Although day one for me, this is actually day two for Mark as he flew in the night before from Petaluma and spent the night for an early launch in the morning. Our coveted Cuban entry permit is for Friday and we are leaving Tuesday from California to give ourselves an extra day. Mark and I know the drill well for flying in the west. Leave early to miss or at least better manage the afternoon thunderstorms that often pop up in the intermountain west.
Mark sits in the left seat (pilot’s seat) on the first leg while I fiddle with camera gear and we’ll pretty much swap seats each leg for the rest of the trip. One nice thing about his plane is that the camera mounts I made for my plane – the underwing and tail mounts – both fit so we’ll be able to get some interesting GoPro shots. Each seat has an iPad mounted on the yoke, but the co-pilot has an XM satellite weather feed (via a Garmin GDL52) which would prove to be invaluable during the trip.
We have to fly a much more northerly route than we want because of a persistent weather system in the southern Midwest and we end up stopping for fuel in Utah with a quick picnic lunch under the wing before continuing. Like many of my trips heading east the weather was good until the afternoon, when it wasn’t. At that point we were over the Colorado Rockies and fortunately the thunderstorms were easy to see and avoid until we popped out over the clear and perfectly flat plains.
We fueled again somewhere in eastern Colorado and did a short flight just short of a line of weather into Russell Kansas. True to the trusting hospitality in the middle of the country, the airport lounge was open 24 hours a day and the keys to the courtesy car was hanging on a hook. I’m not sure what made us take a chance on Mexican food in rural Kansas, but we did and it wasn’t bad. We then headed back to the airport where it took Mark an extraordinary long time to blow up his queen size air mattress (the pump broke).
We go to sleep hoping the weather to the east would be better in the morning and allow us to head southeast instead of north.
Here is the next post in the Cuba Flying Adventure: Flying To Cuba, Day Two
As a bonus, here is a video of some senseless chit-chat, but it also illustrates how to sync up separate airplane audio with video, and also a clever device to minimize the reflection off of airplane windows when shooting through the window. If you take photos out the window of an airplane this is worth watching.