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Fly High and Fast – Vol. II Chapter 33: Missouri – Branson and the Lake of the Ozark Missouri

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JJ Meehan
The Meehan Family

Over the years I’ve taken several trip to Branson and also the Lake of the Ozark.  For those that do not know Missouri, these are two separate locations which I’ve shown on the map below.  N3028W and 3 other A-36 Bonanzas would be my main means of transportation to Branson and the Lake of The Ozarks.

We will start with a family trip to Branson in 1987.  We departed from Cedar Rapids on a beautiful sunny afternoon with temperatures in the 80’s.  It was early fall and the crops had been harvested which left the farm fields a mixture of turned dirt and the remains of the crops that had been harvested.   This mixture was perfect for reflecting the heat of the sun which resulted in the atmosphere being heated with updrafts from the heat of the reflected sun.  This mixture created an atmosphere that was very unstable and turbulent although there were only high cumulus clouds above 15,000 feet.  As soon as the wheels of the plane retracted on take-off, the air became very mad and we were bounced around as if we were a toy ball.  I initially requested 6,000 ft and I quickly changed our final cruising altitude to 12,000 ft in order to find smooth air.

The flight time between Cedar Rapids and Branson Mo, is between 2:00 and 2:20 minutes based on the winds.  Our flight was 2:15 minutes with a wind out of the southwest.  Once we reached 12,000 ft, the air was smooth and the flight was very routine.  Neither my wife or daughter liked flying and small aircraft were on their do not enjoy list.  They would put of with flying commercial if we were going to Hawaii, Arizona, California or Florida but they would only fly with me a few times during the years I flow.  Once was our flight to Detroit, Michigan and Niagara Falls, NY.  Then there was the flight see Michael Jackson in Chicago.  There was the flight with my daughter, Jenny to Oshkosh and later we will talk about a flight to St. Louis and Kansas City.  There were a few trips to Omaha to see my sister’s family.  I guess we took a few family trips but they did not like flying and on this day they were sick before we got to smoother air at 12,000 ft.  They were still feel pretty weak when we got near Branson about two hours after take-off.

By the time we had taken this flight I had my Airline Transport License and several thousand hours in the air.  I had no doubt that the air over Branson was going to be very turbulent.   I also know that the plane would be more stable if the wheels were down.   I decided to stay high and lower the gear over Springfield Missouri to start our descent.   Chicago Center who handed the traffic over Missouri was very helpful and as we passed though 10,000 ft, the turbulence started and was almost sever.  My head was bouncing off the ceiling at times.  I had the gear down and the plane was below maneuvering speed for the whole descent.   We landed safely but my wife and daughter were both sick and would be sick for the next 12 hours.  My aftershave bottle had broken in my shaving kit.  This was one time where the 12 drive would have been better.

Branson, MO

Branson is now a very large Music and Entertainment Town.  In the fall the leaves are beautiful but on this trip the weather turned cold and gray.  We spent most of the time trying to stay warm.  The temperatures dropped about 40 degrees (F) in one day.  The high during the three days we were in Branson was 45 degrees (F).  Branson is a beautiful place and is the home of Daniel O’Donnell when he plays in the USA. Daniel is one of our favorite singers.  Considering the fact that I’ve been in Branson 4 times and 3 of the 4 times were cold and wet gives you a very negative impression.   One trip was a golfing trip with a banker from Ft. Madison, Iowa and we almost felt like we were golfing in Iowa in December of 1988.

Here are a few pictures of Branson from the WEB taken on better days.


We departed Branson on a cold cloudy Saturday for Kansas City and Worlds of Fun.  The flight time was 40 minutes and I would need to shoot an ILS for Runway 19 at Kansas City Downtown Airport.  As we departed the ceiling was 400 with 1 mile visibility.  The tops were 5000,  I filed for 6,000 ft and the ride was smooth to bumpy.  For the first time I experienced Vertigo as I was turning final from a base leg about 6 miles from the airport.   The clouds were angling down to the west and I felt like I was level when I was turning.  I really had to fight the Vertigo sensation and believe my instruments.  We landed and enjoyed  the next two days at World of Fun.  The flight home was IFR with ceilings and visibility of 800 ft and 2 1/2 miles.

Lake of The Ozarks, MO

The Lake of The Ozarks is a resort located in South Central Missouri noted for it’s fishing and water sports.  The shores around the lake area have some of the most expensive homes in Missouri.  For many years the Missouri Bankers Associate would rotate their Annual Conference between St. Louis and Kansas City.  Then someone came up with the great idea of holding the Conference in the Lake of the Ozarks.  So each year between 1986 and 1991 we would force ourselves to fly down and enjoy endless holes of golf and outstanding dinning at the local restaurants.  The Marriot ran one of the Tan-Tari Resorts and my wife brings up the fantastic omelet that she had when we stayed there as a family one summer.   Not far from Branson but I can never remember it raining in the Lakes area.

I’m not sure if it is still there but when I was down for the Conferences, we always had at least one dinner at the Blue Heron Restaurant.  We never had the special but their specialty was Deep Fried Lobster.  I would love to know how much cholesterol was included in the meal.  Over the years I’ve played a lot of golf on the courses in The Lake of the Ozarks.  There is no doubt that the Lake of the Ozarks is a little bit of heaven on earth.


There are two airports in the Lake of the Ozarks.  I preferred the one that was located downtown because of the location  The other was about 30 minutes east of the town and could handle larger regional airlines.  I believe there was at least one regional flight each day.

Downtown Airport
Regional Airport

You can find links to my other blogs on flying on my WEB Site “FLY HIGH AND FAST”.


Written by jjmeehan13

April 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Posted in Flying

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