I’d have to agree with the Tragically Hip who said “It Can’t Be Nashville Every Night” as, after just one night, I was completely exhausted. This all started many months before when Dave Matheson had suggested, to Matt Pearson, that it might be fun to fly Matt’s RV-7a (C-GIME) from Ottawa, Carp (CYRP) down to Nashville for a hockey game. When this was mentioned I, somewhat under the influence of alcohol, suggested that perhaps John Weir (who I blame for influencing me with the alcohol) and I should tag along, in John’s RV-7a (C-GWUL), and make it a formation (loose) exercise.
Plans were hatched and lines drawn on virtual maps but the November weather failed to cooperate and the trip looked like it would be consigned to the ‘potentially great trip’ bucket as winter was fast approaching.
However, the Nashville Predators were clearly not being as negative as we were and, just as the snow started to melt, they got through to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Perhaps there was still time to grow our playoff beards.
Nashville continued their winning run, beating Anaheim in the first round and the weather was improving all the time. For round 2 they faced the San Jose Sharks and, as the first two games would be in San Jose, we decided to target game 4 with a potential bad weather alternative as game 6. Of course there would be no guarantee they’d make it as far as game 6 so daily weather watching became our hobby in the days leading up to game 4. The game was scheduled for the Thursday and, as Matt Pearson wasn’t able to make it, Matt Mountain stepped up as the 2nd GIME pilot and Jedi master of all things EAPIS and flight planning.
The weather wasn’t playing nice and the forecast was anything but accurate in the days leading up to our planned departure. We had a joint call the evening before and it still wasn’t clear if we’d be able to make it routing either south of Lake Ontario or, to the north, and crossing the border near Detroit. We agreed that we’d need to make a go/no call the next morning and at 5.45 am, rather sleepily, we decided that we’d go for it and that we’d route south and clear the border at Watertown (KART).
We were all at Carp by 7 and ready before our planned departure time of 7.45. We’d told customs that our arrival time would be 8.15 but EAPIS allows a 15 min deviation either side. Once airborne we called Ottawa Terminal but they soon lost us and were quite prepared to let us scoot across the border unannounced. We questioned the wisdom of this and they suggested we try Montreal but, contrary to my understanding, it wasn’t strictly necessary to be in contact with anyone when transiting the border. Under a grey but lightening sky we crossed the St. Lawrence and switched over to Wheeler Sack.
Approaching the US Border
US Customs and Immigration were waiting for us on arrival at Watertown and the formalities were over quickly. We topped up with fuel and free coffee at the very pleasant FBO while we stared intently at the broken cloud to the south. With 650 nm left to go we wouldn’t make it in one hop so we planned on stopping after 2 to 3 hours, depending on the weather.
With GIME in the lead we headed south and climbed to 8,500 above the broken cloud deck and the slight tail wind gave us a nice speed across the ground of about 180 kts. As the cloud thickened we were forced higher to ensure we could still see the odd patch of green below. We maneuvered around a few higher build ups and we topped out, for a short while, at 11,500. This was the highest I’d been before and the effects were definitely starting to become noticeable. I had to focus more on tasks, breathing was harder and John’s jokes were becoming funny. Definitely time to descend.
Climbing out of Watertown (KART)
After almost 400 nm we dropped down through a clearing and almost immediately landed at Ohio University (KUNI). I was just relieved it wasn’t Portsmouth (Ohio) as, and with no offence to the good citizens of said town, I spent a weekend there when we got weathered in on our way to Rough River a few years back.
Within seconds of landing there was a mad rush for the restroom which was won in order of age and size of prostrate. Suitably relieved and topped off once again with fuel we checked the weather for our final 287 nm leg to John Tune (KJWN), just to the North West of Nashville.
With the RV’s being so quick it’s important to not get too out of phase and we learnt a valuable lesson in just how easy it is to get separated. As GIME roared off down the runway we were still a way back on the taxiway and it was probably 2 minutes before we took off. Once airborne we compared GPS readings and Dave & Matt were an astonishing 15 miles ahead of us. Above the broken cloud deck we strained our eyes for the next 90 minutes before we finally caught site of each other. Even with GIME only ½ a mile away it was still difficult to spot despite the white backdrop.
As we got within 30 miles or so of Nashville it was time to drop back down and we spiraled our way down through a hole and came out under a 3,000 grey overcast. It had been smooth sailing at 8,500’ but down below it was dark and bumpy. Nashville Approach directed us north of their airfield and before long we had the large radio towers and KJWN in sight. The FBO was welcoming and we fueled up ready for tomorrow’s departure and tied down the RV’s next to rows of Learjets and Challengers. We paid our very reasonable $10 overnight parking and, after some time, our Uber driver finally found the airfield and took us to our downtown hotel.
Dave, Colin and John - Sampling the Atmosphere outside the stadium