2015 Rough River Fly-In                                       

09/24/2015 -

This would mark the 3rd year we've taken the Cozy to Rough River instead of driving, and it's really a much nicer way to get there.  It has sadly become a typical practice to be conducting some manner of work on the plane just before this trip though.  The first year was to repair damage caused by a nose gear up landing less than a week prior.  Last year it was mostly just installing goodies we had procured at Oshkosh.  This year we somehow got the great idea to replace the engine baffles over the weekend before the trip.  This turned out to be a more daunting task than we expected, but we were able to complete it in time to conduct a maintenance test flight and be ready to go.

Our original plan was to depart in the afternoon on the 23rd, but convective activity along with strong rain along a line from Duluth to Texas, would cause us to wait for Thursday morning.  In the end it was definitely a good choice.  Things were less hectic in the morning, the plane was all packed, and we were well rested.  There was still rain in the twin cities, but no convective warnings, and with an ADS-B weather receiver now on board, IFR flight in light rain is a little less worrisome.

As we taxied out to the runway, ATIS was calling overcast at 900 feet.  I informed Ella that we would likely be entering clouds shortly after take-off and that I would like her to hold any music or movie requests until I told her it was ok, as I would be rather busy to start out with.  As it turned out we were in solid overcast passing 400 feet, and for the next half hour we were in solid IMC with pretty substantial rain, despite the color shading on the radar being only 'dark green'.  I have no desire to find out how much rain is associated with the yellow, red, pink, or purple colors.

Once clearing the twin cities area and the rain showers, it was blue skies all the way to Bloomington, IN, where once again Ella would spend her weekend at Grandma's being spoiled.  My mom met us at the airport and we planned to have lunch with her before embarking on the final, grueling 30 minute flight to Rough River.  As we unloaded Ella's bag, I also removed my flight bag in order to grab my wallet, which I always place in my flight bag before getting in the plane (I hate having it in my pocket during flight).  Much to my surprise, my wallet was NOT where it was supposed to be.  Then I remembered leaving it on the couch the night prior, and completely forgot it before leaving in morning.  I tried my best not to panic, the disappointing part for me is that my pre-flight checklist include my "AR(R)OW" documents, and I've gone so far as to include include my a copy of medical in my AROW pouch in case I forget my logbook which houses the original.  My pilots license however has always been in my wallet, right behind my drivers license, which I'm also required to have on me during flight.

I called the AOPA legal services line and explained my quandary.  They informed me that all I needed to do was go to a page on the FAAs site (of which they would send a link to my email), and fill out a form to get a temporary authorization letter emailed to me in minutes.  It seemed my worries were over....until I went to the web page and discovered that it required my drivers license number (you remember where that was right?).  So another call to AOPA yielded a phone number to the FAA records office.  My first thought was "yeah, this will be helpful!"  Much to my surprise,  a very nice, HELPFUL person answered the phone and asked me a couple of simple questions to verify ho I was, then promptly sent me the authorization letter to my email.  My troubles were over for the rest of the weekend.  All that remained between me and fun was 30 minutes of sun filled, smooth skies to 2I3.

The weather that had disrupted our early departure plans had gotten worse, and another system over the east coast was developing that would prevent about half of the regular Rough River folks from making it in.  All told we had about 35 planes compared to the usual 60-70.  It made for easy parking, but for a lot of missed friends.  I would have gladly given up my primo parking space on the ramp, for just one more of them to be there.

Somehow, even with the reduced crowd, I still didn't get to spend enough time with everyone.  Sooooo many wonderful folks, sooooo many gorgeous airplanes, too few days in the weekend.  I think it's probably time to start extending the event by a couple days!  :)

All too quickly it seemed we were saying goodbye to many old friends and a lot of new friends.  Clouds were 'lower' but not unbearable for the flight from Rough River back to Bloomington to pick up Ella.  After lunch at Bloomington though, it was definitely looking like a solid IFR flight for 1/2 of the trek home.

The flight home called for broken to overcast skies for 1/2 the route, and about the time we'd break out of the clouds, we'd enter an area of moderate to severe turbulence.  It wasn't the best weather briefing I'd ever received, but we've all been advised of airmets for mod-sev turbulence that really don't end up that bad.  This wasn't one of those times.  This was one of those throttle back to Va and give the wing bolts a once over when you land kind of times.

We landed back at St. Cloud, somewhat sad that yet another Rough River was over.  It has usually meant the end to the majority of the flying season.  With Ella's school year getting back into full swing it gets tougher to make trips like this, yet as the Minnesota weather turns cooler, the airplane offers a very tempting escape.

Oh yeah, Ella's fall break is less than a month away!