June 28, 2006 - Iowa to Baltimore

We walked to the Grinnell Airport (KGGI) in the morning before the FBO was open, but the airport manager showed up early so we were able to get gas.  The airport dog showed up to.  This silly dog barked at everybody, even the airport regulars who he saw every day.  Fortunately he was all bark and no bite. 

Grinnell Airport is also known as Billy Robinson field, named after one of the real aviation pioneers.  Billy Robinson lived from 1884 to 1916.  He built his own plane, earned pilots license number 162, built one of the earliest radial engines, and broke the American non-stop distance record by 125 miles -- to 390 miles!  He was killed trying to set an altitude record of 18,000 feet.  They think he was overcome by hypoxia at the high altitude without oxygen.  As the plane spun down to lower altitude, Robinson regained semi-consciousness, and tried to land, but the plane hit a ditch on rollout, nosed over, and burned.  The airport manager has made the airport office into a modest museum of Billy Robinson history and artifacts, including the radial engine.  Billy Robinson had started the Grinnell Aeroplane Company and if he had lived, his company probably would have received a World War I contract, and Grinnell could have been a big player in the aircraft industry.  I think it's great that the city airport and manager are keeping the memory of this true aviation pioneer alive. 

We took off into the very hazy sky.  Flying conditions were not going to be as good as yesterday.  This was one of those flying weather days that you wouldn't fly if you were at home, but would since you were trying to go somewhere.  The following quote captures the issue perfectly:

"My Collins' Law for assessing weather is that the FAA can only give you lots of reasons not to go.  The time you will spend not going can just as well be spent setting stern limits and then going as far as you can within your limits.  Often as not, the sky will have opened some.  If not, wherever you quit is that much farther down the road."  -- Gordon Baxter, "Night Fright"

As it turns out, we were able to make it safely the entire way.  And we did enjoy a very nice tailwind. 

We flew awhile then came to the Mississippi River.  This is looking south.

We figured we could make it back to Baltimore today unless the weather stopped us.  We had roughly 700 miles to go. 

And looking north.  I wish we would have had the time to follow the river but we were flying west to east, not north-south.
We flew for a couple of hours then landed at Morris Washburn airport in Illinois. 
There was another Citabria, first one I'd seen since Gastons.  They gave taildragger lessons at this airport. 
I was looking around and then saw a sign for an airport restaurant.  We struck gold!  So we enjoyed a nice breakfast at the Cafe Caberet without having to spend time going into town.  The cheese-egg casserole was outstanding!
The haze cleared up after awhile but they were replaced by cumulous overcast and an occasional rain storm.  They were easy to see and avoid though. 
When you can't see through to the other side, you know it's rain and you don't want to fly through it. 
We stopped at this big GA airport in Warsaw, Illinois.  We didn't need gas, Bruce and I just swapped places, and checked the radar picture on the computer. 
There were more trees in Illinois and Indiana than there were in Nebraska and Iowa. 
We landed at Marion, Ohio for gas and a seat swap.  Marion is unusual in that they have a terminal building in the center and two FBOs, one on each side. 
We picked the FBO on the right. 
After Marion, I flew a little over an hour to Washington, Pennsylvania.  Soon after leaving Marion, we flew into hill country.  At Washington we topped off, and I called Flight Service to file the ADIZ flight plan.  We only had 200 miles to go.  Since we were averaging over 110 mph, we had less than two hours to fly. 

Crossing the Appalachians is rarely easy it seems.  There was an overcast around 5,500 feet and the haze was pretty bad, as you can see below.  When we came out of the mountains and over the Shenandoah Valley, it looked like we were going to get rained on and visibility declined to the worst I'd seen the entire three week trip!  But once past Frederick, Maryland, visibility suddenly improved and it was actually sunny and nice around Baltimore. 

Almost home.  The big  TV towers on the west side of Baltimore.
Beautiful downtown Baltimore. 
Over Essex Skypark!  The east coast had really been pounded by rain earlier in the week so I had asked the Briefer to make sure that the airport was not closed.  Despite Essex residing on swampland, the runway was not underwater.  We had a welcoming committee waiting for us. 
Bruce made a low pass.  Our welcoming committee is standing in front of that building between the struts. 
I made it!
Great trip, but it is good to be home. 
 
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