I’ve had this airplane listed as for sale for the owner for a while now, and finally found a great match for the airplane! Abrahm called me up, and after speaking with the owner of the Chief, we came to a deal. With all the paperwork in place I loaded up (lightly) and headed to the west the following week.
Crossing the country in a slow, non-electric airplane is still my favorite way to see the country. I took off from Dayton and set my compass so that the W was just to the left of the line and held that heading. The forecast for the day was better than marginal VFR that was expected to clear up more as the day progressed. That’s the thing about the weather, mother nature is a bit of a fickle gal. I was trying to make my first overnight as near to Olathe, KS as I could so that I could catch up with an old Jarhead buddy. Low ceilings and visibility early in the day resulted in not covering as much ground as I had hoped. When I called it a day, due to the sun quickly setting into the horizon, (and my lack of exterior lights) I was about 100 miles short. That is just part of the gig.
Just when I think I’ve learned a thing or two about picking airports with close amenities, I realize I sure haven’t! As night was fast approaching Friday, I looked down at my sectional (no GPS) and saw that Marshall was only a few miles away, and looked like a big town, great! I had been there last year, so I knew it had a new terminal and a grass strip. With the aircraft secured for the evening, I began to hunt down transportation and a place to sleep. Called the Comfort inn, they had rooms but no shuttle, and no taxi in town either. Well that stinks, and it was too cold for me to walk the 9 miles there! A fellow aviator gave me the code to the building, it wasn’t the usual code, and I never would have gotten it otherwise. The new terminal building had a crew lounge with recliners, so good enough for me, called and had dominos deliver Pizza and soda, and set up camp for the night!
Up before the sun the next morning, I went out and performed my prefilght inspection on the aircraft, to find a nice layer of frost. While waiting for that to clear, I borrowed the airport managers car and went into town for breakfast. It was almost all clear when I got back. For anyone familiar with the Lycoming O-145-B2 engine, they are generally cold natured, and this one is no exception! I did however, learn the trick to it, and it wasn’t too bad to get going in the morning. The weather was once again a bit better than marginal. Although I still had a head wind. Did I mention that I did the math and I didn’t average over 60 MPH on friday? Saturday proved to be no different. Laying my sectionals out, I figured that I would get within about an hour of Amarillo. That gal Mother nature had other plans for me. I made it as far as Anthony, OK before I had to set down. It was only a light drizzle, and the visibility and ceilings were still good, but I didnt want to risk wearing the varnish off of the wooden prop.
I took the courtesy car into town for food, and noticed they had a couple of nice motels to choose from. Knowing that I was only a few hours from Amarillo, and that I wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor or in the airplane here, I chose to stay and press on in the morning.
Once again, I beat the sun to the airport. Fueled up the Chief, and fired it up to let it idle and warm the oil while
waiting the last few minutes for the sun to come up. Soon as it was safe and legal, I once again blasted Southwest. About an hour into the flight, the engine just started to feel funny, magneto check didn’t change anything, and carb heat didn’t change anything either. Another quick glance at the sectional and saw that Alva wasn’t too far so I turned direct. I set up in a left downwind, and as i was turning to base, I began pulling the power out for my landing, soon as I did, the wooden prop came to a standstill and it got real quiet. I always fly a close pattern, so it was a non event, I used the last bit of energy to taxi the aircraft off of the runway, so that I wouldn’t have to push it. Found it was carb ice, and that the arm on the carb heat box had broken, a quick field repair and I was ready to be on my way again.
This turned out to be a great morning, I got to crawl and drool, over a couple of P-51s that were flown by twin brothers in WWII, and those same brothers got rides in their airplanes at Oshkosh in 2009. Seriously, how cool is that!! The gentleman that came out to check on my at the runway had a Taylorcraft, and a beautiful Cessna 195. That turned out to be the highlight of the trip, its always fun making new friends! I also got to speak with fellow skydiver drivers, and park next to the Chiefs big brother, an Aeronca Sedan. After the weather cleared it was just that, severe clear and no headwind the rest of the day!
The final destination for me on this trip was the northern edge of the second largest canyon in the United States, talk about some pretty flying territory!!