Once Pam and I got home after a long drive from Nashville, I immediately started looking at the forecasts to see when I could go back to Nashville to get Betsy, our Cessna 172. I didn’t like the idea of her being stranded away from home and I wanted to get her back at the first opportunity.
I did not want to drive the long distance again. I had hoped to get someone to fly me up to Nashville from our airport, Jim Hamilton-LB Owens Airport (KCUB), but there were not too many people around. EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011 was still going on and several of our folks were there. Others were traveling elsewhere, so flying commercial seemed like the only option available to take advantage of a good forecast on Tuesday, August 2, 2011.
As Pam and I planned and discussed my trip to retrieve Betsy, our daughter Mallory, ten, said she wanted to go. I asked her if she was up to a long day of travel and explained in detail what we would be getting in to. She was excited and so I booked two one-way tickets to Nashville. We packed our GPS, two headsets, a change of clothes and went to bed early.
Pam got us up early at 4:00 a.m. and drove us to Columbia Metropolitan Airport (KCAE) to catch our flight. We were on the 5:45 a.m. flight to a stop in Charlotte, then on to Nashville, departing Charlotte around 8:00 a.m. We tried to catch up on sleep during the flights, but it doesn’t always happen.
Out of Charlotte, we saw the mountains over Asheville, with low lying clouds hanging in the valleys, next up was Knoxville, then we saw Rockwood Airport (KRKW) way off to the north, then Crossville Airport (KCSV), then we landed in Nashville. I thought of how funny it was to see most all of I-40 from the mountains throught Knoxville to Nashville from the air that Pam and I had just driven only three days earlier.
After we landed in Nashville, Mallory and I quickly made our way to the where the taxis awaited. We boarded a taxi driven by a man wearing a red turban. He said it would cost around $45 dollars for the drive to John C Tune Airport (KJWN) on the other side of town. He was close – it was over $46. Enroute, I had called the FBO at John C Tune Airport to have them pull Betsy up to the flightline. When we arrived, we could see that she was there waiting for us. We did not waste time departing after a good preflight check.It must get very very hot inside airplanes that are tied down during hot summers. Proof of this was in the fact that my gats fuel drain cup was melted. I mean, how hot does it have to be to melt plastic?
We departed on runway 20 and climbed on up to 5500 feet after talking to Nashville Approach. The flight was very nice on to Chattanooga. Mallory was doing great as my co-pilot. With Chattanooga in view, it was on to Dalton, GA. We had planned to stop there for fuel but now that we were at 7500 feet and flying nice and smooth, we opted to fly on to Gainesville Aiport (KGVL). As we approached Gainesville, I listened to their ASOS. It was reporting 3400 density alitude. This would be the highest DA that I will have encountered so far in my flying days. The runway was plently long, so I was not worried.At Gainesville, we got a chance to use the restroom, stretch our legs and drink plenty of water. A pilot had landed just after we did and was in the FBO. He was flying a Navion. We both noticed a huge praying mantus on the window of the FBO. As I took a photo of it, the other pilot said, “I bet he is praying for cooler weather.” Weren’t we all. I paid the kind fellow for the fuel and a couple of bottles of water then Mallory and I were on our way. Betsy had no problem with 3400 feet density altitude and we were off, climbing for 7500 feet once again. At altitude we worked our way around the clouds as we were competing with them for space at that altitude. Mallory said she was hungry and wanted to eat the other half of her huge bagel we bought back at the Charlotte Airport. She proceeded to spread butter and cream cheese on it, and gobbled it down.
The clouds at altitude were getting more cumbersome to navigate so we descended to 5500 feet as we approached the Georgia/SC border. It was still smooth at 5500 feet and the outside temperature was still below 70 degrees. It was pleasant. We flew on into South Carolina and before long Lake Greenwood showed up on the horizon, and then Lake Murray. We began our descent and flew straight up the lake, over the dam into bumpy air at 1600 feet. We flew over Forest Acres over our house and then pointed towards Jim Hamilton-LB Owens Airport – home. Runway 31 greeted us with its customary burbles on short final, but otherwise an uneventful landing. Nashville trip done!