To Ely, MN

I flew to Ely, Minnesota in August with my friend Jared.

Jared on right, me on left.

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.

Red line is actual GPS route. Blue line is simply airport-to-airport route.

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.

Gary, IN

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).

Chicago from the most expensive seat available.

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:

Duluth, MN
Duluth, Sky Harbor Airport

After turning the corner at Duluth, we went along Minnesota’s North Shore to drop Jared off in Grand Marais.

Two-Harbors on the North Shore of Minnesota

Then finally, with the plane to myself, I flew over the Boundary Waters due west to land in Ely, MN.

Somewhere in the BWCA between Grand Marais and Ely. Endless untouched nature.

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.

Wedding anniversary flight with wife!

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.

Burke-Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, Ohio

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.

First Energy Stadium, home of the Browns! Cleveland, Ohio

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.

Taking off, KBKL 24L

We had great weather on the return trip. Only a slight headwind.

Cleveland, Ohio
Lake Erie off of Cleveland, Ohio

Smooth air all the way back to Columbus until we had to descend below the cloud layer.

6,500 ft over (very) scattered clouds.
Descending underneath the cloud layer.

Had a great landing back at KOSU (love the way the SportCruiser floats), parked, and headed home.

See you later Cleveland!

Cleveland, Ohio

Flying to dinner up north

I was taking my old friend John up for a flight to Put-In-Bay to grab some dinner. John has a few in-laws that are also pilots so this was nothing new to him. Around 1/2 way up there though, we got a text from my parents inviting us to eat at the yacht club. Change of plans, we’ll land at Port Clinton instead and get a bite there.

But since we’re already at the lake, might as well do a quick tour.

Rattlesnake Island to the left, Middle Bass Island is the large island on the right. North Bass Island is the island in the background.

After touring the local islands, it was time to drop in at PCW. Never landed on Runway 18 before there but it has a nice approach over some intra-coastal homes.

Short Final, KPCW, Runway 18

After that it was time to head back. We were running later than planned and definitely going to get a little night flying in, but luckily as you can see from my previous post, I am night current so hauling a passenger was no issue.

We flew high on the way back to get the best wind. Here is what northern Ohio looks like from 10,500 feet.

Northern Ohio, 10,500 feet

It’s all the same. Farm farm farm farm farm. If you spend all your time in Columbus, Cincinnati, or Cleveland and you don’t seem to understand Ohio or Ohio politics, this is why. This is Ohio. The cities are just little dots on the map.

Speaking of which, here we are straight in to runway 23 at night at KOSU.

A little north of highways 270 and 315 heading south to the OSU airport.

Three Bass Islands (and a bomber)

Today was a day I’ve been waiting for since the pilot’s license was barely in reach. I flew from KOSU to Port Clinton where I picked my dad up. Gave him a quick rundown of emergency procedures and off we went.

We were third in line for take-off in the busy weekend traffic but we were waiting on this B-17 Bomber to land, so it was worth it. Impressive!

B-17 Bomber landing at KPCW August 7, 2016
B-17 Bomber landing at KPCW August 7, 2016

When it was our turn to get in the air, some mildly turbulent air caught him off guard on take-off and I got an exclamation out of him. So far so good.

The plan was to land at each of the three Bass islands: North Bass, Middle Bass, and South Bass. Only Middle Bass allows touch and go landings, so we would land full-stop on North, touch and go Middle, then land at South Bass to grab lunch.

Heading north from KPCW, we passed the Catawba Island Club, tried to get a few snapshots for some family friends.

Catawba Island Club from the east
Catawba Island Club from the east
Catawba Island Club from the west
Catawba Island Club from the west

During the weeks leading up to this trip, I tried unsuccessfully to find a connection at the ultra-exclusive Rattlesnake island to give us an invite to land & lunch there. No luck. Best I can do is a couple pictures from the air.

Rattlesnake Island from southeast
Rattlesnake Island from southeast
Rattlesnake Island from northwest
Rattlesnake Island from northwest

Next up was the landing at North Bass Island (3X5). The runway runs almost north-south (01/19) and we were landing on runway 01. It’s also only 1,804 feet long and 60 feet wide. Not a lot of room for error in any plane, not even a little one like the light sport I was flying.

north bass island
North Bass Island approaching from the south


North Bass Island, Runway 01 - Short Final
North Bass Island (3X5), Runway 01 – Short Final

We stopped, someone was mowing the grass near the runway. We saw one car drive down the road that runs parallel to the runway. There isn’t a whole lot to do here if you don’t live here. Not even a restaurant. So, we hopped back in the plane, back-taxied and took off!

Next course of action was Middle Bass Island. The turbulence was starting to pick up as the afternoon wore on and my right-seat passenger was having trouble getting a steady shot. This is the best we got of Middle Bass on short final:

Middle Bass Island (3T7) Runway 10, Short-final.
Middle Bass Island (3T7) Runway 10, Short-final.

Here’s a better shot of the airport in general on Middle Bass as we flew towards North Bass earlier:

Middle Bass Airport (3T7)
Middle Bass Airport (3T7)

After a touch & go on Middle, we swung to the south for the very short hop over to South Bass. We got a good pass over the bay itself and it was as busy as you would expect on a beautiful summer Sunday.

Put-In-Bay, with Perry's Monument
Put-In-Bay, with Perry’s Monument

Now I was hungry!

Put-In-Bay (3W2), Runway 03 - Short final
Put-In-Bay (3W2), Runway 03 – Short final

I reserved a golf cart earlier in the week, but unfortunately it turned out to be the slowest golf cart on the island. We got passed by a mother walking her baby in a stroller. Oh well, at least we had shade.

After lunch it was back to Port Clinton to drop off dad and fly myself home.

Port Clinton (KPCW) Runway 9, Short final
Port Clinton (KPCW) Runway 9, Short final
VFR on top in the cool air, heading back to KOSU
VFR on top in the cool air, heading back to KOSU

Catawba Island

Flew to Port Clinton today for a $100 dollar hamburger. It’s nice to fly over something besides farmland so I took the opportunity to do a quick tour around the perimeter of Catawba Island. Weather was possibly impeding my route back to Columbus so I had to make it a quicker tour than I’d normally have liked.

Larger versions of all of these images are in the gallery at the bottom of the post.

cic2I’ve taken a couple passes by the Catawba Island Club a few months ago but few of the boats were in the water. Now the slips are full. I was able to get two half-decent shots. The facilities there are simply gorgeous although I wish I could have seen the sailors out with sails up. I believe there was supposed to be a race today but I either missed it or else it was cancelled due to inclement weather.


ferry-mouse-pibThen as I circled around the point, here’s a great shot of the ferry dock at the north end of Catawba Island. Mouse Island is the small wooded island right off the point, and South Bass Island, home of the famous Put-In-Bay is the next island out much further in the distance.

west harborComing around to the east side of Catawba Island is the West Harbor. This is sliiiiightly larger than the harbor at the CIC above and used for all sorts of commercial fishing. If you want to charter a fishing trip from some Lake Erie walleye, here’s the place to do it.


thebayLeaving the island, I crossed over this bay. It is connected to the West Harbor and it doesn’t look like the East Harbor and I can’t find a name for it, so if any of you locals know what this body of water is, I sure would like an answer in the comments.


Catawba Island Club

This is a little community of sailors and power boaters located on Catawba Island in Lake Erie. If you’ve taken the (slow) ferry to Put-in-Bay, you’ve been in the area. This photo was taken in early April and it’s obvious that a lot of the boats are not in the water yet for the season. The difference in water color between the foreground lake just outside of the marina and the background lake is interesting. I’m not sure whether that’s a true color difference or an atmospheric illusion. I didn’t notice the difference while I was flying.