Going Back To School

Sarah’s going back to school and we need to get her and her stuff moved, but Beth and I aren’t interested in spending eight hours in the car. 773SP to the rescue.

Sarah has spend the past three days getting packed and is ready to go. She doesn’t have, nor want, her own car so we send her on her way in Beth’s. I read all the time the weepy sentiments on Facebook and hear friends talk about the teary send-offs when their kids go away to college. Maybe we’re bad parents, but we have none of that in our house. We know Sarah has grown into a strong competent woman and our responsibilities these days have been mostly reduced to being bankers. When she leaves, we’re actually kind of happy to have the house to ourselves again.

There isn’t a ton of time to lollygag though as there is still the matter of the car to settle. Our plan is to fly down to Macomb and have Beth drive it back, thus eliminating the need for her to sit in the car both ways and give us a chance to do some more flying.

At the airport we find high cirrus clouds blanketing the area. A weather briefing tells me that scattered thunderstorms are on the menu for later in the day, but for the moment the tarmac is dry. We quickly do the hanger two step (your put your airplane out and your automobile in) and request our IFR clearance.

Cleared direct to our destination we climb out away from the airport and get turned around to the north. Our preferred departure would have taken us through incoming traffic to O’Hare, so we’re sent northwest for a while and then finally released to go to Macomb. Adds a few minutes to the trip, but otherwise isn’t a big deal. Certainly much better than becoming a hood ornament on some Boeing.

While approaching Macomb my new toy, a Stratus, shows its usefulness. The FAA has a new system called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). This system isn’t completely finished yet, but will eventually cover the entire nation with radio signals broadcasting weather information to aviation users. Our path today already has coverage so I notice that some clouds are building up just west of where we landed. While it doesn’t look like anything spectacular we take the time to tie-down the plane just in case. As we’re tying down Sarah races onto the ramp to pick us up. Talk about perfect timing.

We all go over to the sorority house and I’m very entertained by the mass confusion already taking place. Walls are being painted, several sets of parents are there and the predictable one is already hung-over and working toward early liver disease. Overall, everyone is bright and chipper and ready to take on the world. Just as you’re supposed to be when in college!

We hug our goodbyes and head for the door. Before Beth drops me off at the airport though, she needs a quick Long John Silvers fix. I’ll never understand the appeal, but she loves it.

While sitting at the restaurant I watch the rain fall, check the forecast and file a flight plan. There as a few showers, but no thunderstorms, so I’m good to launch.

Arriving back at the airport the ground is wet and puddly, but the plane hasn’t been blown away. Given the showers I decide to get an IFR clearance on the ground instead of taking off and getting one in the air. I’m given a ten minute window in which to take-off and begin to taxi down the runway before remembering that I’ve a GoPro that I wanted to hook to the tail to capture some video.

The airport is completely empty, so I brake to a stop, shutdown the engine, attache the GoPro, jump back in, start the engine and am back on my way, all without leaving the taxiway.

I take off and at about a thousand feet can see the showers in the area. At about two thousand feet the Stratus reports the same showers. Very, very high-tech. That trend continues through the flight. I get occasional notices from ATC about showers ahead and in each case I’ve already seen them and compared to the Stratus output giving me the ability to immediately state that I won’t be requiring any deviations.

In fact, the rain is just enough to clean all the bugs off the airplane!

Landing at DuPage is similarly uneventful, though I do run into a new friend Coyle Schwab and his beautifully restored Cessna 195. I first met him about a year ago when he stopped by a BBQ at the airport and got to see his plane again up at Oshkosh recently during AirVenture. This time we had a bit more time to kick back and get to know one another while watching the end of the DuPage Airport Days event across the airport from us.

It was a good way to end a fun day of flying…

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