My weekend out with the boys started with a nerve wracking night IFR flight through low clouds, ice, hail and the occasional dragon thrown in to make things interesting. At least that’s what the professional weather guessers at Lockheed Martin told me to expect on our first leg from Minneapolis to Watertown South Dakota. What we got was one of the nicest nights for flying I’ve had in a long time with nary a cloud in the sky, I wish I could that wrong and still keep my job. Our two passengers were suitably impressed when we turned the runway lights by remote control but slightly less impressed by my co-pilot’s Sea World landing. You know, he touched down nose wheel first causing a series of bounces down the runway called porpoising…….like dolphins……..And Sea World has a dolphin show……………it sounded better in my head.
Made it to the Black hills airport the next morning, myself fifty five dollars richer from a rare winning session of blackjack and all of us a little less fresh from the effort. The Black Hills airport had a pilots lounge that was exactly like you’d expect to find out west. Elk heads, a bear skin rug and black and white pictures of the old days adorned the walls while and instructor poured over maps with his student. It was just the kind airport I’d love to hang out in.
I won’t bore you with the details of our day and evening in Deadwood. Suffice i to say that money was gambled, steaks eaten and brain cells lost, not that we had any to spare. On the way home we took a spin around Mt. Rushmore and flew over the Badlands National Park.
The new Garmin 796 I used on the trip was defiantly impressive. The touch screen made scrolling through maps fast and easy and I really like the smaller size and weight. The improved screen was supposed to be one of the big improvements but I could hardly tell the difference between the 696 and the 796. The 796 is a great GPS and if I didn’t already have a 696 I would buy one in a heartbeat but I don’t think it’s worth the $700 bucks I’d have to shell out to make the switch.
It was a great weekend out with the guys and being able to fly really made it an adventure for my two non-pilot friends but I’m sure one of them was wishing we’d taken the Queen Air with it’s relief tube as he was filling the juice bottle on the way home.