I had the great fortune of flying the sweepstakes airplane home and the bad misfortune of doing it with a headwind the entire way.
After showing off the airplane in Naples, Florida, on Monday afternoon (thanks Chris LeCroy for the grub and for organizing), I was off to the north. The plan was to stop in Gainesville, Fla. on Monday and make it the rest of the way Tuesday. Gainesville is a great airport. Of course, I’m partial given that I learned to fly there and still root for the Gators. The flight from Naples was beautiful. It was one of the late afternoon/early evening flights when everything is clicking. I took off over the shore and headed north among a scattered layer of puffy white. The sun was setting, the ride was smooth, and the music from my ipod was groovy. We live to fly for days like this.
It wasn’t until the sun set and I couldn’t see much on the ground that I began to care about the 20 knots of wind on the nose. No bother though. I landed shortly after and enjoyed a good sleep.
The next morning it was an early departure, a quick aerial campus tour, and then cruising at 2,000 feet over north Florida. I used to do this all the time in Cessna 152s and I couldn’t believe my luck that it was severe clear and completely smooth.
As time wore on, I began to focus on the Aspen Avionics PFD. It has an air data computer that instantly displays winds aloft, true airspeed, and groundspeed. This is what I hate about modern avionics. I was happy being ignorant of the 30 knots on the nose of the airplane. And yes, for the next seven and a half hours, I saw groundspeeds of anywhere between 85 and 101 knots. Ugh. And to make matters worse, I had to stay low to avoid winds of around 45 knots on the nose. So after knocking my head four times on the new air vents (that poke out, by the way. Now I know why they made them flush with the plastic from the factory), I was happy to land under calm winds in Frederick.
But I shouldn’t complain. Other than widely scattered clouds in Georgia and South Carolina, the entire day was severe clear. And I made a paycheck while flying an airplane. Any day you can do that is a good day.
Tags: Ian Twombly