Arizona to New Jersey Cross Country Trip 2004
Aug 4, 2004 - Day 2:
The original plan for the day would take us up through Springfield, MO south of St Louis, MO across Illinois and then to Shelbyville, Indiana. Due to weather that was to be in the Midwest I spent the better part of the prior evening in the hotel making a new flight plan. We would head east toward Nashville, TN and stay to the south of the weather. We also saw that weather would be moving into the Appalachian range later in the day and that was going to prevent us from going north up the coast to NJ on Thursday. If we could do an end run around the weather and not make as many stops, we could try to get to NJ by evening on Wednesday. It would be a long day, but we were up for it.
OK, I set the alarm for 5am hoping to get a good jump on the day. Unfortunately, I didn't actually get it set because at 6:30am I was awakened by something and realized what time it was! I woke Alyssa and told her to get dressed and run down to the lobby for some breakfast while I took a shower. She no more than walked out the room when she returned and said "Dad, I don' think we're going anywhere - its pouring down rain!". I looked out the window and sure enough it was pouring. The forecasts the night before had said the rain would hold off in OK City until early afternoon, but obviously overnight it changed. I logged onto the computer and checked the latest radar. The edge of the storm was right over OK City and stretched eastward to Nashville, TN. As I watched the storm progress it was obvious that the storm edge would clear us in about an hour or so and if we headed south toward Dallas, TX we could get to the south of it and then head east. I spent another hour re-routing the flight and then got a bite to eat before we headed to the airport.
The sky was beginning to clear to the west as we got to the plane and packed out stuff. The cover my mom had made worked beautifully and not a drop of rain had touched the fuselage. I pulled the plane to the fuel pumps and refueled while Alyssa took some pictures and some video. After watching the weather for another hour we got in and departed at 11am to the south and east to clear the storm. We hit a bit of rain about 20 minutes into the flight that lasted about 10 minutes. The rain wasn't hard, but it was enough to come in under a gap in the front of the canopy. While the plane was at the upholsterers they had failed to get the gas strut attached properly and actually broke the snap at one end. Unfortunately, they didn't know it and neither did I until my wife and I flew the plane down to Marana, AZ the first weekend I had it back. As I opened the canopy it just kept going and ended up ripping itself right off of its hinges. I was able to cobble it back together and fly it home, but had to fabricate new hinges before the cross country trip. I realized after the first day of the trip that the hinge location must be off slightly because too much air was coming in from under the canopy front edge. Now the same thing was happening with the rain. This problem would become more apparent as the trip progressed. We just felt a couple of drops of water get on us, so it wasn't too bad.
We ended up flying to just north of Dallas, TX before we could start heading east. We had lost another hour and not really made any headway, so I wasn't getting too many warm and fuzzies that we would make it to NJ by evening. We decided to forego any stops unless absolutely necessary (bladder or fuel) so our first leg lasted about 3 hours. We crossed the Mississippi River (poor quality picture to the right here) and decided to stop in Indianola, MS (KIDL) at 1pm local for fuel. As we called UNICOM and gave advisories on our intentions we heard nothing. There was absolutely no wind, so we picked a runway direction that would take us to the fuel area on rollout and called base and final. I was about 50 feet off the end of the runway when a crop duster decided to taxi onto the opposite end of the runway. Not knowing his intentions I aborted the landing and circled the field. I came around and landed going his direction, but never heard a word from him. Gotta keep those eyes peeled at all times, especially at uncontrolled fields. The runway was plenty long, but as we landed I realized how rough it was. We rattled down the runway coming to a slow taxi on the rough concrete. Marc Z's nose gear mishap was in the back of my mind and the gear kept being rattled by the cracks in the joints of the concrete. We taxied to the fuel pumps and got out to stretch. Again, no one was around, but a call to the phone number attached to the pilots lounge door resulted in an immediate answer by a guy who drove right over from one of the hangars to get us fueled up. We didn't spend a lot of time on the ground as we realized how humid this part of the country was. We were back in the air within half an hour after keeping our fingers crossed that the gear would hold up to the battering of the rough runway.
Our next leg was only 1-1/4 hours as we needed to make a bladder stop in Columbus, MS (KGTR). We decided to stretch and check weather before going much further. The clouds that we should have gotten out of long ago were staying close to our north so I was sure the weather was moving much faster than forecasted. We checked radar and confirmed our suspicions. The rain and thunderstorms were already moving into Tennessee and the Carolinas. I once again ran into the experience of the electrical system not working after landing and parking, but after a wait was able to get power again. I confirmed that it was not a loose switch, but was something else. This time I realized that only my essential buss was effected and began to think about how that could be the problem. We planned our next fuel stop for Greenville, TN and would make a decision there on whether to continue. We arrived in Greenville (KGCY) at 6:30pm local time and we were still short of NJ by a good 2-1/2 hours. Not enough day light left to make it in, so we decided to stop for the night. The delays due to rain and not waking up on time had probably done us in today. Otherwise I'm sure we could have made it in.
The folks in Greenville gave us the crew car and we drove into town to get a room for the night. I also decided to buy a small volt-ohm meter to help debug the electrical problem the next morning. The plan was to arrive early and try to get to the bottom of the electrical intermittent issue before heading out to NJ. Follow the link to Day 3 adventures.