"Birds of a Feather" Cub Adventure 2017 A
Day 1 - July 15, 2017 - Johnston County, NC (JNX) to Uniontown, Pennsylvania (VVS)
The car’s tires slowly came to a complete stop just a bit after 5:00 AM. It was dead calm and just as silent. A ramp flood light cast a yellowish brown color on all the objects it touched. Oddly, that quality of light created a sepia tone much like a vintage photo. How fitting on this morning of departure.
The groaning and creaking hangar door stubbornly got louder as it opened fully, as if its noise would somehow ease its ire for having to work so early in the morning. Coincidentally, one’s stomach joined in with its own growling. A mere cacophony of unappreciated sounds to start our day.
The Continental horses didn’t disappoint. Six blades and the sound of fuel gurgling in the carburetor meant it was time to make the mags hot. The seventh blade opened the corral and all of the 65 horses clamoring drown out the complaining door.
The sun began its own climb to start a beautiful North Carolina morning. And what a gorgeous morning it was. Thus started “Birds of a Feather” Cub Adventure 2017 A (yes, two adventures this year).
Day 2 - July 16, 2017 - Uniontown, Pennsylvania (VVS) to Lima, Ohio (AOH)
Yesterday’s rather strong headwinds put us a bit behind our proposed flight plan. It wasn’t until we were following a paperboy on a bike that we realized just how slow we were going. He easily passed us…or so it seemed. Gosh, two days of headwinds.
Stopping in New Philadelphia, OH for lunch with our friend Terry was the highlight of the day. He’s the kind of friend everyone should have.
The headwinds subsided as we flew west. The landscape below was filled with thousands of small farms. It’s likely many of them were Amish, who are known for their pride of ownership.
The radar images of a large thunderstorm of epic proportions led us to believe it would pass to our east. Yeah, like anyone should trust a thunderstorm to give any semblance of how it intends to act. At the last minute the storm got bigger and nastier and decided to visit Lima, OH. “But it was only a small storm when the Cub was tied down on the ramp” we justified to ourselves. The drive from the hotel to the airport that night, through several nearly washed out rural roads, made our guilt grow even more than the constant flashes of lightning. As the courtesy car’s headlights washed across the Cub's exterior, it was an overwhelming relief followed by thankfulness. The Cub faced the storm and was undamaged. Perhaps a bit wet and lonely, but unscathed.
Day 3 - July 17, 2017 - Lima, OH (AOH) to Bolingbrook, IL (LOT)
We should have guessed our day would start with IFR conditions due to last night’s storm. Stubborn low ceilings and visibility kept us on the ground until just before noon. Cruising along in hazy air, we found nothing to complain about or perhaps the appearance of a generous tailwind was to be credited. In any event, few places speak to the Cub's natural abilities like cruising from horizon to horizon above the farms of the Midwest.
Day 4 - July 18, 2017 - Bolingbrook, IL (LOT) t0 Madison, WI (C39)
We were really busy scanning for traffic while we departed the bustling suburbs of southwest Chicago. Numerous airports and a beautiful day to fly meant above average general aviation air traffic. Once out of the area we enjoyed the small towns and vivid green farmlands below.
We spent the afternoon visiting with Frank and family in Madison, WI. We never cease to be impressed with Frank's words of wisdom on aviation navigation and his experiences flying across America in his Cub.
Days 5 & 6 - July 19 - 20, 2017 - Madison, WI (C39) to Lake in the Hills, IL (3CK)
Mike and his wife Rita were waiting for us to land as we joined the downwind. For the next couple of days we would be enjoying family time together, which included meeting Mike's newest (7 week-old) grandson, Zachary.
It was a nice break from our daily flying schedule.
Days 7 & 8 - July 21 - 22, 2017 - Lake in the Hills, IL (3CK) to Hartford, WI (HXF)
The grass runway at Hartford was a welcome sight. We've only had one other grass strip landing on this adventure. We were one of the first Cubs to arrive at the airport which was the meeting place for the J3 Cub's 80th Anniversary event know as "Cubs 2 Osh." Perhaps that's how we titled this adventure since one could hardly argue referring to it as "Birds of a Feather" isn't a reasonable subtitle.
Once we got settled, the rest of the day and into the evening was spent meeting other Cub owners and renewing old friendships. Tomorrow more Cubs will arrive because early Sunday morning we fly en mass to the Oshkosh Airshow.
Day 9 - July 23, 2017 - Hartford, WI (HXF) to Oshkosh, WI
Stubborn steel grey clouds conspired to present a formidable barrier to inbound Cubs at Hartford Airport (HXF) until early Saturday afternoon. Those of us on the ground waited eagerly for any signs of aircraft approaching. It brought to mind scenes from the movie Memphis Belle, where crews waited on the airport's tarmac in anticipation of their B17s to return one by one. Sure enough as the clouds release their blockade of inbound Cubs, the mood of all those waiting on the ground was noticeably elevated. By nightfall about 48 cubs were tied down on the grass.
Steve Krog gave a light-hearted, yet sincere pilot briefing just after dinner. All that was left was cooperation by the recalcitrant weather patterns to give us a VFR morning by 6:00 am.
Most of us were awake before our 4:00 am alarm clocks went off on Sunday morning. From campers to hotel dwellers all of us knew we needed to be ready to depart by 6:00 am. The focus of each pilot was palpable throughout the dew-ladened grass tie down area. The Hartford volunteers had hot coffee and donuts brought out to the tie down area, so as reduce the time for us pilots to grab a bite to eat before we took off.
Each Cub taxied into position on the grass adjacent to the runway and shut its engine down. The lead Cub was in position on the runway with its engine running, waiting for Steve to wave him off and start the string of departures for Oshkosh. A crew of three or four ground crew would hand-prop Cubs waiting in line so they were ready to get into position without any delay.
A few minutes after 6:00 am Steve's red flag vigorously waved and the first Cub bounced down the runway. From that point on and until the very last Cub left the airport, every 20 seconds another Cub was flagged by Steve for takeoff. What a sight it was as Cub after Cub departed.
Steve gave us a hearty flag wave and mouthed a big "Thank You!" when it was our turn. We were off and following the plane ahead of us for the next 38 minutes before landing at Oshkosh. Other than position reports from the lead aircraft to the rest of us, there was almost no radio chatter. When the lead Cub called the Oshkosh tower, we were given clearance to land on either runway 36 left or 36 right.
Once on the ground, the Oshkosh volunteer ground crews guided each Cub to the tie down area and parked us very quickly with what can best be described as amazing choreographic precision. We smiled at each other as we went about tying down our Cubs. Words wouldn't be required to confirm the feelings we all shared.
Dozens of people walked by our Cubs as we secured them and commented on how long they waited to see the Cubs land and how they wouldn't have missed it for the world. Steve and all of those tireless volunteers at Hartford had worked their magic in making the Cub's 80th Anniversary a very successful and highly memorable event for so many. Thank you Steve and everyone who made this event possible.
Day 10 - July 24, 2017 - Oshkosh, WI AirVenture
The crowds began to pour in as the skies fill with airplanes of every imaginable type. Vendors prepared for the miriad of questions they would respond to over the next week. Suntan lotion wouldn't be needed until late afternoon as the morning overcast gave spectators a reprieve from the humid day the weather forecasters promised.
Day 11 - July 25, 2017 - Oshkosh, WI AirVenture
Our presentation at the EAA Museum's Skyscape theater went really well. Our production of "Always On Final" was well recieved by the audience. The afternoon was spent on watching the daily airshow from under the wing of the Cub. Only the photos on the photo page can do the afternoon's airshow justice.
Day 12 - July 26, 2017 - Oshkosh, WI AirVenture
After a few days of treking through airplane displays and vendors who just seemed to know exactly what you needed for your airplane and have it on "show special" perhaps it was time to get away to ...the Sea Plane village. It takes only a short bus ride to transport you to a place that moves at its own pace. A bucolic vintage waterfront setting filled with airplanes that can swim.
Day 13 - July 27, 2017 - Oshkosh, WI AirVenture
The blue skies and morning air made for a perfect visit to the Warbirds area. Over the years the re-enactors have expanded their "camps" and added era-specific artifacts that easily take us back to the environment our troops faced while not fighting. By mid-morning the sun had gained sufficient command over the canvas tents that they gave off their unmistakable musty cotton odor.
The skies and temperatures were in perfect harmony for the Thursday airshow. We had our place on the fight line with Mr. Nikon and a fully charged battery.
Day 14 - July 28, 2017 - Oshkosh (OSH), WI to Dyersville, IA (IA8)
As we lined up on the taxiway, awaiting our turn for takeoff, we noticed spectators walking quickly towards us and taking photos. Immediately we thought, "Wow, maybe these folks wanted a photo of a nice Cub." When we turned on to the runway, our moment of pride sank like a rock in a pond. It seems a beautifully polished P 51 Mustang was follwing us and he was the subject of all the spectators. Darn!
"Cleared for takeoff Cub" came over the radio and off we went...kind of. Seconds later the controller said, "Can you make an immediate turn to the outbound heading? I've got a Mustang behind you and gaining fast." She hadn't gotten the work Mustang out of her mouth and we knew what was coming next. Stomping on the right rudder pedal while simulaneously throwning the stick hard right we managed a near 60 degree bank angle. As we looked over our left shoulder the Mustang was climbing above us on the same setting.
We landed at Dyersville, IA (IA8) on one of the nicest runways any Cub pilot could experience. We had made it in time for cocktail hour with Dave and family and friends including Fred.
Day 15 - July 29, 2017 - Dyersville, IA (IA8) to Effingham, IL (1H2)
Deparing Dyersville has its bittersweet moments. Dave, Craig and Fred showed up to see us off. Craig cleans the Cub's windscreen while Dave and Fred assist with preflight checks. One healthy spin of the prop after a generous 6 blade mags off scenario and we've awakend all 65 Continental horses. We rock our wings on the down wind as the three of them wave back.
Crossing the Mississippi River is never boring. There are always barges navigating this icon of mercantile shipping. The farms on either side are rich with crops nurished by the delta soil from the head waters on down. It goes without saying the bountiful rainfall doesn't give any color but green a chance to show its stuff.
Day 16 - July 30, 2017 - Effingham, IL (1H2) to Springfield, TN (M91)
Morning flights are our favorites. Our second fuel stop around noon we checked the winds aloft which left us with only one good option. We decidedd to take it by hanging out until late afternoon in hopes the winds aloft would subside. By 4:30 pm it was apparent that the winds were not going to cooperate until the next morning.
We all get stuck on a trip. However, Springfield, TN is the poster child for FBO service at its best. The two ladies who staff the front desk, fuel planes and help out stranded pilots are the best we have encountered.
Day 17 - July 31, 2017 - Springfield, TN (M91) to Toccoa, GA (TOC)
Vistas of vast farmlands on relatively flat terrain yielded to hills that supported much smaller farms snuggle into creek-fed valleys. We were experiencing the southern end of the Smoky Mountains, just north of Atlanta, GA.
Toccoa was a welcome sight from nearly 10 miles out. Stopping here last year for fuel, we hoped we could spend the evening on a future adventure. This was it.
Day 18 - August 1, 2017 - Toccoa, GA (TOC) to Johnston County, NC (JNX)
A bit more than half way home we noticed a large column of smoke off to the left of our course. The closer we got the more it became apparent this was a controlled burn. None-the-less, it was quite spectacular when the orange of the flames fanned by moderate winds demonstated their intensity if only for a moment.
A few hours later we landed at Johnston County (JNX) our home base under clear blue skies and calm winds. It wasn't as difficult to bring this adventure to a conclusion as others in the past because we plan to leave on a second adventure a month from now. BFH2271 - Day 18 - South Carolina
Thanks for coming along. We hope you'll join us in early September when we head out again for a second time this year. Oh yeah, don't forget the cup of coffee...
"Birds of a Feather" Cub Adventure 2017 A
Number of days on the Adventure 18 days
Statute miles flown 2,598 miles
Number of legs 26 legs
Longest leg 2.1 hours (there were four of them)
Total flight time 43.1 hours
Total fuel 162.8 gallons
Gallons per hour average 3.8 gallons per hour