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Flying Home from Texas

In case you missed it: Part 2 – Picking up the Airplane from the Paint Shop and Flying to Houston

After my cousin’s wedding in Tampa, I was back to Houston and ready to fly home.  The plan was to split the trip into two days, with an overnight stop in Boulder.  The weather in Houston had been great, but of course when I was ready to go, clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped 30 degrees.  The clouds weren’t too low, but I decided to file an instrument flight plan anyway so I could get up high.

Parked in Houston, ready to go

Climbing through the overcast

Bright and sunny on top.

The flight was nice on top of the clouds for the first hour or so, but as I approached the DFW area, I was back in instrument conditions.  Once I reached Oklahoma, I was back in the clear, with just a little rain (almost snow) between me and my first fuel stop, in Woodward, Oklahoma.

Muck starting to clear north of Dallas

There’s not much going on in Woodward, but they did have cheap gas and a nice pilot lounge.  The guy running the place was building an RV-7, too.  I wanted to keep going, so after a quick snack, bathroom break, and call to Kelly, I was back in the air.

Leaving Woodward, I was finally getting back into some good sunny conditions.  There were some clouds in western Oklahoma and eastern Colorado which gave a somewhat bumpy ride, but nothing too bad.  Up at 8,000 feet, I was just below freezing and picked up a little ice going through the cloud tops.

A little ice on the leading edge of the wing. There’s no ice on the inboard half, since that’s the fuel tank and the fuel in the tank kept the temperature up.

By the time I got close to Denver, the clouds were gone, and it was beautiful.

Flying west of downtown Denver

Our friends, the Baers, live in Erie, but that airport was closed for runway work, so I landed at Boulder.  Nice little airport.  Thanks so much to the Baers for hosting me and taking me to a tasty dinner at the very fun Oskar Blues brewery.

Dylan checking out the pilot seat

Dylan checking out the pilot seat

The next morning I was excited to finally get home, but I had another relatively long day of flying ahead of me.  The next leg, to Gooding, Idaho, would be about 4 hours, the longest I’ve ever flown as a pilot.

From Boulder, I went directly north before heading west, to avoid flying over the highest mountains.  The flight over southern Wyoming is plain and boring, but there was much less smoke this time, so I could actually see how boring it was.  I also had a very strong headwind: 20-30 knots.

The view for 2 hours, more-or-less

As I got to western Wyoming, the terrain got a little more interesting.  Entering Idaho, I crossed Bear Lake, which looked very nice.  After that, there were a few small mountains before entering the central Idaho valley, but I was really surprised how low and non-threatening the entire route was.  Later, a friend pointed out that I’d basically flown the Oregon Trail.  I guess that makes sense.

Bear Lake, on the Idaho-Utah border, just west of Idaho

About as rough as the terrain ever was

Giant bug splatter

The Gooding, Idaho airport also didn’t have much going on, but the fuel was cheap and the runway was big and new.  The last leg of the flight home was uneventful and very familiar, since it was the same route we fly between Seattle and Jackson Hole.

Columbia River

Got smoky as I approached the Cascades

When I landed back at Paine, I was glad to be home.  I flew nearly 13 hours over the two days, which is by far the most I’ve ever done in such a short period.  It was fun and a great learning experience.

Back home!

Lots of flying

All the pictures from the trip home are here.

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