Arizona to New Jersey Cross Country Trip 2004
Aug 5, 2004 - Day 3:
We would be backtracking on the route we took on day one of our trip today. We had some thunderstorms to the west over Amarillo, TX that were pretty heavy, so I decided to skirt around them to the north since they were moving southeast. We loaded up the plane, topped off fuel and departed at 8:30am. We had about 5-1/2 hours to fly today, and with a gain of 2 hours in time zones we would be landing in Chandler sometime after noon. We both were anxious to get home so we were relieved to get airborn for our final day of the journey.
Almost immediately we encountered some rain as we headed west and had to stay below the cloud layer because the tops were too tall. It was fully overcast and dark clouds as we moved toward Amarillo. We made a good call by going north of the city and were able to stay relatively dry the whole time. We even had a few breaks in the clouds to get the sun shining on us. This was by far the bumpiest day - nothing severe, just a constant rocking as we proceeded along our course. As we entered New Mexico the terrain started to rise and we were still unable to go on top of the clouds. So we flew about 2000 ft AGL most of the time. As the terrain rose, so did the clouds and we always had 3000-4000 feet AGL ceilings. We decided to make a single stop for fuel in Tucumcari, NM (KTCC). We checked weather on the ground and saw numerous thunderstorms near Tucson, AZ. Most were travelling south and we would be going to the north of the city, so we decided to proceed with caution noting we could always stop in Truth or Consequences, NM or Lordsburg, NM if things got bad. As we left windy Tucumcari we leveled off at 8500 feet and made our way around the MOA's before turning south. The valley from Socorro to Truth or Consequences was relatively clear but we could see the storms as we got further south.
I started to turn west again north of Lordsburg and headed over the mountains through the lowest points I could find between the peaks. We picked up a little rain as we entered Arizona and then proceeded to fly up a valley over Safford, AZ toward Kearny. We had one range of mountains to cross before entering the Phoenix valley and there were heavy rains pouring down to the south and over the town of Kearny. But right between the two was a big gaping hole about 10 miles wide of bright sunshine and we could see the Superstition mountains thru it. That's home! I told Alyssa, "We're going to head straight for that opening and watch the rain on either side of us while we head into the Valley of the Sun". We had a great view of the rain to our left as we poked thru the opening into bright partly cloudy skies. We flew over Coolidge and dialed up ATIS for Chandler (KCHD). We enjoyed the sun as the clouds seemed to disappear the further we flew toward Chandler. At 10 miles out we called the tower and were eventually cleared for Runway 22L. The landing was uneventful and we taxied to the hangar. Wow - I had to take it all in that my daughter and I had just competed a nearly coast to coast journey in a plane I built with my own two hands, covering roughly 4000 nm and adding 28 hours of flight time to my logs.
As we unpacked and pulled the plane into the hangar I told Alyssa, "She did good!" and patted "Blonde Streak" on the wing. I then prayed a silent prayer thanking God for His wonderful provision and protection and closed the hangar doors. Now that I've had a few days to think about it and share it with some friends, I can't wait for the next adventure! Back to Brian's Cozy Home Page.