably canceled the flight. After lots of deliberation on this and a call to the CFI I got my PPL with (who gave me the confidence to go on with the trip) we were up in the air and on our way.
We took off and climbed up to 5500. It wasn’t too long before we were able to pick up Duluth Approach. I listened to the ATIS and got the information even though I wasn’t landing there, just passing through. I gave them a call and let them know my intentions and asked for flight following. They accommodated me and after squawking a transponder code we were down and around the tip of Lake Superior in no time. I was handed off from Duluth approach to Minneapolis center on the Eastern side of Superior and they provided flight following for the remainder of our quick trip over to Door County. I do mean quick. With that nice tail wind we were down there in just 2 hours and 45 min. I was a little concerned about flying over the water of Green bay so I climbed up to almost 6000 when we went over the water. Once we got to the other side we had to lose all that altitude to come in and land. I called KSUE and told them what I was up to and pulled power and carb heat and did a little forward slipping to get down and entered the pattern. The winds were exactly as forecasted with a right quartering cross wind with some gusts here and there, but my landing was great. These are the types of trips I need to take to continue to build my skills and confidence. Im typically a very cautious fair weather flyer.
The relatives were there waiting to pick us up. After tying down the airplane we took off for some lunch, a little walk around the harbor, and then a quick stop to pick up some cheese curds and some smoked and non smoked string cheese from Renards. Then it was back to the airplane. The nice folks at KSUE topped of my tanks and we were off on our way back home. This time into a hefty head wind. On the way down were seeing ground speeds of near 140 mph. On the way back it was more like 95 mph.
On the way back we stopped off at Rhinelander (KRHI) to check out the facilities as a possible snack and diaper pit stop when we took the trip with the kids. While we were there since we were fighting such a fun headwind I had them top off the tanks as well. I always like working off the top half of the tanks if I can help it. While we were there we got to watch a black hawk helicopter take off. I guess the guys had stopped off there to use the courtesy car and head into town for some lunch. Not sure why, but I missed the actual take off after what seemed like a very expensive amount of time with the chopper running on the ground. I made sure the plane was tied down as I didn’t want them blowing me over as they taxied by us.
After our little pit stop we were back in the air using flight following once again from the fine folks over at Minneapolis center. We were watching some thunder storms pop up on foreflight back at our destination in KORB. Nothing was forecasted or showing up on the middle part of our return flight, but getting home was looking like it might be interesting. We flew to Duluth getting switched over to Duluth approach from Center. As we were flying by Duluth I was looking at the weather and KORB was surrounded by thunder storms with more heading that way. We flew on to Eveleth (KEVM) which was still clear of the nasty stuff, but upon our arrival there the storms were looming so we landed there and tied down the plane.
Now what to do???? We could wait there and wait for those afternoon midwest thunderstorms to play out and fly home when things started cooling down, or we could call for a ride since we were only about an hour from home. We ended up choosing the later and on our ride home the skies opened up and the storms dissipated and it would have made for a lovely flight back home. But they always say its better being on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing your were on the ground.
The next morning Erin drove me down to KEVM and I flew the plane back up to KORB and got it tucked back in the hangar.
This was the longest cross country I’ve flown, and it was a great learning experience. All of the controllers I worked with both at Duluth approach and Minneapolis center were great. Flight following sure is a great service if they are able to fit you into their work load.
I am looking forward to a family trip by plane some day. We’ll see how the 4 month old takes to flying. I’ll keep you posted.
Here is a bit of a time lapse from KSUE to KRHI.
Flying is quite the passion. It gives those lucky enough the opportunity to see sights few others experience. Im sure like most if not all of you I really enjoy taking people up flying. I really enjoy getting the opportunity to take people up for their first GA flight. I’ve had my ticket for a couple of years now and in that time I’ve taken 24 different passengers up for flights with a handful of them the flight being their first flight. Getting to share this with someone is a lot of fun.
My daughter has been up with me a few times. She will be turning two in April. She loves to fly. She will come up to me and say “Daddy plane, daddy plane”. I’ll ask her if she wants to go flying and she gets a big smile and nods yes. Here is one of her flights.
I’ve also had the opportunity to bring up both my niece and nephew for their first flights. Both were on frigid winter days so they were dressed for the occasion.
91 days. Thats how long it had been since my last flight. This winter has not provided me with the best flying weather one can imagine. With the polar vortex and just general IFR days you get with a change in seasons, I had watched the last three months slip by without a flight. I’m not saying that there weren’t any flyable days in those three months, but they were few and far between, and just never seemed to land on a day I could go.
It was time to get current. Watching the weather forecasts closely I finally saw an opening in the weather. The days had been cold. Really cold. With temps repeatedly reaching -25 to -45 F at night and with daytime highs rarely hitting zero it was nice to see an afternoon high of 4 F. I drove out to the airport Thursday evening and plugged in the plane with plans of monopolizing on the window of warmish air the next day. 20 hours later I leave work and head for the airport. The skies clear, next to no wind, and a balmy 6 degrees. I got to the plane and kept it plugged in as I did my preflight. Once that was complete I manually rotated the prop about 30 times in an attempt to circulate the oil inside the engine hoping to mix what was warmed by the block heater in with the rest. Then I pulled the plane over to the pumps and topped off the tanks. After a call to flight service for a weather briefing it was time to fire up the engines. The plane instantly roared to life and I made sure to keep the RPM’s below 1000 and stared down the oil pressure and temperature gauges. The needle on the oil pressure made its way up to just touching the green within a minute and I wasn’t getting any reading on the oil temp. I let the plane idle for about 10 minutes then did a little run up slowly applying power enough to see the oil pressure needle move up fully into the green. I then taxied down to the other end of the runway as it allowed the plane more time to warm up and was slightly favored in the wind department. I did my full run up and ran through the checklist. Then it was time to take off. I made a conscious effort to apply power very slowly during my takeoff and with the cold dense air was off the ground in no time. I did a couple of laps around the pattern with both my second landing so smooth I almost couldn’t tell when I touched down. Then I headed out for a quick little flight over the end of Lake Vermilion before the setting sun had me flying back to get my third landing in for the day.
It was a beautiful night with the sun setting on the horizon and very smooth dense air. As I drove home in the dusk I was thinking that on such a clear night and a near full moon, a night flight would be breathtaking with the ground covered in snow. Maybe another time.
During my flight training one required element is a long distance cross country. I learned a lot from this flight. As I edit the video I cringe at how I handled landing in KBJI. There were two King Air planes flying ILS pattern work. I was very concerned about these faster planes over taking me in the pattern. I announced I was a student pilot and left the pattern to allow the other planes access. They announced they would be out of my way so I turned in for a long final approach. In hindsight I realize by doing so I monopolized the pattern for a much longer amount of time than necessary. I should have just joined the pattern and and got on the ground and out of their way. Learning is what this is all about though right? I know I won’t be making the same mistake in the future. I hope you enjoy the video. I cut over 4 hours of flight time down to less than 15 min. I tired to have each leg last about 5 min. Comments are welcome. Go easy on me. 🙂