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Old 07-15-2007, 06:44 PM
petehowell's Avatar
petehowell petehowell is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: MN
Posts: 2,245
Default Minneapolis to Big Sky (very long)

Here's some motivation to keep pounding....

I got a call from my brother 3 weeks ago asking me to bring my son from Minneapolis out to Big Sky Montana to do some fly fishing. I thought this might be a great chance to see how the -9A does on a long XC.

So, Thursday morning, I loaded up my 14 yr old son Ryan, my camera, and some 100LL and off we went. Departed KANE at 6:30 am - First leg was KANE to 3P3 for gas. We stayed low to avoid the 40Kt headwinds at 6K and above. 3P3 is Mott, ND a little ag strip with a brand new gas pump. Not much there, but it worked just fine. Ryan caught grasshoppers while I gassed up. We relieved ourselves and off we went. 15 min on the ground and 12 less grasshoppers to ravage the crops.

Next leg was Mott, to the Bozeman pass and then on in to BZN. No offense to those in the Dakota's or Eastern Montana, but we were sure glad we had the XM radio along (not much out there). A 41 year old dad and a 14 year old son can agree on ESPN radio, CNN, and the XM comedy channel. The headwind became a cross wind at Mott, so we climbed to 8500 ft and leaned her out. We were able to get 150 kts on 5.9GPH. We had a great time laughing at the XM radio and chatting with controllers. The lady at Billings Approach was very friendly.

Pretty soon, the flatlands ramped into mountains as we approached the Bozeman pass. It is wide and pretty low, no problem at all. Before we knew it, the tower at Bozeman was vectoring us around some traffic and into a pattern entry. I'll admit I was high on base, but when he called me as traffic to a Tomahawk as "Experimental on very high right base" I was slightly offended. I threw in a full slip and landed on the numbers and made the first turn off. I got a "nice work 9PH" for my effort. 5.5 hours flight time, 765 NM. We tied down at Arlin's at the suggestion of "the other Doug Reeves" - they did a great job for us.

My brother picked us up and we headed off to Big Sky. My son caught some trout and I snapped pictures. We hung out, I hiked about 10 miles with my sister in law and we all ate way too much. We hiked in the Grand Tetons Nat Park and drove through Yellowstone. Moose and elk were shot (on CF cards). We had a great time.

Ry Fishing in the Gallatin Valley

Snake having better luck


We got up Sunday morning at 5am and headed the 45 miles to KBZN. At 6:30 we were loaded, preflighted and off the ground, headed for the pass. I could see on the Dynon we had a nice tail wind, so up to 9500 for the trip home. GPS said 163kt and the EMS said 5.7GPH. I asked Ryan how his bladder was doing, he indicated thumbs up. We headed for the fuel stop at Britton, SD and cranked the XM radio. A new controller at Billings approach was very interested in the -9A. We talked engines, ignitions, and props. He was interested in our fuel burn...... he is heading to OSH in a few weeks. We had a great chat -

Just past Billings, I checked the Dynon EMS and it continued to show us with 8 gallons remaining @ destination if we went straight thru to Minneapolis(KANE). Hmmm....The float sensors agreed with the flowscan, so I again asked Ryan about his Bio-situation. He was good to go as good gets, so I hit the direct to button and we cruised straight home. 764 NM, 5.1 hrs, 28 gals, and a smooth ride the whole way. We made it back in time for baseball practice.

Some observations:

- XM WX on the 396 makes the trip a whole lot better. We were able to see and avoid some small storms, and the overall awareness is great.

- XM radio was great for listening and starting conversations with the boy.

- The isolate switch on the intercom is very nice, b/c after 5 min of "plane talk with Billings" the boy wants to listen to the XM radio again. So I turned off the boy (pilot isolate) and continued talking to approach while he listened to some obscure baseball stats on ESPN radio.

- The -9A with an O-320 is a bit slower than the O-360 birds, but the economy is still good. Maybe the O-340 upgrade.....Hmmm.

- Electronic ignition lets you run very lean, especially at altitude

- Handling with CG towards the rear is different, not bad, just different, especially in the flare, I had to remember what it felt like from phase 1.

- 5 hours in a side by side RV is not bad if the people involved are not too big, a lumbar pillow is nice after a few hours.

- If the bladders can handle it, flying leaner and slower can get you there as quickly as rich and fast by saving a fuel stop.

- In the ear headsets are comfortable for long flights, I have Clairity Aloft, but I'm sure Quiet Technologies or others are just as good.

- Grapes, pretzels and water are good snacks in flight.

- O2 is nice up at 9500 (11,500 density).

- Auto pilot makes the trip easier while snacking, reading maps, playing with the GPS, etc.

- A teenage boy with an iron bladder as a travelling companion is priceless.

It was a great trip, I hope the first of many.

Amateur Plane - RV-9A N789PH - 2250+ Hrs
Amateur Radio - KD0CVN
Doggies Delivered - 25+
St. Paul, MN

Last edited by petehowell : 07-17-2007 at 09:04 PM. Reason: added pics
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