Friday, June 26, 2009

Legs 4 and 5

I'm combining legs 4 and 5 because we never landed at the fourth airport. I'll explain. From Lufkin to the fourth timing line, Russellville, Arkansas, it was a distance of 255 nautical miles. With the very slight headwind we were getting, it took us just shy of 2 hours to get there. The next leg to Grenada, Misissippi was our shortest leg at 184 nautical miles. With the expected headwind, that leg would only be about 1.5 hours.

At Lufkin, we topped of on fuel. We hadn't decided for sure if we were going to land at Russellville or not, but we wanted the option of flying the timing line there and then immediately proceeding to Grenada. Turns out that's exactly what we decided to do.

Lufkin was a short stop, just long enough to get fuel and check weather. The weather showed that we would have headwinds at all altitudes, but the lower the better. It also showed that there was no benefit to waiting. The winds were either not going to change or potentially get worse. That told us is was time to get going.

It was heating up. We knew we were in for another hot flight. I was sitting in the right seat and the sun was beating down on me as we flew north to Russellville. By the end of the day I had tan lines from my shirt and a hairband I had on my wrist.

Enroute, we talked about whether to land at Russellville or not. We rechecked the weather and could see that it would be beneficial to just fly-by. We both felt that we could handle a 3 hour and 30 minute flight if it would help our chances. So we did it.

The fly-by at Russellville was our one and only chance to do what they call a "fly-by to continue". Usually we do a fly-by to land. Which means after we do the fly-by we enter the pattern and land. This time, we did our high-speed, low altitude fly-by, then climbed back up to our cruising altitude enroute to Grenada.

I would have liked to have seen the folks at Russellville, but it was best for our race to continue. When we landed at Grenada we heard that they were serving Ruby Tuesday back at Russellville! Dang it - that would have been the best food so far! Oh, well. The race goes on.

The Grenada airport is just south of a huge, man-made lake. We later found out that the corp of engineers uses it for flood control, but that the town of Grenada loved it for its recreational uses. They even have some profesional fishing competitions every year.

Our plan was to continue to Sparta after refueling at Grenada. Upon a closer review of the weather, it looked like we could possibly have a much desired tailwind the next morning. But what would the winds be to Jacksonville? And what about that cold front that was supposed to move through our path tomorrow? We looked at all the variables and decided that we would stay the night at Grenada. It turned out to be a popular decision. We had about 12 planes stay the night.

It was dinnertime by the time we got to the hotel. We walked to a nearby local restaurant and had our first real meal of the day. By the time we got back to the hotel room all we wanted to do was sleep. It had been a long hot day that started at 5 AM, Tomorrow morning would be another 5 AM start. That's ok. I'm helping Jessica train for the airline life.
Lake Grenada with the morning sun glint off the surface.

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