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2004 Western Trip - Day 16

What I Planned:

Date: On or about July 31, 2004

Change of plans - leaving OSH a few days later, I'll be heading northwest to Monitowoc (KMTW) to cross Lake Michigan near the narrowest point, keeping me within gliding distance of shore for almost the whole crossing (55 NM). Mason County, MI (KLDM) is just a checkpoint on the other side of the lake. I'll then head over to Oakland/Troy, MI (7D2) to visit with the Michigan crew of Mike Skorija, David Clifford, Eric Ruttan, Mike LaFleur, and whomever else shows up for a few hours. From there, it'll be a straight shot south to Delaware, OH (KDLZ) to visit George Mellen, a COZY MKIV builder.  Maybe overnight here, maybe not, depending upon the time.

What Actually Happened:

Date: July 31, 2004

I woke around 7 AM and went to check the weather, either at the internet cafe with my computer (as I like to) or via the FSS briefers (who, although nice enough and very helpful, are human beings, with whom I generally try to avoid contact whenever possible). The Cafe was closed, so I used the briefer(s). I then went and had breakfast with Lee and Curt, and discussed the nature of democracy and capitalism. We wandered back to the tents, and I began packing up, as the weather looked like it would be OK, at least to the Detroit area. Eric Ruttan called to confirm the ride back to Detroit, and I got the plane and packing ready. We gassed up and then headed over to get a departure briefing, as well as to get my 2-day camping refund for the days I wouldn't be there. The departure briefing basically told me exactly what I already knew from the previous three days of rides - take off and get the hell out of their airspace at 500 ft. AGL heading east or southeast.

OK, so we (Eric and I) headed back to the tent, finished packing up, and we taxied to runway 36L. Takeoff was nominal (after a 10 minute wait for the line of planes ahead of us to be sent out) and we headed east across Lake Winnebago at 500 AGL. Five miles out, we headed up to 12.5K ft. You may notice that we were heading eastbound, so that 12.5K ft. was NOT the right altitude, but it took about 45 minutes before I realized that, after we had already descended to 10.5K ft. (but I get ahead of myself). We got to 12.5K ft. just about as we reached the western shore of Lake Michigan. The visibility was pretty good, and the cloud tops (scattered to broken) were at about 8K ft, so we were well above them. There was no "automatic rough" as we flew over the water, and with a 30 knot tailwind and a 194 mph TAS, we made it across the lake in about 20 minutes. Well.  THAT was a non-event. I will not get complacent, however, as I realize that we had about the best possible conditions vis-a-vis visibility and ceilings. As we got to Michigan, we descended to 10.5K ft., and when a Lake Buccaneer passed us at the same altitude going the other direction, I remembered that I WASN'T going west, but east, and we descended to 9.5K ft. I let Eric fly for about 1/2 hour (he's only taken a couple of lessons, but had very little problem keeping the plane straight and level and pretty close to on altitude.

As the clouds got lower, we descended to 7.5K ft., and for the last 25 miles descended below the cloud layer, where it was hazy, hot, and a little bumpy, and headed into Oakland/Troy, MI (7D2). Mike Skorija and Mike LaFleur arrived about 5 minutes after we landed, and Mike's partner Thane, Mark Robey, and a couple other MI builders/prospective builders showed up soon thereafter. I gave short rides to Mike LaFleur and Thane, letting them fly the plane for a bit and demonstrating stalls, both level and turning. Both seemed very impressed with the aircraft's capabilities.

After that, we tied up the plane, everyone left, and the Mikes brought me back to Mike S.'s house, where I got a tour of his excellent woodworking products and his very nice shop. Mike loves to help folks out, and lets people use his shop to build furniture. I took a shower and then Mike and his wife Lori graciously invited me to go along with them to a restaurant for a surprise party for their daughter and her partner. The conversation and people were a lot of fun, and I think we were there for over 4 hours. Mike and Lori have an open house, with people coming and going on a regular basis - they are extremely hospitable folks.

We went back to their house, I checked the weather for the next day, updated the very web pages that you're reading at this very second (how recursive can one get?), and then hit the sack.

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