Hello from Wichita, Kansas!
My strategy of getting as far west as I could yesterday worked. When I checked the weather early this morning, this is what I found, with my route indicated by the yellow arrow. As you can see, the main front had moved through with most of the rain now to the east of Clinton. There was a secondary cold front still in front of me, but the light rain associated with it was south of my route:
I only had to wait for a bit over an hour at the airport in Clinton before the ceilings lifted enough on my route to Wichita for me to get in the air. Here's Cessna N46493 at Clinton Airport, with the courtesy car they loaned me yesterday. I recommend Clinton for a stopover - the fuel is the cheapest I've bought this trip and the people were great.
Looking eastward as I left Clinton - nothing but low clouds and haze.
To the west, though, I could see under the overcast with clear visibility all the way to a sharp horizon.
It might have been theoretically "marginal VFR", but by central NY standards it was a beautiful day to fly.
Two Rorschach Test ponds today. Is the first one a man wearing a funny striped hat, maybe? The second could be a whale...
An intersection in MIssouri.
The rain I hit in Clinton had been stalled over western Missouri and eastern Kansas for the better part of a week, dumping nearly a foot of rain in some spots. As I got into Kansas (that's state seven for this trip, if you're counting), I saw more and more flooding in low-lying fields.
The former Wichita Municipal Airport, bought by the Air Force in 1951. Today it's McConnell Air Force Base, home to a KC-135 tanker wing. The Kansas Aviation Museum in on the right center of this photo.
As I passed McConnell, Wichita Approach told me to expect a right base for Runway 1R. I'd listened to the ATIS, and the winds at KICT were 320 at 11 - a fifty-degree crosswind - but there is a Runway 32 at Wichita, which was perfectly aligned with the wind. For the student pilots in the group, if something like this happens, you are the pilot in command. If you don't like the runway you're given, ask for another. I just asked ATC if I could get Runway 32 instead, and the controller immediately said it was no problem, cleared to land Runway 32. So, I did...
I was in Wichita before 1:00PM. Another tip - check Foreflight or Garmin Pilot, if you have them, or the AOPA Airport Directory website if you don't, before you go to an airport. KICT, as it turns out, has two FBOs which sell 100LL fuel. Yingling was a dollar a gallon cheaper than Signature, so guess which one I picked? As soon as I'd taxied in and shut down, 493 was all set at Yingling Aviation for a top-off and overnight tie-down
The folks at Yingling gave me a lift to the terminal, and I picked up the sub-compact car I had reserved at National Car Rentals. It turned out to be a Chevy Silverado 4WD club cab pickup truck. I'm glad I hadn't asked for a full-size car. It probably would have been an eighteen-wheeler or a Greyhound bus. Here it is parked outside the Kansas Aviation Museum, which is housed in the old Wichita Municipal Airport terminal at what is now McConnell AFB.
The Kansas Aviation Museum has an interesting collection of aircraft which were made in the Wichita area, as well as artifacts relating to Cessna, Beech, Stearman, Mooney and other less-well-known aircraft manufacturers which were based in the area. Here are a few pictures from the museum:
A single-seat Mooney Mite:
A recently restored 1931 Stearman Model 4D:
No fancy glass cockpits in 1931...
B-47 Stratojet bomber - think Jimmy Stewart in Strategic Air Command:
B-52 Stratofortress - first flown in 1952, and still in service.
Wichita's Old Town District has lots of interesting restaurants and entertainment venues.
I had a great plate of ribs at Bite Me BBQ, chosen for the name, of course...
Now I am relaxing in my hotel room, ready for the trip to Albuquerque tomorrow.