Chicago, IL to Various locations in Wisonsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula
(15-16 Nov 2006)
Once again this Mooney proved its utility. I assumed command in mid-October and one of my first orders of business was to visit the stations located a significant distance from the headquarters who rarely get a visit. With that in mind, I planned to visit Rhinelander, Stevens Point, West Bend and Madison in Wisconsin and Marquette, located on Michigan's upper peninsula. My predecessor did almost the same trip about six months ago and spent almost a week out of the office, I planned to do it in two days and be home at night!
November 15th greeted me with a ceiling around 1000' AGL and 40-45 deg F temperatures in light rain. The good news was that PIREPS from northen Illinois and most of Wisconsin showed the layer was only 2-4,000 feet thick and weather above was clear and am million. There were scattered reports of trace to light rime ice in the clouds, but I had above-freezing temperatures below the clouds and confidence I could climb through the clouds quickly. Left Waukegan headed for Rhinelander (located in north-central Wisconsin) and was quickly through the clouds on climbout. Once on top there were clear blue skies and I actually needed to turn down the heat because the cockpit got so warm!
Dropped below the clouds approaching Rhinelander (KRHI) and set up for the visual to runway 9 - a nice long runway that services occassional jet traffic. The terminal was the first I ever saw with a jetway that started at ground level (terminal only had one story) and climbed uup to a level where it could mate with a regional jet. Made my way past the quiet (and apparently empty) terminal to the GA FBO which was manned by a very friendly gentleman. One of my folks picked me up from the FBO and I had a great visit at the station. After a quick lunch it was back in the plane and heading for Stevens Point (KSTE), which also had a nice terminal. Another good visit and it was time to head for Madison with a quick stop at Adams County airport for some cheap fuel.
The field was everything the comments on AIRNAV's website said. While a small field with asphalt in fair condition. The field was empty with no sign of life, but the self-serve fuel pump was fine and the 100LL was only $2.80 a gallon -- the cheapest I've paid in months! The field had a great welcome center open for use by visiting pilots. I will definitely be visiting Adams county again in the future!
Picked up an IFR clearance heading for Madison and was glad I did as the sold layer dropped lower and lower making an ILS approach into the field an absolute necessity. Pulled up to Wisconsin Aviation (one of the nicest FBO's I've ever visited) and made my next station visit. Got back to the airport and headed for home in solid IFR weather arriving in Waukegan around 2000 local.
Thursday the 16th's weather was more of the same. Climbed back into lovely weather once on top of Waukegan and headed for Sawyer International Airport (KSAW) in Marquette Michigan. The field is an old air force base that was closed about 10 years ago -- host to fighters and bombers during the cold war! One very, very long runway, and a small but nice FBO terminal manned by former air force guys... Marquette was about 20 minutes away and the station visit went really well. Climbed out of Sawyer through the layer and headed South for West Bend, Wisconsin (just South of Green Bay). Another good visit and I was headed for home making it back to the house by 1900 local. All told I covered over 1000 miles, visited four widely dispersed stations, and was only out of the office for two days! Just another reason having the Mooney adds to the quality of my life and makes me more efficient at my job!