Earlier this spring I started making plans for a Texas trip to visit friends and participate in a few Sport Air Races. Life(money) delayed that plan. Finally, Work, Weather and Wallet reached harmony and I chose to go for the Hill Country 150. On Monday 4/15, I was flight planning when our Daughter Jenny stopped by after another grueling day as an ?End of Tax season? CPA. She said ?I need a break? I offered the right seat to Texas on Thursday. ?I can?t, my kids haven?t really seen me lately (80hr workweeks). During her drive to Bozeman, she called ?Is that seat still open?? Yep?woohoo, I have a navigator.
Planned for a 0700 departure from Townsend(8u8), due to a long day ahead and local weather going downhill. Woke up to a nice morning but the mountains to the north east were shrouded in snow. Duck Creek pass looked open, as did the route between KBZN and KLVM and everything past that was severe clear. We just needed to get over the ridges. Jenny was running late and I watched the ceilings lower, the pass close up with snow showers. The webcam
on Bozeman Pass still looked like a possible route. We didn?t launch until about 0730. Headed south at 180kts to end around the weather, turn the corner over the horseshoe hills to streak for Bozeman pass?.Dang it low ceilings and snow to the ground. Wait off my left is a sunshine gap north, I bank for it keeping my options open for a retreat if need be. Zoomed up the head of the little valley to find snow showers. I fly to the east climbing a canyon and explaining, it looks like a no-go. Aurora pops us over the next ridge?. more snow where an hour ago was 9000?ceilings and 10mile vis. I spot Wilsall airport as I venture closer to the snow line. I slow to 130kts to give me more time to react and retreat if things get worse. I can vaguely make out the Livingston area south of my route, when I can see across the next barrier into the sun. Throttle up and zip through a snow squall at 500agl to FREEDOM! The first hour was a good lesson in hard limits and local knowledge mix a bit. I always had a clear path to an airport.
No pictures yet, we were kinda busy. Me flying, Jenny was trying to get weather updates on the Ipad. Once past Red Lodge it was smooth as glass at 7500? as we pointed it to Colorado.
Here?s an Ipad screenshot while we were trying to establish back on course.
Near Greybull I think, 9500? 193kt+GS burning 8.4gph
Wyoming around Laramie Casper Etc can be bumpy at times coupled with rising terrain we went for 9500 for more tailwind. 11500 was even better. Had a few miles of undercover, so went up a touch for clearance. Rewarded with 205kt GS. Wishing I had some O2 we?d have gone to 13500.
Pilot and Navigator
After 3 hrs in the saddle we did a quickturn at Greeley. 3.1hrs and 23.4gals. Note to self: do not try to upload pictures when you?re tired. I managed to delete all the full size images and only have thumbnails of some pics!
Next stop was Dumas TX for a snack and cheap gas. We only took 13gals for the 1:50 flight. $4.65 was best fuel price on the trip, but the bonus was returning to find Old Glory parked at the pump. I didn?t hesitate at the photo op. Think I?ll frame it and send it to my Dad.
Took too long messing around at Dumas, but finally pointed her to Llano. Path took us almost right over Dyess AFB, but forgot to snap a pic of all the military iron on the ramp. Panhandle Texas looked as expected, but as we descended towards Llano, I was surprised at the greenness of the area.
Fuel computer showed Aurora used another 17gallons. I expected more, but the forecasted headwind never developed. Yes I?m a fuel chicken. We flew over 1180miles(zigzag for the first hour) burning 53gals and a little over 7hrs.