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Old 06-10-2012, 11:06 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 691
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As I descended into the Black Hills for Custer County Airport the turbulence increased and there are warnings about wind shear and high crosswinds in the AFD and on the AWOS. It actually wasn?t any worse than landing at my home airport although it may be challenging for an inexperienced pilot. I was spring loaded on the throttle just in case. We were fixed up with a rental car and called and got a cabin. The next day was spent driving to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy horse and taking the scenic highway trip through the ?Needles?.

On the ground at Custer County...



Here's the cabin...



Rushmore from the ground...



The weather seemed to be taking a turn for the worse, so I decided to do the flying portion of the tour the next day while we had a chance. We basically flew the Vetterman fly-in route. We hit Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore, and Devil?s tower before flying over to Wall, S.D. and going through the Wall Drug emporium. We walked back to the airplane and overflew the badlands trying to out run a line of showers back to Custer. We lost the race. Discretion overcame valor and we diverted to Hot Springs to refuel and wait out the storm. An hour later we were airborne again and a few minutes after that we were tied down and back in the rental car headed right back to Hot Springs for the Mammoth dig museum. That was another enjoyable part of the trip and I?d recommend it. Later we drove back to the cabin through Custer State Park, and we enjoyed seeing many elk, deer, and bison along the way.

Crazy Horse from the air...



Rushmore from the air...



Panel shot headed for Devil's Tower...



With rainshowers moving in...



Here's the tower in light rain...



I had planned to fly home the following day, but the weather decided different. A call to the airport and a trip to the cabins? lobby office got us set up with the car and cabin for another night. We did laundry, and then set off on a road trip for Deadwood and Devil?s Tower. It was an enjoyable side trip.
We visited the cemetery at Deadwood and visited the graves of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane. We also went through the Adams museum. Devil?s tower was impressive up close! Pictures don?t really do it justice. Coming back to the cabin, we drove through Spearfish canyon, which was very scenic.

A day later from the ground...



Sleeping Bear Butte...




The following morning the ceiling had lifted but there were still rain showers in the area and more low weather on the way. We made a break for it, circumventing all but some light rain. Strong headwinds kept us low. I did have an uncomfortable moment when unexpectedly low ceilings near the South Dakota / Kansas border forced us pretty low to the ground. Weather reporting in the area I was in is rather sparse and 1400? ceilings were forecast with improving conditions as the day warmed up. The weather on the 696 and the I-pad was showing only one airport with marginal VFR when we took off. In reality, I believe at least one or two AWOS?s were giving false information. The TAF?s were incorrect. When the weather hit my personal minimums, I did a 180 and was able to climb to a more comfortable altitude. Rechecking weather to confirm, the tops were still low and the low ceiling line was narrow. I climbed above the weather, turned around and was VFR on top for 25 miles or so. The rest of the flight home was smooth sailing. We made one stop at Oglala, S.D. for a potty break or we could have come on non-stop. Here is where I learned not to trust the Fore Flight gas prices. It was $6.01 vs. the $4.90 shown, and that was self-serve fuel.

Please understand that we used telephoto lenses on multiple cameras and video recorders so clouds and objects are in many cases more distant than they appear in the pictures. I took great pains not to break altitude or cloud clearance requirement and other weather restrictions. There are large expanses of land where a forced landing would be dangerous so consider that in your planning if you decide on a similar trip. Make sure your aircraft is in good condition.

This was my first cross country using Fore Flight and a new I-pad that I won in a drawing. It was very useful for flight planning, but as others have said it is not the Holy Grail for in air use. I had a Zagg screen protector and the Kroger sun shade did help with the screen visibility. I did not have it mounted and I was able to turn it to where I could see it when I needed to. It is not very ergonomic for cockpit use and it received a few scratches. I have since purchased a knee board and will try that on my next trip.

All the trip pics are here if you'd like to see them:

https://picasaweb.google.com/JJSchne...eKqZ-zi-20pAE#

The end
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Joe Schneider
RV-7, IO-360, BA Hartzell, N847CR
Flying since 2008
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