June 17, 2006 - Denver to Iowa

Bruce and I took another $60 dollar cab ride back to the Boulder Municipal Airport (1V5).  We got there after 8 AM and there still wasn't anyone around and the main FBO building locked.  We took off and headed northeast.  Let's just say I was more than a little happy to be getting out of the Denver area. 

I was a little nervous about the takeoff because Boulder is still pretty high -- over 5,000 feet -- and the Citabria was heavy with two adults, all our stuff, and nearly full tanks.   I leaned the fuel, put in ten degree flaps, and kept her on the runway until well over 60 mph.  She popped off with no problem and plenty of runway left.  I'm not going to say she climbed like rocket ship but she did pretty well, considering. 

We soon left civilization and flew over brown ranches and desert before stopping at the little town of Sterling, Colorado.  It was the classic small-town airport:  nice little terminal with an attendant, phone, computer weather and history.  Unfortunately, someone had already grabbed the courtesy car, so we called the local taxi service to go into town and get some breakfast.  I was actually glad it turned out that way because Don the driver was an interesting guy to talk to and filled us in about the town.   We went to the J & L diner and the breakfast was first-rate. 

The airport is also known as Crosson Field, named after Marvel and Joe Crosson, a sister and brother from Sterling who were true aviation pioneers in the 1920s.  Marvel set the women's altitude record in 1929, ascending to almost 24,000 and was the first woman pilot to be licensed in Alaska.  Joe was the first to land on a glacier, to fly an open cockpit plane to northernmost Point Barrow and was one of the first Bush Pilots.  Unfortunately, Marvel, who was very attractive, died early at the age of 29 in a National Air Race mishap and Joe from a heart attack at age 46.  It is good that they are remembered through the airport which has their history and some artifacts prominently displayed. 

Another day of great flying weather. 
Crosson Field is on the left side of the image.
Our next stop was at "Lee Bird" aiport (LBF), also known as North Platte Regional.   More upscale than what I've been used to, but the staff was very friendly and avgas prices reasonable.  They sold turquoise jewelry at the business counter.  There was a big stuffed Buffalo head just inside the entrance.  I like terminals that portray something unique about the airport, as opposed to an antiseptic, could be anywhere look. 
Lee Bird from the air. 
Our first encounter with the midwest weather.  That's a rainstorm we just passed by off our right. 
Nebraska.  I didn't see these vast cornfields on my trip out when I flew further south.  They don't call them the Cornhuskers for nothing. 
We were back on highway 80, heading due east through the cornfields.
Most of the roads run either north-south or east-west.
Cornfields, as far as the eye can see.
An Interstate 80 truckstop. 
We stopped at Seward, Nebraska (KSWT)  to get gas.  This beautiful Edge 540 with a metallic-blue paint job was at the fuel pumps ahead of us.  The pilot was a very attractive woman who was probably in her mid-20s.  I'm not making this up.  She is home-based out of Lodi, California and flies aerobatic competition as well as airshows.  Unfortunately, the fuel pump was not working, so she put the Edge back into the hangar.  Too bad, I wanted to see her fly aerobatics in the Edge.

Later I found out her name is Melissa Andrzejewski.  She was just selected for the U.S. Aerobatic Team in the World 2006 Aerobatic Championship Competition.  Here is her web site.

The terminal building was locked up so we jumped back into the Citabria and continued east. 

Just north of Omaha, we ran into my old friend the Missouri River.  Bruce is a Lewis and Clark aficionado, so we followed the river a little bit. 
Then we dropped into Northern Omaha Regional Airport.  They didn't have a terminal building but there were some people there and one of them told us how to get fuel.  Get this -- you pay for the fuel at the Convenient Store down the hill on the other side of the fuel pump!  You never know what you are going to encounter on a long cross-country.
In Iowa, we started seeing corn fields with irregular contours like the below.  I'm guessing it's the new thing in soil conservation or something like that.  The last couple of hours flying over the cornfields of Iowa at 1000 feet was magical.  With the sun behind us, it was just so beautiful and serene. 
Our last stop of the day was at Grinnell Airport (KGGI) in Iowa.  As we circled over the airport, I was happy to see at least four motels right next to the airport.  No expensive cab rides tonight!  The airport was deserted and there wasn't a single airplane on the ramp.   There wasn't even a single tiedown space.  Bruce found some tiedown rings in the field next to the ramp so we parked there.  The Citabria seemed just right for the field filled with gold dandelions. 
The terminal building was locked up but they did have a phone with some phone numbers.  We grabbed our overnight bags and walked across the street to the motel.  We walked into the first motel and I couldn't believe it -- no vacancy!  Here we go again.  As we were walking to the next motel, I'm mentally setting up my tent in the field of dandelions next to the Citabria.  But the next motel had a vacancy, thankfully. 

There was a steakhouse 100 yards down the road that Bruce and I walked to for dinner.  It was unusual in that you could cook your own steak on the indoor grill they had.  We didn't but we could have.  It had been a long day.  A steak with a couple of cold beers tasted pretty good. 

You can see the motels on the right of the picture.