October 9, 2005

Scenic Fall Flying

ephraim_airport_3d2.jpgI just returned from enjoying a beautiful fall weekend in Northern Wisconsin. While there, I rented a Cessna 172 from Orion Flight Service at the the Sturgeon Bay Cherryland Airport. Since I had not rented with Orion since the Fourth of July weekend, I flew with one of their instructors so I could be cleared to rent with them for the next few months.

I met an Rob at 8 o'clock on a chilly Saturday morning. I think the temperature was about 40 degrees when I arrived at the airport, the winds were calm and the skies were overcast at 3,500 feet. I took off on runway 02 and quickly turned north towards the Ephraim Airport in the northern portion of the Door Peninsula. Although there were overcast skies the visibility was excellent underneath the clouds. Shortly after taking off and climbing to 2,500 feet I could see clear across Lake Michigan to the Sleeping Bear Dunes of Michigan which meant we had at least 75 miles of visibility.

The view below was beautiful as well as fall has taken effect in Wisconsin and there was a nice range of yellow, orange and red leaves on the trees below. The flight to Ephraim is a short 20 minute flight. Ephraim is a small airport that has two runways, a grass runway and an asphalt runway. The City of Ephraim and their airport were featured in the Summer 2004 issue of Pilot Getaways. I was anxious to make my first landing there. Even better was the winds were favoring the turf runway so I entered the pattern for my first turf landing in over a year.

Soft-field runways require a slower than normal touchdown speed. Additionally, you need to keep pressure off the nose wheel during the landing by using continuous back pressure on the yoke. I executed a nice pattern and followed that up with a great soft landing on the turf at Ephraim. I then back taxied to prepare for the departure. Departing from a soft-field you try to again minimize pressure on the front wheel and apply back pressure to get the plane off the ground into ground effect quickly. Once in ground effect you fly a few feet above the ground and let the airplane build up airspeed before beginning your climb. Departing from this Turf runway you climb over a forest of trees followed by a beautiful view of the bay and the city of Ephraim. After such a great experience on the turf I decided to next practice a crosswind landing and entered the downwind leg for the asphalt runway. In a crosswind landing you spend a much of the time on final approach making small adjustments to the rudders and the ailerons to adjust for the wind and then land the rear wheel on the side of the wind first befor bringing down the other rear wheel then finally the nose gear. I made another great landing and was feeling pretty good about how well I was flying.

From there Rob and I flew back towards the Cherryland Airport. Rob was nice to point out some great sites along the shore including tone of the most photographed lighthouses in Wisconsin, the Cana Island Lighthouse. We also flew over the City of Glasgow shipwreck. I really enjoyed flying with Rob, we had a great time talking aviation while enjoying a fun flight.

When we returned to the Cherryland Airport the AWOS stated the winds were coming directly down runway 02. I knew it would allow me to make a perfect landing to finish the day. Sure enough I made a nice smooth landing completing a great flight.

This was my first flight in a few months outside of the busy airspace of Midway Airport in Chicago. When flying in Midway you don't always get the benefit of flying a standard pattern and instead commonly fly a straight in landing approach. I have found that makes it harder to consistently make great landings since most training for landings is within a standard left traffic pattern. Getting back into an environment where I could perform the standard pattern I felt much more comfortable and confident and it showed in my landings. I think I may continue to look at airports in the Chicago area and see if I can find one that has that small airport feel I had in Cincinnati and I enjoy when I am in Door County.

Posted at 10:33 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

July 5, 2005

City of Glasgow Shipwreck - The View From Above

city_of_glasgow.jpgFlying gives me the opportunity to see things I would normally never have seen or to see things from a different perspective. I love to find something new while flying, then doing some research once I land to learn more about what I saw. Almost exactly a year ago I discovered a neat looking building on a river near Cincinnati, OH. I later learned it was a Civil War munitions factory. I was so interested I then visited it by foot and enjoyed snapping some photos of the historic building.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to view a shipwreck while flying over the Door County Peninsula. When I landed, I was curious to learn more about this ship that now rests in the shallow water by the shores of Lake Michigan. So I sent an e-mail to the Door County Maritime Museum. They directed me to Jon Paul VanHarpen of Lake Nautical Affairs who quickly replied with some information about the ship. According to Jon the wreck is "that of the City of Glasgow built in 1891 and called one of 'the big four' the four largest ships on the Great Lakes(297 feet in length), she was destroyed by fire Dec. 7 1907. She was rebuilt to a barge of 195 feet in length in 1911."

In 1917 the City of Glasgow ran aground off the Lake Michigan shore of the Door County Peninsula and was abandoned. I came across a website that has some interesting photographs of the wreckage. The site says the following of the current state of the sunken wooden steamship, "Over the years, due to water and ice, the top of the ship has been sheered off, exposing the deck substructure just below the surface."

In addition to viewing photos you can see some underwater video footage on the WisconsinShipWrecks.org website. Lastly, Keith Meverden of the Wisconsin Historical Society pointed me to some great details and photos of the City of Glasgow.

Posted at 7:50 PM | Post Category: Door County, General | Save & Share This Story

July 4, 2005

Scenic Sturgeon Bay Flight

shipwreck_200.jpgHappy Fourth of July! I spent my Fourth of July weekend in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. This was my second weekend in a row up north. During my last visit, I took a check ride with Orion Flight Service in order to be able to rent planes from them over the summer.

On Saturday, I rented one of their two Cessna 172s. This was my first time flying without an instructor in over four flights, since I have been flying so many check rides. I was lucky to be joined by my wife on this adventure. I was excited for this flight as we would get to explore the northern part of the Door Peninsula that I missed on my previous flight and it would be my wife's first flight in the four place Cessna 172, having only joined me on flights in the Cessna 152 previously.

We had a great flight that started with a beautiful view of the Sturgeon Bay Coast Guard Station and lighthouse (see photos). From there, we flew up the shore of Lake Michigan where we looked down upon the "City of Glasgow" shipwreck. That delivered us at the northern tip of the Door Peninsula where we looked down on islands that included: Rock Island, Washington Island and Horseshoe Island. Off in the distance we could also see the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. During our return to Sturgeon Bay we flew along the bay side of the peninsula and even spotted a corn maze. This was the second time I have flown over a corn maze, which I recommend to all pilots as it is fun to see from above.

Besides the wonderful view I was encouraged to see how much my wife enjoyed the flight. In the past she had been a little uneasy flying in the cramped and at times bouncy Cessna 152. The Cessna 172 is much more stable in flight and made her feel much more comfortable. I think her days of flying in the cramped two seater are over.

Flights like these remind me that being a pilot has many benefits but none as special as being able to explore new places and to see old places from a new perspective.

Posted at 9:50 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

June 27, 2005

Cherryland Airport Checkride

DoorCounty.jpgI just returned from a three day weekend in Door County, Wisconsin. One of the highlights of the weekend was taking a flight out of Cherryland Airport (KSUE) in Sturgeon Bay, WI. Since I had never flown from there before I had to be checked out by the fixed based operator that rents planes from that airport, Orion Flight Services.

They had me take a brief written exam prior to the check out flight. The written exam consisted of questions that would prove I knew how to fly safely - questions about icing, weights and balances and emergency procedures. After passing that I went flying with Jason, a flight instructor with Orion. We did a basic checkride spending time covering the basic manuevers: 45° turns, stalls, simulated engine outage and some landings. I passed the checkride and am cleared to fly with Orion.

Sturgeon Bay is a beautiful place to fly as it is situated on the Door peninsula just north of Green Bay. The peninsula is a narrow swatch of land between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. It makes for a scenic flight. The folks at Orion pointed out some great places to fly next time I am up that included flying over a shipwreck that is visible from the sky, historic lighthouses and several islands.

I would also like to fly to the Ephraim airport in the northern part of Door County. Ephraim was featured in a 2004 issue of Pilot Getaways Magazine.

Posted at 6:49 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story