As my wife approached 50, she started compiling a list of stuff she wanted to do during her 50th year. Unfortunately, that year coincided with the downturn in the economy, plus her list kept getting more complicated. So, she amended it to "50 Things I Want To Do In MY 50s." That way, she still has a few years to complete the list.
We had intended to drive there this weekend, leaving IN on Thursday evening after work, driving part-way and arriving on Friday afternoon. It takes roughly 10 hours to make the trip, and then drive all the way back on Sunday. We've done it many times. However, it looked like the weather might actually cooperate for a flight in Smokey -- 5 hours of flying vs 20+ hours of driving -- to kill two birds with one stone. She'd get to visit her mom and also check off an item on her list.
She's not much into flying. However, one of the things on the list was for me to fly her to Kansas City. No big deal. I flew into Wheeler Field a couple of times in my Yankee many (many) years ago. However, having just flown into Lee's Summit with the RV-1 entourage -- and given that the MIL lives on the south side of town anyway, it seemed as good a place as any to land for a visit.
Well, the forecast weather for Friday didn't develop. It was cold, overcast and blustery. Saturday promised warmer temps and sunshine for both the origin and destination, with even better weather on Sunday. So, we decided that flying to KC on Saturday and coming back on Sunday afternoon would be acceptable.
Then Sandy Frankenstorm arrived.
My wife's twin sister had planned a visit to KC to visit Mom this week, but because of the threat of bad weather in Boston, moved her flight up and would be arriving on Sunday morning. Since Mom can't be expected to take us to Lee's Summit AND pick up Daughter #2 at MCI, it was a perfect excuse to make it a day trip. Nothing to pack! Much to my surprise and delight, the spousal unit was on board with that. Lunch with Mom and zip back home in time for dinner. Woo-HOO!!
Saturday dawned cold, but sunny. We planned a wheels-up time of 0900 and had plenty of time for the essentials: Cleaning the windshield and canopy and going to the bathroom. I knew that 2.5 hours in the back seat with a bladder the size of a pea would really be stretching the limits of acceptability for her.
I took along a pair of gloves, just in case, and threw in a hoodie for my wife, since there's always a blast of cold air coming in from the back of the canopy. Good thing, too -- about 50 miles west of home we ran into a layer of clouds from 4000-5000', so I climbed to 6500'. My oil temp was at 170, so I figured that, as the day warmed up, so would my oil.
As the sun climbed higher, the OAT didn't. It was 29 degrees and my oil temp was dropping! Grrrr ... I could see the end of the lake-effect undercast ahead ...
... so as soon as we reached the clear sky, I dropped down to 4500', expecting warmer temps both outside AND in my oil. Unfortunately, the OAT was only 32* and my oil temp was hovering at 150-154*.
AND we were freezing! I could feel hot air coming out of my heat vent, but in the 12" between the vent and my right knee it was cooling to lukewarm. Our electric seat heaters helped, but not enough. You can sit in a refrigerator only so long until you become cold-soaked. Wifey was hunkered down in the back, towel stuffed in the canopy rear to stem the flow of frigid air, following along on my iPad and Foreflight. She didn't complain once.
When we landed at Lee's Summit, I was hoping to see some KC Flight folks hanging around, but it was so freakin' cold there that I can't blame anyone for not hanging around the airport. The EAA hangar, where the RV-1 and its contingent had called home for an evening was locked up tight. No sign of life.
However, an RV-4 entered the pattern in front of me for a low pass, and there was another on the ramp with a really cool paint scheme ...
The MIL and one of my wife's childhood friends met us while I was fueling Smokey, and whisked us off for lunch at a nearby restaurant. We never did warm up.
The flight back was just the second verse of the same song. I only climbed to 3500' on the flight back to keep as warm as possible under a high overcast. So much for weather reports. Harrumph.
I did discover over the middle of Missouri that 3500' is apparently a common altitude for raptors. A dark dot caught my eye out the left side of the windscreen and, as we zipped by at 160 knots, turned out to be a bald eagle! I'd never seen one while flying. About 15 minutes later, I saw another dot ahead and, turning off the autopilot, maneuvered a bit to make sure we didn't share time and space. Another eagle! He wasn't about to move, either.
Within 20 more minutes, I saw a hawk -- who was dead ahead and DID fold his wings and dive, just as I climbed and banked to miss him -- and two flocks of ducks and geese. All at 3500'. Go figure.
Wifey stayed hunkered down under my hoodie, lost in the iPad, looking very Jedi ...
Just as before, about 50 miles from home the end of the overcast could be seen. And, sure enough, as soon as we broke out into the sunshine, the OAT started to rise from the steady 32* and the oil temps sneaked up a few degrees. By the time we landed, the OAT was 52*! It was a balmy 58* in the hangar. It felt like 80* to us!
With the weather forecast for similar temps this weekend, and the remnants of Frankenstorm Sandy looming, I'm not sure I can talk her into flying down to Petit Jean this coming weekend. We'll see ...