Visit to Pittsburgh

 

 

 

Route on our trip to PittsburghAugust 15 With Ueli packing N85S and Joan double checking the latest weather and TFRS (restricted air space), we were close to departure for St. Joseph, Kansas (KSTJ). There we planed a pit stop and a quick bite. We always try to pack ourselves – saves time, money and tastes better! WX reported a weak front that was due to cross our path not quite an hour out of Boulder, but “nothing to be alarmed about” – how can that be?

 

Over the clouds heading for the weather frontA front is a front, so we slightly altered our original VFR plan and filed IFR. Ueli launched from runway 8 at Boulder (1V5) and we were heading east. All went well for the first part of the leg, but it was impossible to avoid the whole weather system predicted. When visibility turned bad we shared the cockpit load, Joan did the talking and turned knobs, while Ueli closely monitored the instruments and of course handled the controls. Later, close to our destination visibility improved greatly  so we cancelled our IFR flight plan and landed. However, when departing St. Joseph an hour later we were told that they had not received word that we had cancelled our previous IFR plan. They had already started to make calls to track us down. It’s nice to know that our aviation system is so efficient. After asking several questions, they finally found the missing link.

 

Waiting for ground transportation at Indiannapolis airportOur brief stop in St. Joseph (KSTJ) was a good one. There was the local group of airport bums chewing the fat and of course checking everyone out. It’s always nice to see the airport fans and one day when we can no longer fly, we will be just like them.

Off to Indianapolis, Indiana (KIND) we went – IFR all the way, in and out of clouds of every color from white and pink to various shades of gray. It was calm for the most part and Joan enjoyed her ILS approach and landing. We were greeted with hot chocolate chip cookies at the FBO and were whisked off to the hotel. Sometimes you hit it just right and we sure did there. The hotel’s restaurant was extraordinary. Our waiter was a seasoned gentleman who took a liking to us and suggested two outstanding choices for dinner and a complimenting wine. Upon leaving he suggested another good hotel and restaurant in downtown Indianapolis. We would come back.

 

Joan recording Instrument Flying time

August 16    Indianapolis International (KIND) was in the midst of reconstruction and any plane big or small not familiar with the taxiways requested a progressive taxi. We were among those and proceeded to the run up area straight in front of the Control Tower. There was heavy traffic all over whether on the ground or in the air. Everyone was on standby and one by one we all were taken care of. Surprisingly, Ground Control asked us, “What is that pod under the right wing?” Joan gave her standard reply: “It’s weather radar but don’t get to close because it will make you sterile.” Then she added, "..and the pod is pointed straight at you.” An immediate clearance for takeoff was given. It is unbelievable, but true. You cannot begin to imagine some of the chat that flies over the radios. We’ve had some fun with that weather pod.

We were happily in the air on our way to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. For convenience we selected the Allegheny County Airport (KAGC) in the south east of town, rather than the heavily used international airport.

 

Ueli is checking the fuel situation at Allegheny Airport (KAGC) Ueli with his son RobinOne of our five sons was on a special project for his company from Switzerland and he was feeling a bit homesick from being away from his fiancée for most of the year. This visit, like Jim’s at the west coast was also important. Robin needed some cheering up.

 August 17   Pittsburgh is a very nice City with many cultural attractions as well as sports areas for athletic events. The Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet at the west side of the City forming the Ohio River. Joan busy with flight pnanningOld paddle steamers are still in use and look glorious cruising down the river. Several years ago we boarded the Mississippi Queen at this pier and cruised to Indianapolis. Great boat, great fun! Across the River from the City is Station Square where many restaurants, shops and recreational activities abound. Robin happily showed all of it to us, as well as other Grand old houses and buildings throughout town. The Museum of Mines in the Carnegie Science building is of particular interest and we spent a good part of an afternoon there. The three of us had a super time . Mission accomplished, Robin headed back to work and we returned to our hotel in preparation for the next leg, homeward bound.

 

South of Chicago heading WestKankakee Airport, a short pit stopAugust 18 Departing from Allegheny Airport in Pennsylvania to Kankakee, Illinois (KIKK) for some fuel , we knew from the weather briefer that a front lie ahead somewhere after Kankakee which by the way, is a wonderful little airport with friendly upbeat people. Take a sandwich though because there are only vending machines. We ate corn chips and candy bars for lunch, it was better than nothing. Two and a half hours later we landed in Des Moines, Iowa (KDSM) and called it a day. In the distance towards Omaha, Nebraska we could see the black band of clouds we did not want to mess with. The front would ground us for at least another day.

 
John Wayne historical house in Madison, south of Des Moines One of the Bridges of Madison County

The next morning Joan felt very tired so we stayed another night. After a lazy morning we drove through the City of Des Moines. The streets were practically empty and resembled a ghost town. We turned south to Winterset to visit the famous Bridges of Madison County. Once there we also toured John Wayne’s boyhood home.

 
Ueli checking out an Ultralight at De Soto (IA51)

It’s a pretty countryside with rolling hills, unique little places and the kind of friendly people one would expect to meet in Iowa. Funny enough, on the way back to the hotel we spotted a small airfield with ultra lights (IA51). We remembered Jürg’s project to build a small aircraft or helicopter with which he could use to spot the heads of his cattle. At the end of the day we sent off a package with plenty of information for him to study. We wonder if the project ever got off the ground as we have never heard a word. The fact that he would need to learn to fly must have poured cold water over his whole idea. It might be easier to just get a new horse.

August 19     It was Ueli’s day to be tired; we decided to stay a third night. The severe front had also been very slow moving out. That day we headed back into the City because we thought there must be more to Des Moines than met our eyes the day before.

 

Iowa State Capitol Building at Des Moines

Inside the State Capitol BuildingFirst we toured the impressive State Capitol building overlooking downtown. It is a grand old building, both inside and out. There are magnificent mosaic works of art depicting scenes of the early settlement days, stately parliament rooms, and architectural details everyplace we went. It was an excellent beginning to our more thorough exploration of the City.

 

Ueli checking out the Air Space around Des MoinesStill feeling tired, we needed a good strong cup of coffee and decided to check out the City on foot. Sure enough we had missed the whole concept of Des Moines. Since it is very hot in summer and very cold in winter, there are skyways which link the buildings of the entire city center. People work, shop, exercise, eat and do their errands here. We also found our longed for Starbucks to have our brew, take a short snooze and fall into line with the rest of the people. Once again revived, with a positive feeling about Des Moines, we looked forward to wrapping it up and going home.

August 20 The flight home to Boulder was smooth, uneventful and free of hassles. We flew by Sydney, Nebraska where Cabelas, the greatest outdoor store in the world exists. How many times had we visited it? Countless, because it is one of the ideal places to fly to, have a buffalo burger, take a visitor or gather gear for an outdoor adventure. Everyone loves it and always wants to return. Forty five minutes later we touched down in Boulder, Colorado to end the trip to see our son, Robin. It was a great journey!

 
 
 

 

Visit our other Trips
Santa Fe Boulder - Santa Fe - Boulder (roundtrip 600nm = 1120 km)
Aspen Daytrip to Aspen ( roundtrip 200nm = 360 km)
Westcoast Loop:  part 1 Boulder - Prescott - Palm Springs - San Diego - Napa (1130nm = 2100 km)
Westcoast Loop:  part 2 Napa - Portland - Kalispell - Billings - Boulder ( 1580nm = 2930 km total 2710nm = 5030 km)
Pittsburgh Boulder - San Joseph - Indianapolis - Pittsburgh - Des Moines - Boulder ( 2360nm = 4370 km)
Cleveland Boulder - Salina - St. Louis - Cleveland - Cincinnati - Kansas City - Boulder ( 2410nm = 4467 km)
Four State Swing: part 1 Boulder - Dutch John - Wendover - Ely - Marble Canyon
Four State Swing: part 2 Marble Canyon - Montrose - Boulder

 

 

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