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2004 Western Trip - Day 14

What I Planned:

Date: On or about July 25, 2004

Today's a relatively long day (well, not really - just in comparison to some of the others - it's only about 3.5 hours).

We'll leave Greeley, CO (GXY) and head toward Waterloo, IA (KALO), home of Norm Muzzy, who's flying a COZY MKIV.  If necessary, we'll stop for gas/bladder relief along the way.  The jog at KPRO is to avoid a number of restricted areas and MOA's. Denny Mortensen, a COZY MKIV builder, may drive over from the other side of IA to visit for the afternoon.

We'll stay overnight, and have a short flight up to Oshkosh (KOSH) the next day.  If we're lucky, Tom Brusehaver will have his COZY MKIV finished and flying up in Minnesota, and will come down for the OSH flight, and Curt Smith (if he hasn't been following me all around the country, which he's MORE than welcome to do) will fly up in his COZY MKIV from the St. Louis area.

Anyone else is welcome to fly in for the last stage of the flight to OSH as well.

What Actually Happened:

Date: July 25th, 2004

Hey, guess what?  The weather sucked this morning!  How surprising is THAT? While most of the airports on the eastern slope in Colorado were marginal VFR and getting better, Meadowlake was zero-zero, and not supposed to improve until noonish.  So I waited. The weather was fine for 90% of the ride to Waterloo, IA, so all we have to do is get away from these damn mountains :-). 100 miles up to Greeley, and then eastward.

Around 12:30 PM the fog started lifting, so I packed up the plane, did a preflight, closed up Burrall's house, put 10 gallons of gas in the plane (for a total of 20), and took off on runway 15 (downhill, with a 5 kt headwind) at around 1:15 PM or so.  With just me and the 20 gallons, maybe 60 lb. of luggage, and a rearmost CG (at about 65 F), I lifted off in about 2500 ft - not too bad for a DA over 7500 ft.  I headed north-northeast over the "Black Forest", under a 1500 ft. broken ceiling.  Visibiility was great - 75 miles, so I had no problem with the low ceiling. It took about 35 minutes to skirt the Denver Class "B", watch a Mooney cross behind me, and get up to Greeley (KGXY). I refueled (full tanks) and parked next to Lee's L.E.

Rick and Lee had already gotten there and gotten Lee's plane ready to go. They were hungry, so we drove into town to get some sandwiches.  Just as we were driving away from the airport, we saw an EZ of some sort coming in to land.  We thought it might be Tim Sullivan in his L.E. from Placerville, CA, but it wasn't - it was Klaus Savier in his unbelievably fast V.E. When we got back from getting the sandwiches, Klaus was just hand propping his plane and getting out of there - he couldn't have been on the ground any more than 30 minutes.

I moved the ballast to the rear and packed up the plane with my stuff and Rick's huge backpack.  We got in and taxied to the runway, but had to turn around for a minute because the canopy wouldn't close due to some of the luggage being in the way.  I rearranged it a bit (with the parking brake that John Slade doesn't think anyone needs keeping the plane from moving :-) ), and got on our way.  With full fuel, 50 lb. MORE luggage, and Rick in the front seat, we took almost 1/2 the 10K ft. runway to lift off - the weight and CG made a huge difference, even though the DA was lower than at Meadowlake earlier. The climb rate stabilized at about 450 fpm, and we turned east and climbed to 11.5K ft. to get over the clouds, which topped out at 10K ft.

The oil temperature was up to 235 F by the end of the climb, but it dropped to 215 F after we leveled out for a few minutes. It was calm, clear (100 mile visibility, easy) and smooth.  We settled in for a long ride.  Lee had taken off a few minutes before us, but was cruising almost 40 mph slower.  He was at 156 mph or so, and we were at 194 mph. We were communicating on 122.75, along with a couple of clowns in spam cans who spent at least 10 minutes gabbing about how "green" everything was, due to all the rain they were getting.  Sheesh.

We settled in for a long ride - about 3.5 hours by my calculations.  There's not a whole hell of a lot to see in eastern Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa, but it was still pretty looking at the clouds (Rick likes clouds too, so we had a good time talking about clouds).  Rick said he had never flown above the clouds before, so that was cool for him. After getting the autopilot and trim set up, I turned off the AP and gave the stick to Rick.  He did a great job of keeping us on heading, on course, and on altitude. He did a few "S" turns just to get the feel of the plane as well. After flying for over an hour, we put the plane back on AP, and a little while later, after the clouds had lowered some, we descended to 9500 ft, to pick up some speed (and warmth). We were still able to communicate with Lee, who was about 50 - 75 miles behind us.

Rick commented that this was the first day of the whole trip where I actually flew the leg that I had planned on flying, on the day I had planned on flying it.  What's the heading at the top of this page? Day 14?  Whoo hoo, I'm one for 14.

So, basically, we sat in the plane, listening to the MP3 player, listening to ATIS/AWOS reports from airports 30 - 50 miles ahead, talking about clouds and the emptiness of the region, and basically just having a good time being in the airplane. Rick marvelled at the comfort level, even after 2 - 3 hours without really moving. About 20 miles out of Waterloo, IA (KALO), we tuned in the ATIS, called the tower, and were given clearance for a straight in approach to Runway 6. The landing was nominal, and we headed over to Livingston FBO, where the line boy parked us (after hopping on one foot over to the parking spot?) next to some huge business jet.

After getting out, I noticed a lot of oil on the rear baffle, so we pulled the plane over to Norm Muzzy's hangar to take the top cowling off and take a look.  It turned out that, after 4.3 hours from St. Louis to Meadowlake and another 4.2 hours from Meadowlake to Greeley to Waterloo, the crankcase breather had just spit a lot of oil out that had distributed itself on the rear baffle - the engine wasn't particularly low on oil, and there were no leaks to be found.

So, the crew at Waterloo were Norm Muzzy and his wife, Denny Mortensen and his son, Tom Tugan and his son, Dennis Oelmann, Rick, Lee, and me.  Not bad! After talking for a while at the airport, we all went to Applebee's for dinner, and then Norm dropped Lee, Rick and me off at the Day's Inn for the night.

Here are a few photos from the day's flying:

Here's a view from down low in Colorado, looking northward towards the Greeley area.  Denver would be on the left.

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.

I thought the juxtaposition of the four very different landscapes in CO was interesting.

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.

Here are some farms in Nebraska. With Clouds!

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.

And here are some shadows of clouds over a Nebraska town.

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.

Here's Rick, flying the plane.

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.

Here are both of us, with only a bit of our faces cut off due to the fact that I don't have a wide angle lens.  At least we don't look like idiots with the oxygen cannulae on our faces.

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.

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