It was quite a hectic day yesterday (Day 2, Sunday May 22) after departing Cleveland (OK). We tookoff around noontime landing Pryor (H71), OK for fuel then continued into Grove (GMJ), OK.
My friend Gary Trippensee was there to greet us. He said they were expecting thunderstorms later on and that we should put the plane in a hangar. For a moment, I thought, "Hmmm, thunderstorms...I just came from blue skies." But Gary is a longtime pilot (Vietnam, OV-1s) so I didn't hesitate other than for my thought. We put the plane in his hangar, and all you know by now what followed less than 4 hours later....a tornado hit Joplin (MO).
Looking back on the flight from Cleveland to Pryor Sunday morning: It was a short flight at 55nm (<20 minutes). We climbed to 5500' MSL to get above the 5-7 miles viz 'muck' (and Tulsa Class C), and at that altitude, we didn't see anything but blue skies, all around us, as far as we could see:
After fueling at Pryor, I elected to stay low for the short flight into Grove. I was getting ready to cross the hold short line and roll when I stopped and told Victoria, "I want to take some pictures for my trip report so I can show (share) that it's OK to fly in marginal VFR." I say that after having flown the Los Angeles basin for the last 31+ years: Sometimes it seems that 3 miles viz is 1.5 miles in front of you and 1.5 miles behind you.
Here we are on the ramp just after fueling at Pryor then at the hold short line looking north, east then south (note the blue skies above):
Now checkout the pictures after takeoff looking west, north and east (and keeping in mind that I had blue skies above me in less than 30 seconds climb at RV speeds: I was not
flying under an overcast):
Why did I stay low for the flight to Grove? If I chose to fly VFR altitudes, I didn't want to climb to 5500' MSL then descend to pattern altitude (1800' MSL) for a 12 minute flight. Flying at 3500' MSL would have put me in the clouds: 1800' MSL worked just fine.
Grove airport is 35nm south of Joplin, and I can tell you it was quite a night here on Sunday! More rain, wind and hail (up to 1") than I've ever seen in my entire life....and yes...hearing Tornado sirens scared me!
I was absolutely amazed that such devastating weather could develop in less than 4 hours after having just flown in blue skies...
have a new respect for weather. We just don't see this type of changing weather in the California desert.
Today (Day 3, Monday, the day after the tornado) has been very wet and windy and being ground-bound gave me time to get some pictures uploaded. That also gave us more time to hang-out with Gary and his wife Concha. I never tire of his now 49+ years of flying adventures ;-)
We'll be staying here another night and are replanning the trip with our first leg (Tuesday) now southbound to get away from this WX!
Yes, it's all still worth it so keep poundin' them rivets! Rosie & Tuppergal