Sun and Fun 2005 Trip Report: by Don McMullen [donrmc 'at']


Date 4/10/05
Hobbs 265.9
Time 5:45 am
Oxnard Ca. KOXR

I had not been to Sun & Fun for a few years so I put the word out that I was looking for someone to share expenses and fly there with me. Jim Ayres introduced me to Bob Each, an EAA Member, who said that he wanted to go. I started by doing my condition inspection again although it wasn't due yet. Then lots of navigation planning. I found AOPA's flight planner worked very well. I also down loaded lots of approaches off along our route, and gas prices. The prices were changing so rapidly that they were almost always higher than posted.
We departed early Sunday morning, April 10th. I didn't get flight following over LA because I didn't want to be vectored all over the place. We were 17,500 by Burbank. I had filed for an IFR clearance from Blyth VOR to El Paso at flight level 19.000. This would be the first time I have ever gone that high. Well that little RV6A took us right up there. All went well for an hour or so but then my legs and feet felt like they were frozen. It was -14 c and the heater didn't work very well at that temperature. After we landed at El Paso (very windy and gusty) it took me about hour to thaw out enough to go to the bathroom. We did very well on fuel (4 gal. per hour) and with 30 knot tail winds. Indicated 105 knots, ground speeds of 180 to 200 knots. Our oxygen lasted until Lakeland, where we got a free refill from the guys at the Aerox booth at Sun N Fun.

Hobbs 270.4 4.5 Hrs
Horizon TX. T27

Hobbs 270.4
Time 14:39
Horizon TX.

We departed El Paso in the worst turbulence and wind. Bob and I decided not to go so high the rest of the trip. We went up to 15,500, and the wind was still favorable in our direction. . In a few hundred miles the ground below us was thoroughly overcast and remained that way to our destination.

Hobbs 274.7 4.3 Hrs.
Orange TX KORG

I contacted approach control and told him that I wanted to do an IFR approach into Orange airport TX. I was very tired from flying all the way from California. Approach took us through a very thick layer about 5000 feet. We broke out at 2000 ft and were in and out of the clouds at that altitude. I was tired and not doing so well. Approach gave me vectors for the approach and I forgot to set the DG so I was off course. I have never seen a controller like this. He just let me go in the wrong direction until I told him that we were going away from the approach. Then he told me that if I would fly the right heading I would be in a better position. He gave me the new heading, I set the DG and did a lot better. (Thank god for altitude hold and wing leveler) We made the approach and landed.
The guy at the FBO was very nice, and he loaned us their car to go to town and get a hotel.

Date 4/11/05
Hobbs 274.7
Time 9:02
Orange TX

The next morning we woke up to overcast and very dark skies. The guy at the FBO had a very good weather computer and showed us that we had a line of thunderstorms just west of us and headed our way. I called flight service and talked to a knowledgeable guy that told us the same thing. He said that if we got off in the next hour or so we would be fine. So I filed IFR, took off, flew for about 100 miles at 3000' in the soup. After a while I got tired of that and asked for higher, 15,000 ft. They gave it to us and in a few minutes we broke out at 4,500 ft. At 15,000 we could see it was overcast for a long way. It finally cleared up just before Lakeland.

Hobbs 279.9 5.2 Hrs.
Lakeland Fl.

We landed and fueled up at a little airport about 20 miles from Lakeland (cheaper fuel) and then did the visual approach procedure into Lakeland LAL. It was easy, only 2 airplanes in front of us so we just followed them in wagging our wings when they told us to. When landing they told me to land on the green dot and congratulated me for hitting it But then started screaming into the mike for the twin in back of us to land now and for me to get out of the way. I poured the coals to it and almost took off again. I landed long and had to hit the brakes to stop at the flag waving ground controller. I turned off the runway and tried to relax and start having fun. Bob and I got a very good spot in the RV parking area. We tied down the RV and went to get a rental car. While we were tying down Jim Ayers came by and chatted for a while. We drove to town to look for a hotel. At the Motel 6 a nice lady helped us to find one. It was full. We finally got a hotel for $100. A night in down town Lakeland.
Bob & I spent 3 days at Sun N Fun. There was a lot to see and I think 3 days was about what it took to see it all. It is a lot smaller than Oshkosh but still has extensive exhibits. I didn't see anyone I knew or any airplanes that looked familiar. One thing that I liked seeing was the ultralights. The departure was over the parking lot. It was exciting seeing all those colorful flying contraptions flying overhead while we were walking to the front gate.

Date 4/15/05
Hobbs 279.9
Time 8:55 am local
Lakeland Fl. KLAL

Bob and I had an uneventful departure from Lakeland. We retraced our route and planned our fuel stops.

Hobbs 284.0 4.1 Hrs.
Hammond La. KHDC

Our first stop was Hammond, La. Fuel was 2.96 a gallon. There was no restaurant on field so we took off and headed for Lafayette, La. about 100 miles away.

Hobbs 284.0
Time 14:44 pm EST
Hammond La.

Hobbs 284.8 .8 Hrs
Time 15:32 EST
Lafayette La.

After a nice lunch at a terminal restaurant we took off and started to plan for our overnight stop

Hobbs 284.8
Time 16:12 pm EST
Lafayette La. KLFT

Hobbs 287.4 2.6 Hrs.
Time 17:48 CST

We stopped at Llano for cheap gas (2.45) and to spend the night. The guy was really nice He said he could tell we were from California because of the way we pronounced the airport name (they pronounce the L). He told us there was some convention going on in town and that all the hotels were full, and that San Angelo would be our best bet He got us a number of the local FBO at San Angelo Ranger Aviation. They called town, got us a hotel for $48 per night and they would even provide transportation.

Hobbs 287.4
Time 18.48 pm CST
Llano TX.

Hobbs 288.2 .8 Hrs
Time 19.42 pm CST
San Angelo TX. KSJT

When we arrived at San Angelo they rolled out the red carpet. They had already called the hotel to come and pick us up and started refueling the airplane. It was a very nice hotel with a restaurant attached. We chowed down and hit the hay to get ready for tomorrow, the final leg of our trip.

Date 4/16/05
Hobbs 288.2
Time 9:55 am CST
San Angelo TX.

Bob and I Departed San Angelo, TX under clear skies with a good weather report for the rest of the trip home. After just a little while we were on top of an overcast sky. It was like that until about 60 miles out from El Paso then the clouds went much higher, were black and full of lightning. We were at 10,500 and I told the controller I was going down to 8,500. I could see the ground now and it was a little bumpy but not bad. Our friend the controller (building an RV8) told us that we would be out of the weather in about 20 miles and we were in it for about 50 more miles. It was very pretty on the other side of the weather front.

Hobbs 292.8 4.6 Hrs.
Time 12:30 pm PST
Pinal AZ. KMZJ

We stopped at a little airport just outside of Tucson AZ (Marana) to get something to eat. The airport guide said they had a restaurant on field. After eating lunch in a nice Mexican restaurant we asked around about cheap Fuel. Some guy told us to go to Pinal airpark so we did. It was only about 8 miles away. The fuel was good there (2.53) while fueling up there we noticed that there was lots of heavy jets parked all over the place about like Mojave. I took lots of pictures and then the fuel guy said that pictures were not allowed there as the owners didn't want to advertise their airplanes were there. So I stopped taking pictures.

Hobbs 292.8
Time 13:00 pm PST
Pinal AZ.

The rest of the trip was uneventful except for some socal controllers vectoring us all over the place - that was fun.
All said and done it was a wonderful trip. We both had a good time, airplane worked great except for a failed DG over El Paso. We both said we would do it again.
Don McMullen

Hobbs 296.0 3.2 Hrs.
Time 16:15 pm PST
Oxnard CA. KOXR

Total Hrs. 30.1
Oxr Lal & Return