Sunday, September 12, 2021

Flying - Homeward From Mackinac

The taxi was a two horse-power vehicle.

Quite a fun ride. We got picked up and then he picked up 4 more to go to the Grand Hotel so we got to see it on the way to the airport.

Then we did not go direct to the airport as the taxi required an engine overhaul.

With fresh horses, we headed to the airport.

At the airport I checked the weather again and saw a nice PT-17 had come in after we had arrived.


Checking the weather and updating my weather brief, the winds were gusting up to 30 knots from 210-270 which was kinda concerning.  Still within crosswind limits, but sporty.

Did the preflight and all was in order and still with plenty of gas, and kept watching the windsock which was almost always fully extended but kept pointing right down Runway 26, more or less, and not deviating. This made it do-able.


I announced on the CTAF that I was taking off, then lined up on the runway and then held the brakes and brought the aircraft to full power. I then took off and the wind stayed pretty much right down the runway so it was a pretty easy takeoff and a 30-knot headwind made for good performance. Windsock stayed right down the runway the whole time.

We headed towards Pontiac and saw the Mackinac Bridge.

 Climbing up we ran into a lot of light turbulence, lots and lots of bumps and directional control was then rather difficult.   Any motion to head to the left was met with massive bumps so we were getting off course due to the turbulence. I was working hard just to keep the wings level.  Bit of a heavily scattered / broken layer above made it hard to get above it, too.

I checked in with Minneapolis Center and got flight following given to me immediately without even asking for it, and I reported the light turbulence.   Other pilots in the area were also reporting wind shear and light to moderate turbulence as far south as Traverse City, and Harbor Springs had some severe wind shear.  

I finally got to a point basically following Highway 75 south to where the clouds opened to a scattered layer, put the throttle all the way forward and climbed up to 7,500 through the hole and got back on course.  Was still able to see the ground the whole time even with it being a bit hazy up there. The air was nice and smooth and Minneapolis Center was ok with my being at that height to avoid the messy air below.

Co-pilot then did some homework in the calm air and I was back on course.

The kid was doing Physics homework in an airplane.  Kinda cool.

Got handed off to Great Lakes Approach Saginaw frequency and continued on.

I checked with Fight Service to get an updated weather report for Pontiac and see if any turbulence had been reported there.  No turbulence, but winds at 210 from 10-20 knots. Very sporty.

Then handed off to Great Lakes Approach Flint and then to Detroit Approach. 

For practice I requested the RNAV 27L approach and got it and I kinda wanted the guidance that comes with an RNAV for the approach.  I was told to head to LEHRA intersection and I started descending as I headed towards LEHRA.  At LEHRA I was then cleared for the approach and contacted Pontiac Tower.  The winds were then 210-230 at about 11-15 which was nicer.  Still, it made it hard to stay on course. I was constantly getting pushed to the right by gusts and was crabbing like crazy to stay on the needles and keep it from deflecting too much.   I was VFR so I could see the runway which also helped stay as lined up as possible even as I kept getting pushed and the needle was a dot left of center most of the time.

A decent descent following the glide-slope and with tons of crabbing and power adjustments due to the gusting wind.  Got lined up and made the landing rather firmly and we were down.  Landed at 6:12 pm.

Then I got to have some fun. I had told Tower that for parking I needed to go to Royal Air East for fuel, so instead of a long taxi around the south-side to get to the north-side, Tower had me do a 180 and back-taxi on the runway to the Hotel intersection and then cross to Delta and taxi to Royal Air East. Very nice of them and I think I'm the first person to get to back-taxi on the new 27L Runway. First time I've ever done a back-taxi at Pontiac.

Got to Royal Air East and still had well over an hour's fuel in the tanks, so my fuel planning was on which was good. Then taxi back to the hangar, wiped all the bugs off the plane, and then headed home with our day's shopping.

2.4 in sporty conditions and a rather sporty landing as well.  Challenging, but I handled it all just fine and I'm quite sure al the IFR training has helped me be both more precise and capable.  Leah had a great time on Mackinaw Island and in the air, except for the turbulence part.  The rest of the family enjoyed the fudge we had brought home.

This is definitely why I learned how to fly, to be able to take the family on neat trips, especially day trips that can't be done by car in a timely manner.


B said...

Toldya, all that IFR training makes us better pilots.

Glad you hade a good time, I gotta do Mackinac sometime soon.

Aaron said...

B: It certainly does. Looking at my flight paths, they've become nice straight lines right on course with minimal deviaiton (except for the turbulence episode) rather than all over the place prior to IFR training.

Mackinac Island is a great place to visit by air.