Monday, 20 June 2011

Into the Dakotas...

Friday June 17, 2011


 The prairies...   endless!

 "IFR - I follow Rivers"  ...in this case the Missouri 

Off at 09:18 into a bit of a headwind and working our way diagonally across the landscape on a heading of about 300. The land below us does not change much, but along the Missouri we can see the flooding, soaked fields and an emergency landing into these freshly tilled, water soaked fields would spell certain disaster. This is looking worse than the Florida swamps, actually not really, no creepy crawlies with big teeth below here. We finally pound our way across to Chamberlain and it is time to stop. Rough, windy, bouncy, just not nice flying anymore. Time for the lunch break and carry on in the evening.
11:16 sees us hovering to a landing in Chamberlain, SD and we are waiting out the winds. Not the best place to hang for a while. So despite some still strong winds we are off again at 18:42 towards Pierre and more of the same below. Field after field after field and we arrive at the South Dakota Capitol at local 20:00. Enough for one day, this was a tough day flying. And we are not sure what happened to all the nice folks, they are certainly not north of Yankton.

"I'll fill you right after the Citation Jet!" 


"Yup, we have a hangar, i'll be 50.- bucks for the night!"

The hotel will pick you up and drop you off in the morning and we arranged transport for you. Hans did you arrange a hotel? No, I thought you did? Noooo, ...well this should be interesting. Hangar Owner owns the hotel here too? Are we being fed down the Aerial Tourist feeder line?
Best Western in town it is, okay? Never mind the bar for a few beers, the bartender wins the all time worst service & personality award? Are we just tired, grumpy, ourselves or what has happened here. Out of a sudden we have gone from Southern Hospitality, followed by Midwestern Charm to northern "donreallycaretoknowandorgiveayouknowwhat"?

Gee, can we just miss these two places next time?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Back up to the airport with yet another not quite awake and rather cool Dakotan in the Best Western Shuttle. Let's just get out of here! Not sure if 70mph is fast enough for me. Off by 07:36 and nothing too soon, as we are working our way towards the Badlands. Our destination, Buffalo ND, just 25 miles short of Montana. AAAHHH, MMOOONNNTAAANNAAAHH, doesn't that sound nice and almost like home?
Once again, about 2 hrs in, and the Rock & Roll starts in the air. Not a full rodeo, but a steady bucking ride like you would get from Grandma's Milking Cow. Hans is getting a bit of a taste of what I expect ahead and he is not liking it all that much. It is all new to him and I recall my earlier days flying, tight fisted and wondering how hard the next hit will be and if one can keep this contraption flying? It gets better with time, but the question does burp up every now and than on those hard, wing lifting hits.
Buffalo, ND was chosen for the grassy cross runway, just in case. The 701 does not have the best cross wind capabilities, but shines with its hovering qualities in strong winds. The owners manual recommends landing across the runway in winds exceeding 25mph.

 Into the Badlands...

and another look from above

Coming in on Buffalo is simply a no go. The X-runway is not mowed, not that it matters, since it is out of wind too. As we are circling the airport to the north I notice some fields mowed and nearing the runway to taxi onto it. Okay, fine, turn her into wind, hover down, land, roll out.
But what's this? A little flag with a number 6? F...? Whatta F...? "Zero, Mike, Echo, is down and clear on the sixth Fairway on the Buffalo Golf Course!?" Good thing, no one is around, probably too windy for Golf? Only Problem, we are about 50' short of the runway and fenced out, fenced in, depending which way you look at it. "Hans, you better get out and I'll see, if I can't grind her onto the runway by myself?!" No need to tell him a second time, he's "plane happy" to have solid ground under his feet and departs the plane, headset and all! Woaah, hold on a second and let me disconnect you!
Now, turned into wind, with one person on board and low fuel it launches into the air like no other. It surprised me and for a moment I just hung on, laughing my head off, watching this thing perform. UNREAL!!! Nose way high, skyward we go and slip & slide across the fence over onto the runway for an okay landing. Hans said it actually looked good, ...it just didn't feel that way from where I was sitting! But no harm done, no drifting, no hard landing. All's good!
Hot, high altitudes and cross winds! Gotta love it!
Upon back tracking the runway I pick up Hans along the way and we taxi over to the pumps where some onlookers are awaiting us. Well, Buffalo might have just had its own little air-show. Glad I could help, ces't mon plaisir! Nice Golf Course by the way! Got a lot a guys "FLY IN"?

The local airport manager is Will and fuels us up. Nice Kid. During the week he delivers the mail to the outlying area and rolls on about 700 miles a week. Hans is paying for the fuel and trying to figure out if he should use his credit card or cash. Suddenly a frantic look on his face, as his hands slide from pocket to pocket, another pocket and than allpockets again ..and NO CARD! Oh no! The way home just got a little harder. Out comes the luggage, no card, check all pockets again, no card. No internet, no cell phone, no phone, no card, ...and suddenly a moment of no fun! We can't let that happen!!!
Okay, time to get organized! Phone the Hotel in Pierre, last place used, wait for a call back. No luck in the room, no luck in the Van, no Card. Twice back and forth with Will from the "Tipperary Motel" the only place with WIFI, phone and a very helpful owner (we should have stayed here!) and out for a walk on the sixth green, onto the runway, retracing every step ...no Card. Meanwhile, Will, is still assisting us all along. Great Guy!! After another trip to the local corner store and the only ATM, Will drops us at the plane and we are off again ...into the afternoon heat over to Miles City, MT.
Hans (note the smile) and our tireless helper Will

Arriving there at 14:16 ...make that 13:16 aaahhh back on Mountain Time! Big Party tonight, Football Game, street dance, and every hotel room booked minus a couple at the local Motel 6. Seems to go with the day today, 6th Green, Motel6, any other 6's? Oh Yeah, 06:00 departure tomorrow, can't wait!
Getting closer... 

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