Short Final

I’ve taken a lap around Columbus a time or two, but my right-seat photographer had only gone up with me previously at night.

Besides being super hot, it was otherwise nice flying weather and a good chance to get some daytime city shots. In addition I was able to grab a few shots of a couple runways as we were on short final.

As always, I took off out of Ohio State (KOSU) and then headed southwest. Not for any particular purpose but because we took off to the west and I wanted to get out of controlled airspace for a bit to grab a few pictures before heading back over campus.

Hayden Run Bridge over the Scioto River looking west.
Hayden Run Bridge over the Scioto River looking west.

Power boating (wakeboarders, skiiers) to the south (left) of the bridge, rowers to the….well, rowers pretty much go wherever the hell they want to.

After getting clearance from Columbus Approach, I took the plane over campus. We were instructed to stay under 3,000 feet above mean sea level which in that area of town is only a little over 2,000 feet above the ground so we got some decent shots. Here’s a good reprise of a stadium shot I’ve gotten a few times before. Probably the best quality shot to date.

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The Horseshoe, Ohio State University

Next move was to head south to swing around the city. Columbus Approach was busy and they were happy to have us move south of the departure lane of old Port Columbus.

Turns out it was the Jazz & Rib Festival and we got a couple shots of the booths set up on the bridge across the river. I should have gone down there this year, looks great in the new location along the river.

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Jazz & Rib booths set up across the bridge.
Jazz & Rib booths set up across the bridge.

Nice real estate a little west of the city:

Nice commute into work.
Nice commute into work.

Now that the city tour was over, I wanted to head west and do a quick landing. Madison county airport is a familiar place for me from my flight training and I enjoy stopping by from time to time. Not a whole lot of other planes in the pattern but enough to keep the radios lively. We followed one plane in and then bugged out to the north.

Madison County Airport (KUYF)
Madison County Airport (KUYF)

After a quick touch & go, we headed northwest and I let my passenger handle the controls for a bit. Before heading back home to Ohio State. Here we are on short final, perfect glide slope.

KOSU - Two white, two red.
KOSU – Two white, two red.

Looking forward to the next trip. Maybe up to the lake and a pass over a few islands.

Coming Home (3/3)

The weather cleared up substantially for the trip back home. Still not ideal, but at least there was plenty of room between the bottom of the clouds and the top of the Appalachians.

Here I am somewhere near Charlottesville, VA approaching the Appalachians.
Here I am somewhere near Charlottesville, VA approaching the Appalachians.

Was getting bumped around quite a bit over the peaks as the air got pushed around. It was easy to unintentionally climb or drop 200 feet based on the air movement. When over the valleys, the wind was substantially calmer.

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An Appalachian ridge line with afternoon sun breaking through clouds.

As nice as the Appalachians are, I was happy to be over them and back in Ohio. I learned a lot about marginal VFR flying this trip, and most especially when it is smart to safely divert to a nearby airport when things get sketchy.

Even when not flying, there’s something nice about crossing over the Ohio river. It feels like home, but this is the first time I did it at this altitude and it was a lot of fun.

Ohio River. Newport, OH on the left side, the St. Marys Bridge crossing the river to St. Marys, WV on the right side.
Ohio River. Newport, OH on the left side, the St. Marys Bridge crossing the river to St. Marys, WV on the right side.

Traveling northwest, I came across the Muskingum River. There were a couple of small towns along the way. Here’s Beverly and McConnelsville, OH. Both covering both banks of the river.

Beverly, OH on Muskingum River
Beverly, OH on Muskingum River
McConnelsville, OH on Muskingum River
McConnelsville, OH on Muskingum River

After passing by the Muskingum, it was finally time to be close to Columbus proper. Being handed off to Columbus Approach at John Glenn Columbus International Airport was nice except for the fact that they were extremely busy at the time. No niceties from Air Traffic Control today. They vectored me around the major traffic areas but set me up for this shot. Probably around 5:30pm at this point.

I-70 looking west over Buckeye Lake towards Columbus, OH
I-70 looking west over Buckeye Lake towards Columbus, OH

I did get a proper welcome at OSU’s airport where the club was eagerly watching for my return.

Virginia Tech (2/3)

So there I was stuck in Elkins, West Virginia waiting on clouds to give me some space over the mountains. There was another couple stuck there too that had actually been stuck since the previous night trying to head south west to Texas.

After a few hours of deliberation and pointing out holes in the clouds that might mean they’re breaking up, just to see the hole close again, the other couple and I decided to call it a day and try again the next day.

I booked a hotel room and had the shuttle come pick me up. As we drove to the hotel, the sky kept looking better and better. I was starting to kick myself for booking a hotel — buuuuut — I wanted to be safe. So I got to the hotel, got a shower, got into clean clothes and prepared to head to the local Applebee’s to have a beer and call it a night.

This is what the mountains look like without close cloud cover.
This is what the mountains look like without close cloud cover.

The clouds looked better and better so I decided to call the national weather briefing service for one last chance. They showed that I was looking okay currently and had about a 2-4 hour window to get over the peaks before the clouds came back down and shut me out until noon the next day.

I had a quick self-conversation. Was I succumbing to “get-there-itis” or was this a legitimate opening? At that moment, the beer sounded a lot better than getting back into the hot & sweaty plane and I decided to turn back if the clouds were close to the peaks.

So, I hopped back in the plane and took a peek at the peaks.

Things looked good. Got over the mountains and it was clear sailing into Hanover County, Virginia where I was able to pick up my old college buddy Matt.

Matt sits co-pilot seat.
Matt sits co-pilot seat.

We flew from the Richmond area to the Williamsburg airport just so that we could take a look at some of the many Virginia rivers from the air. Then it was due west to Blacksburg.

Spring Hollow Reservoir
Enjoy the dam picture.

This is Spring Hollow Reservoir just outside of Roanoke and Blacksburg. Really cool looking lake at such a high altitude. There’s something gorgeous about mountain lakes, even if they are mostly man-made with a dam.

We had to cut below relatively low cloud cover again passing over one last peak to get into Blacksburg, but when we made it to campus, it was well worth it.

Virginia Tech campus from the southeast.
Virginia Tech campus from the southeast.

This is what we came for. Finally! Matt’s cousin picked us up from the airport and we went to have some fun at the local bars. By the way, the best place to go in Blacksburg, VA is the Hokie House. Tune in for the trip home in part 3, and take a look at this shot of Lane Stadium!

Lane Stadium / Worsham Field
Lane Stadium / Worsham Field

Leaving Ohio (1/3)

Ever since I was in undergrad at Virginia Tech, I’ve always wanted to fly into the Blacksburg airport. I finally made that happen this past weekend. The flight plan was to leave Columbus on Friday morning and fly southeast to Richmond Virginia (KOFP) where my old college friend Matt lives. Pick up Matt in Richmond and fly to Blacksburg. If everything went according to plan, we would be in Blacksburg by Friday at about 3pm.

Things didn’t go as planned.

01 - Cloudy ColumbusDespite clear blue skies for practically the entire month, THIS weekend, my entire route was overcast with low cloud covered ceilings.

The picture on the right shows my route on the way out of Columbus. The ceiling is not uncomfortably low here in the city, but as I approach the Appalachians it gets worse.



02 - Buckingham coal mine south of Corning OhioI like to see quarries and mines from the air. It’s always interesting. Especially seeing a mining operation from such a height that you can see how small it is in the scope of the land around it. It’s reassuring that when you think that one of these places is a huge polluter or destroyer of the earth, that you can see that it is instead just a tiny blip in an enormous swath of untapped land. The planet is simply humongous. The mining operation on the left is the Buckingham Coal Mine a little south of Corning, Ohio.

03 - Burr Oak State ParkJust a little to the southeast is Burr Oak State Park. Besides quarries and mines, rivers and bodies of water are my next favorite subject to photograph. This makes me want to get my float plane certification.

After this, I was off to West Virginia!

04 - Crystal Lake WV05 - West Union, WVWest Virginia is beautiful but that Friday, the cloud cover was very low. 4,000 feet was generous and the mountains were going up to 5,200 feet in places. I passed by a couple towns after crossing the Ohio River: Crystal Lake (left) and West Union in the picture just under that. Then, after getting over some of the smaller foothills and one of the first or second line of major ridges, I got blocked in by clouds and couldn’t go any further.

There was no choice but to land at a local airport and wait out the overcast skies. You don’t want to cross these ridges without visibility. Here I am stuck in Elkins, West Virginia waiting out the clouds:

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