We tried to leave Oshkosh at 10:00, however everybody else had the same idea. We queued on the taxi way for runway 27 for over an hour. Eventually we were off runway 27. We turned right onto a heading of 360 and followed the interstate northwards out of Oshkosh. Once out of the class D airspace over Oshkosh we turned right over Lake Winnebago climbing to 3500 feet and southwards to Chicago. The weather was marginal and slowly started to deteriorate as we got closer to Columbus Ohio. ATC was soon vectoring us around level 1 and level 2 thunder storms. Chalkie was in front us he had to do a 180 degree turn out of a storm and was then vectored around it by ATC. We flew through some light rain for at least an hour before we eventually popping out of the storm to the east. We were then routed direct to Kitty Hawk and landing at about 19:00 local time. The flight duration was 07:45.
Today was a rest day with a visit to the Kitty Hawk Memorial on the Outer Banks. A most interesting and thought provoking morning. The aviation holy ground of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers. The exhibit has a full size copy of the Wright Flyer and it was surprisingly big aircraft. The original was destroyed on the very day they made the first powered flights because they didn’t tie the Flyer down. In the afternoon we Chalkie, Francesco and myself took our aircraft and flew passed in salute to the Wright Brothers passed their Memorial. It was a special moment from us pilots to pilots of an era long forgotten by most, but remembered by the brotherhood of pilots. This evening we were entertained by Bill Kerman and friends with a traditional cookout which was most enjoyable. Tomorrow we start our homeward journey in earnest . We leave Kitty Hawk for Bangor Maine, a 640nm flight. The weather looks a bit dodgy so it will be an IF flight.
Well the weather was dodgy and instead of going to Bangor we flew westward as far as we could get and ended up in Plattsburg New York. There is just so much rain and weather on the eastern side of the US that it’s a big problem trying to get home. Anyway we were dodging thunder storms from Kitty Hawk with the assistance of the ATC’s. We flew up the east coast and to the west of New York to Plattsburg.
Once again from Plattsburg it was through the rain and thunder storms to St John’s in Newfoundland Canada. Taking off on runway 01 from Plattsburg was a little interesting. It started to rain as we were waiting for ATC release. When we were released the runway was completely wet. On the take off run it took an awful long time for the Cherokee to get airborne. The trees at the end of the runway were getting bigger and bigger. Dixie eventually got her feet off the wet runway and we were flying. Passing the trees below and turning eastward for St John. Over Bangor we got caught the rain and turbulence. We bounced up and down for sometime popping in and out of each cell. The cloud base was low and we didn’t see much of Newfoundland. Our decent and approach into St John’s was uneventful. We got into St John’s quite late and we opted to refuel the aircraft that evening. It’s a long flight tomorrow so we filled the ferry tank to the brim. By the time we had finished it was dark and off to the hotel and another late night!
The leg today is from St John’s to Santa Maria in the Azores, some 1370 nm. This will be our longest leg to date. So the weather is an important component at any time but more so on this leg. The forecast for Santa Marie was broken cloud at 3500’ at 22:00z. So we gently taxied to runway 29 as Dixie was well over gross with all the fuel and baggage. We were also in our immersion suites for the leg because of the cold waters of the Atlantic. Lined up on runway 29, brakes on, full power, temperatures and pressures in the green…. Brakes off and we were away. Hurtling down 29 the airspeed climbing 60.. 65…70…75 ….80…and we were flying. It always surprise’s me as to the magic of flight, that moment when you pull back on the yoke and Dixie is flying. Keeping to a shallow climbing, we slowly gained altitude. ATC cleared us to FL 090 and on course for Santa Marie. Most of the leg was over cloud and quite boring. As we got closer to Santa Maria the cloud started to break up as forecast. It was nightfall when we did a let down on the VOR for runway 36. Right over the airport were a couple of rain clouds, so on our decent to the VOR it was through the rain and cloud. As we came out of the clouds there was the runway just below us and it was a procedure turn onto runway 36. Chalkie and Peter were already on the ground and waiting for us. They had already organized customs and the hotel.
Rest day today in Santa Maria. We have refueled the aircraft and checked them out. Tomorrow its off to Las Palmas Grand Canary. Flight plans have been filed. Departure at 08:30z for a 800nm flight.
From Santa Maria to Grand Canary was uneventful. We were routed around the northern part of Grand Canary and then southwards over Grand Canary. We were descend out over the sea and then vectored onto runway 03 left. When we were passed over form approach to the tower for the landing. The tower informed us that the wind was right down the runway and was 26kts gusting to 35kts. The Cherokee just settled down onto the runway. As this was our second time round to Grand Canary the refueling and the arrangements went very smoothly.