"The Great Escape" Cub Adventure 2016
Day 1 - September 14, 2016 - Smithfield, NC (JNX) to Bedford, PA (HMZ)
Predawn departures seem like a good idea the night before...not so much the morning of. No matter how hard one tries, even the slightest movement seems to create a deafening sound - at least it seems that way. The paradox of driving a battery powered automobile with an electric motor assisted by a gas engine to the hangar, only to take flight in an aircraft designed and built some 76 years ago, isn't lost on us.
Shortly after the Cub's tires leave the runway with the turn on course and cruise altitude established - the magic of vintage flying sinks in. The morning sun at our backs beckons Mr. Nikon to capture the results of the perfect morning light as it illuminates the forests, lakes, and sleepy small towns as they awaken.
Day 2 - September 15, 2016 - Bedford, PA (HMZ) to New Philadelphia, Ohio (PHD)
A late start to the second day gave us the chance to fly in the pre-sunset hours. The winds and bumps were gone as the hilltop farms made their way under our wings. The more rugged hills of western Pennsylvania gave way to the gentle rolling hills of Ohio. Wide rivers with power plants and barges navigating their way to a destination are like the veins of an oak leaf continuously contributing to the growth of our country.
With the sun making plans to set below the horizon in 20 minutes, we turn final for runway 14 - reduce the throttle - tap a bit of right rudder - ease the stick back - wait for the Cub to decide to settle gently on the runway. Terry and Jean are there to greet us and off to dinner we go.
Day 3 - September 16, 2016 - New Philadelphia, Ohio (PHD) to Lee Bottom, Indiana (64I)
It wasn't very long into the flight when the hills gave up and let the flat lands rule the terrrain. While the terrain was filled with small farms and farming communities already on their second cup of coffee, the surprises of the unexpected happened. At first the line of cars on a two lane rural road seemed only mildly interesting. When our eyes followed them to a farm where over a hundred of them were parking, we couldn't resist attempting to figure out where all the people were. As the photos will show, we still can't figure out what the event so far from any town or city was.
Hours and a few fuel stops later we landed at the Lee Bottom Airport's annual fly-in. This year's theme was Aviation Migration. Sadly this will be the last year of the annual fly-in for Lee Bottom. We wished Rich and Ginger the best as they continue to support the preservation of general aviation airports in our country.
Day 4 - September 17, 2016 - Lee Bottom, Indiana (64I) Rain Day
The storm that came in on Day 3 was only the beginning of some stormy weather that would cancel Saturday's events at the Lee Bottom Fly-In. By Saturday afternoon the heavy rains passed but left marginal VFR weather in their wake. It was a good day to watch some college football and get caught up on the photos and website.
When we plan our adventures, we add one rain day for every four days of travel. So a two week adventure has 3 to 4 rain days added. Frequently we don't use all of the rain days, but it sure helps relieve some of the self-imposed pressure to fly and keep to a flight plan.
Day 5 - 6, September 18 & 19, 2016 - Lee Bottom, Indiana (64I) to Poplar Grove, Illinois (C77)
Rain often brings low clouds and fog the morning after. Once the skies cleared we were off across Indiana on a route we've never taken before, over countryside we enjoyed with each passing minute. As if the day wasn't starting off with enough excitement, we had the opportunity to experience something we never achieved in the previous 12 years of Cub flying. You'll need to click on the "Photos" button to find out.
Landing at Poplar Grove is always a bit like coming home. Two beautifully maintained grass runways and one paved invite all aircraft to become a part of this privately owned airport if only for a few days. We are convinced if heaven has an airport it is exactly like Poplar Grove. An airport world filled with pilots and families who exude the best of general aviation.
It wasn't long before brother Mike and Rita appeared to wisk us away for some family time together.
Day 7, September 20, 2016 - Poplar Grove, Illinois (C77) to Morey Middleton, Wisconsin (C29)
Brother Mike always waits for the Cub to fly overhead and rock its wings before heading home from dropping us off at the airport. The flight to Madison, Wisconsin doesn't consume enough time to adequately experience all the beauty of Wisconsin farms and neighborhoods. Even the Cub seems to be moving too fast to take in all that is unique from horizon to horizon.
Frank waved us to a parking spot after we filled the fuel tank. Once tied down, the Cub rested in the warm late-summer breezes, while we headed to lunch to catch up on all things vintage flying. Frank has some 3,000 hours in a Cub and has written the definitive book on crossing America in a vintage Piper Cub.
Day 8, September 21, 2016 - Morey Middleton, Wisconsin (C29) Rain Day
Three in the morning, a bright flash of light and a clap of thunder so deafening there was no mistaking the center of the storm was just outside the windows. But instead of the typical increasing delay between lightning and the sound of the thunder as the storm moved away, there was no delay. Mother Nature seemed to be perfectly content feeding new moisture into a stationary system over Madison, Wisconsin. By noon we proclaimed a "Rain Day" and headed to a hotel for the rest of the day.
Day 9, September 22, 2016 - Morey Middleton, Wisconsin (C29) to Sullivan, Indiana (SIV)
A quick look at the weather radar confirmed that the well-entrenched storm had not moved from eastern Iowa. In fact, a call to Dave in Dyersville revealed towns to the west of his home received over ten inches of rain. We decided to abandon our plans for heading west and go south where no precipitation seemed evident. We also decided to change the name of this year's Cub Adventure from "Western Migration" to "The Great Escape".
We were rewarded with clear skies once south of De Kalb, Illinois. The next stop was Rantoul, Illinois. Rantoul airport was originally Chanute Air Force Base. Enormous hangars and more than generous runways still give away Rantoul's former life. With forecasts for good weather the next few days, it was easy to fall off to sleep.
Day 10, September 23, 2016 - Sullivan, Indiana (SIV) to Nashville, Tennessee (JWN)
Having not flown over this part of our country, time passed quickly as the farmlands turned to forests. Large and smaller rivers were passages for coal barges feeding power plants that lived on their shores. Relics of abandoned power plants lived not far from their replacements. They were hauntingly overgrown with vegetation and coated with the ever-present rust.
Landing at John C. Tune airport in Nashville was quite the show. Piston airplanes were in the minority. Turbines ruled the tarmac. None-the-less, from a Cub to a multi-million dollar Challenger everyone got along really well both in the pattern and on the ramp.
James, the corporate pilot of the Challenger, walked over as we fueled the Cub and asked to look inside. Turns out James has a 1946 J3 Cub. He spoke of a fly-in early each October at Jennings, Louisiana. Sounds like a road trip to us.
Day 11, September 24, 2016 - Nashville, Tennessee (JWN)
We decided to spend a couple of days in Nashville, Tennessee and learn about its history and its successful growth. Paying respect to the "Music City" meant a tour of the Ryland Auditorium, the birthplace of the Grand Ole Opry. It also meant experiencing "Honky Tonk Row" the only way possible...visiting many of the bars that offer live bands all day long. The crowd was a mix of Boomers, GenXers, and the ever-increasing Millennials. Maybe it was the music, or perhaps the libations, but everybody really got along nicely.
We've added a couple of photos that contrast the old downtown to the looming, high-tech, highrise glass corporate buildings.
Day 12, September 25, 2016 - Nashville, Tennessee (JWN) to Cartersville, Georgia (VPC)
Dropping off the rental car took longer than expected. We didn't get into the air until 11:35 am. We had some hills to cross and winds aloft that bounced us around with the passing of each ridge we encountered. By early afternoon an air-conditioned motel room that didn't bounce seemed like a good idea.
We spied several stands of hardwoods hiding in steep valleys that had begun to change colors. Fall is just around the corner.
Day 13, September 26, 2016 - Cartersville, Georgia (VPC) to Smithfield, North Carolina (JNX)
The airport tie downs were shrouded in cool, damp darkness whose only relief was the slim blue line at the horizon. Shortly after loading our bags and preflighting the Cub with the assistance of a flashlight, the morning show began. The main character was a limp windsock who stood rock still waiting for the sun to bring the first breeze he could respond to. Soon however, the main character yielded to the blood red ball of fire as it lifted above the horizon just as easily as a hot air balloon on a calm morning.
Time to leave Cartersville. Birds warming their bodies on the latent heat of the runway surface scurried off to each side as we taxied by. As always, anxiously awaiting the Cub's tail to lift shortly after takeoff, we can see clearly down the runway. The birds were gone.
Climbing through 150 feet above the runway, the inside of the Cub's yellow interior turned bright orange. Mr. Nikon captured the deeply warming red hues as they battled for a position above the morning clouds.
We could make it home today if the storms over Charlotte, North Carolina would cease their eastward trend. With weather that obliged to keep the skies clear, only the ever-present headwinds were cause for concern. By the time most folks were having dinner, the Cub's feet lightly touched down at JNX (A.K.A. Home.)
Mags off. The 65 Continental horses clatter to a stop. We sit in the cockpit for a long time knowing full well the minute our feet touch the ground the Adventure is over. Utilizing our time-tested reasoning that one adventure must end in order for the next one to begin, we reluctantly step out of the Cub.
We've been invited to visit Joe and his wife in Oklahoma City next year. Sounds like the beginning of some plans for 2017.
Thanks for following along...give some thought to joining us next year. Oh yes, don't forget your cup of coffee.
Number of days on the adventure: 13 days
Number of statute miles flown: 2,440.1 miles*
Number of legs: 25 legs*
Longest leg: 2 hours, 14 minutes
Shortest leg: 18 minutes
Total flight time: 37.6 hours
Gallons of fuel: 146.2 gallons
Estimated gallons per hour: 4.1 gallons per hour
Total photos taken: 527 photos
*The GPS kept track