One of my favorite trips alone was a September visit to Gillette, WY to visit my dad. I asked Tom to go with me, but he couldn’t get the time off from work. The flight out was uneventful. I flew from Rochester to Mitchell, SD, then made a pit stop in Rapid City, finishing up in Gillette. It was about six hours of travel time as opposed to 11 hours driving in a car.
The next day I flew back home. I left Gillette early and the winds were already howling. Checking my charts, I was planning on making a stop in Pierre for some lunch, but the runway aligned with the wind was closed. With the cross winds at over 30 mph. I decided to stop in Chamberlain instead. It was a grass airstrip, but perfectly aligned with the wind.
The flight from Gillette was perfect. Once I got to altitude and trimmed the airplane, I just took my hands and feet off the controls and let the airplane go. Smooth as glass. As I descended into Chamberlain, it got really bumpy from the winds coming over the bluffs. I walked to the gas station, bought a hotdog and a coke, filled up with gas and was on my way. With the strong winds, it only took me four hours total from Gillette to Rochester. Great flight.
Another of my favorite trips was a flight to Denver with Joel for Tristan and Julia’s wedding. We left Rochester on a beautiful clear blue sky morning and started our first leg to Yankton SD. About half way there, we slipped under a high cloud layer and as we got closer to Yankton the generator quit working. Luckily we were only about twenty minutes out and were able to fly in on batteries for the radios. We left the plane with a mechanic, borrowed a car from the FBO and drove into town for some lunch.
After a nice lunch, we went back to the airport to find that the mechanic was still working on the problem. It was a broken wire from the generator. Eventually, we were off again. The cloud layer was getting a little lower, so instead of flying southwest, we went straight west toward Valentine, Nebraska.
The farther west we went, the lower the clouds got. Joel was fast asleep. He slept through the whole leg as was scud running to Valentine. I was able to stay about a thousand feet above the ground, so we were safe from running into anything.
At Valentine, the skies cleared and we turned south to Ogallala where we stopped for some lunch. We got a taxi and rode to A& W. Flying again, we were into Colorado. By this time it was getting into later afternoon and thunderstorms were starting to pop up on the high plains. It was fun flying around the big thunderstorms in the bumpy afternoon air while Joel slept like a baby.
We made it into Denver unscathed. What a fun day. The repair in Yankton made the trip take ten hours instead of six, but it was still better than driving for 14 to 16 hours.