Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A flight across America

I just got back from taking my RV-7A up to my hometown for the third time and I never fail to return without marveling at the capability of the machine.

I also never fail to marvel at the changing topography of the country as you go from the upper Midwest to the northeast. I think that because it's so populated, people think New England is wall-to-wall people. I'm here to tell you there are a lot of forests in New England and it doesn't take a flatlander pilot long to think, "Holy crap! If I lose my engine now I've got problems."

Here's a video of my return flight.

You have a lot of time to think on a 1,034 mile flight. For one thing, I wish I'd put in the full DigiFlight II two-axis autopilot instead of the DigiTrak single-axis one. I leave the navigating to the autopilot, but I have to continually adjust altitude and, the RV-7 being a twitchy kind of plane, it's a workload to stay level, even with a manual trim. I thought of this as I realized on the trip that I don't spend a lot of time looking at the sites below. I spend a lot of time holding altitude and monitoring engine systems.

But it would've cost me another $1,500 or so and that's money I didn't have then and don't have now.

The other takeaway from the trip is my hometown's insistence on making the same decisions that have gotten it into its predicament as a declining mill town. It got some federal money so it's building a nice new terminal building. The old one was cramped but it had an airport restaurant and people all over New England flew in for breakfast. I presume they might've even bought some gas even though the price there has always been unreasonable to me.

They're not going to allow the restaurant to open in the new building, which will be mostly empty. There'll be some vending machines, I'm told.

So fewer people will come, fewer people will buy gas and the glitzy new building won't make the pilots who do come notice the weeds on the ramp and the cracks in the taxiway. If you own a nose-gear RV, you best taxi slowly.

When I arrived yesterday morning to leave, the place was locked up tight. It was 7:30 a.m. on a weekday. So I hopped a construction fence after throwing my computers, luggage, and headphones over.

I didn't pay the $30 in parking fees for the time I was there because there was no one to take money. Maybe I'll send it to them.

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