Hans' Toy is soaked in morning dew. It is dripping off the trailing edges and slowly rolling down the windshield. A thin layer of fog covers the lengths off the river that we can see if front of the Lodge. Hence the name, White River. During breakfast we met another fellow 701 builder and he joins as out in field during the walk around. We are wiping off as much water, dew and steamed up windshield as we can, but it seems to build as fast as we are wiping. Okay, better get the windmill going and see if we can blow it off.
Tied down at "Gaston's Lodge"
Runway looking east
Another Sunrise beckoning us to go flying!
The little Rotax comes to life on the first try, and after a warm up and systems check we line up facing east. It is a bit of a oneway runway unless you're STOL equipped. Hans takes the honors of first takeoff of the day and we bumping down the runway to about 45 and up we go...
A little mix of canyon surfing and pylon racing finds us doing turns around the trees on the east end of the runway, OHHH YESS, this is a great little airplane. Grinning, smiling laughing we are climbing out along the north side of the canyon and a wide 180 back over the lodge NW bound as we bid our farewell to one of the really cool places in North America. Gaston's Lodge you will be remembered! And maybe one day "YA AWL CUM BACK HIR, YA HIR!" Who knows, but love too?!
White River looking east...
As serene as it gets!!!
Float Plane Country - Southern Missouri
The scenery from yesterday continues for another hour, our ground speed dropping to a mere 40mph..., this is going to be a long trip home and my rear end is already at full complaining stage. We are slowly working our way north towards Sumners our next planned fuel stop. Finally getting there after 1.8 hours we are faced with a stiff, gusty crosswind. Time to put the 701 to the test. Line up into wind and aim for the grass, stick back and we are settling, hovering, descending, trying to look for the right word here, maybe "zen-air-ing" it into the grass with the roll out being a mere dropping of the nose wheel. We are both amazed what this plane can do.
Fill up, weather check, talk to the local flight instructor about the route ahead, and we are off again by 10:00. Taking off on the pavement and facing the cross wind is less than enjoyable and in the heat we settle back down twice, before finally getting into the air. Bloody Rotors behind the trees lining the runway. Climb out is mere 180 feet per minute with the full load and the 85 degree temps. There is a huge concrete building in front of us and we are clearing it, not above, but off to my left. A little too close for comfort. Maybe half tanks and more stops are in order if we are working in these conditions. Climb out continues to 4500' and again we are only moving about 40mph. Forget it, this is only burning gas with no place going. 1.2 hours puts us into Lamar, KS. Again we are looking at a straight out windsock right across the newly paved runway. The old one is into wind, put supposedly XXX off. Yet another somewhat unconventional approach into wind over the old runway, touch down on the new runway at a 60 degree angle lining up with the taxiway (old runway again) for roll out and we are stopped right before the hold line. Now, what did the old folks know when the build the first runway? Hello? Is there an orange hint fluttering in the wind?
"Zero Mike Echo down clear in Lamar", and hoping no one saw this one, as we taxi to the flight line. Man, If I'd do that in Kamloops I'd be in for yet another "Leslie Spanking", but that's why we try to use smaller fields, the ideal being a nice patch of grass with no runways for this aircraft. Just face into wind, zenairing to the ground, roll a bit, let the nose drop and a 100' later it is all over. Love it, but not something I would want to do at a big and controlled airports, with controllers peering through their binoculars wondering what the hell he's doin, ...but than that is not the idea behind flying an aircraft like that anyway, RIGHT?
Snooze in the rustic airport building for about 3 hours, time to catch up on sleep since we snore each other awake constantly when rooms are tight and we need to share. Waking up a bit drowsy and dizzy, Hans the same, in the heat of the afternoon we head across the bridge into town where a large Golden Arches sign beckons us for a cold drink and some lunch. As we descend the other side of the bridge we notice a truck stop, Dairy Queen and what else, a Walmart Super Center. Big Blue Cornerstore we love you... Shopperama, Americana, Canadiana...time to deal with my complaining rear end. Yes Siree, and you will find even a cure for that at your local Walmart. Let me sell you this 20 dollar gel seat and your hurt'n A.. will love you forever on a long flight. Back to the airport after a bit of food, ice-cream and loaded with a few apples and fruit bars.
Now let's see, gel seat on top or under the cushions? HMMM? Decisions, decisions! Let's try under. It adds about an inch to the height and me, being 6'2, it still leaves sufficient head room.
Off by 17:30 into a beautiful Kansas Evening and we are finally cruising at 70, 80, 70, 85 ...aahhh, what a difference. Field after field after field flows by below, fields as far as the eye can see and as Hans put's it ..."what does it take to feed a nation?" Well the answer lies below, literally. Great flying, my A.. is finally gellin, now if we could only find a cure for Hans' knees!
We arrive at sunset in Atchison, KS and the Birthplace of Amelia Earhardt. The runway is placed on a slight ridge and overlooks the countryside in the setting sun. The Midwest, the Heartland stretches out before us, lit up golden by the setting sun and all is still...
Take a moment and reflect, we have come long ways, ...got long ways to go!