A nice airplane, a full tank of fuel and a pilot who wants to fly. I wonder where this could take us?

October 1st - A short day: I have barely been home and recovered from the Iceland trip and it is time to leave again for some planned and maybe some unplanned flying activities. Our leg today was short - a stop in Fort Myers to visit Vern and Stubby and to get my 3rd sewing maching repaired. I have 3 machines and ALL of them went down at the same time. I much have had the sewing machine gremlin come to visit. I will remain here a couple days for some quality kitty time and to firm up some plans. Ooooo this is going to be good!

October 3 - Away we go: Since I have not launched out on a long trip since my attempted return from Oshkosh, I was thankful for good VFR weather i stead of storm dodging as I had done in July.
The winds were not unfavorable - mostly nil or a light crosswind. Occasionally I actually got a wee tailwind component to brighten the morning. This is really day one of the mystery trip. And day one landed me and Wild Mama in Newnan, GA and the Historic Banning Mill. This old mill was converted into a hotel, restaurant and zip line/adventure/eco-tourism destination. This is SheriffTour/TLCday2.jpgmy second overnight trip here, the first being with Vern a number of years ago. We stayed in one of the “tree houses” which was really pretty awesome. This trip is a cabin in the woods with the girls. Another girls trip!!!!
Not much today: open the cabin, shop for supplies and orient myself to the area again.
October 4 - just zipping along: I really enjoy Historic Banning Mill. The setting is tranquil. There are tons of hiking trails and lots of outdoors stuff to do, one of my favorites being the bridges and zip line course. I had done the level course years back with Vern and had a blast all except one bridge that was particularly scary. I was doing the same course today ... including the bridge.
No other 99s chose to participate today so my group was a cozy group of 3: and father and daughter (Kyle and Olivia) and myself with guides, Kalab and Travis. We started on the “bunny course” and worked our way up the food chain. Each level gets a little higher and more difficult. Now, by “difficult” I do not mean Ninja Warrior kind of difficult. But the zip lines get longer and faster (= more fun) and the bridges get shakier and narrower (= more scary). On level 4, you have to tackle “the bridge”. Of all the things I recall from years ago, this was it. “The bridge” is a series of 2”x4” planks suspended over the gorge. The bridge is long. It is narrow. It is very shaky and you have no choice but to cross it. This is the only bridge that holds a maximum of 2 people: one on the front half and one on the back half. Gulp!!! Thirteen year old, 6’ tall and bullet-proof Olivia bounded across the bridge while Kyle and I inched our way across quiteSheriffTour/zip1.jpg cautiously. We all made it without incident .... but I did break a sweat!
Level 4 finishes with the Screaming Eagle, a loooooong, fast zip line that is a blast. Unfortunately for me, neither Olivia nor I made the full line, running out of momentum to bring us up the last part of the line. Both of us needed Kalab to come “rescue” us. The zip lines have a natural bow in them: you gain momentum on the first downhill part then lose speed on the uphill portion toward the end. Whatever momentum you have you should lose so braking is minimal to land.
After successfully completing the zip line course it was time for lunch and visiting with my 99s sisters who started arriving at the resort. I am looking forward to a great girls weekend!

October 5-6 - SE Section Meeting: The real purpose of the weekend was the SE Section 99s fall meeting. Mae Marguet, our governor, hosted a great weekend. We had educational seminars, a good business and board meeting and lots of great hangar flying. My part was ducking out on some of the seminars and heading to our cabin in the woods to cook for 40 people - pulled chicken, ground beef with tacos and nachos with all the fixin’s .... and, of course, lots of desserts. It was nearly 11 pm before we got the cabin cleaned from the event and it was wonderful to get to bed for a good nights sleep. Tomorrow is a flying to ..... ��

October 7 - Bucket List trip: Several weeks ago, fellow 99, Joelle Petersen, introduced me to Dick Goodgame. Dick was her neighbor in Fort Myers before Joelle moved to Galena, AK to teach aviation to natives at the local school. Dick was the neighbor who flew with Joelle to Alaska and all over the west visiting the National Parks. You see, that is Dick's bucket list item: to visit all of the National Parks in the US and get his passport book stamped. With Joelle, and on his own, his visited 53/60 parks. A couple elluded him because of the distance and remotem=ness from other parks. One such park was Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. Dick asked for my help to go see the park and the fall colors. I agreed as long as we took Wild Mama (she has much better IFR equipment) and had a good weather window. The window opened today.SheriffTour/Acadiasign.jpg

I called Dick yesterday to tell him to meet me in Newnan and we would launch out as soon as he got there. The trip to Bar Harbor would be 7.5 hours. We realized we could not get a car in Bar Harbor so we diverted to Bangor in our flight planning. Still, it was a 7.5 hour flight. Dick arrived about 10:30 am. We loaded Wild Mama and launched out into the clear blue skies. Our clear blue would not be long as the weather up ahead was solid overcast. We had filed so it was not an issue. We managed to get a small tailwind through our trip to Winchester, just outside of Washington DC. We filed for our next leg and launched, getting "as filed" for our nearly direct route to Bangor. We were held lower and vectoredd all over the area to avoid the DC flight corridor. I thought we were far wnough away but ATC had other ideas. Finally I got the dreaded call: "N614WM - we have an amendment to your route, advise when ready to copy." Ugh .... as I listened to the routing, it sounded complicated and nothing like what I had planned. Putting it into Foreflight I saw where they had us flying west to fly east and along the coast before heading back west to Bangor. It added nearly an hour to the flight! Unable. I called back and asked for a more direct routing. They wer unable so wew canceled IFR and remained VFR with flight following direct Bangor. They had to deal with us anuway.

Most of the VFR trip was uneventful but about an hour out of Bangor we hit some serious clouds and had to pick up a clearance to get to Bangor. The clouds soon cleared and we were cleared for a visual approach. We "saw" the airport .... we we thought we had it. We wre eyeballing the beaon and flew right past the runway - wrong airport (headslap emoji). Bangor was disguised with lots of lights, plain view and easy to see. We spoted a distant airport sitting alone in the dark. Anyway, we landed, got a car and headed to the hotel for the night. Tomorrow we make the run for Acadia National Park.

October 8 - Park # 54: Both Dickand I are morning people so we were up and on our way with the sunrise. It was an hour drive to the Park in Bar Harbor and quite a pleasant drive. The fall colors were already in full swing although not in peak. We arrived at the park just before the visitor center opened sowe went to the National Park sign for a picture. The deal with Dick is he need a selfie with the Park sign and a stamp in his book. I was happy to oblige. We snapped a few pictures and wandered back to the Visitor Center for the book stamping. We picked up a park map and headed out to drive the park loop road. 

SheriffTour/dicksign.jpgWe were thrilled with the colors - lots of reds, oranges and yellows. There were strands of pines mixed in so we had a real color pallet to entertain our eyes. We drove up Cadillac Mountain, stopped at Seal Harbor and made a brief stop at the second visitor center before heading back to Bangor. In all,we spent half the day at the Park and hit the highlights although we did not go hiking. I had some leftover chicken from the Section meeting so we stopped at the convenience store, got some break and had a roadside lunch. Dick is funny. He will talk to a lamp post if he thought it wold talk back. He finds all sorts of interesting people just by saying hello. He has a good way of getting folks to respond to him, finding out all sorts of commonalities with virturally everyone. With lunchand a chat over we ake the drive back to Bangor and got Wild Mama ready for the net leg back south.

The original plan was to go back and get his plane in Newnan but that pesky Hurricane Michael was going to give us some high winds and low ceilings and make the flight in a little on the iffy side. We decided to stop in Hagerstown, MD for the night and assess the flight conditions in the mroning.

October 9 - Divert: It was evident that Hurricane Michael was already impacting Newnan with the out flow creating low ceilings although the wind was not too bad. We decided to go to my cabin in TN for a few days. The cabin was open and the timing worked. I need to get up here anyway to check on things periodically. We left IFR was had a VFR flight the remainder of the trip. The fall colors that were so vibrant in Maine were all a memory now - lots of greens and a hint of maybe leaves will change soon but no color to speak of.  The winds were reported light in Sparta but managed to pick up at our arrival; We had a 90 degree gusty crosswing 15G25 and theSheriffTour/FCFsign.jpg arrival was a bit difficult was done. We grabbed a car and headed for Walmart and the cabin.

The girls were still cleaning from the last guest when we arrived. Fortunately, it was not too bad. They did an abreviated cleaning hitting the heavy stuff after we leave. While it was open, I wanted to stop at Stone Creek and show Dick the other place and Angie agreed to bring little Mayhem - the kitten I rescued a few months ago - so I could see how he had grown....and had he ever grown into a giant 5 month old kitten, full of energy and very mischevious. We wandered about the property to see the view and the and waterfalls then headed to Fall Creek Falls so Dick could see the park. As we walked up to the mainfalls, Dick struck up a conversation with 2 ladies. Turns out, one of the ladies had been corresponding with me to SheriffTour/stonecreekdick.jpgrent the cabins for a family reunion and the other lived in Jupiter and her mother was a FL Grasshopper. We all chatted for more than an hour, exchanged numbers and went on our ways. Dickand I settled in the cabin for a relaxing night. We had done a lot of flying in a short time and some down time was welcomed. Besides: we needed to watch the Weather Channel so we could see where the Hurricane was going to strike.

October 10 - Local flavor: With a free day, we decided to goin out and explore the area. I had seen some of the tourist sites but Dick had not so we drove down to Tullahoma to see the Beech Heritage Museum. Tis is the Beech Party weekend and the museum would be closed to the public unless you paid the Beech Party admission. We got in before the higher admission prices took effect. We wandered about the museum looking at the Staggerwings, the Louise Thaden exhibit and the Starship along with other older Beechcraft aircraft. With the crowd coming in it was time for us to depart. Lynchburg was close by.

Jason Aldean sings a song about Lynchburg and Jack Daniels. Time for a distillery tour. The Distillery offeres many tasting tours and also a dry tour. We opted for the dry tour that include kids of all ages. We started with the 7 story barrel house - one of the buildings where the Tennessee Whisky is aged. There are hundreds of 53 gallon white oak barrels filled with aging whisky. The location in the aging house, along with the time that the whisky is aged will determine which variety of whisky it is - the barrels on the lower levels that stay cooler will be the sweeter honey whisky while the barrels n the top that are more subject to the seasonal heating and coolingSheriffTour/JDsign.jpg will be the more oaky whisky. It was facinating to see how the climate determined the variety more than the time in the aging process. Each barrel is taste tested to determine when it is ready.

We learned about the black moss that covers the area. Apparently, the alcohol in the air attracts this black moss - you could say that there is "drunk moss" hanging all over the place. In the days of prohibition, this is how the illegal stills were discovered by the Revenuers  they looked for the black moss. It covered EVERYTHING: the building, the cars, the trees, everything. We continued on to the original office and learned about the Green family and their importance in the history of the company and saw that all of the employees are descendants of the original employees and that the factory is still staffed by humans on the assembly line - no robotics allowed! There are over 700 employees. The location was even special. There is a fresh water spring that eminates from a cave on the property. The water is good pure and clean water and has been used for the whisky since the inception. All and all it was an amazingly informative tour and stressed the importance of community. Our stop in Lynchburg even further highlighted this - no chain stores: just mom and pop operations all run and staffed by locals. The town is very small but clean, quaint and full of friendly people and lots of visitors.

By now it was time to head back to the cabin and relax. The tour had lots of stairs and 82 year old Dick needed a bit of a break for the remainder of the day. We have one more day here in Sopencer, TN then moving on as the cabin is rented starting Friday. We are watching the Hurricane and its progress and afermath to see where we go next - we have options! 

October 12 - Time to go: With new guests arriving at the cabin, it was time for us to leave. The weather was clear to Newnan and for now, also to Mena, AR. We departed early to beautiful blue skies and kicking tailwinds. At one point we reached 185 kts in level flight with Wild Mama. It was a short flight for our short leg. The next leg west will be much longer and even more so with the head winds.
We arrived in Newnan, checked Dicks plane and refueled for the 3.5 hour flight. The weather west of Mena was looking grim so we knew there was a chance it would beat us. Dick in his V-tail Bonanza was a bit faster and left first. He would radio me if there were issues at the airport since he was more familiar with the area.SheriffTour/crossing22018.jpg
The flight was relatively smooth and the wind was not as much of a factor. I stayed low and Dick climbed. He did not see measurable improvement so there was no reason for me to waste the fuel to go to altitude. We passed Talladega Motor Speedway full of campers and cars. There is an inactive TFR that goes hot Sunday for the car race. That would have been fun to see from Dicks higher vantage point!
The fall colors are not yet hardly beginning to turn. Hints of varying shades of green flow like ribbons through the trees but the bursts of reds and oranges - even yellows - are nowhere to be found. We are hoping for better in Mena but even there the cold snap needed for good color has not yet passed.
My usual milestone is crossing the Mississippi River. I was treated to a large barge and tug motoring their way up the river. The cockpit was quite quiet without Dick. We had chatted non-stop for our hours of flying and now I was solo again. I put on the radio and was quite content with my country music. Dick and I agreed to a common channel and did manage a few chats but the airwaves were busy and the lively conversation was just not possible.
As Dick was coming in to Hot Springs he could see conditions deteriorating. I was 30 miles behind so I put Wild Mama is racing mode to make the last of the trip. Dick made it in but radioed back to watch for a few low hanging clouds over the ridge past Hot Springs. I climbed up to 2800’ to clear everything an got a clear view of the Mena Airport boldly standing clear agains the fog shrouded mountains behind it. This will be close. I dialed in the ILS 27 and made my straight in approach without incident. By the time I taxied to parking - it was a mighty long taxi - light rains had started and within 30 minutes the field was IFR.
We had an easy day but knew there would be no outdoor activities for the next few days. We grabbed our Walmart supplies and headed to his house for a quiet evening.
October 13 - Stamp #2: The skies were severe overcast and the morning was filled with drizzle. Since this was not a flying day, we headed to Hot Springs for me to get stamp #2 in my SheriffTour/hotsprings2018.jpgNational Park Passport book.
The drive was about 1.5 hours of winding roads and loads of trees. This a very rural part of Arkansas and, although I had flown into Hot Spring, I had not covered much ground outside the city. We arrived to torrential rains but still had to make a fast footed walk to the visitor center for the stamp, tour of the bath house and film about the history of Hot Springs.
With our National Park portion complete, we ducked in a neighboring restaurant for a lunch and to wait out the rains and plan our next stop. There was the Petit Jean State Park to the north that was an easy drive so we headed off there.
The scenery remained the same: torrential rains, winding roads and green trees. We stopped at the visitor center to chat with the workers about the area. He mentioned that his dad was a WWII B26 pilot. He had fond memories of sitting on the wing of the plane as a child. With hiking a no-go, we slogged our way back to Mena arriving home just as the rains finally ended. Tomorrow will be another day but the TAF is promising more low ceilings and another dreary day.

October 14 th - Sound of Silence

Hello silence my ole friend 
I'm spending time with you again
'Cause this desire softly creeping 
Into my dreams as I am sleeping
And the vision that is dancing in my brain
Still remains
To hear the sounds of silence 

In my dreams I fly alone 
Above the ridges, peaks and domes SheriffTour/glidermez.jpg
Under the shadow of the clouds so high 
I turn and aim up toward the big blue sky
When my heart is filled with wonderousness of flight
And awesome sights
And hear the sounds of silence 

And in the brilliant light I saw 
Ten thousand treetops maybe more 
Fall colors through the greens peaking
I gaze in awe as I stop speaking 
These great sights I see and I long to share 
But no one's there 
To share the sounds of silence

Grounded lass you do not know 
Flying like a flower grows 
Hear my words then I can teach you 
To fly this plane then I will meet you
In the air with other lucky soles 
Finding those holes 
To soar with sounds of silence 

Then the thermals that we find
Let us lose all track of time
Climbing higher then back down again
Where's the ridge so I can soar again
But it's late and the winds we are looking for are calming down 
Return to ground 
To land, with the sound of silence


October 15 - Diamonds are a girls' best friend:  After my amazing motor glider lessons yesterday I really longed to be back in the air today but the weather would not be my friend. The skies were overcast and the rains were training in from the southwest. Our alternate plane was to make a trip to the Crater of Diamonds State Park just a bit south of Mena in Murfreesboro, AR. Lookig at the conditins, we would be slogging through the mud and rain, digging in the dirt and sifting out potential gem stones. Neither of us had done this before and did not know SheriffTour/diamondpark.jpgwhat to expect so we loaded the car with all sorts of "mining" equipment and rain gear. While at my cabin a few days earlier, the girls had mentioned that the old waders that I had were taking up valuable storage space and asked if I could take them. Reluctantly I agreed but knew that space was at a premium in the airplane. Thank goodness I had them as they were the perfect tool for the job at hand.

We had a nice drive through the back roads still looking for the elusive fall colors. Upon our arrival we check in and found a large 37 acre field with a few people out digging plus 2 cleaning and sifting stations. We doned our rain gear and boots and grabbed our equipment plus some rental stuff and headed out to the mud bog. It took no time at all to fill our bucket full of mud, stones and water. Knowing I could not carry much weight, Dick grabbed the bucket and I grabbed the tools for the long walk to the sifting area. We stopped a number of times to allow Dick to reposition and pour off some water that was gravitating to the top of the bucket and sloshing out all over the place. Besides: it lightened the load quite a bit.SheriffTour/prettyrocks.jpg

Ast the sifting station is where the real work begins. A small trowel full of mud goes in the sifter, you shake it in the water to get the dirt and large rock out, then re-sift to get the fines out and you have small rocks left, hoping one is a diamond. We had an idea of what we were looking for but pulled out all sorts of other pretty rocks along the way. After repeating this process for the better part of 4 hours, we wer cold, tired and hungry and called it a day. It was fun to have tried our luck. The park ranger examines the stones and lets you know what you have. We had no diamonds but had a nice collection of jasper, quartz and a rare, but valueless white volcanic ash. We chuckled about our take all the way home and make plans for tomorrow as the weather was even less promisng for flight. 

October 16 - Trail of Tears: Fortunately, Arkansas has a number of interesting things to do when it is raining. Such was the case again today so we headed north to Fort Smith to the Fort Smith National Historic Site where the Train of Tears passed and history was made during the great westward movement of settlers. Fort Smith was the outpost on the edge of the id=ndian sSheriffTour/tears.jpgettlement where all of the indians were supposed to be relocated. It was a wild area and the fort was needed both for order and to assist in people movement. Probably the most notable things about Fort Smith were the court house/jail and the Trail of Tears exhibits. 

Judge Parker was the local judge back in the day and he got the reputation as the "Hanging Judge". Part of this, accoring to history, was that he actually carried out his sentences and part was the long tenure that he served in these parts. All contributed to his being the judge credited with the most hangings. We toured the courtroom and jail. While the courtroom was quite lavish for its time, the jail was the oposite. Small, cold, damp andSheriffTour/tears1.jpg most inhospitable. The gallows still remain with a locked gate that is only open during visiting hours. We toured the grounds and learned about life during that settlement time.

The Trail of Tears got it name for the great number of lossed suffered by the indians through the forced resettlement. Indians from the southeast part of the US were marched westward to Oklahoma to their new lands. They were moved without sufficient food and supplies and many perished along the way. The exhibits of the indians talking about the stories handed down was quite moving and well worth the time to stop if you are in the area.


October 17 - the time has come:  Finally we have a beautiful day to go play with the motor glider. The sky is ever so clean and blue and the winds are calm .... wait "winds calm". Hmmm, maybe not so good for soaring BUT just what I need today for landing practice. I had done a few landings on Sunday with mixed results. One landing in particular (I find this more amusing now than I did at the time) I was torn between power and spoilers. I knew I needed to stop the sink but having already abandoned the throttle, I found myself in a quandry on the spoiler use. The result was a harder-than-I-should-have landing but with all parts and pieces in tact. Dick wa bound and determined that my landings were going to improve today and was quite adept at SheriffTour/solo.jpgdiagnosing my powered aircraft to glider transitional issues. After an hour in the pattern Dick got out and I soloed the glider. I gave him three landings that I would even claim and was quite delighted with my progress.

During this session we did both power on and power off landings and worked on doing some ridge soaring with the little wind that we found aloft. I was a new experience to be away from the airport, shut off the engine and use your best guess at "can I make the runway". Dick let me make the call each time and just chuckled as I make my rooke mistakes. Mistake #1: the glider glides a lot farther than you think. I was sure that I was not going to make our active runway 9; so convinced, in fact, that I was heading to runway 17 to make sure I made the airport. Not only did I make 17, I made 9 with lots of altitude to spare. Mistake #2: direct is not always best. When to are coming in to land, do not stop soaring. On the way down you will be losing altitude but if you happen to get a little bump up along the way, do not hesitate to take it and gain a little more altitude which you can always lose on final when landing is assured. Mistake #3: best glide is not the same as longest distance covered. Huh? This is really a new concept. Best glide will keep you up longer (of course gliders also have least sink which helps but can really halt forward momentum) but it will not necessarily give you the most distance.  Dick showed me a little trick to extend the glide and "punch through" headwinds. If you go faster than glide and build air speed, you can later, when you need to, trade that airspeed for altitude and actually extend the glide a little more. All great lessons.

It was time for a break and we headed back to the house. I had never been shirt-tailed as a soloing private pilot so Dick was gracious enough to do the deed for me and give me my very own shirt tail for the motor glider solo. I has happy as could be. After lunch it was time for more solo time and to venture away from he airport on my own. Dick suggested my trying an engine out solo landing but I was not quite feeling it yet. The winds had picked up to about 9 kts this afternoon and I could get some good ridge soaring in for a bit. I idled the engine to glidebak home and had 4 very good landings. But I was really not sure of judging distance with the increase in wind so I got Dick for a few more lessons on judgment.

Directly off of runway 9 was a small ridge and the school. Both were perfect areas to remain relatively close to the airport but still pick up a good thermal. We shut off the engine and soaredSheriffTour/glider1mez.jpg up across the ridge and over the school where we picked up a huge thermal. Mistake #4: the thermal travels with the wind and you need to learn to judge that so you can remainin the thermal and "center" yourslef in the thermal. We soared high than the other time where we were doing a power off landing and we were much closer so I announced that it was time to try another landing. We headed for runway 9 and it became immediate apparent that (Mistake #5) gliders do not glide as far as you think they might. Now we have an engine that is VERY easy to start. I like that part of motor gliding. The engine is kind of like the "panic button". But, as Disck admonishes, you have to make the call early enough that you can still use it. In restarting the engine, the prop will unfeather and turn slowly, creating more drag than before and a loss of lift. If you are too close to the ground, it could spell dissaster. We are on a long final for runway 9 not making the headway we want. Dick is ready on the engine but he wants me to make the call. He reminds me on that punching through the headwinds technique while we are still high enough. He concurred that we would NOT make the runway at present glide. As counterintuitive as it was, I lowered the nose, picked up abuot 10-15 kts and pulled up. Like magic we had gained enough altitude to make the runway AND float half-way down before landing. Sweet! 

I have leared more in the past few days that I can recall learning about flying in a long time. The motor gliders are fun and I like the "panic button" feature. Besides, on a touring glider you can actually go somewhere, albiet slowly. Yes, I realize you can travel in a non-powered glider but I like the ability to land at any airport and self launch. That to me is the ultimate freedom in gliding.

All fun must come to an end and it was tie for me to start  readying Wild Mama for our departure in the morning, starting with re-installing my headset, checking oil and giving her a thorough pre-flight as she had been on the ramp and out of my sight for several days. I opened the door to a horrible musty smell and water standing in the baggage compartment. Oh no!!! I have not had any leaking problems before so this was a real shock. Everything in the baggage area was soaked, the carpet was ruined and all had to be removed and dried. Thank goodness this was discovered today. Dick and his mechanic, Greg, came over to help me remove the stuff and the carpet. The hat rack carpet seemed OK even though it was ever so slightly damp. We loaded Dick's car with the stuff we could wash and dry and Greg took the old carpet for a template and delivereed it to a local interior shop to make new. As one could imagine, the rest of the day was spent washing and drying stuff and cleaning the plane.

October 19-20 - Let's fly Now!:  Dick and I arrived at the airport a little before sunrise to give me time to take another look at Wild Mama and her water issue and to re-pack the entire plane. Fortunately, there were several items that I no longer needed and Dick was gracious enough to me the back up transport for some stuff to go back to Fort Myers. Everything looked pretty good so we loaded up and said our "see ya laters". The sunrise was stunning but all too short as I launched into the overcast sky. Looking out in the distance I could see my path between the clounds and the mountains and knew that CAVU was not far off in the distance. The cold front was moving in behind me and it was time to go lest I find myself slogging through thick wet clouds.

I picked up a little tail wind on the way over to KMKL where we would hold the Let's Fly Now! event with the Memphic Chapter 99s. I was looking forward to this second event plus a meeting with the local Boys & Girls Club to get a new No Limits Aviation Program started in this very needy community.  I was greeted upon arrival by JoAnn Speer the FBO Manager and President of Aviation Adventures. She showed me around the airport and we immediately got to work setting up for the next day. By mid afternoon, we had an appointment with the BGC so we sped off to meet the directors. Our concept was well received and the BGC seemed enthusiastic about the program for 2019 to be held in conjunction with the Air Race Classic start at KMKL. They need SheriffTour/lfn.jpgto clear the program with the board and we will be ready to go starting in January.... fingers crossed!

Saturday morning fund the front having passed leaving low ceilings and wet grounds in its wake. JoAnn was kind enough to put Wild Mama in a hangar to keep her dry. Unfortunately, that hat rack carpet was not going to remain. Opening the plane to preflight, that same musty odar greeted me so I ripped out the carpet and ran to the dollar store for some cheap towels to use to cover the flooring for the youth flights.

We had 28 youth arrive to complete the tours of the tower, fire, police station and work at the learning stations in the large hangar. We waited and watched as the ceiling hung low. By noon, we had a 1000' ceiling but needed 1500' to fly through the E airspace leglly. It was not meant to be. We called the flying and reset the date to November 10th when a few more pilots could come in. Then it was time for me to head back across the Mississippi River for the third crossing of this trip. Since I had a few extra minutes, I called Dick to see if he could meet me at the Mena FBO to get the handoff for he nasty carpet to give to Greg. I might as well get the whole thing done because the old stuff was NOT ging back in the airplane. We got to visit for a bit and I refueled for the next leg to Fort Worth. I had committed to be at the 40's swing hangar dance and sell merchandise and tours for Special Kay, the A26A/B26K for fund raising.

I was fortunate enough to get a nice little tailwind for this last leg today, reahcing 180 kts in level flight. The trip was fast and I wa able to monitor Fort Worth tower from quite a way out.SheriffTour/crossing3.jpg They seemed relatively quietand the controller even made a comment to the effect. Should be an easy in. Perhaps I thought too soon, as I made my last turn the radio crackled to life and and everyone and their sister decided that NOW was the time to take off or land at Meacham Airport. Now I was scambling to get in a radio call between other calls. I was coming in from the NW (my own re-routing to avoid airspace and talk to no one during the en route portion of the trip) so they gave me the little runway 35 for immediate landing. I suppose I could have circled and gotten the big runway but 3500' of reunway was more than enough althout it necessitated a rather lengthy taxi. I landed short and stopped at taxiway C which would take me straight in to the FBO. After quite a delay for other landing traffic I was directed to cross without delay and I headed for the FBO where I was tied for the night.

I quickly changed from pilot to  40's swing attire and headed to the dance. There were more than 500 people in attendance for the dinner dance and many tours of Special Kay were sold, raising several hundred dollars for the cause. Considering it costs just over $6,000 to fill all of the fuel tanks, this was a small drop in the bucket but every dollar helps. I finished my shift at 11 pm - way past my bedtime - and plotted into bed after a long but fruitful day.

October 23 - Special flight on Special Kay:  One of the nice things about hanging out in Fort Worth is the opportunity to hang out with some pretty speial airplanes. Greatest Generation Aircraft Museum is the home of Diamond Lil, Special Kay, Fifi and a cadre of other older aircraft including a Yak and a Beech 18. I have manage to miss Fifi on EVERY trip so far, although I might be able to catch her after the Dallas Airshow before she heads out for some paint touch-ups but I do get regular time with Special Kay. She was the featured plane at the hangar dance SheriffTour/Kay20181.jpgSaturday night. 

Kay will be flying in the Dallas Airshow and needed a new vacuum pump. I was fortunate enough to be "needed" for the maintenance flight to test out the vacuum pump installation. Instead of in the rear compartment as ballast (my absolutely awesome ride during the photo shoot at Oshkosh), I got to fill the flight engineer position. My job was to read off the check list, watch for anomolies, take pictures and video and maintain a huge grin throughout the duration of the flight and for an unspecified period of time thereafter.

The guys pulled the plane out of the hangar after a lengthy wait for Diamond Lil who occupied the front hangar position. We then patiently waited to get some fuel for the flight ... just to be safe. The FE position in the cockpit is a bit cramped and Larry said that it is just a matter of finding aSheriffTour/Kay2018.jpg comfortable spot. Fortunately, I ball up pretty good and "assumed that position"  when I climbed in, questioning Larry of there was a space for my legs. He poked his head up and laughed that someone had moved the seat to the far aft position but assured me it would get better when the pilot, Jim, moved the seat forward. He was correct but my 5'5" frame was quite cozy in the seat. Jim and co-pilot, Chuck, climbed in and we were ready for the check list call outs. After completing all check list items for pre-start, it was time to wake up the 2500 hp radial engines. Definitely NOT the sounds of silence there. The engines roared to life puffing smoke out the exhausts. Such a fine sight to see. We warmed up and taxied into position.

The day was perfect for a test flight with clear blue skies and very calm winds. We headed northwest over the nearby lake and Chuck took the controls - this is a training flight for him as well. Chuck did a great job making turns, holding altitude and heading and smoothly guiding us back to the airport where Jim took the controls for landing. He explains that you land with power lest you fall out of the sky with a thud rather rapidly. He held 22" of manifold pressure from what I could see from my vantage point and made a nice touchdown, immediately retarding the throttles so we can roll out to the end with minimal breaking. Apparently nothing is cheap to replace and saving the brakes to the estent possible is a fiscally responsible move. In all it was an awesome 30 minute flight that sucked up 100 gallons of fuel (MORE than my total capacity of 80 gallons in Wild Mama just for a point of perspective). The aircraft holds 1130 gallons. Do the math: at the local fuel price of $6.32/gallon that is over $7,000 to fill the tanks!!

Thursday, I will play pick up plane with Wild Mama and fetch the guys after they deliver Special Kay to  Redbird for the air show this weekend. I will miss the bulk of the show to attend the SC Section 99s meeting but I might be able to get back for Sunday if the weather remains clear as forecast. 

October 25-27 - SC Section 99s: Well, it never fails. As soon as I get with my awesome 99s sisters, all time seems to disappear. This weekend I was the Internation Board of Directors Representative at the South Central Section meeting. The meeting started with a wine and paint sesssion Thursday night. I think the point of the wine (no wine for me) for most people was that it made all of the finished product pictures look much better. We did a "paint by numbers" kind of painting of a Champ. The outlines of the plane were drawn but we filled in the rest. If there were any questions about my artistic ablity - or lack thereof - this exercise surely answered those questions. While I was happy wih the finished prouct - not that it was good but it was not embarassing -  I wILL do another painting class again because with this lively group of ladies, it was most enjoyable.

Friday found us on a packet of tours starting with Sheppard Air Force Base. We were lead by a cadre of female pilots though the base, the virtual reallity sims and the museum. The Base tour was followed by an really exciting tour of the Air Tractor Factory. It was fun to see these aircraft are hand made with little automation involved.

Saturday was our day for meetings and more meetings followed by the awards banquet featuring Monica Hew, another 99 and "classic underachiever". Monica want to fly to Mars and set out her life plan on the steps needed to make that goal a reality. She has accomplished more in her 27 years than the remainder of the audicence has accomplished in their colletive lifetimes. Quite an impresive young lady. 

October 28 - Wings Over Dallas: Returning to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I made an early morning flight to Red Bird Field for the Wings Over Dallas Airshow. Sunrise was stunning as lifted off from Kickapoo in Wichita Falls Tx. The air was still but there was enough particulate matter to create the array of reds that we all love to see in the early morning hours. I filed so I could scoot through the Class B and Class D airspace. Getting into KRBD was a piece of cake and I arrived before 8 am well in advance of the show and TFR airport closure for the aerial acts. I spent the day selling tours on Special Kay, meeting and greeting thr crowd and being a cheerleader for the aircraft. The show started at 2 pm with a number of flyover then the bombers took center stage for the pyro and their flyovers. Special Kay left and headed back to Meacham but I had to wait for the airspece to open again. I walked back to Wild Mama and has a front row seat for AeroShell, the fial act of the show. As they taxied into parking, an inbound Cirrus asked if the airspace was open and the airboss called airspace to tower. I fired up WIld Mama and we made a beeline for departure, being #1 off the ground. I flew VFR to Meachan naviting a very trick and congested airspace area - over the Class D s but under the Class B to drop into Meacham for the next couple days.

October 30th - Run for it!:  Weather was closing in on the DFW area and I was concerned with the forecase for severe storms that Wild Mama might not want to stick around. Today offered only cloudy skies but a kicking tailwind for a direct flight to OKC for a week with The 99s. I filed and departed to the south. It seemed like an eternity before ATC finally turned me to the north and I had passed downtown Fort Worth. I made the turn and went from a 100 kt ground speed to 165 kts CLIMBING at 500 fpm. Sweet. My bliss was but a fleeting feeling as the vector devil got me. By the time I was vectored across Gods green acres my tail was reduced to a couple kts.

I climed above the cluds and saw nothing for the duration of the trip. OKC, which was clear ealier in the morning, was now overcast at 1200'. While it was MVFR, I knew I would have to do an approach in actual IMC. It occurred to me tht it has been a while since I did that. I prepared for the RNAV 17R full approcah when ATC called vectors to final. Hmmm, when have I ever done an RNAV vectors to final? Today was the day. I was vectored far to the east over Tinker AF Base then thrugh the final approach path of 17L to get to the localizer of 17R. My ground speed was near nothing and another plane called out he had 55 kts on the nose. With a normal approach speed of 90, you could imagine how slow this was. But the wind shifted in my favor, instead offering a cross wind 17 gusting to 25. This would not be a full flap landing. I was rocking and rolling the whole way to the grund but managed one of my better landings. I guess it pays to concenrate.

I spent the remainder of the day with the few 99 who had arrived and opted for a Wednesday off, catching up on paperwork and other things that needed doing. I knew that once the meetings started Thrsday through Monday, I would be slammed.

November 6th - Last Pass:   As I suspected the week was a blur: bylaws workshop, MWP meeting, Finance Committee meeting, 99s IBOD meeting, Friends BOD meetings and the retreat. I was happy for Monday evenings last supper to be over. It is always fun but I was reaching the saturation point of heavy brain work. This group of ladies is dedicated, amazingly smart and hard working - activity was non-stop! But I was tired Monday nght and knew I had a long day ahead of me Tuesday.

With severe weather and a high number of 23 tornadoes crossing my path the day was set to be fly and stop, fly and stop. I had to pack exra patience. I was slow to leave OKC to allow time for the morning fog in Meridian to lift. When the clearing trend became unmistkable I launched out to a nice 16-20 kt tail wind and clear skies highlighted by a stunning sunrise. I made my last pass over the Mississippi River of this trip and smiled knowing home was getting closer. My arrival at KMEI was uneventful although I had to do a right 360 to allow for landing military jet traffic. I was parked at the FBO in like with a cadre of trainer jets and Wild Mama was feeling the power of the "Little Plane that Could"! I waiting for a while before a path mterialized al least to the FL pan handle area. The big bend was still choked with severe weather but I needed to make progress so I would be in position to quickly cross the line of storms that was only 25 miles wide, but a real show stopper. I filed all the way to Fort Myers knowing I would probable not make destination on this pass.

I was diverted around the military areas and the hole that I hoped wwould remain open smartly closed prior to my arrival. I set down in Crestview to begin the next wait. The lne around Panama City was holding together all day but was sowing signs of dissipating. I did not want to cross the storm at night so I made the final assault on the storm as the clock ticked 5 pm - less than 1 hour of daylight left. ATC Tyndall did a great job of vectoring me around the worst of the weather and (at my agreement) putting me through only light to moderate precipitation to make the most direct route through the gauntlet. I heaved a sigh o relief when I emerged on the other side with no more than a bug wash. I was home free and greeted with the remnats of the sun set to boot.

The last legs of my flight were pure joy. The sky was dark and all of the stars cam eout to greet me. I lost all of my tail winds but the headwind was not present either. Landing in Fort Myers at 8 pm, I was greeted by a smiling Dick Goodgame, my glider instructor. He was a sight for sore eyes as I needed a ride to go get the car to go to Vern house for the night, and Vern left for Idaho that afternoon. 

I have some business to finish in Fort Myers then will head home to the Keys on Friday. This was a fun trip filled with a little of everything but I am happy to be heading back to my beloved FL Keys.