Yesterday morning I climbed into the left seat of Boyd’s RV-7 as he waited quietly from the right seat. At that point, I’d already challenged him to a flight to circumnavigate our state, the state of Indiana, and he’d accepted with only one request – that we fly his RV-7. No problem. On the up-side, it’s faster than my Decathlon, more fuel efficient, and lands, taxis and rides better on windy days. On the down-side, it has a brand new Garmin G3X full glass panel and the ‘gauge-girl’ in me is still trying to deny it’s time to join the 21st century. But I’m ready to go and let’s just say it was going to be a different kind of flying than would have been in my own bird. Before climbing in, we’d already agreed to share PIC time, just like we did in 2018 when we flew the perimeter of the U.S.
The wind was light but at 38°, it was colder than I liked. Thanks to a little friendly persuasion, I flew the initial flight, the southern half of Indiana and, in my mind, the funnest part. From MQJ (Indianapolis) I flew 60 miles East to Richmond, turning south to start our adventure. The state line follows a straight north/south line for a short distance but the fun really begins when you hit the rivers – the winding rivers! First is the Great Miami River near Middletown, Ohio which feeds into the much wider Ohio River. The state line, for the most part, runs down the middle of each river and they twist and turn and switch back and forth for miles and miles. Flying the state line down the Ohio River takes you around the fringe of the Cincinnati Class B airspace, then southwest looping its way through Louisville, Kentucky’s Class C (a UPS hub), and on to the northern boundary of the seriously restricted Ft. Knox airspace. It’s all there, just off your wingtip, close-up and personal as you descend lower and lower to stay under airspace requirements.
Eventually, the Indiana state line swings around the southern “boot tip” and makes its way north meeting the Wabash River. There, the Wabash continues while its river boundaries narrow, sometime so overgrown with trees, the river is hard to identify. At times, the line is hard to find but eventually it reestablishes as a straight north/south line, just like our eastern border.
Northbound, after our mid-state fuel/lunch stop, Boyd took the stick. The beauty of the Michigan shoreline lies ahead with Chicago off the left wing and Gary, South Bend and Elkhart to the right. Hitting the shoreline with a sharp 90° turn to the east and a strong tailwind, we quickly complete flying the Indiana/Michigan line. One last 90° turn takes us down the west edges of Michigan & Ohio and eventually leads us south, back to home in Indianapolis.
That quick report was our flight in a nut shell, but about those 10 Things I learned from my “Chronavirus Escape Day” a.k.a. “Flying the Indiana Perimeter”.
- After weeks of isolation, a 1,000 mile flying adventure was a lot like waking up as a kid on Christmas morning. 4 a.m. and I was ready to go! Unfortunately, time of departure wasn’t until 0900.
- While on a sunny, blue-sky flying adventure, you can still argue with your significant other about which line on four GPSs’ is THE State Line. In fact it can continue as Ohio, Kentucky AND Illinois pass off your left wingtip!
- I learned how to be flexible when the planned runway 18/36 refueling stop turned out not such a great idea. High time to look for a 27° runway with winds gusting 280° at plus 30 mph.
- Try as you might, you cannot escape McDonald’s. Courtesy car or not, this tiny town had but one choice. Be careful with their spicy chicken sandwich, it really is!
- The supposedly polluted, dirty city of Chicago is positioned near the southwest end of Lake Michigan. Adjoining the Chicago suburbs in northwestern Indiana is Gary, home for a century to huge, industrialized steel mills. Far from polluted, Lake Michigan as seen from above is aqua and pristine and might easily be misidentified as a Caribbean getaway.
- Following the dotted line down the center of the Miami, Ohio, and Wabash Rivers it’s easy to understand rivers run where ever they choose. When over-flying a river, plan on many tight turns, 180’s and heaven forbid, an occasional 360!
- FlightAware.com makes assumptions when it loses contact. We were pretty meticulous about flying the state line but if you fly too low or it loses your signal, they cut a straight line to where ever it picks you up again.
- Look at a Garmin G3X long enough and its pages, map symbols, engine & fuel flow and autopilot start to make sense.
- If not for the coronavirus, the 1,000 miles flown could have taken us to A) northeast to St. John Airport, New Brunswick, Canada, B) west to Pueblo, Colorado, C) North to Peawanuck Airport, North Ontario on the Hudson Bay, D) or South to the Florida Keys. Instead, we flew a very oddly shaped rectangle.
- It’s possible to climb into an airplane, latch myself in and think I’m good to go, once .. twice .. no, three times before I really had my act together. #1 With seat belt buckled, headset on and canopy latched … “Where’s my phone?” #2 Again, totally latched down, I recalled my cheat sheet with scribbled freqs, control zone altitudes, etc. was in my coat pocket, which I wasn’t wearing. #3 Finally ready to fire the engine up, there’s one last problem to fix – the chocks, still under both main gear. OMG.
- Oh heck, let’s make a #11. 6.25 Hours flying anywhere is way better than any 6.25 hours on my sofa.