Around the World – Update 10

If all goes as planned, this update (update 10) will be the final trip update for my Around the World – 2010 Adventure.  If by some chance you are just finding this blog.  I began an Around the World Journey on what feels like a really long time ago, but actually just on 30 September 2010.  As I stated in this blog post, I’ve done around the world flights before.  I’ve completed about as many as I’ve started.  But I’ve never completed an around the world flight in a single engine prop aircraft.  This all changes now as I’m just a few flight legs away from completing this adventure in a Mooney. 

As my Mooney sits in Sitka, Alaska I’ve traveled 3 nm shy of 34,000 nm in 191.0 hours and burned 3,077 gallons of fuel.  I’m less than 2000 nm from Centennial, Colorado KAPA (my starting point).  According to Wiki Answers, the circumference of the Earth at the Equator is 24,901.46 miles.  While I’ve traveled over 50% of this trip north of the equator, I did fly down under to Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.  The bottom line and I guess the point that I’m trying to make is I’ve traveled a long, long ways and have had fun along the way.

It is the early morning of Wednesday, 17 November and it is time to snuff out the fire in the cabin and ready the float plane for the trip back to Sitka.  The weather today is cloudy but with good visibility.  I expect no issues getting out of the Fjords surrounding the cabin location.  With the flight down to Sitka taking just about 45 minutes, I’ll still have a full day of flying to get me on down closer to home.  I arrived back at the Sitka float plane base to turn in my float plane and then head over to the neighboring PASI to pickup the Mooney. 

I had the Mooney serviced while I was on my float plane R&R adventure, so she is good to go all the way back to Denver.  I’ve really been impressed with how well this plane has performed on this long, long trip.  She has exceeded my expectations….but we’re not home yet.

I departed runway 29 at PASI and made the nice, slow turn to the south taking one more look at the surrounding area.  The first leg of today’s trip will be down to CYZT, Port Hardy.  I’m flying over the southern area of the Tongass Fjords scenery area and it’s just beautiful.  I really can’t wait to get back up here to explore all it has to offer. 

As I got closer to Port Hardy, the clouds began to fill in all around me and so did the rain.  The approach into CYZT was uneventful.  I just needed to remember this would not be a water landing.  :-)  Once on the ground I fueled the Mooney and myself and departed as quickly as I could and head down through Washington State and into Oregon.  Just 4 miles south of Hillsboro is Stark’s Twin Oaks Airpark, 7S3.  This little slice of heaven is depicted very nicely by Bill Womack.  Check out his website for more information on this Orbx scenery. 

Final approach into Stark's Twin Oaks Airpark

It’s great to be back in the lower 48.  I’m going to spend the next day around Stark’s Twin Oaks Airpark and will resume flying on Friday. 

It’s Friday and the final day of flying has arrived.  Today I will make it back home and complete my Around the World – 2010 Adventure.  As I depart Stark’s Twin Oaks Airpark, I will officially be starting the 73rd leg of my journey.  I plan to fly a long first leg followed by two shorter legs to finish out at 75 legs for the entire journey.

I departed Stark’s just as the sun was rising.  I’ve still got a long way to go and need a full day of flying to reach KAPA in Centennial, Colorado late this afternoon/evening.  Also this strategy will also allow me to carry less fuel as the Mooney just seems to struggle at higher altitudes when fully fueled.  I will need her to run smooth to get me over the Rockies. 

The overall weather and visibility today has been wonderful.  I’m flying a modified route from what I talked about in update 9.  I’m headed for Idaho Falls, Idaho and KIDA.  From KIDA I will head southeast to Glenwood Springs, Colorado KGWS then on to KAPA.

I landed in Idaho Falls, KIDA and loaded enough fuel for the short flight down to Glenwood Springs and grabbed a bite to eat.  The weather is holding, but winds along the mountain range coming into Wyoming is a little turbulent.  The Mooney is bouncing around a little, but I have a good strong tailwind and making great time.  I landed at KGWS and purchased the final few gallons needed to make it up and over the Rockies and into Denver.  I grabbed some food and I was in the air in no time. 

Final into Idaho Springs, Idaho

This final leg is perhaps the shortest of all the previous 74 legs on this trip.  At just 116 nm, I’ll be on the ground within an hour.  I suppose this last leg is somewhat bittersweet.  While I’m please I’ve managed to accomplish a task that many in the flight simulator hobby only dream of, I’m also thinking “what next”?  For the past seven weeks, I’ve known where I’ll fly and what aircraft I would fly in. 

Of course the sweet part of this is the journey is complete and I can do whatever I want to do.  As much fun as I’ve had flying low and slow, I do miss the “big iron” and will soon fly an American Airlines/American Eagle trip which I will also be flying in real life in the next few weeks.  What I’m fairly confident about is I’ll return to a low and slow journey again very soon. 

The flight from Glenwood Springs to Centennial (Denver) went really fast.  I spent some time flying over the area gaining altitude before I headed east and followed fairly close the route of Interstate 70 as it winds through the mountains.    Once I was on the eastern side of the Rockies, the downtown skyline of Denver came into view. 

The Mile High City

Weather conditions had KAPA operating landing north to south and Centennial Tower gave me runway 17R.  I had a Cessna ahead of me and another behind me.  Plus lots of traffic on the ground.  It’s a beautiful day to return home.  I’m glad to be here.

Final into KAPA and Rwy 17R.  I'm home

So what was the final breakdown of statistics?  Well, the journey began on 30 September 2010 and finished today, 19 November 2010.  I was away from home for 51 days and of those 51 days, 30 were actual flying days.  The number of flying hours total 201.5.  This averages out to 6.7 hours per flight day.  I completed the trip in 75 flight segments and traveled in both the northern and southern hemisphere.  The total number of miles flown was 35,816 and I burned a total of 3,235 gallons of fuel.  If you want to view my route on Google maps, just click here

When I first began flying computer simulators back in the early 80’s, the concept of going anywhere other than around Chicago Meig’s Field was simply unheard of.  Now today I’ve completed something that I’ve always wanted to do.  Like I’ve said, I have circled the globe several times in heavy iron and I’ve attempted the task in smaller planes many times only to burn out and simply give up.  I look forward to the next time I can circle the globe.

Thank you for reading and sharing in my journey.

Jerry


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