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Fly High and Fast – Vol. II Chapter 24: Rochester, Minnesota

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JJ Meehan
The Meehan Family

The Beechcraft Baron 58 is a fast aircraft with a cruise speed of 190KTs.  In the summer of 1988 a friend, Jim Menke, asked if I could fly his family up to Rochester Minnesota to visit his wife’s father who was in St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.  Jim had rebuilt our home over the years and was a friend since college.  I was more than glad to help him.

At the time I was flying charter part time for Wathan Flying Service and they had a Baron 58 available for the trip.  It was my old friend N6WW.

We departed on a Wednesday night after work.  Jim would be in the Co-Pilot Seat and his wife and 4 children would be in the back.  Sharon (Jim’s Wife) was holding the baby.

Rochester, Minnesota is 120 KM north of Cedar Rapids and the flight time in the baron is about 45 minutes from the ramp to ramp.  The airport in Rochester is a complete service airport and is even used by Northwestern (Delta) for practice approaches.  It is located about 60 KM south of Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota.

We had a little head wind on the flight up to Rochester but we still managed to be on the ground in 1 hour from the time we take-off.  The airport is south of the city and we took a curtsey car into the hospital.  Many of the Fix Base Operators (FBO’s) have curtsey cars available for the pilots when they land.  St. Mary’s Hospital is downtown about 4 blocks from Mayo Clinic.

This was not my first trip to Rochester nor my last.  My first trip was with Tom Anderson from Banks of Iowa Computer Services and is documented in an earlier blog – Fly High and Fast – Vol. II Chapter 7 – Flying IFR with Low Ceilings.  Then there were several trips with Flight Students, several trips prospecting and a few charters.  Rochester, MN is a beautiful city with a World Class Health Clinic – Mayo Clinic.  St. Mary’s Hospital is part of this organization.  I went to the Mayo Clinic to renew my Airline Pilot Medical at one point and was very impressed by the detail physical and the personal that I met.    I’ve tried to capture the beauty of the city in the pictures to the left and below.  Most of these are from the Internet but they do a great job of capturing the beauty of this modern city, which is also the home of IBM.

Jim and Sharon Menke are fantastic people and have raised a wonderful family.  This was a chance for them to bring their family to Rochester, MN to visit with Sharon’s parents.  As with many families from the Midwest, there is a special bond that develops and you could see this bond during our flight and at the hospital.  I’ve seen this bond with my work on Genealogy in Ireland and I believe is one of the reasons I’m so intrigued by Genealogy and Families.  You can read my blogs on Ireland at http://home.earthlink.net/~mfmeehan/jjm/ireland.htm.  You can read my data on My Family Genealogy and other families at http://home.earthlink.net/~mfmeehan/jjm/gen.htm.   Families and friends are special and I was more than glad to have the opportunity to be part of the Menke Family for a short while.

Jim and I attend Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa for two years.  He then moved to Lincoln Nebraska, attend both the University of Nebraska and the State University of Iowa before going to work at Rockwell Collins.   I graduated from Loras College and went to work at Rockwell Collins for a few years before joining Banks of Iowa Computers Services (BICS).  We have been friends for a very long while.  You can read the blog on another friend and classmate, Ensign Larry Ryan at http://home.earthlink.net/~mfmeehan/jjm/lr.htm.  I have been blessed with a lot of friends and a few have really stood out.  Both Larry and Jim are two of those friends.  I’m getting away from my story of our flight to Rochester, MN but I thought you should have some background.


We were back to the airport and in the air by 9:00 pm.  The weather had turned bad as a cold front was moving through the area.  The ceilings at both Cedar Rapids and Rochester had dropped to below 500 ft and one mile visibility.  Des Moines Iowa was my closest alternate if I needed it.  We climbed to 7,000 feet and were in the clouds for the full flight from the time we left the ground at Rochester.  Because of our location we were handled by Rochester Departure who then handed us off to Waterloo Approach.  Waterloo took good care of us until we were handed off to Cedar Rapids Approach for the ILS 9 at Cedar Rapids (CID).  The weather was down to minimums – 200 ft and 1/2 mile in visibility when we arrived at CID.  The approach was normal and again we show what you see in the video to the right.  We were on the ramp and heading to the cars by 10:30 pm.  Not bad for a trip that would have taken 3 1/2 hours of driving each way.

You can read more blogs by me on flying at “FLY HIGH AND FAST”,


Written by jjmeehan13

April 22, 2010 at 1:38 am

Posted in Flying

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