Monday, July 9, 2007

Finding Old Baldy

My dad heard about a geological formation in North East Nebraska just South of the Missouri River. Louis and Clark found it so remarkable that they wrote about it in their journals, and went to look at it. On the formation they found Prairie Dogs, and captured one to take back to Washington D.C. with them.

My dad and I thought that if the formation was easy to see from the river, it should be easy to see from the air, so off we went in his classic 1956 Cessna 172 to take a look.

(Photo is a 1956 Cessna 172, but not my dad's)

It was a beautiful Nebraska summer day, there was no severe temperature change at attitude, so we had smooth skies, relatively calm winds, and outstanding visibility.

We took off from OFK and headed north to Lynch. The crops are really looking good this year so everything was very pretty from the sky. Nebraska is relatively flat, so, in the winter time, the ground can be rather featureless and boring.

We arrived over Lynch in about 45 minutes and nothing... We knew that the formation would not be large, because there is no topographical warning for it on the chart, but we thought we would at least see something. Just as we were about to leave, we found a little white bump on top of a hill not far from the river. It must be more impressive from the ground...

(This is really the formation, the locals call it "Old Baldy")

We did a couple of rotations around the formation and decided that we had seen it and it was time to visit the O'Neil airport. We headed south, and landed just behind a Cessna Citation. Kind of an unusual sight at such a small airport.

(Again, not the jet we saw, but one like it)

They were making a fuel stop, and we were just looking around. It is fun to land at different airports and look around.

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(O'Neil Airport from the air)

After a bit, we got back in to the airplane, me in the left seat. As we were taking off I committed a sin of the air... I forgot that heat plays a major factor on the performance of an aircraft. You need to put in about 10 more miles per hour when taking off when it is hot as opposed to when it is cold. I did not put in the speed I needed, and had some fun hanging out just above stall speed at 50 feet AGL. My dad did not find that amusing with his prized possession...

The flight back to Norfolk was uneventful, and fast. We had a bit of a tail wind and we made about 120 MPH all the way. AWOS reported the wind at about 8 MPH right down runway 19, so I did not have to worry about doing a cross wind landing. I made one of the best landings in the last 10 years on that runway. Not even a bump when the mains touched down. I let the speed bleed off and I did a great job of keeping the nose gear off the runway until we simply had no more speed left. It was awesome.

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