June 9, 2006 - Baltimore to

Gaston's White River Resort, Arkansas

This is the day.  The trip I conceived of so many years ago, and planned for at least five years, is finally at hand. 

I got up at 4:30 AM and called the Flight Service Station to get a weather brief and file my ADIZ flight plan.  The weather was questionable for the early morning, but looked reasonable for a day long flight to Arkansas.  I had been watching the weather intensely all week and knew that today would be similar what had occurred the last few days when the actual weather had been much better than what was forecasted. 

The kids all got up and said goodbye, then Lynnette drove me out to Essex Skypark  -- what a great wife!  There was some ground fog but I knew it would burn off before I took off.  I preflighted the Citabria, topped off the tanks, and then there was nothing to do but start the journey.  

Passing Baltimore heading west! 
I landed at Winchester Airport in the Shenandoah Valley to meet John -- in the red Citabria.  We would be flying together to the Gastons Fly-In

We flew west for a little while, then encountered a cloud layer at 4,500 feet.  Since the mountains are almost that high, we couldn't go underneath.  We could fly over them but the problem with that is you don't know how far the layer extends west.  John had the new Garmin 396 GPS unit which has the ability to download weather via XM Satellite.  He was able to see on his Garmin 396 that the cloud layer ended near the airport we were planning stopping at for breakfast.  So we were able to continue on.

Sure enough, the cloud layer at Fairmont Municipal Airport in West Virginia, was broken enough for us to descend and land.  Fairmont (4G7), elevation 1,097 feet, has a 50's and 60's Diner close to the airport where we had a great breakfast.   When we took off, the clouds were almost completely gone.

John and I over the hills of West Virginia.
Our first glimpse of the Ohio River which we would be generally following all the way to the Mississippi.
We stopped for gas at this little airport in Kentucky. 
Getting gas.
This is where the great rivers meet.  The Ohio is on the right and Mississippi on the left.  The little town of Cairo is in the center. 
Looking south at the Mississippi. 

The west side of the Mississippi was dominated by these huge, flat farm fields.  They were perfect for some low-level flying, but it was getting late in the day and I was getting too tired for that sort of thing. 

Our last fuel stop of the day was here at Dexter, Missouri (KDXE), elevation 305 feet.  It was 5:30 PM and there was no one at the FBO but they had a self-service pump so it wasn't a problem.  Soon after we left Dexter, the terrain changed from flat, treeless farmland to the trees, grass and hills of Arkansas.
We finally made it!  Flight of two Citabrias entering a left downwind for Gastons.  Gastons is the grass runway in the center of the picture.  That's the White River just underneath the runway and the Bull Shoals Lake at the top of the picture.  We landed around 7:45PM local time.
I'm on short final and John is right behind me.  Someone at the fly-in took this neat series of shots of our arrival.
I'm happy to be safe on deck.  It's been a long day!  I flew almost eleven hours today.  Making the long trip with another airplane really helped. 
John and his son Ian. 
The grass runway at Gastons.
John, Ian and I were just in time for the fly-in dinner.  My brain was pretty fried at this point though;  I actually felt a little vertigo -- my body thought I was still flying!
As you can imagine, I slept great this night!