With this whole COVID-19 thing going on the economy is in shambles, flights are at a near all-time low.
But, for my purposes, that means that the normally super-busy airports like Cleveland are now nearly devoid of activity.
Took an afternoon with my friend Alex to go flying and see if we could get into the airport. Turns out, they practically invited us in. There was no traffic happening. First time putting wheels down in an airport that large.
I flew to Ely, Minnesota in August with my friend Jared.
He takes a regular trip with his family into the Boundary Waters (BWCA) and my in-laws have a cabin on a BWCA lake. In order to avoid driving and to get some flying hours in, we took this tiny plane from Columbus, OH to Ely, MN.
We were trying to avoid flying over large bodies of water because when you’re in a single engine airplane, you don’t have a lot of options besides swimming if your engine goes out (ours didn’t).
We meant to get fuel after Chicago but the day we were flying we had 30 (thirty!!!!) knot headwinds even low to the ground. It was stupidly impressive bad luck. So we had to stop in Gary, IN to grab some gas before heading up again.
After grabbing gas, we were off. We saw the Blue Angels parked on the north ramp of the airport as we were taking off but it was too late to grab a picture. Turned out they had a show over the Navy Pier in Chicago a little later in the morning.
We know because we flew through the TFR (before it activated).
We thought we only had about 15 minutes to get through the TFR which we thought we could barely make, but also thought if we’re going to get intercepted, would be pretty cool to get intercepted by the Blue Angels, then realized the time change to Central and that we had an extra hour still before the TFR went active. The Blue Angels did not intercept us.
Next we flew up towards Duluth. Still staying low because of the ridiculous headwinds, but that meant things were also super bumpy.
Jared puked for the first time ever in a small airplane. I always have a puke bag in the plane for emergencies but never expected to use it with two pilots on board.
So Jared pukes. The turbulence and motion wasn’t getting to me until then, but that puke-bile smell? Oh yeah. I could feel it.
The problem was that I only had one puke bag in the cockpit. If I had to hurl, it was going to be in the same bag Jared used earlier. Gross.
Furthermore, Jared told me point blank that if I hurled, he was going to need the bag back to go again.
Faced with the prospect of sharing a puke-bag and passing it back and forth, we decided to land and take a 45 minute break.
We felt better after taking off (and getting the back-up puke bag from the baggage compartment).
Anyway, here’s Duluth:
After turning the corner at Duluth, we went along Minnesota’s North Shore to drop Jared off in Grand Marais.
Then finally, with the plane to myself, I flew over the Boundary Waters due west to land in Ely, MN.
Was a fun trip. 9.3 hours in the plane due to the ridiculous headwinds. I was super happy to get a burger on the ground.
Weather looked great for the weekend of our anniversary so I booked one of my usual planes at the club to take up to Cleveland and back for a local area vacation.
The day before the trip, a student pilot at the club had a very rough landing and did some damage to the plane I had reserved. The student is fine (physically) but the plane is out of commission for probably 1-2 months.
To salvage the trip, I took another plane up with an instructor right away to get familiar with a different airplane and have the club sign me off on being able to rent it, so that’s how I ended up taking a “SportCruiser” up to Cleveland.
So this is Burke-Lakefront, an airport I have wanted to fly to since early in my lessons. It’s a gorgeous airport right on lake Erie and within easy walking distance to downtown Cleveland.
Not to mention, you get a SPECTACULAR view of the Browns stadium if you are doing a standard pattern entry to runways 6R or 6L.
After landing (smoothly this time), we grabbed our bags from the plane and walked about 10 minutes to the downtown Westin.
The nice thing about the sport cruiser is the baggage area is easy to get to and is pretty large sized in comparison to most light sport airplanes. The bad thing about the sport cruiser is that it has a bubble canopy cockpit (glass roof) which in bright sunlight makes it pretty warm even at altitude and it is even slower than the other light sports I am used to.
My wife and I enjoyed our one-night stay in Cleveland. Caught a comedy act at “Hilarities” and had a lake view from the 21st floor of the Westin. Awesome time had by all.
We had great weather on the return trip. Only a slight headwind.
Smooth air all the way back to Columbus until we had to descend below the cloud layer.
Had a great landing back at KOSU (love the way the SportCruiser floats), parked, and headed home.
So, as I mention in my “About” page, I am an attorney by profession. Although I am primarily an estate planning attorney (wills, trusts, etc…), periodically I will have to do an eviction while settling an estate. As time went on, I decided that I would pick up evictions on their own, not just in association with closing estates.
At any rate, I had an eviction to file in Hamilton County and decided to fly down if possible. Well, I did, and I got caught dodging thunderstorms. The image at the top shows me going northwest around a thunderstorm before turning south to Cincinnati. That added an extra 45 minutes onto the flight.
Along the way though, we passed a few places we otherwise would not have seen from the air.
Even with the diversion, we made it into Lunken, Cincinnati’s regional airport. It’s quite close to downtown and an Uber ride was just a couple bucks to get me to the court house.
See how nice the skies were when I came in? Gorgeous blue with a few clouds.
Well, they weren’t so nice coming out. I made it out of there about 15 minutes before it was enveloped in thunderstorms which would have blocked me in for another 4-6 hours. Then I had to dodge a few cells to avoid lightning on the way out but otherwise had a pretty direct flight back to Columbus.
Short advertisement: If you need estate planning, give me a call at my office.
Flew up to Mansfield, Ohio this morning with my pilot buddy Jared. It’s not a long flight there and back but then the weather forecast was not looking so perfect either. Nothing against Mansfield, Ohio, but we didn’t particularly want to get stuck there through a thunderstorm.
Weather was reported as marginal VFR at KOSU when we took off and looked like this as we took off from runway 9R:
Moderately low cloud cover. Felt like it was going to storm at any moment and the radar said we had about an hour and a half or so. Just enough time to get to Mansfield and back.
Flying north, we were able to get ahead of the weather and things opened up for a beautiful morning over Alum Creek.
We caught the last remnants of fog escaping the ground as we closed on KMFD and flew through a few wisps as we descended towards runway 14.
Then finally, a right base-to-final turn onto the runway to complete the first leg of the flight.
Jared and I swapped roles during the stop-and-go landing at Mansfield and he took off while I acted as safety pilot.
There’s a neat little private airport community just to the east of Alum Creek. They’ve got a private grass runway and hangars for community use. Never landed there but was able to get a decent shot of it today.
Then finally, we moved into the rain as we approached our origin at Ohio State. The tower was manned by then but no flight activity at the field, so we were cleared to land while still about five miles out.
And here’s a YouTube video of the flight if you want to watch live.
I have been a track coach with the local Special Olympics group for eight years now. At a recent track meet, I found out that one of the fathers is also a pilot and has spent most of his time in recent years in gliders.
He probably cringed at my power management today, but in my defense, it was cross-wind every time and just a small bit gusty. Still, I’ll chalk today up as a learning experience.
Our flight out of KOSU went around Ohio Stadium then downtown Columbus. After that I gave Larry the controls and had him take us over to Grimes-Urbana (I74) and then we did a full-stop landing.
Why a full stop? Because today was the first time I was testing my suction-cup GoPro mount and somehow I forgot to turn the damned thing on. So we stopped at Grimes-Urbana and turned it on. There’s a video of the flight back to KOSU below.
When flying in to I74, there was a lot of traffic. They happen to have a very popular diner there. We came into the pattern on the downwind for runway 20 then turned for final.
Larry got a great shot of the planes lined up and waiting for us to land and get off the runway.
Crosswinds gave us an approach some would call “unstable” but honestly, in a light sport, any uneven wind gives you an unstable approach. The damned thing weighs 700 lbs empty and blows around like a leaf. It’s a good thing the control surfaces are so large.
Anyway, we came down pretty smooth. The only real complaint I had about the landing (besides the power management on approach) was the fact that we gave the gear a bit more side-load than I normally do.
Oh. And the centerline. Ugh.
Anyway, we stopped for a moment, stretched our legs, determined that the GoPro was still suction-cupped to the airplane (and actually started the recording this time) and went back to KOSU.
I’ve got a Private Pilot License which allows me to fly just about anything, anywhere, at any time. But a lot of pilots call the PPL only half of the license because the major restriction is that you must always remain clear of clouds. That means that a pilot is often grounded when he doesn’t want to be.
The instrument rating is a rating added to your license that allows you to fly under Instrument Flight Rules and therefore fly through clouds. But there’s a lot of flying that has to be done first before you can take your Instrument test:
The first two are complete or nearly so. The last two are easy enough to knock out with an instructor when I get close to the exam time. It’s the middle requirement that takes a lot of time & money.
40 hours of time is as much as you need for the entire Private Pilot License, and this rating needs another 40 of actual instrument time or simulated instrument time. Actual instrument time is time spent in clouds. Since I’m not allowed to do that yet, I would need to pay for an instructor to go up with me for all those hours. Simulated time means wearing some “foggles” that attempt to limit your vision to only inside the airplane. You don’t need an instructor for simulated time, but you do need another licensed pilot to act as a safety pilot while you are wearing your blinders.
So I’ve found a new friend & safety pilot to fly with lately and we’ve been taking short flights to build the Sim time. I fly with the foggles on the way out, and he flys with them on the way back. For a 1 hour destination, we each get about an hour of Sim time, an hour of cross-country time, and due to some weird glitch in the FAA matrix, we get to double-up on Pilot-in-Command time while someone is wearing the foggles.
This trip we went down to Portsmouth, Ohio (KPMH). It was my first time flying due South and it was kind of nice to see something a little different than endless Ohio farmland.
But we did also see plenty of farmland too of course:
And on departure we did something a little different than we normally do, we flew under the Columbus class C shelf at a little under 2,000 feet.
At that altitude we were actually dodging radio towers.
It was a good flight and it’s always nice to see a new airport. Looking forward to returning to Portsmouth again!
I took my friend Denny up in the plane today. He was a flight attendant in a previous career so he was no stranger to airplanes but this happened to be his first time in a small airplane.
It was a bit windy, 16 knots gusting to 24 from the southwest. KOSU made that just extra easy by having a nice runway heading the same direction.
We took off from runway 23 and proceeded to meander our way around northwest Columbus before contacting ATC to coordinate a little sight seeing over campus and downtown.
Denny got a nice shot of the Oval and a piece of high street.
Since we were right in the way of departing traffic from the big airport, we scurried south a bit to take a loop around downtown Columbus.
This is a shot Denny took from just west of the city. The Scioto River is the beautiful brown waterway running through the shot.
After playing around the city, it was time to get out of the path of departing traffic and play around with the clouds.
Clouds were at around 10,000 feet today so we spent about 15 minutes climbing to that height over Delaware, Ohio.
Then it was time to let Denny have the controls. As an ex flight-attendant, he was a natural. No fear of the plane. Just comfortably put us in a few unusual attitudes on accident that I had to correct so we didn’t die.
Sun was setting. Time to get home. Wind was coming down just a little bit but still a bit gusty. Since the plane is so small and gets kicked around by even relatively light winds, we did a no-flap landing at a little faster speed in order to have a little more rudder authority.
My brother lives in Louisville, KY and I’ve been intending on making the flight down there at some point. We had a wind from the SW so the trip down took about an hour and fifty minutes. The return trip was brisk though at only about an hour fifteen.
I’ve never actually had an opportunity or reason to cut through some Class-B airspace (the blue rings around Cincinnati) so this was a first for me. As it turned out, it was also completely non-eventful. Cleared through, minor vector’s around the actual airport but no major re-directs.
After landing, it was a nice lunch with brother at the local BBQ smokehouse. Then a quick trip back to Columbus with my first real tailwind I’ve ever had on a cross-country flight.
Took a new passenger up in the plane a bit before Christmas. We only had an hour or so to kill so I did my standard “new passenger” flight which is a short sight-seeing loop around Columbus.
The Columbus airport is due east of the stadium as you can see on this google map cutout:
This means that this particular area of sky can be very busy or completely clear depending on the wind direction.
Planes, as you likely know, take off and land into the wind. Around the stadium, I can ignore planes taking off. They climb fast enough that they are well above me by the time they get to this part of the sky. It’s the landing planes that have a long shallow descent and tend to interrupt photography sessions.
So as long as the wind is out of the west, which it usually is around here, this is pretty easy airspace to navigate. Except for the helicopters.