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Fly High and Fast – Vol. II Chapter 11: Flying – Macon, Georgia and College Station, Texas USA

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JJ Meehan
mfmeehan@live.com
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The Meehan Family

My boss, Joe Phernetton was a huge support of aviation and would use my services whenever possible.  He had family emergencies on 3 occasions where flying was a help to him and a chance for me to see the county.  The first was to Macon, Georgia USA.  The second two were two separate trips to College Station Texas.

One night in 1979, I got a call at home around 1:00 am from Joe asking if I could flying him to Macon, Georgia.  His daughter was stranded in Macon and he had to go get her and her car.   I quickly said yes after verifying that I had access to a plane.  In this case it was Mooney N6419U.

We met at the airport in Cedar Rapids around 2:30 am.  I had checked the weather and filled an Instrument Flight Plan (IFR) with two legs.  The first leg would take us east of St. Louis, MO USA and then south to Nashville, TN USA.  The second would go south east over Tennessee and into Georgia.  Macon is located about 70 KM south of Atlanta, Georgia USA.  Our flight plan took us just west of Atlanta.

The weather was perfect and the scenery was fantastic.  Nashville is the County Music Hall of Fame City and is always one of my favorite stops.  I will never forget the red clay of Georgia with green pine trees sparking in the sun light.

Macon is a beautiful southern city with a lot of history.  During the Civil War when the Union Army was touching the south as Sherman drove across Georgia to the Atlantic, Macon was spared the touch because of many factures.  The Union Army did send one Cannonball into Macon as they passed on the way to the burning of Atlanta, GA USA and today you can still see this Cannonball in the side of a house in Macon called the Cannonball House.

The pictures above where taken 2008 when I had a chance to visit Macon, GA, USA again.  The Church was built in 1885 – St. Joseph Catholic Church.  The home on the right was one of the mansions of Macon.

Joe had to fly with is daughter over to Birmingham, Alabama to get his car that had broken down.  After dropping him off in Birmingham I flow back to Macon to pick a friend and her daughter.  We then headed home.  We got to Nashville around 7:00 pm and I was so tired that I made the decision to spend the night and head home the next day.  Again the weather was perfect.

A few years later, Joe asked me again if I could help him out.  He need to fly his boy down to College Station, Texas, USA.  This turned into two different flights over a period of a few months.  The first flight was in Mooney N6419U.  The second flight was in Bonanza N3028W.  The flights were very similar both took place during the winter months.  In both cases we had heavy fog and icing.

In both cases we departed from Cedar Rapids, Iowa USA in the early morning around 5:00 am.  In both cases, the visibility was down to about 1/2 mile with a ceiling of 300 feet.  Tops were reported at 3,500 ft.  We planned the first leg in both cases to Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.  I’ve been down to Tulsa several times and have always been given first class service and again this time we got fantastic service.

The route of flight for both flights was a direct right which would take us just west of Kirksville, MO USA and then east of Kansas City, MO USA.  All airports were reported to be below minimums along the right of light.  I had to use Little Rock Arkansas USA as my alternate.  You are required to list an alternate when the weather at your airport of arrival is schedule to be IFR (Ceilings below 1,000 ft and visibility below 3 miles).  It is interesting to note that the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) still uses miles for visibility and Nautical Miles (KM) when talking speed and distance.

When we arrived in Tulsa on both flights we were at very low minimums.  I can tell you what you see in this video is exactly what we saw doing our approach.  We plan to return to Tulsa, Oklahoma USA for refueling on the way home later in the day.

On the first first in Mooney N6419U I had to climb to 13,000 feet over Dallas to get out of icing.  College Station, Texas, USA is just about 100 KM southeast of Dallas.  About 40 miles south of Dallas, the clouds started to break apart and by the time we where over College Station, it was VFR (Visual Flight Rules – better than 3 miles and 1,000 ft at College Station.   The following video will give you a very good idea of what the pilot sees during a low IFR approach.

 

College Station is the home of Texas A & M College.  The town is 60 % college students and they work and run most of the motels, restaurants, and bars.  Very nice city.  College Station is also the home of President George Bush Sr. Library.

 

  

 

We left College Station about the same time on both trips and when we arrived in Tulsa, OK USA for refueling we found out that every airport was closed north of Tulsa.  We spent the night in Tulsa and most of the next day.  On both occasions, we were finally able to depart for Des Moines around 2:00 pm.  As we pasted east of Kansas City, MO USA we were given an update on the weather in Cedar Rapids, IA  USA.  It appeared that it would be above minimums when we would arrive.  On the first trip our luck would not hold and we we landed in Ottumwa, Iowa USA.  My friend Jerry at Midwest Aviation entertained us for about 3 hours and we finally decided to give it a try.  When we got to Cedar Rapids (CID) the weather was still below minimums.  They were reporting 1,500 RVR with a ceiling of 100 ft.  We decided to give the ILS approach a try and the hold for another try if need be.  We had refueled in Ottumwa so fuel was not a problem.   We actually tried 3 approaches over a period of 1 1/2 hours and were not able to get a visual on the lights or the runway.  We finally decided to give Iowa City, Iowa USA a try.  Iowa City was only 550 ft above sea level compared to CID which was 860 ft above sea level.  The approach at Iowa City (IOW) was a non precision approach known as a VOR Approach.  We had no problem making the approach into IOW and my wife picked us up.  Later I moved the plane back to Cedar Rapids.

On the second trip to College Station, we also spent the night in Tulsa, OK USA.  We left about the same time and we also used Des Moines, Iowa USA for our alternate.  This time the weather was 2,500 on the RVR and the ceiling was reported at 150 ft when we got to Cedar Rapids, Iowa USA.   We picked up the lights on the first try and landed without a problem.  I had dinner plans with my wife that night and I had the tower call her when we were about 40 miles out to let her know that we should be able to go as planned.  We were the first flight to land at Cedar Rapids (CID) in two days.

Please visit my WEB Site on Flying at “FLY HIGH AND FAST”.

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Written by jjmeehan13

January 21, 2010 at 10:07 am

Posted in Flying

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