Anything Look Different?

1 of the PNP 5000

As part of the PNP 5000, this happy guy went to his new caretakers at the Madison airport.

He got a new home, all we got was breakfast at the Madison airport. And the Arrow got its pic taken with some much faster birds:

Fly the Cranberry Highway, Yes!

Turns out, the Volk MOAs were not in effect on the day we flew. See the full backstory in the post below. And enjoy the pics.

Here's the Cranberry Highway:

But we were on the Cranberry Flyway!

Fly the Cranberry Highway? No? Maybe?

So Deb got stuck on the idea to photograph cranberry bogs from the air. Wouldn't it look cool? We reserved the Arrow and hoped the weather would cooperate on the one day this fall we are available to go. Yeah, been a little busy. During flight planning tonight, we notice the Volk MOAs. Restricted airspace everywhere. Everywhere over the cranberry bogs!

We'll land at KISW tomorrow and ask their recommendations. We wanted to photograph fall color, so there are still aerial sights. Maybe our cranberry photos will be ground view, like The Cranberry Guy's.

Wisconsin's cranberries are known nationwide:
Fine Living article
The Atlantic article

Trip planning:
Glacial Lake Cranberries -- check out The Stone Cottage to stay in. How cute is that!
Wisconsin Rapids Area Visitors Bureau
Cranberry Highway Map

By ground, the Cranberry Highway is a 50-mile trail from Wisconsin Rapids to Warrens and Pittsville. Best time is late September to late October during harvest, when bogs are flooded. Plus fall colors are at peak.

Even if you can't fly over the bogs, flying to Wisconsin Rapids makes a fast trip up there, so you have more time on the ground, seeing cranberries, picking cranberries, eating cranberry foods.

Quick Visit to the Maize n' Blue

Looking for where you can fly? We're always looking for excuses. Deb had to attend a 1-day conference in our old stomping grounds, Ann Arbor. By car, total travel time could be longer than time at the conference. What a great reason to fly! We'd much rather watch for air traffic than truck traffic:

Ann Arbor is a very accessible weekend destination by flight. Just land at KARB ...

... and zip up State Street into town. Rent a car (call to reserve in advance at KARB or there may not be one available), or taxi should be about $15. Call Yellow Taxi. They show up quickly.

If you stay downtown, you can walk nearly everywhere. See Big 10 football. Basketball. Museums. Theater. Films. Music. Shopping. Zingerman's. Kerrytown. Parks. Great people watching. Fly in for the huge summer Ann Arbor Art Fairs in July. During the rest of the year, visit the Ann Arbor Art Center Gallery Shop to find unique things made locally for gifts at decent prices. Not cheap, but decent prices for an artist's vision and craftsmanship.

Restaurants, so many restaurants -- we visited two of our favorites from when we lived there, Blue Nile for Ethiopian food (sit at a basket table and scoop up food with spongy injera bread) and less exotic but always satisfying Cottage Inn Pizza. But we have so many favorite places to eat there, it was hard to choose what to visit in two evenings there. We'll just have to go back!

There are a number of chocolate places in Ann Arbor. They're as prevalent as coffeeshops. What's with that? We popped into Schakolad on Washington St. Oh my GOODness!! Breathe deep when you walk in the door. You can almost taste the chocolate without even eating it, it smells that good. Buy some. You won't be disappointed.

Zoomed in on The Big House during our flight out:

Where Can You Fly?

Destinations within 0-200 nm of 3CKDestinations within 200-400 nm of 3CKDestinations within 400-600 nm of 3CK

New blog feature! This clickable map is permanently housed in the right column. Click on the circles to visit all posts for:

  • Destinations within 0-200 nm of 3CK
  • Destinations within 200-400 nm
  • Destinations within 400-600 nm

Pilots flying N33815 -- feel free to send stories about your trips! Let us know which Destination range to place your story under. Send stories to the email address in the left column under "Site Content."

Enjoy the write-ups and pictures!

Gracie Under Pressure

On July 11 we did a rescue run to save a chihuahua mix (?) family -- Gracie May and her three 8-week old pups. They needed to get from Alabama to a foster home in Wisconsin and we participated in a ground and air relay to get them up north, organized by PilotsnPaws.

We arranged to meet a pilot (who was flying them in from Nashville) at Indianapolis Executive Airport, but storms were in the area and the cloud ceiling pushed us further and further down. So we had to divert to Jasper County Airport (RJZ) in Renssalaer, Indiana. The airport was holding a Saturday afternoon fly-in lunch, so we fueled the humans up, and jumped in a courtesy car to complete the trip.

Gracie May and her little puppies were a big hit with the gals and guys when we got back to Jasper County airport. After a bathroom and play break for the puppies, we tried to corrale them all back in the carrier, which worked except for the spunkiest one who liked to run. But he liked food even more than running so eventually we caught him and got them all in the carrier.

Gracie May was the picture of grace under pressure. What a busy day full of new things for her and her three little ones. But she was calm as could be while the plane took off: looking out the window, checking out the map, watching Parth turn knobs. Deb was thinking this little lady would be a great co-pilot. Hmmmmmm ...

Upon arrival at Janesville, we learned this little mom who would make an ideal pet (very "balanced" as the Dog Whisperer would say) and her three pups were in close danger of being euthanized. Thankfully the pilot relay got them to a foster home that already had numerous adoption applications for them.

It reminded us of last summer, when we were thankful for the rescue agency and foster mom who saved a black and white cat named Emma and her three babies, bringing them from downstate to Chicagoland where they all found homes -- one of them being our Chaai who is the sweetest cat, we can't imagine him not having this chance at many years of life, play, treats, and catching bugs. We hope Gracie May and her puppies have the same chance too.

NY trip: thoughts from the left seat

Outbound: 3CK to KITH
Finger Lakes Region in New York state is a wonderful destination. A road trip from Chicago could take 14+ hours each way, requiring a week-long commitment; flying makes a 3-day weekend trip possible. But at 530 nm, this is pushing the top end of N33815’s normal cruising range. Because several factors can conspire to decrease range and the flight then can’t be made non-stop, this is a gray area which requires proactive planning.

From Profile View, AOPA Flight Planner

Airspace: First to get around KORD Class Bravo, you'll likely route thru WARPI following the 2500 MSL VFR lakeshore corridor, then climb to cruising altitude once past KGYY airspace. Next, you’ll have to deal with Cleveland… do you fly under, around, or follow Erie lakeshore? Unlike O’Hare, KCLE will let you enter their airspace, but expect typically to be routed well into the lake or to the south because the NE-SW runway orientation is not friendly to the east-west transitions. Think through this to avoid last minute maneuvering.

Overflying Canada: Fortunately, you can avoid this dilemma by overflying Canadian airspace, which is also desirable if you’re encountering MVFR along the south side of Lake Erie. Requirements are that you must file and activate a VFR flight plan, squawk a discrete code and be talking to someone prior to entering Canadian airspace. In the comments section of flight plan, enter “request ATC handling thru Canadian airspace”. Specifically, you’ll talk to Detroit approach initially, then with Cleveland Center. Do not try to land – paperwork gets complicated quickly. By the way, the 430 and 496 maps work well, showing Canadian restricted/controlled airspace, facilities and terrain accurately.

Should you lose radio contact – as it happened to me when I went down to 2,000 around a 10-mi. MVFR section I encountered – ANG or Canadian F-16’s may not show up at your wingtips. Stay on course, then call KERI approach within 50 nm/near Aylmer VOR. They will continue to provide ATC handling on the same code, and advise the Center you’re not going back. If they terminate radar services – I was surprised by that -- remind them regs require ATC handling thru Canadian airspace. They’ll hand you off to Buffalo approach to transition back to the US. You will be continuously tracked though – do not reset the transponder to 1200.

From, N33815 flight on 7/3/09

Power Management: For at least half if not the entire flight, cruise at 65% power or less, if winds aloft are favorable 15+ knots. This will allow you to be legal with VFR reserves. I had a 20-kt. tailwind component resulting in 145 to 150 knots using 22.5 in MP / 2,400 RPM setting; but I only used it less than half the flight. Groundspeed penalty is negligible. Of course, lean to 50 degrees rich of peak and keep monitoring… until we install JPI’s EDM 700 someday and can lean more precisely (and frugally).

Altitude/Winds Aloft: Shoot for cruising around 4,500 – 7,500. This will give an economical combination of fuel burn and TAS characteristics for the Arrow as per the POH. At lower scud-running altitudes, expect less than 11GPH: this means you likely won’t make it non-stop (4 hours x 11gph = 44g, leaving you with just about 4g usable remaining, certainly avoid that). Plan a fuel stop around 100 miles out especially if at that point you’re GPS indicates that the full flight is likely to exceed 4:10.

Also pay attention to the WA pattern around the Great Lakes. Create a few routings and choose one that will be to your advantage to maximize groundspeed. This will also help your endurance high.

Return: KITH – KSKY and KSKY – 3CK
Knowing you absolutely have to make a fuel stop makes this a more straight forward decision. I picked Sandusky because I’ve gone there before and they had the lowest fuel rates than say Akron or Burke Lakefront which are likely to be directly on your flight path. Let the FBO know before landing and just pull up to the pump for fast service. Again, watch WA – some part of your way might forecast favorable winds because of the pattern around the Great Lakes. But it may not materialize as it turned out in my case. It was a 125-kt slog the whole way.

Weight and Balance: You know how to plan for this. The only point I want to make here is check the weight of everything you load in from your purchases. We came back with 3 cases (about 100 lbs.) of wine… I used this nifty hand scale called Balanzza I got from my in-laws for Christmas. It works great. Some bungee cords come in handy if you're weighting boxes.

Destination: Finger Lakes, NY

The trip planning links in the Finger Lakes post below helped us plan a well-organized and fun trip. The only snafu was worrying about finding a room. The weather looked dicey all week so we couldn’t confirm until last-minute. But several days before we planned to go, all hotels had no vacancies over the holiday weekend and 95% of B&B’s were also full. While we would have preferred a hotel reservation to allow cancellation, we had to take a risk on a non-refundable deposit when we found a room available in the beautiful Idlwilde Inn in Watkins Glen (at the southern tip of Seneca Lake). Thankfully the weather allowed the flight. There is a helpful website to find last-minute B&B reservations in the Finger Lakes.


  • The Idlwilde Inn, built in the late 1800s. The name means idle your time away, which you could easily do on the large sweeping porch overlooking the Seneca Lake valley.
  • The Seneca Lake Wine Trail where we visited Castel Grisch, Glenora Wine Cellars, Hermann J. Wiemer, Belhurst Winery. Because the region is known for Rieslings, we indulged in Riesling wine tastings. If you visit Glenora, do the chocolate & cheese tasting, and pick up some cheeses and sauces.
  • The Windmill Farm & Craft Mart in Penn Yan is an interesting local experience if you like country stuff and people watching. Visit the four generations of a family who make the kettle corn. See the baby alpacas sitting by a fan to keep them cool.
  • The nice people who stop to help with directions! A pick-up truck from a Holstein farm offered for us to follow them to Penn Yan if we needed to go in that direction; the guy in an auction parking lot even told us to not stop at the first parking lot at the Windmill – go to the next one where there is more parking available in the back; the man with the trumpet in his hand who came down from his porch to point us in the right direction to go. Everyone had big smiles, sincerely helpful.
  • Chippy paint on old wood buildings. And lots of stone walls.
  • The Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen where we saw a smiling goat and a charismatic turkey, both who seem to love having their picture taken.
  • Rooster Fish Brewing in Watkins Glen which had great food and beer in an old building with exposed brick walls. The awning says Wildflower CafĂ©.
  • Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum in Hammondsport.
  • Mr. Twistee’s ice cream at the corner of 54 and 14 near Seneca Lake. The best ice cream! It tasted like it was made from happy local cows.
  • Found a wall hanging wine bottle opener at Yesterday’s Paradise in Watkins Glen. Perfect souvenir from wine country.

Not so great:

  • If you're short on time, don't make a special long drive only to visit the New York Wine & Culinary Center if you’re not already near Canandaigua. But if you are near town, stop by to taste wines from many producers in one spot.
  • Geneva’s downtown (at north end of Seneca Lake) was not for tourists on the Saturday evening we visited. Although very hungry, we decided to beat it out of that town and drove back down to Watkins Glen for dinner. Good move because Watkins Glen was a hopping little town that night.
  • Having half your leg fall in a big hole near graves from the early 1800s in a cemetery. Deb chooses to believe it was a groundhog hole. Tread carefully if you stop to read old gravestones.


Final note:

  • Trust Sprint Navigation even if you think it doesn’t know what it’s doing. It does.

Catching salmon from the air ...

Our cats Seesa and Chaai love freeze-dried "Fishies" salmon from Foster and Smith catalog. A four-ounce box costs $20 -- princely indeed, so it's just an occasional treat. But what really got Deb fired up was the shipping fee of $12 for four boxes!

We decided to do something about it. Rhinelander, Wisconsin is headquarters of Foster and Smith catalog (and home of the Hodag -- more on that later). KRHI is 212 nm from 3CK, and favorable winds showed an estimated time of 1:28 enroute. So we fire up the GPS, enter the FPL with a couple of waypoints and off we go.

Now here's the other aspect to this story. Weather. Heavy precipitation forecast at our destination near our arrival time, and the return could get tricky as a line of thunderstorm cells were forecasted to move through southern Wisconsin in the afternoon. This would be a good chance to test out the WX-8 Stormscope and XM weather, as you can imagine.

Leveled off at 4500 and halfway through the flight, the WX-8 came alive, indicating green 30-60 miles out and alternating yellow/red 60+ miles out. This correlated well with the XM live feeds at our destination and out northwest. But the air was surprisingly smooth, and visibility was 10+ miles.

About 8 miles out we started the descent and could pick out the field: amidst wooded area, the light green patch and concrete (light colored) E-W runway are hard to miss. Light drizzle just started, WX-8 was showing yellow/red more frequently at 30-60 mi range. We were now entering the dark green/yellow zone of XM Weather. On final, we saw the increased rain hit the windshield and now all three sources were aligned. The rain was steady but light, and we landed safely.

Then off to the land of the Hodag. You see this is a mythical creature that is part of the folklore at Rhinelander. It is like a Loch Ness monster, which everyone knows about but only a few think they might have seen.

In the FBO's courtesy car, we went to the retail outlet of Drs. Foster and Smith. They have an incredible aquarium display at the back that is not to be missed. After we picked up a couple boxes of the famous Fishies, we went into town for a quick bite. It is indeed a quiet, typical small town, with great folks. We saw tons of sports bars on Main St.

We went into this place called "Kids Korner Pizza." Actually quite a nice place that has a bookstore, local cheeses (we got cheese curds, sundried tomato basil cheddar, and blue cheese), and great pizza.

Back to the airport, extended coversation with Green Bay FSS. T-storm cells still passing through. Advised to fly to Stevens Point, then wait it out. So we took off and as we neared KSTE, looking at the XM display, weather seemed to be clearing. So we called Flightwatch on 122.0 and they advised that we would be OK to proceed direct to 3CK. Having this reassurance, we proceeded east of Madison. Even with the strong headwinds giving us ony 120-knot ground speed, we arrived at 3CK in 2:04.

Fishies -- done. WX-8 and XM weather -- great. Mission complete.

Destination: Finger Lakes Region, New York

Do you dream about a summer weekend on a wine trail, driving with the top down in the countryside under the sunshine, past rolling hills, forests, and burbling brooks? Stopping in tasting rooms in cool stone wineries? Passing through little towns of yesteryear with Main Streets? You don't have to go all the way to Napa for that. You can fly there in about 4 hours -- to the Finger Lakes Region in New York State. Wineries have been in this area since the 1800s. Finger Lakes wineries are known for their Rieslings. That's Deb's favorite wine, and while we've had plenty of German Rieslings, Finger Lakes Rieslings are hard to find in the Chicago area. So we decided to fly to New York's Riesling Country.

A major benefit of flying GA to Finger Lakes? No TSA liquid restriction! No worries about packing glass bottles in check-in baggage and no UPS/Fed Ex shipping costs. Just remember the 200 lb baggage weight limit in the Arrow! Some good bottles are definitely coming back with us. Pilot Parth will be the designated driver in New York, so he can indulge back home.

Many guides suggest careful advance planning: While you can criss-cross all over Napa and Sonoma, the long lakes in the Finger Lakes Region make driving around more challenging. It can take longer to drive than it appears on the map, so choose your "hub town" carefully, depending on what you want to do and where you want to go. And of course, where you fly in!

There are numerous airports throughout the Finger Lakes so you could stay anywhere. We originally chose the town of Penn Yan on Keuka Lake as our "hub" due to its proximity to several things: an airport, major wine attractions, places to stay on a lakefront, central location among the lakes. And incidentally, Penn Yan Aero is there.

But, weather is always a factor and we didn't really know until now that we will likely be able to fly. But nearly everywhere is booked for the 4th of July weekend now! Furthermore, many accommodations are in B&Bs which are charming, unique and one of our favorite ways to travel, but they also have restrictive cancellation policies. For good reason. At this point, we made a reservation at a B&B due to it actually having a room available, and hope the rest of our plans will unfold OK and we'll show up to check in. Instead of Penn Yan, we'll stay in Watkins Glen at the bottom tip of Seneca Lake, which is halfway between Penn Yan and Ithaca, giving us another airport choice in Ithaca

Things to do: So, this post focuses on some key places to go and things to do near Keuka Lake, Seneca Lake, and Canandaigua Lake:

Other stuff to do:

  • In the Air (of course!) -- A lot of aviation adventure here. Visit the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, the National Soaring Museum, and the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center.
  • On & In the Water -- Canoe, kayak, windsurf, sailboard, raft, tube, waterski, snorkel, go fishing ... any way you can hang out around the water, you can find it in the Finger Lakes.
  • On the Land -- Hike, bike, rock climb, golf, play tennis, go horseback riding. Or just sit in an Adirondack chair enjoying the sunset over a lake.

Where to stay: Deb stays in plenty of Marriotts, Sheratons, Hiltons and Omnis for work travel. The Hilton Serenity Bed is nice, but it's also nice to go less corporate. So for vacations, we usually stay at B&B's or smaller independent places. Here are a few sources to find B&Bs, hotels, resorts and even campgrounds:

More trip planning resources:

$100 Pizza Destination: Galena

Galena is a picturesque town on the Mississippi with a rich history going back to the Civil War and lead mining days in the 1800’s. While the drive is beautiful with curving roads and unfolding views from rocky bluffs, the 3 hour ride makes for a long day trip. But in less than 1 hour we flew to Galena for lunch and some window-shopping on Saturday.

Foster Field (7A4), 15 miles from Galena is the closest - private but open to the public. The ground transportation number on the website was obsolete, so with a quick call to the FBO, we got the number for Grampa’s Taxi, who quoted $40-$50 one way to Galena.

We then called Jet Center at Dubuque Regional Airport (KDBQ). And with density altitude approaching 3,000 ft, KDBQ turned out to be ideal. The Dubuque Jet Center was able to reserve a Pontiac G5 for $15.99 for “half-day rate”, no overnight with Avis! (Be aware that if you drive less than 75 miles, be sure to show your gas fill-up receipt to avoid a $10 fuel charge.) If you’re a preferred member, just give them the Wizard id, that’s all they need to set you up. Giving your N-number helps; they’ll also hear you on the radio coming in. It couldn’t be easier. To the KDBQ Jet Center, great job guys!

You'll fly past Galena and over the Mississippi River on your way in, but with the zippy shut-down to check-in time, and car parked right at the FBO entrance it's only a 30-minute drive to a parking spot in Galena.

Highlights of our few hours in town for lunch:

  • Old stone farmhouses on the drive to town.
  • Lunch at Cannova's Pizzeria at 247 N. Main St. It's a small place at the far edge of Main St. strip. Popular, go between lunch and dinner times to get a seat.
  • New antique shop across the street from Cannova's. While chatting, Parth discovered he knows the shopkeeper's brother -- small world!
  • Vintaj Earth at 214 N. Main St. for unique burnished brass and stone jewelry. Wear these, and people will ask, where did you get that?
  • Ink and Stamp with Sue at 112 S. Main St. where you can turn a $1 photo into a $10 photo (not-so-untrue scrapbooking joke). PS ... there's a comfortable couch for the men in the back of the store.

We had to leave Galena to beat the setting sun ...

Good-bye KDBQ ...

But on past trips to Galena we've visited:

  • Chocolat' for really unusual chocolates, plus tried 'n true flavors.
  • Galena Cellars Winery for tastings before you buy bottles.
  • Great American Popcorn Company must be good, there were so many people outside the door this time, we couldn't get in.
  • Poopsies because this place will make you laugh.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes for lunch or dinner in an historic building in the middle of town.
  • Stop at the ice cream shop on Main St for a cool-down on a hot day. Yesterday it was almost 90 degrees and sunny, and every 4th person was walking down the street with an ice cream cone!

There's a lot more to do than eat and shop. Lots of outdoor family activities. Historic B&Bs to stay overnight. Many historical sites because Galena was a boomtown in the 1800s and many structures still stand. If not for an unfortunate siting that routed the Mississippi waterway too far from Galena, this town could have grown to be what Chicago is today. Instead it's a nice getaway from the city and suburbs, with food, shopping, arts, the outdoors.

Some web sites for Galena trip planning:

So You Want to Fly a Complex Aircraft?

By Guest Blogger: Joe Standley, CFII
Anyone that wants to get into bigger or faster planes, either for a career or just for fun will eventually need a complex endorsement. Think commercial or CFI ratings, or perhaps stepping up to a multi engine – most certainly these aircraft have retractable gear and a constant speed prop. Starting with an aircraft such as the Arrow is a perfect stepping stone.

There are now three levers instead of two…the throttle which controls manifold pressure, the prop lever which controls RPM and the angle of the propeller and lastly there’s the mixture control. You’ll also have a gear lever, additional system lights and alerts and more (see inset picture).

The total amount of time required for the complex endorsement depends on the individual but I’ve seen it usually completed between 5-10 hours. Insurance companies typically want at least 125 hours as PIC and a Private pilot license with at least 5 hours in the same make and model aircraft.

On the ground, we’ll review aircraft systems, including the propeller and landing gear and how they operate, along with performance charts, power settings, etc.

Since pilots stepping up to complex aircraft have not had to think about gear until now, gear up landings present a major risk but certainly are avoidable.

My personal focus and the majority of the flight training I do, is on emergency procedures and preventive measures. We’ll simulate various emergencies, both in and out of the pattern, making sure that you “fly the plane” first, and immediately follow through with the correct actions to ensure a successful outcome.

You’ll walk away with an endorsement in your logbook feeling that you’ve actually learned something new and valuable…it’s not just going through the same old boring checkout procedures. You will definitely feel a sense of accomplishment and pride! You will be the master of the plane, controlling it with minimal effort and able to handle just about any emergency that may come your way.

Intrigued? Submit your comments or questions to this article and I will post a reply, or call me at (815) 558-7033 if you’d like more information. You can also stop by Blue Skies and I’ll be glad to schedule a time to answer your questions on how to get started.

Aircraft Aesthetics

Introducing one of the finest Arrow II's you can fly in Chicago...

What's not to love?

  • Pulse wing-tip landing lights for visual distinction after you lower the gear on approach
  • Shiny "like new" paint to impress friends greeting you on arrival

  • Leather seats and clean interior to carry you and your family in comfort
  • Garmin stack with WAAS, XM Weather, Traffic, TFR's, Terrain for terrific awareness and capability
And, a thorough maintenance program featuring extensive annual and prompt, proactive fixes for peace of mind

I know, I should be a direct mail copy writer. Be that as it may, here is a complex single that you can do so much more with, available to you from Blue Skies Pilot Shop... a fun community at a small airport which is what GA is all about.

And speaking of community, that's what this blog is for. Learn, share, contribute... Drop by 3CK and check out the new arrival, N33815. You'll be glad you did. See you soon!
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