East Coast Christmas Trip Report 2001

by Paul A. Rosales

Thursday (12/20/01) We took off at 8am trying to get ahead of the weather front, and we were on the ground near Tulsa, OK at 3pm :-) Flight times were: 3 hours to St. Johns (AZ), 2 hours to Borger (TX panhandle) and 2 hours to Grove, east of Tulsa (OK). We had groundspeeds of 70/180/190 knots respectively so we made some great time (trying to land before dark...) Our fuel stops were QUICK so 7 hours of flying was an 8 hour day (usually a 9+hr day). Friday (12/21/01) We spent the morning visiting with our friends Gary/Connie Trippensee, formerly of Lancaster EAA Chapter 49 and now retired to Grove. We filled the tanks and paid more than $2.00/gallon for the first time since leaving home ($2.05/gallon). We took off at 2pm, and we flew over Springfield/Branson, MO and continued over St. Louis where we took some pictures of 'The Arch'! We've only seen it in magazines and on TV, and now have seen it from 9,500' at 180 knots!

We landed 3 hours later, at Kokomo (OKK), IN just after sunset. I called Randy Pflanzer (RV-6 built/sold, building again!) in Indianapolis, and he told me the INDY RV group was flying to Columbus, IN in the morning (Saturday) so we'll be joining them for lunch! We'll be using Kokomo as 'homebase' for the next several days, and weather permitting, will make day-trips to Chicago's Meigs Field (30 min. flight) just because, possibly to Oshkosh (30 min more) to see EAA's Bob Mackey and Grand Rapids, Michigan (to see a Lockheed friend)! We'll continue our trip eastbound the day after Christmas flying towards NY and should be able to see Gary Sobek AKA 'Birdstrike' in PA. The plane is running well after installing two new magnetos last weekend and a fresh oil change. Also, I 'blocked' off half the oil cooler (with a piece of aluminum) as last year's trip we were running oil temps below 150deg. We are now running acceptable temps of 220deg at 50deg outside air temperature so the 'blocking' is working well. We built our plane to travel, and those 5 years of building are fast becoming a distant memory! Sunday (12/23/01) Hi to all and Merry Christmas! Victoria and I had a nice day yesterday here in Kokomo starting out with a flight to join the Indianapolis-RV group on their Saturday flyout to Colombus, IN. RV-7A builder Randy Pflanzer told me they would be meeting there for lunch at 11am so we were on the ground before that...and by 11:05am, we were still the only RV on the ramp: What's up with that?!? No sooner am I thinking that when a flight of 8 RVs show up in echelon-right formation for the overhead break, COOL! In the end, there were 11 RVs on the ramp, and we had a great visit and lunch :-) Afterwards, we flew a gaggle with 6 other RVs to a brand new airport (first new airport in Indiana in 20+ years) just west of the Indy Speedway, Hendricks County Airport (it wasn't in my GPS database, 2R2).

We landed, visited a bit then flew back towards Kokomo and decided to fly 10 minutes farther to Wabash Airport for (cheap) fuel. We landed on the turf as that's the one that was into the wind...our second grass landing ever. Other than Colombia, CA, I haven't seen an airport in CA with a grass field that we've flown the RV to. Today (Sunday), we awoke to a 3000' broken layer and there was a forecast for possible snow 'flurries' in the afternoon. We flew 15 minutes north to Rochester Airport for a buffet breakfast at "Karen's Kitchen" across the street. As we walked outside, we noticed it getting darker north so we flew south to Kokomo and put the plane in the hangar for the night. The broken layer had actually improved to scattered when we landed at 1pm but it was COLD and windy (0deg wind chill)! Our hosts were busy at church so we went to the movies to kill some time, and when we got out at 4pm, it was SNOWING with ~1/2 mile visibility, Whoa! It snowed for about 1.5hrs and we watched the sunset with snow STILL falling (that was right up there with seeing two 'glows' of the sun on the horizon at midnight in Alaska!). Monday's forecast is for scattered clouds in the morning with chance of snow flurries (yea, right...) in the afternoon, so if able, we'll be giving Young Eagle rides all morning to my friend's 4 kids and their friends as well :-) Possibility of snow is then expected through Christmas Day with clearing skies after that so hopefully we will continue east to Ohio and Pennsylvania on Wednesday. Everyone have a great Christmas Eve on Monday! Wednesday (12/26/01) We hope that everyone had a great Christmas Day :-) Monday, it was snowing off and on so I wasn't able to give any Young Eagle rides :-( We were home Tuesday, Christmas Day with my buddy Scott from College, his wife Chari and 4 'ABCD' girl: Alexandra/Brittany/Christina/Diana :-) We watched movies and ate popcorn all day long (the only time of year I watch that much TV at one sitting...), and it was FUN! Today, Scott and I left early for a ~1.5hr flight that took us to Tyler Memorial Airport, Michigan then around Lake Michigan (which had 'blowing smoke' on it...ground fog) to Chicago, IL where we landed at Meigs Field :-) I've been following the 'plight/fight' for Meigs Field so I thought that landing there would be a great way to show my support....but that wasn't enough as Mayor Daly charges $12 city tax plus the $20 ramp fee from Signature of which the ramp fee was waived if you bought 5 gallons of gas (min) at 4.00/gallon! I could not exit the plane until 'greeted' by someone then I had to fill out 3 separate security forms with name/address/plane/etc. plus show my drivers license AND pilot's license. We then received a 'ticket' that would allow me back to my airplane. There was a private security guard at the door plus a sheriff and 2 state patrolmen in the lobby area. There is a small no-fly zone around the very nearby Sears Tower, which is (sadly) again the tallest building in America. Forms or not, I was glad to have the privilege to fly in America! We took some nice pictures of the Tower and Chicago skyline then flew back to Kokomo, about a 30 minute flight.

I then gave 7 Young Eagle Rides (that was fun!) and then Victoria/I flew south towards Louisville, (MO) then east over Lexington (KY) and into Parkersburg (WV), about 2 hours flight. We did not fly direct (southeast for 1.25hrs) as there was falling snow over most of Ohio, and I didn't think we should be VFR on top over snow! We are here for two nights visiting with friend Rick Gray who we met at Oshkosh 2000. Rick is building a sharp RV-6 that should be flying in 2002. We are hoping to have breakfast with Gary Sobek in his hometown of Uniontown/Connellsville(?), PA on Friday morning before ending up in Binghamton, NY. So far, weather has not been a problem other than leaving a day early from home. Temps Wednesday were the coldest so far enroute: 56deg in the cabin and 5deg OAT. We find the cabin heater does not work so well when the OAT is below freezing so we bundled up! We'll check back later on, and Happy Holidays :-) Friday (12/28/01) Hello All! On Thursday, we spent the day with my RV friend Rick Gray and his family at home (in Parkersburg, WV) as we watched a light snowfall from morning through midday. After 3pm, it cleared enough to take Rick and his boys, Keith & Ricky, for rides in our plane. They all had a great time, especially Rick who should be finishing up his beautiful RV-6 real soon! Victoria and I were waiting out weather (light snow) this morning with the Gray Family, and I sat at the computer watching (and learning) the finer points of weather. A big band of snowfall prevented us from flying directly east, and I saw that we would possibly have a 'window' that we could get out and fly south to get away from the local intermittent light snowfall sometime after lunch (we missed breakfast with RV-6er Gary Sobek in PA). Rick took his family and us to the airport in the afternoon, and all the 'radar loop' snapshots I followed on the computer came true: A clear corridor opened up south about 2pm. We flew out under a 5K overcast (no snow) and flew 20 minutes south over Charleston, West Virginia to scattered clouds and sunshine then east towards Roanoke, VA and finally north/northeast along the Appalachian Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley towards Washington, D.C. We landed at Leesburg Airport, not far at all from Dulles, about 1.7 hours after leaving Parkersburg. Had we been able to fly direct to Leesburg, it would have been about a 1.25 hour flight from Parkersburg so diverting off course in an RV is not much of a factor! We used Charleston, Washington (Center) and Dulles approach controllers and were cleared to enter 'Class B' into Leesburg (a great clearance to hear since September 11th...). Leesburg has been open only about a week or so to VFR...Less paperwork to fill out and nobody to 'meet' us at the plane as was the case at Chicago's Meigs Field, and no fees other than the nominal $5/night parking fee. We are here with longtime friends the Coulters, formerly from our hometown of Lancaster, CA. We will spend Saturday morning giving rides the family rides and then go see some of the famous D.C. monuments we've only read about or seen on TV. Sunday, we plan to go to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and see the White House! We'll be using Leesburg as 'homebase' into the New Year, and we hope to try and sneak a daytrip towards Binghamton, New York (a little over an hour's flight). The weather 'low' that had been stationary over the Great Lakes is starting to move eastward so the trip northeast may not happen. Tuesday, New Years Day 2002 Happy New Year to our everyone! We had a GREAT day Sunday touring all the DC Monuments including the the White House, Capitol and Smithsonian Air/Space Museum.

On Monday, we planned a daytrip and flew from DC to the Boston area Monday morning to see former EAA Chapter 49er Dave L'Heureux, about a 2-hour flight. We saw the Chesapeake Bay, crossed the Hudson River and could see the Long Island Sound for the first time in our life! We then flew west across the Catskill Mountains near Albany to Tri-Cities Airport near Binghamton, NY (an hour flight) to visit (and have NY pizza) with a former co-worker from Lockheed.

We took-off at dusk and flew back to DC (Leesburg) using flight following so as to stay clear of Camp David. Washington, DC is BEAUTIFUL when seen from 4500' at night!!! All this was possible with an RV we built at home (we STILL pinch ourselves :-) We rang in the New Year at home with the Coulter family, and New Year's Day, we left DC for a little over an hour's flight to First Flight Airport (FFA) at Kitty Hawk, NC. Gary Sobek and Trish Russell were there after our Alaska trip last summer so we had to 'follow-up'! Rabon Wilkins (RV-6A) and his friend Jim met us there, and we toured the Kill Devil's Hill grounds. We met Rabon in 1997 in Chancy, Switzerland, after getting his name from Van's Aircraft as a 'builder' living in Switzerland.

The white markers in the center of the picture below (taken from the monument) mark the landing points of the first 3 flights. The 'longest flight' marker can be seen in the distance.

Now starting our trip home to California, we flew a 2-ship to Duplin, NC (45 min) for $1.95 gas then continued on to Maxton, NC near Fayetteville. We then gave rides to the Blue family, formerly of Lancaster :-) Afterwards, they treated us to a great dinner, and we departed Maxton about 8pm for an hour's flight into Greenville, SC. Clear skies and no winds made for a spectacular flight over a 'sea of lights' (we now have about 50 hours of RV night flight time). We are here with the List Family for the night. I used to work with Mike List at Lockheed, Palmdale and he now works here in Greenville for Lockheed. We're watching weather and may leave midday Wednesday for Huntsville, AL, depending on what the storm coming off the Gulf of Mexico does tonight. We're about 30 hours into our trip since leaving home on December 20th, and we just watched the Hobbs pass 800 hours :-) We hope that 2002 is productive for ALL the builders (anyone need an incentive ride!!!???), and we look forward to seeing some first flights as well! Sunday (01/06/02) Hello and Happy New Year to all! I haven't had a chance to check in since New Year's Night on Tuesday, and we are now home safe Sunday night. Here's where I left off earlier this week... We arrived to Greenville, SC about 9pm New Year's Day, and our friends the List's told us that a winter storm was moving into the area Wednesday :-( Not wanting to gamble with weather, we took off for Huntsville, AL leaving under 8K overcast Wednesday morning. Enroute, we flew over a 'postcard' airport located in the SE corner of the Tennessee Blue Ridge Mountains. We decided to stop and look around Martin Campbell Airport (1A3) for a bit, and it turns out this is the home of Blue Mountain Avionics. WHAT AN AVIONICS SYSTEM! We then continued on towards Huntsville landing at a grass strip airport nearer our friends house named, are you ready...Moontown (3M5)! The sun was shining as we were far enough west to miss the snow storm that moved into the southeastern USA later that day (did you see all the snow Atlanta got?!?) Thursday, we spent the day visiting and also toured nearby Cathedral Caverns. We'd only been to the caverns at Lake Shasta, CA which paled compared to the Cathedral Caverns! Danny, the tour guide, had the heaviest accent we'd ever heard, and he reminded us that he spoke 'Southeastern Alabama...not English' :-) C'mon....yont-too? Bama English! Friday, we continued on towards home and flew back to Grove, OK for a night with the Trippensees, about 3 hours flight time. After helping with some furniture moving and allowing for the overcast to lift, we flew 30 minutes to Cleveland, OK (not far from Tulsa) to stay with my adopted step-dad Saturday night, and he treated us to a great BBQ meal in Tulsa at Rosie's. This morning (Sunday), we took off at 8:30am Pacific time and fueled at Borger, TX (2 hrs) and again at St. Johns, AZ (2.5 hrs). A short 30 minute flight has us eating a late lunch (~2pm) at Payson, AZ (PAN) near Sedona. We took off about 3pm, and we arrived home to Rosamond 3 hours later after watching a very 'fiery' sunset that was magenta in color. It was sure nice crossing the Colorado River and seeing some REAL mountains and feeling right at home flying over them :-) We are finding the USA is 'mighty' flat once you pass Las Vegas, NM and the Rockies eastbound! Total trip time was spent over 18 days putting ~55 hours on the hobbs (826TT), and the plane ran perfectly! Our only weather delays consisted of taking off hours (not days) either side of our planned departures. We have now visited many friends in 36 states :-) We overflew 9 other states but did not get the chance to stop so we'll catch those another time! We can't say it enough but our RV is the best thing going on in our life now! Time will pass regardless so make sure you spend it getting your RV built!

We'll be looking for you on the ramp so keep poundin' them rivets! Paul & Victoria

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