After waking up, Mark and I skip breakfast and scramble to refuel and get in the air after looking at the weather radar. The big line of thunderstorms haven’t gone away over night, but a large flyable gap has opened up near us. We launch, but we soon see that the underlying airports in the gap are below minimums, which means we can’t land even with instruments, which means that if the gap closes around us and traps us, we would have no “out”. We would be unable to land.
So we head due north, laughing incredulously. Really, are we really flying from California to Cuba in a small plane via Chicago?
But then some of the airports go to 400 feet overcast, then 800 feet. The low cloud deck in the gap is lifting and we actually could make an instrument approach to a landing. We make a decision and Mark turns 90 degrees to the right. We are running the gap. We fly along a path overflying the airports where we can do an approach.
Clouds eventually choke the gap, but they are benign with no rain on the radar so we file an instrument flight plan and Mark pilots the plane into the clouds. What is on the other side? Breakfast! We land at Carbondale Illinois where some students from nearby Southern Illinois University direct us to a nearby Café for a late but much appreciated breakfast.
By the time we refuel and take off again the weather has started to catch up to us and we begin to regret taking the time for a good breakfast. But after flying flow under clouds for 25 miles or so it clears up and it is hazy sailing for the rest of the way, now flying mostly south! After a fuel stop at the Jimmy Carter airport in Georgia where some old crop dusters in a field lure me into a bunch of stinging nettles, we fly down Florida and land at our destination of North Palm Beach airport where Mark’s niece picked us up and hosted us.
It was a good thing we had an extra day as Thursday is spent studying charts and approach plates, and filing out both online flight plans and paper Cuba and Bahamas forms. By Thursday night we are ready for Cuba!