Detour

Trip Start May 02, 2013
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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Friday, May 3, 2013

I was disappointed the next morning when I found out that the weather that I hoped would pass remained stagnate. I was not comfortable with making a 10-hour flight through heavy precipitation and moderate icing.  That being said, I really wanted to wanted to make some progress east.  It's difficult to find a good place to land, too, because of the giant line of rain showers that blocked the entire country.

I told my family about my difficulties in flight planning all the way to New York.  I mentioned to my father that I was thinking about trying for Des Moines, Iowa.  He then, being the very controlling individual he is, called a friend in St. Louis, Missouri.  I then received a call from his friend, Michael Peterson, who generously offered to let me stay at his house.  I now had a destination set: Spirit of St. Louis Airfield. 

I said my goodbyes in CO to my aunt, uncle, cousin and sister.  It was really nice seeing my sister Betsy before heading out to embark on my journey.  We are very close in age and go to the same school.  Up until my sophomore year in high school, Betsy and I did not get along at all. We would fight and could not even be near each other. That all took a complete 180 in high school.  We are very close now. And, contrary to what a lot of people might think, I really enjoy going to college with her. 

I arrived at Boulder Airport around 12:30 PM (local time) where I assessed the weather once again.  It looked like I was going to be flying right into some of the heavier rain and even possibility into some ice in eastern Kansas and western Missouri.  Ice can be very dangerous to an airplane because if enough builds up on the wings and tail it can affect the aerodynamics of the airplane.  If you collect enough ice, your plane will not be able to maintain altitude and you will have no choice but to force a descend.

My plane fortunately has TKS, which is a fluid that weeps out on the wing and deflects ice.  I was comfortable with flying into a little ice because I knew it was not likely to exist for more then an hour (and I have anti-icing capabilities). 

I said my goodbyes (again) to everyone at the airport, and then took off.  For any pilots out there, my route and power settings were as follows:

KBDU TXC GLD HLC SLN TOP ANX FRANC COU KSUS

7,000 20.3 MP/2400 RPM @ 14 GPH

My climb to 7,000 feet was not very long or difficult because I was already starting off at an altitude of 5,200 (field elevation of Boulder.)  The beginning of my flight was very bumpy and a little uncomfortable.  I was monitoring the weather in St. Louis and it looked like I was going to get a little bit of rain and there was really no way to avoid it.  During the flight I was texting one of my flight instructors, Harold, who was moderating the weather on his computer in Fresno, California and giving me advice on what to do. 

Like I suspected, I started into the clouds in eastern Kansas.  This line of precipitation was very odd for this time of year.  It was the first time in history that Kansas got snow in the month of May.  It was very annoying that this spring weather phenomenon had to take place right as I started my trip.  Using my IFR training was a lot of fun, though.  I picked up some ice in Kansas so I requested a lower altitude.  A lower altitude should give you warmer temperatures and in turn less icing. 

Doing this helped a little.  I was in solid clouds and could not see a thing.  Usually you hear a lot of talk on the radio but today it was dead silent so I asked the controller, "Hey Kansas City approach, Mooney 4 3 2 BG (bravo golf,) you guys there?"  He then replied “4 3 2 BG yeah we are here, it is just a cold snowy day and you are the only one flying in this area right now.”  It seems the bad weather deterred a lot of people from flying.  Just at the time I started to see through the bottom of the clouds, what looked like wheat fields appeared in the distance. They were covered in snow and you could see the snow falling from above- just like a snow globe! What an interesting site that was. 

As I pushed farther east the temperatures got warmer and the ice dissipated.  I was getting very close to St. Louis and got set up for an ILS approach.  This is where my training from my other flight instructor Dave came into action.  I slowed the plane up and did an instrument approach right down to 700 feet where I broke out of the clouds and saw that runway.  Wow was that a nice site!

I landed the plane smoothly and taxied to where I met my father’s friend, Michael Peterson.  Mr. Peterson and his son were there to greet me.  It was a pleasure meeting him and his family.  They were very welcoming; I felt right at home.  We later went out to dinner and then relaxed by watching TV.  I checked the weather real quick and then went to bed around 11:30 PM local time.

I knew the next day would be another interesting day, with adverse weather along the way!
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