Return trip from St. James to Columbus

After the baby baptism my intention was to stay the rest of that day and take off the next morning but weather was getting in the way. I had clear weather that afternoon (albeit a bit windy) but it was potentially going to be cloudy the next day. That would have potentially stranded me for a few days. Between having good weather for sure and chancing it 18 hours later, I took off that afternoon.

I passed directly over Harper’s Ferry, IA again.

Harper’s Ferry, IA on the Mississippi River

A little later, I followed a section of the Wisconsin River

Section of Wisconsin River between Mississippi and Madison.

Then Madison. It was tough to get a decent picture or even a half-decent picture as the light began to get a little dimmer. Here’s the best I managed.

Madison, Wisconsin

I had to stop for fuel as it got darker and made a pit-stop at KENW. Then it was time for one of the reasons for the trip in general: The fly-by of Chicago at night. As I discussed briefly in a previous post, to stay out of Chicago’s airspace, you need to fly low and over the water. If you don’t, you risk having Air Traffic Control vector you half-way across America to keep you out of the way.

Chicago, IL at night from over Lake Michigan

The remainder of the flight was quiet and smooth as I flew over Indiana and Ohio farmland before arriving at my home airport.

After getting a strong head-wind the entire flight back, it felt great to get out of the airplane and stretch my legs.

Ohio to Minnesota

So 0 year-old daughter and wife went to wife’s Minnesota hometown of Saint James to visit parents and our daughter’s great-grandmother. Since my wife is on maternity leave and I was working that week, she left a few days earlier than I did and I caught up for the weekend. The weather forecasts looked good enough that I felt confident flying private rather than commercial.

Weather forecasts are bullsh*t. Columbus, sunny all day. I had to find a hole through THIS to even get going.

Heavy cloud
Heavy clouds at approximately 6,000 feet. I’m at 8,500 feet.

But, after a 2 hour delay, I found an opening worth going for and climbed through it to get over the top of the cloud layer. Unending clouds is just about what I saw for nearly an hour as I worked my way northwest.

My direct route crossed through Chicago airspace. Some of the busiest airspace in the world. Since I needed to re-fuel anyway, I stopped in Gary, Indiana and topped off the tanks before skirting Northwest along the coastline and under Chicago’s class-B airspace. This allowed a nice daytime shot of the Chicago Skyline:

Chicago, November 4, 2016
Chicago, November 4, 2016

Saw quite a few other planes in the area. Everyone staying below the Chicago airports’ control space.

Once north of Chicago I turned west again towards St. James. It wasn’t long before I crossed over Harper’s Ferry, Iowa and got a great shot of the Mississippi.

Harper's Ferry (with an apostrophe), Iowa
Harper’s Ferry (with an apostrophe), Iowa

You might be thinking, is that THE Harper’s Ferry I read about in the history books? Nope. That one is in West Virginia. But if you want to know something really weird, here’s a piece of trivia you won’t find anywhere else:

Harper’s Ferry, IA (on the Mississippi) started out as Harpers Ferry (no apostrophe). The apostrophe was later added.

Harpers Ferry, WV (famous, no apostrophe) started out as Harper’s Ferry. The apostrophe was later removed.

Anyway, started to get a little closer to St. James and the sun also started to set.

Albert Lea Lake, MN
Albert Lea Lake, MN

And then just a short while later I was there with all the in-law family to greet me. It was one great welcoming.

St. James Airport
St. James Airport