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June 25-28, 2009 - COPA Migration 7

Cirrus airplanes (birds) migrated back to Duluth for the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association Annual Migration.  There were over 375 people registered, and I heard that there were 175 airplanes parked on the ramp.

I left Wednesday morning for my trip north.  The first leg was from St. Pete to Chattanooga, TN.  Headwinds slowed my progress all day, but I made the stop after 3:34 of flight time.  Some haze in the valley allowed me to log .2 hour of IMC and the ILS-02 approach.  After re-fueling and a cookie, I was off again.

flight path from st pete to chattanooga

The second leg was from Chattanooga to Aurora, IL.  There was a little weather near the middle of the flight, but I was never in the clouds and landed under a clear sky.  This leg was 3:25 of flight time.  The FBO recommended a nice hotel, and then tried to arrange for a car from the onsite rental agency, but they were out of cars, so they let me take the Crew Car for the night (for free).  I promised that I'd be back early.

flight path chattanooga to aurora

Thursday morning weather looked pretty good except for an area of storms near the middle of the route through Wisconsin.  The picture below is pretty close, but the weather was a bit west of were it shows, which is why you see the small diversion in my route.  I logged .4 hour of IMC for that and only saw a little rain, but it did get bumpy.  Landing in Duluth was cool, going directly over the hotel district on the lakeshore, and then using runway 27.  At one point, I was told to slow down because the airplane in front of me was 40 knots slower than me.

flight path aurora to duluth

Patty landed on a commercial jet about a half hour after I did, and I was able to impose on the FBO to pick her up at the terminal.  Shortly after our arrival, four Air Force F-16s took off and did that afterburner climb out of sight - that was cool.  We rode the event bus to the hotel, checked in and got ready for the evening's activities.  Here's a short video of the party.

The Migration itself was one of the better ones.  We heard from John and Martha King three different times, as well as our own maintenance and safety experts, and Alan and Dale Klapmeier and Brent Wouters of Cirrus.  Patty went to the Partner-In-Command class to learn how to get the airplane back on the ground if I am not able to complete the flight.  The food for the banquet and the final night was much better than last year, and we had pretty good weather during our stay in Duluth.

I started out Sunday morning planning to fly all the way home in one day.  The first leg was to Champaign, IL, this time with a tailwind.  Take-off winds were real close to right down the runway at 15 to 25 knots.  There was no real weather on this leg.

flight path duluth to champaign

The track log for this first leg shows quite a few reporting points where my ground speed was 180 knots or higher.  Here is a quick video of what it looks like at that ground speed at 9000 feet.  At the beginning of the video, there is a data block that shows TAS (true air speed - how fast I am moving through the air) and GS (ground speed - how fast I am moving over the ground).  All of these speeds are in knots.  You can see I had a tailwind.

The second leg of the day was to be into north-west GA, but there were thunderstorms lining up in central GA, and also along the GA/FL state line, so I elected to divert to Chattanooga and stay overnight.  This was the shortest leg of the trip at 2:25 of flight time.

flight path from champaign to chattanooga

I did the last leg on Monday, returning from Chattanooga to St. Pete.  This was a reverse of the first leg from last week, which had taken me 3:34.  This time, with a tailwind instead of a headwind, the flight time was 3:13.  There were some clouds along the FL Gulf coast, but I was able to dodge them, and got home around lunch time.

flight path from chattanooga to st pete

By my calculations, the trip north to Duluth took 9.8 hours of flight time, while the return trip south required only 8.3 hours for the same distance.  Assuming that the straight line distance between St. Pete and Duluth is a little over 1400 statute miles, my little plane averaged about 143 miles per hour for the trip north and almost 170 miles per hour for the return trip.  My SR20 has now logged 777 total hours, while I have almost 900 hours in my log book.  Another good trip to Migration.