Spring Break – March 2013

It’s hard to believe that Spring Break 2013 has already come and gone.  This year the family went two different ways but we all had a great time.  Lori & Hannah had been planning a trip to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary with Lori’s Mom – Kathy & good friend – Judy.  Lori has been to Best Friends multiple times but this would be Hannah’s first trip to enjoy the sanctuary and to volunteer.  We drove up to the Chicago suburbs and met up with Judy & Kathy at Lansing Airport – KIGQ so they could all drive up to O’Hare Airport together.  We would have flown up the Lansing Airport but the ceiling was very low and it was very cold…a perfect recipe for icing conditions.

Bryan and I then headed back to Monticello where we would stay very busy for a few days.  We had a good time and got a lot of things done.  The weather continued to be poor with cold & windy conditions but started to look up about mid-week.  Bryan and I had a plan to try to go to Dayton to checkout the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  We were all set to get up early on Wednesday morning to head out but late Tuesday night the house felt unusually cold and I realized that the furnace had stopped working.  A late call to the repairman and with plans for them to come the following morning postponed us.  The house got really cold that night but the repair was fairly painless.  We decided to postpone until the following day since we wouldn’t get in until late afternoon anyway.

Dayton Trip - March 2013 -002Early Thursday morning we woke up before the sun, secured the house and headed out to the airport.  It was a cold!  Less than 15*F.  Despite that it was looking clear and we got to the hangar where the engine had been preheating for the prior 2 days and I even turned on a small heater in the cabin on the way to the field.  I have a cell phone activated switch now with 2 outlets on it that has reduced some of the challenges of cold weather flying.  Right as the sun started to come up Bryan and I lifted off on schedule and headed for Dayton.  We had a decent tailwind and the flight was only about an hour and a half.  This was also the first flight with my new iPad mini that I recently purchased.  The mini fit much nicer on the RAM yoke mount and was plenty big enough to see.  I can now see the engine instruments and fuel gauges easier as well.  Surprisingly there were some small isolated snow cells right around Dayton when we got there but nothing I couldn’t handle.  We landed at Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport (KMGY) early enough to where we had plenty of time to explore for the day.

Dayton Trip - March 2013 -004 Our first stop was the Wright “B” Flyer museum which just happened to be right next to the FBO.  This was a neat little hangar that had a lot of action going on it.  These organization operates a look alike of the Wright “B” Flyer at airshows and other events.  They happened to be performing the annual inspection on the aircraft when we came in and we were able to meet one of the pilots that flies it.  We were only there a short time but were given some good information about what we should go see.  We hopped into the rental car and after an early lunch at Wendy’s, Bryan and I arrived at the National Museum just a little before noon.  I had been to the museum before but it was many years ago.  I didn’t remember much of it and a lot had been added in the past 20 years.  I can’t express how great this museum is.  I can honestly say that it is the best aviation museum I have EVER been to.  The Smithsonian in Washington, DC is great, but this museum had a much larger array of aircraft from the early days of aviation, to WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and even the Cold War Era.  Some of my favorites were the Bockscar – the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a P-51 Mustang, a B-52 Stratofortress, a B-1B Lancer, a B-2 Bomber, a F-117 Nighthalk Stealth Fighter, a F-15 Eagle & F-22 Raptor, and of course the SR-71 Blackbird.  I could go on.

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We had made a reservation to take a the 3:30PM bus over to the remote hangar where they house many Presidential and experimental aircraft.  Here we saw an unbelievable collection of experimental planes including the Lockheed YF-12A, the Bell X-1B, and the North American X-15.  On the Presidential side of the hangar we were actually able to walk through many past presidential airplanes including the Boeing VC-137C (707) SAM 26000 also known as Air Force One when used by President’s Kennedy through Clinton.  I am so glad that we were able to go through this hangar as it sounds like it will be closed in the near future due to budget cuts, which is very unfortunate.  I highly recommend visiting this museum if you get a chance but in the meantime take a look at the many pictures I took and also at the National Museum of the United States Air Force  website.

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Bryan and I had spent all afternoon at the museum and I could have spent many more hours but the museum was closing and Bryan was getting a little anxious.  I promised myself that I would be back though and not take 20+ years before my next visit.  We headed to the hotel, checked in and then met up with Steve who authors the excellent “A mile of runway will take you anywhere” blog.  Steve and I had never met in person but we are both Western Michigan University graduates who happen to be pilots and we have been Facebook “friends” for a couple of years now.  Steve picked us up at the hotel and we headed to a great pub where we met his wife and enjoyed a very good dinner, a couple of good beers and most importantly, great company!  It had been a long day and Bryan and I were both ready for our pillows when we eventually made it back to the hotel.

Dayton Trip - March 2013 -165Dayton Trip - March 2013 -169We awoke to an absolutely beautiful day and had breakfast at the Country Inn & Suites we were staying.  We then headed out to check out a couple more sites before we left town.  The Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and the Wright Cycle Company are in Downtown Dayton and we spent a bit of time checking out the exhibits.  I made note of a couple of other destinations that we must visit on our return but didn’t have time to visit on this trip.  We then headed back to the airport so we could get the rental car back on time and were soon in the air.  I usually file IFR on longer trips like this but the weather forecast was perfect so I decided just to head back VFR.  We were back in Champaign before lunch.  Spring Break was almost over but the following day we were able to fly again.  This time it was back to Lansing Airport to pickup Lori & Hannah on their return from Best Friends.  Luckily the weather was much better for this trip.  It definitely made the trip shorter by being able to fly.

Everyone had a great Spring Break even though we weren’t all together.  We have a family trip planned in early June to head to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Click here to see all of the pictures from our trip to Dayton, OH.

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Comments

Looks like a great trip, Jeff! I am quite ashamed to admit that I have never visited the museum in Dayton. We’ve planned more than one flying trip there that was scrubbed for weather. Maybe 2013 will be the year! In the meantime, I’ll have to get by on your excellent photos. Thanks for sharing!

Jeff,
Great write up! One of these days I’ll make that trip. I have seen Steve’s pictures and now yours, I need to get out there and see it for myself. Steve and Gina are a blast, glad you guys had the chance to meet up.

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