“COPA Migration Watch, Cirrus N858CD is an SR22 at 10,500 feet over Las Vegas, New Mexico, circumnavigating the southeast corner of the Convective SIGMET area turning west towards Albuquerque and then on to San Diego. Sky is clear, winds are light and variable, temp is 12C, sunset is breathtaking, and the thunderstorm off my right is amazing to watch pummel the ground with lightning strikes. Thanks for all the help in getting home!”
As many I spoke with know, I left the Cirrus Migration 2003 about 1pm in Duluth with plans to be home for a late dinner with Molly in San Diego – 1500 miles and 10 hours of flying later! It was a really amazing flight for a lot of reasons and a similar PIREP given to Albuquerque Flight Watch prompted me to write this post.
It was one of those serene moments that are the reward for living!
Here I was enjoying so many things at once – returning home to Molly, flying a Cirrus, watching a breathtaking sunset, appreciating the forces of nature, enjoying a “technologically advanced airplane,” respecting the skills required, honoring those who helped me get here, receiving gracious assistance from others, and participating in a loving community of COPA members. There were many things to be thankful for.
The winds were unusually light for a trip from the midwest to the west coast – every leg on my flight plan log had winds aloft forecast in single digits! So I made it with one fuel stop in Colorado and two 750 nm legs running LOP at 12.5 gph producing ground speeds between 150 and 180 kts. What a plane, eh? Thanks Cirrus Design. Thanks to the GAMI folks for the background to understand it better. And thanks to the reminder from Gordon’s post about his 1-stop trip east and to the modern flight planning tools that make such long trips routine for amateurs.
Unfortunately, while it was clear, thunderstorms were building and I deviated farther east and south than planned. Also, I had forgotten my oxygen refill so I couldn’t fly high over the mountains to the north and west. So imagine flying VFR making my own choices, picking my way along mountain ridges with the moving terrain map, heading for the clear sky areas to avoid obvious towering cumulus nimbus thunderheads (even the planes at 41,000 were deviating!), and entertained by the animated display of lightning strikes from my Stormscope! Great displays and tools.
Thanks for the weather briefings and the insights gained from Scott and others. I knew what to look for and some things to do about them. Also, thanks to the weather updates from Flight Watch – ever heard of Level 6 radar returns? And where are those places they talk about, like Trinidad – turns out to be an NDB location not on my list of SIGMET VORs! When I turned west at the southeast corner of the SIGMET area, one of the biggest cells was there, easily visible and rendering a mighty display of lightning power, repeatedly striking in the same area for a couple of seconds.
Thanks to my instructors, Dave, Matt, Kevin and Bill, who provided intense, professional and thorough learning opportunities that stayed with me throughout my flight home. It was routine but I was constantly checking deviations, 180-return routes, airport alternates. Thanks also to COPA postings that provided helpful stories and learning opportunities from similar situations.
Of course, in times of heavy workload, it helps to have all the toys working. Thanks to the Service Center at Cirrus Design who repaired and replaced the roll-trim motor and autopilot due to an in-flight failure earlier in my trip (another post coming…). Everything worked and made the task manageable.
So now I had time to reflect on the trip to the Cirrus Migration, the COPA community and the people I had visited. Myron started the migration idea and lead a great team to a great accomplishment. Molly and I met Myron and Barbara during the COPA Bahamian Adventures along with many other wonderful folks, Lyle and Joyce, Marty and Deb, John and Sue, Mike and Ann, Glen and Barbara, Paul and Vickie, Dave and Nancy, Hank and Gail, Roger, Ian and Robin, Mike and Debi, and a bunch more. Folks at the Migration recognized me as sdbeach (but without the tux) and I talked with several people about COPA postings (although, the name tags need bigger names for my old eyes!) Thanks for the connections to people I care about.
Shared experiences through the COPA community connect me to people, places, knowledge, and concerns that I treasure and value. Steve, Mike, Gordon, Marty, Clyde, and many, many others created a inclusive world in which everyone is welcome but high standards of behavior are expected. As Alan remarked at the COPA banquet, imitation of our community by other flying clubs demonstrates that we got it right. Generosity of those involved keeps the community evolving and growing. Passions have a way of making it easy for some of us. Thanks.
And as the sunset darkened the sky, my recollections of the COPA migration speakers brought their ideas back into focus. Thanks to JT for sticking around for the last seminar on insurance. Thanks to Doug for the real-world experience of getting woken up at 7am by a dunking in the water and struggling to get into a life raft as if your life depended upon it! Thanks to Walter and George for putting out their expertise and opinions and cautions for getting the most out of our engine technology. Thanks to Joe for the travelogue of a trans-Atlantic ferry pilot – even you could make it there if you can fly a 700 nm leg! Thanks to the BRS guys for insights into a unique safety device. A lineup of people and ideas that had me thinking about stuff over and over again. Stimulating, to say the least!
Finally, it was great to get home. Molly got me started 3 years ago with a gift certificate for a private pilot course. And getting relaxed in the spa felt terrific – I admit it, I was stiff from the long flight – but that soon gave way to enthusiasm and excitement as I shared my experiences. Thanks you all!
Have a great Cirrus day!