No bumper stickers but I saw plenty of shirts!
So by now it's midday and we planned a leisurely trip home. A quick trip to KSWI for cheap fuel and then on to KDVK Danville, Kentucky again. No intermediate stops because we expected a healthy tailwind and shorter than expected flight time. KDVK is about halfway home and we are racing away from the sun. Best to just stop there for the night and relax.
We noticed a healthy fire in the small mountains of Texas. Looked pretty big and the winds weren't helping.
It was peaceful up at 9500' with a 35+ tailwind. We were averaging 185kts and if we pressed on would be home just east of Philadelphia in under 6.5 hours.
We landed at KDVK and had about 2 hours of daylight left. At those speeds I could be in Frederick, MD before dark and on the east side of the Allegheny Mountains. A preferred spot to be as weather usually sticks to the west side of the mountain range. So off we go...beautiful weather as far as you can see. Well, that didn't last forever.
As we approach the mountains it started getting scuddy.
I was 12 miles from our alternate stop in Martinsburg. I opted for KMRB because of increasing weather and darkness. We were doing 225kts now but it wasn't enough to beat the sun. I was FORCED to turn around. As we went over the mountain range I made a mental note of options and clear weather airports. One was Elkins, WV (KEKN) the other was W99, Grant County. As I turned around, I realized how strong that tailwind was....we were now only doing 97kts over the ground. 11 minutes to W99 and 30 minutes to EKN. I circled W99 as we flew over the broken ceiling trying to spot the runway with pilot controlled lighting. No dice and I was NOT willing to dive into that mountainous valley to take a closer look. On we go to EKN. EKN was no picnic either but the town was lit up quite nice and down into the muck we went. We found the runway and landed in darkness. Rememember what I said about taking the plane to Walt for inspection and the assumed risks I took...
So we're on the ground calling local hotels when a car approaches. It was a local aviator surprised anyone would land on this dark night. He offered up a ride into town which we gratefully accepted.