Vintageflying.com

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Day 1 – August 19, 2010  Corona, CA to Eloy, AZ (5 legs)

The predawn air settled quietly in front of the hangar while the sun made and attempt at pulling itself above the horizon amid a vivid display of colors.  Pushing the Cub from its cozy little home so early in the morning was met with little resistance.  With the two bags loaded, the chocks set, and six blades cold, the Cub came to life with the usual enthusiasm.  

Few experiences on this earth are more perfect than a warm, calm morning as the takeoff roll becomes flight.  Long morning shadows hide behind mountains, buildings, and trees big enough for a tire swing.  As the sun takes control of the morning sky and the earth below, the bashful shadows shrink to nothing; only to be reborn the next day.

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Day 2 – August 20, 2010  Eloy, AZ to El Paso, TX  (4 legs)

The surface temperature was still quite warm from the intense heat wave from the day before.  Lifting off we quickly discovered only those who would spend some time 500 above the earth would realize the pleasant temperatures aloft.  

We headed southeast towards Tucson to avoid climbing over some remote mountain ranges.  Okay, basically we followed Interstate 10.  There! Now are you happy?

It's easy to profile our deserts as boring and uninteresting.  We must admit, they are not a target rich environment for photos.  However, when the right terrain comes under the perfect light, Bingo!  It's really fun to see and photograph.  

The Southwest definitely had a lot of unseasonable rainfall.  We've never seen the high deserts of Arizona and New Mexico so green for this time of year.

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Day 3 – August 21, 2010  El Paso, TX to Snyder, TX (3 legs)

Sunrise over the Guadalupe mountain range east of El Paso put on quite a show for us.  The brilliant colors change continually from pink to salmon to gold.  

East of Carlsbad Caverns the earth goes flat.   Oil fields give way to crop circles that give way to wind turbine farms.  The winds and turbulence aloft was ever increasing the closer we got to the giant wind machines.  Gosh, suppose that's why they put them there?  Mornings are much better for flight anyway.   Besides, there's a beer and steak joint that looks promising.  Texas steaks and beer; am I in heaven or what?

Oh sure, your thinking, what does the Cub get out of this.  Well, a free night in a brand new hangar and a quart of Aero Shell 100 Special (Yeah, I know, I'm a giver).

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Day 4 – August 22, 2010  Snyder, TX to Booneville, AR  (4 legs)

Surfers dream of the perfect wave.  Fisherman dream of the perfect trophy catch.  Pilots dream of the perfect flight.  Today was the perfect flight for us.  

Oddly it happened on a Sunday, the Lords day. Which just seems right.  Once the earth left our wheels to float above it, we turned into what would be a glorious sunrise (see today's photos).  Glancing quickly at our groundspeed brought a smile so wide you could have parked a 1958 Buick in it.  One hundred and four miles per hour across the ground and the air was perfectly smooth.  Soon the crops, rivers, streams, trees and barns were awash in a pink soon to be golden light.  We wish you could be here to experience these moments.  

Unlike the fleeting moments of an average sunrise, the scenes below our landing gear continued for almost two hours.  The camera captured hundreds of images as the Cub gently obeyed each turn around a scene to capture the perfect light and angle.  

At several points during this perfect flight, I looked up through the sunroof (it's actually known as the greenhouse window) and thanked our maker for creating this amazing planet for us to live on.  If He ever wanted to show off His creation, today was the day.

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Day 5 – August 23, 2010  Booneville, AR to Huntingburg, IA (5 legs)

The rolling hills of Arkansas became more wooded and less hospitable for an off-field landing (don't you just love the way the FAA defines things?).  The hills eventually flattened out and became Mississippi River delta farms.  Yesterday the color “Red” starred in the photos.  Today, the color “Green” took all the honors.  

The excitement builds as we get closer to the East Coast…

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Day 6 – August 24, 2010 Huntingburg, IA to Lancaster, OH (4 legs)

A soft grey morning blanket of wet mist hovered above the corn fields along the runway.  Today the sun would rise before we could get airborne due to weather at our first fuel stop.  Once aloft, the valleys looked like a witches cauldron with low-lying haze captured in valleys by rolling hills.

After the first fuel stop, we headed for Lee Bottom grass strip.  Rich and Ginger Davidson are the proud owners of this unique airport.  If you have a bucket list, consider making a visit one of your priorities.  Call first as a courtesy to Rich and Ginger.

By days end, an overcast sky meant smoother flying.  However, our third day of headwinds gave us more time in the low and slow mode of flight.

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Day 7 - August 25, 2010 Lancaster, OH to Old Bridge, NJ (4 legs)

The ground haze eerily glowed dull orange as the sun fought to break through the thin stratus clouds.  Once the sun was successful, the haze melted into morning dew that made the earth below sparkle.  

The shallow mountain ranges looked more like groves the Lord made in the earth by running his fingers gently across the soft fresh earth.  The valleys ran for many miles, each with somewhat remote farms and towns.  Altoona, PA is just such a place.

The rivers of commerce flowed with barges and river bank industrial complexes.  Few is any recreational areas could be seen.  

We arrived at our eastern-most destination around 5:00 pm EST.  What a thrill for us to have flown from coast to coast diagonally. Tomorrow is our chance to fly the Hudson River and visit Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty by airplane.

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Day 8 - August 26, 2010 - Old Bridge, NJ (Hudson River – Ellis Island – Statue of Liberty)

Not that we wanted to keep it a secret, but we never know what weather, mechanical or other factors will keep us from our goals on our adventures.  We have been hoping to fly up the Hudson River and around the Statue of Liberty for a few years now.  Ever since Walt did it in his ultra light, the thought of experiencing the icon of American liberty has never left us.  

Today was the day.  We awoke to a brilliantly clear morning.  The Cub was ready with a full fuel tank and a fresh oil change.  We filed a flight plan, checked for any airspace restrictions.  Thanks to my new best friend Ray, who flies helicopters in Manhattan, we were up to speed on the traffic we would likely experience during our flight.

Just like flying west from Nebraska, where the Rocky Mountain's begin to appear on the horizon.  Following the Atlantic Ocean shoreline of New Jersey, the skyscrapers of Manhattan began to appear (do we still call them skyscrapers or is it politically correct to call them highrises?).

The Verrazano Bridge is the gateway to the Hudson River Special Flight Rules Area.   My mouth was so dry…because it was wide open in amazement of what lie before us.  On our left, after crossing above the bridge, was the Statue of Liberty immediately adjacent to Ellis Island.  What a compelling sight for those who came here for a better life.  

The USS Intrepid was our next reporting point: “Piper Cub, Intrepid, 600 feet northbound” is what we said over the frequency.  We continued up to the George Washington Bridge.  

Turning south, we followed the Hudson River's west shoreline and reported “Piper Cub,  the Clock, 600' southbound.”

The she came into view.  Welcoming everyone to our country.  Her magnificent stature was undeniable.  We circled her a few times getting some never to be forgotten photos.  Typing this, I get a chill just recalling the experience.  Thanks Walt.

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Note: We spent 4 days in New Jersey touring an area we had no acquaintance with. It also gave us a break in flying everyday for a week.

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Day 12 - August 30, 2010 - Old Bridge, NJ to New Castle, PA (3 legs)


The four day break accomplished its purpose. It felt good to walk up to the Cub as it sat on the tarmac at Old Bridge airport in New Jersey. We were both ready to continue our adventure.  

We were standing at our most easterly destination; from this point forward most all of our heading would be westerly.  That would mean no more flying into the sunrises.  Instead, we would enjoy the crisp front-lit terrain as dawn arrived on each morning flight.

Flying across the hills and their quiet and remote valleys made for yet another perfect day in the air.  The hours of watching the farms and small towns pass under the Cub provided wonderful appreciation for those who settle this land centuries ago.  Monroe County, New Jersey was founded in 1635.  Almost 400 years ago.

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Day 13 – August 31, 2010 – New Castle, PA to New Philadelphia, OH (1 leg)


We crossed into Ohio within a half hour of leaving New Castle, PA.  Few states have prettier terrain to fly over than Ohio.  Rolling hills, lakes, streams, rivers, farms, woods and small towns continuously parade under out wings in every direction.  

With over 50 hours in the air, we have ceased flying the plane and now have become a part of it.  In fact, I sort of feel out of place when I'm on the ground, and constantly think about how many hours there are until we are aloft again.  Strange huh?

Terry and I toured the town of Zoar, Ohio.  The good people of the Ohio Historical Society restored it many years ago.  Its story is fascinating.  The photos only tell part of it.

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Day 14 – September 1, 2010 – New Philadelphia, OH to Bryan, Ohio (2 legs)


We waved goodbye to Terry and began our taxi to the runway.  But, dozens of Canada Geese were holding a convention on the taxiway.  We slowed to a stop so they could move. Unfortunately, they moved from the taxiway to the runway.

After engine run-up we slowly taxied down the runway as the geese moved to one side or the other.  Once past the gaggle of geese, we began our takeoff roll.  No more geese, so we rotated and turned to course.

Ohio still wins the prettiest terrain award in our book.  However, do you remember the headwinds we had going to the east coast?  Well, we now have them again, going in the other direction.  Gosh, are we lucky or what?

By our second fuel stop the turbulence and winds made us consider stopping for the day.  This is one of the best parts of the adventure.  After fueling the Cub and checking the weather we went out to the ramp to figure out how we would manage getting the Cub into a hangar (storms were predicted for later in the day),  a place to spend the night, where to eat and of course transportation.  Just then a Terry Hallett showed up at the Cub, told me about a nice little motel in town, a good place to eat, and told me to take the courtesy car during my stay.  Then they suggested I put the Cub in a hangar due to the winds.  Yep, this happens often.


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Day 15 - September 2, 2010 - Bryan, OH

Peeked out the motel window at 5:00 am EST and saw heavy rain flowing in the parking lot.  Hmmm, this isn't what we expected.  Checked the weather radar.  Hmmm this is totally not what we expected.  Hmmm, note to self, stop with the Hmmm.

Our first real weather delay of the adventure.  We won't complain.  

If you go to Photos 2010 you'll see the weather radar image.  

With flying anywhere out of the question, a tour of Bryan, OH seemed in order.  The Williams County Court House graces the town square.  We even met the Sheriff while photographing the interior.

By days end, we decide to take in a movie at the theater across the street from the court house.  The theater is an Art Moderne styled theatre that was built in 1944 and still shows films to this day.  Unfortunately I chose the latest Sylvester Stallone movie.  “Rocky with his friends have guns and will travel”… Ugh. Well the popcorn was good.

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Day 16 - September 3, 2010 - Bryan, OH to Pontiac, IL (2 legs)

The forecast was for 20 to 30 mph headwinds starting around noon.  Armed with that information we planned our departure as early as possible.  

At dawn the Cub's wheels were rolling down the runway.  In seconds we were no longer a part of this earth.

It was overcast with very light drizzle coating the windscreen.  Yet below, most folks were just awakening to their alarm clocks to start their Labor Day Weekend.  It's so difficult to express in words or even with photos the magic of the first morning light as it illuminates the earth.

There are rich colors that only are present for a few fleeting moments.  You really need to experience this sometime.

We had hoped to make it to Blakesburg, IA for the Antique Airplane Association Fly-In today.  But the winds and turbulence west of Kankakee, IL were more than we could handle.  Putting the Cub down on runway 24 with winds 16 knots gusting to 24 knots out of 270 was challenging.  

Each time we put the upwind tire on the runway, a gust would lift us 20 feet in to the air. Quick application of throttle kept us from stalling and slamming into the runway.  We did this a half dozen times before we had the timing of the gusts figured out.  The final landing went really well, but suffice to say, we were ready for a break.

Tomorrow morning the winds should be better… we hope.

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Day 17 - September 4, 2010 - Pontiac, IL to Blakesburg, IA (2 legs)

With a bit of a headwind, the Cub leaped from the runway and climbed in the cool Illinois morning air.  With each few dozen feet of climb, we began to realize this was one of those incredibly crystal clear Midwest mornings.  Small, well-cared for farms stretched out before us like quilt whose edges could never be found.  Every shade between dark green and golden yellow was present.  

It took considerable concentration to check the compass before looking out of the Cub to again marvel at the clarity and colors of this morning.

Approaching Blakesburg, IA, the first thing we could identify were row after row of bright yellow aircraft parked on deep green fields.  What a day this would be.

The Cub would be spending time with relatives and I'd be with my aviation friends.

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Day 18 - September 5, 2010 - Blakesburg, IA to Poplar Grove, IL (2 legs)

Frank and I waited until some German vintage aircraft departed.  We wanted to get some shots of them.  The Cub was fueled so Frank and I pushed it from the parking tie down where he gave me a few blades and the trusty Continental came to life.

Heads turned and folks smiled and waved at the Cub as we taxied by.  Camera pointed, and kids looked at the Cub thinking, “Now there the size airplane I could fly.”  The Cub returned the sentiment by bouncing along on the uneven turf looking rather playful and spirited.

After run up on the flagman signaled us to take the runway.  What an intense rush the next few moments are.  We lined up on the grass strip, the morning spectators were lined up, most of them with cameras ready.  Throttle forward, two maybe three bounces and we were aloft.  Rocking our wings, we could see some kids squinting and waving back.

To our left below lies a field of vintage airplanes still waiting to depart.  Beyond were hundreds of miles of beautiful farmlands that would entertain us on a sunny Sunday morning.

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Day 18 through Day 22 - September 9, 2010 - Poplar Grove, IL – Waunakee, WI (1 leg)

It's always time well spent when visiting with friends and relatives in the Midwest.  We celebrated my brother's birthday, visited with Steve and Tina at Poplar Grove and took the opportunity to do some flying to grass strips in southern Wisconsin with Frank.

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Day 23 – September 10, 2010 –Waunakee, WI to Brodhead, WI (1 leg)

It's only a one hour flight from Waunakee to Brodhead, WI.  Frank and I flew as a flight of two cruising above the farmlands of Wisconsin.  Frank taught navigation while in the military so we turned our GPS off and stowed the Sectional Charts.

Arriving overhead we could see a fair number of vintage planes were resting their wings on the dark green grass that would be filled with airplanes by this time tomorrow.  The Midwest Antique Airplane Club annual grassroots fly-in was just beginning and we could feel the anticipation building as we turned final for the east-west grass runway.  

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Day 24 – September 11, 2010 – Brodhead, WI

Overcast skies with a white gloomy mist gave the Brodhead airport a sort of English wartime airfield.  The planes stood silently in the mist with their backs to the forested area on the west.  By noon, the sun was out and the wet grass was beginning to dry out.

Nothing, not even the weather could dampen the spirits of the folks here at the fly-in.  Their passion for aviation and communicating it to fellow aviators stole the gloom from the gray lifeless skies.

No other word better describes those who love aviation better than “Passion.”  Laughing, discussions on the various merits of airplane design, and spirited debates on aircraft performance could be heard anywhere one traveled on the flight line.

This is Brodhead, a very special place for vintage planes and those who love them dearly.

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Day 25 – September 12, 2010 – Brodhead, WI to Dyersville, Iowa (1 leg)

A brilliant blue cloudless sky greeted us on this late summer morning.  Frank was packing his tent.  The unmistakable sound of radial engines starting echoed throughout the Brodhead airport.  In the distance, the roar of a departing vintage airplane was heard with increasing regularity as we all began our reluctant flights home.

After six blades, with the chocks holding the Cub in place, the trusty Continental started on the first blade and ran like a clock.  We took one last look around the now near empty grass parking area and got in.  The Cub, always eager to fly, bounced down the grass runway.  The tail came up.  One more bounce and we'd be airborne.  

It was clear and smooth.  Smooth is normal for a morning flight.  But the 'clear' this morning was the best we had ever experienced.  So how do we gage really clear?  When the blue of the sky meets the horizon and it isn't blurred by haze, that's severe clear and visibility unlimited.  A pilot only gets a limited number of days like this for his/her flights.  Today was one of ours.

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Day 26 and 27 – September 13 - 14, 2010 – Dyersville, Iowa

Crisp morning air reminded us that Fall wasn't far off and sunrise departures would mean dressing accordingly.   Dave and I took the opportunity to fly the Cub around scenic Dyersville in the late afternoon.  

Fields of harvest tan corn were offset by the yellow gold soybean fields.  The sun seemed content to languish in the late day sky and cast long shadows.  Folks were finishing dinner and getting ready for the high school football game.  

Dave flew the Cub like it was a part of his body.  Smooth turns, gentle climbs and careful throttle adjustments gave me a chance to be a passenger not a pilot.

With each passing hour, we regretted having to leave the Midwest in a day or so.  

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Day 28 – September 15, 2010 – Dyersville, IA to Beatrice, Nebraska (4 legs)

Overcast skies couldn't dampen our enthusiasm to fly for an entire day… we had a tailwind!  The farms, lakes, woods and small towns continued below our wings all day.  We did some steep turns to test our skills at keeping the ball centered in a coordinated turn.  Okay, we still need some work on that.

On the last leg of the day, we flew from Clarinda, IA to Beatrice, NE.  The sun broke through to give us dappled shadows on the contoured and terraced farms below.  The Nikon which had slept quietly in the backpack all the overcast day was pressed into action.

Mile after mile, on the one and a half hour leg, we were dazzled with constantly changing colorful patterns of crop fields below.  The Missouri River banks were lined with huge fallen trees from mighty flood waters this summer.  Adjacent fields were still flooded with mud and destroyed crops.  A lonely oxbow lake stood as a reminder of ancient waterways that meandered through the valley.

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Day 28 – September 15, 2010 – Dyersville, IA to Beatrice, Nebraska (4 legs)

Overcast skies couldn't dampen our enthusiasm to fly for an entire day… we had a tailwind!  The farms, lakes, woods and small towns continued below our wings all day.  We did some steep turns to test our skills at keeping the ball centered in a coordinated turn.  Okay, we still need some work on that.

On the last leg of the day, we flew from Clarinda, IA to Beatrice, NE.  The sun broke through to give us dappled shadows on the contoured and terraced farms below.  The Nikon which had slept quietly in the backpack all the overcast day was pressed into action.

Mile after mile, on the one and a half hour leg, we were dazzled with constantly changing colorful patterns of crop fields below.  The Missouri River banks were lined with huge fallen trees from mighty flood waters this summer.  Adjacent fields were still flooded with mud and destroyed crops.  A lonely oxbow lake stood as a reminder of ancient waterways that meandered through the valley.

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Day 29 – September 16, 2010 – Beatrice, NE to Hugoton, Kansas (4 legs)

We stayed low after takeoff to minimize the headwinds on our ground speed.  But headwinds were not going to be the issue today.  On our second fuel stop in Larned, KS, we couldn't help but notice the very dark sky ahead.  A quick call to the flight briefer and a detour was in order.  “Head West young man,” was the advice we received.  So we did.

The next stop was Scott City, KS.  Another call to the flight briefer and we learned the storms had moved east and we could return to our southwest path.  But it was getting late in the day so we put down at Hugoton for the night.

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Day 30 – September 17, 2010 – Hugoton, KS to Santa Rosa, New Mexico (4 legs)

It was so smooth on lift off that we couldn't believe our eyes when the GPS indicated 42 mph ground speed!  No way!  Yes way!  Once again, we needed to find an alternate because Dalhart, Texas wasn't going to happen with the full fuel tank.  We're getting pretty good at changing destinations on the fly (pardon the pun).

As the sun began to warm the inside of the Cub, we noticed something happening outside on the ground.  A herd of antelope was running from our shadow as it skimmed across the plains.  Unfortunately Mr. Nikon was still fast asleep in the backpack.

We landed at Stratford, Texas, well short of Dalhart, but we still had reserve fuel in the tank.  As we taxied down the runway, a rather large tarantula spider was ambling (that's what Texan's call slow walking) the other way, right down the centerline.  We took care to miss him, realizing he had the right of way.

Typical afternoon thunderstorms on our route ahead and 7,000 foot density altitude made stopping for the day an easy decision.  Welcome to Santa Rosa, New Mexico on good old Route 66.

Tomorrow the mountains southeast of Albuquerque and following the Rio Grande south are on our flight plan.

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Day 31 – September 18, 2010 – Santa Rosa, NM to Benson, Arizona (6 legs)

The predawn breeze rustled the sage brush outside of the hangar as the Cub was packed and made ready for a long day's travels.  In the distance the hum of cars and trucks on Interstate 40 could be heard.  After eight blades, mags made hot, throttle cracked and now we were adding to the cacophony sounds.

Departure was a surprise.  The end of the runway takes you off a cliff to a valley below.  The Cub didn't seem to mind, we climbed in the cool morning air.

By the end of this first leg, we would have to go from 4,800 feet to over 7,500 feet to clear Clines Corners, the highest point on the adventure.  

Landing at Moriarty Airport at 6,200 feet required some thinking as well.  

By mid morning we were following the Rio Grande River south to Deming, NM.  It was Saturday and the reservoirs were filled with boaters getting some of their last water sport time in before fall made its appearance.

The turbulence in the afternoon was nearly unbearable over the high planes.  We opted to sit it out and make our last leg just before sunset.  We were rewarded with a spectacular Arizona sunset as we turned base to final.

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Day 32 – September 19, 2010 – Benson, AZ to Corona, California (5 legs)

A lonely train whistle screeched as if to call the sun to rise above the craggy mountains on the horizon.  A dose of reality filled the Cub's cabin as we loaded the bags in what might be the last day of our adventure.  

They say it takes six weeks for any real changes we make to ourselves to take become permanent.  Yet in the four weeks we've been vagabonds it seemed perfectly normal to load the bags into the Cub without any certainty of where we would spend the night.  In fact, we looked forward to the uncertainty as a challenge.

Forgive us for continually commenting on the magical feel of lifting off from this earth in a vintage flying machine.  It never, no never gets routine.  With enough hours in the air, sooner or later every pilot ceases flying his/her plane and considers it an extension of his/her body.  Hours of trusting the airframe and engine flying over this beautiful planet brings that sort of relationship.

Alas we were not really alone on this adventure, nor any of the other adventures in the past.  One person, no matter what the time of day, followed us on every leg of the adventures.  His name is Wes.  We call him before our first leg of the day.  We call him on every takeoff and every landing.   If we fail to call him, he tries to call us.  If he can't reach us, he will contact the FAA and report the situation.  We need to thank him for his hours of following us across this country and at times worrying when we called in late.  Thanks Wes.

About 2:05 pm, the Corona Airport (AJO) could be seen on the horizon.  The winds were blowing cool air through the open cabin window on a very warm afternoon.  One of them must have brought a bug who decided my eye was a good place to land.  I felt a tear.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Winds were pretty much down the runway, 12 knots gusting 17 knots.  We hoped for a gracious landing, but did our usual bounce and recover routine.  Never-the-less, we were home.  

The short taxi to the hangar, killing the mags and shutting off the fuel brought another dose of reality.  It was over...until next time.

We enjoyed posting some photos and writing some thoughts each night in the empty motel rooms across our country.  We knew you enjoyed visiting and following along.  


Thanks,

Bern Heimos

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Trip Statistics:

Number of days on the adventure:   32 days

Number of statute miles flown:   6,906 miles (the GPS kept track)

Number of legs:  75 legs

Longest leg: 1 hour, 58 min.

Shortest leg: I'm pretty sure it's my left leg

Flight time:  104 hours, 14 minutes (the GPS kept track)

Gallons of fuel:  445.49 gallons

Engine mechanical problems: NONE

Airframe mechanical problems: NONE

Total number of photos taken: 5,599



Logbook for


Hudson River Adventure 2010