Rousing is one way to put it. Noreen was there to welcome us home and to help make Alan Fesperman (the CFI who flew 81E back to Chicago with me) feel welcome. But, since it was raining (and since very few others knew we were coming) there really wasn't a huge crowd. Rick from Service Aviation (visit them if you fly into PWK) came out with chocks (of course, yellow chocks!) and then pulled the plane into the hangar due to the storm warnings.
But, this is getting ahead of the story. N7081E is a 1960 Cessna Skylark or 175A. She has been very well cared for at Rowan County Airport for the last 15 years. Noreen, my wife, found the ad for her in one of the aircraft sales journals while we were in Atlanta and we detoured (last time I'll call that a shortcut) to Salisbury NC on the way home to Chicago. It was a match at first site. 81E is the same colors as a sports car we raced for a dozen years. And, her number, once you are in communication with a tower, (i.e. "81E) reflects (no pun) our corporate phone number "8181".
81E is our first plane. Yes, Noreen is concerned about that adjective "first" in the previous sentence. Oh well. We bought 81E from a wonderful North Carolina gentleman, Dr. Smith Kirk. Smith and the crew at Salisbury Air Service (RUQ) have done a marvelous job of keeping 81E in great shape. With almost new paint, a wonderful (How will I ever learn to use all those buttons?) new Avion Research panel, and a nice clean interior, she is already fun to show off to a crowd.
Alan and I took off from RUQ on Friday evening (5:00ish) with plans to get about halfway to Chicago that night. I flew above the clouds for the first time as Alan filed an IFR plan and we used the experience to do Time-In-Type training as well as enough real IFR to finish my Wings Application. We were at 9,000 feet when ATC asked if we could climb to 10,000 once and we replied; "Maybe, but it could take some time."
81E was cruising at 135 to 138 indicated and seemed to be doing it easily.
As the evening grew on, we decided to land for the night and picked Clermont County Airport. Yes, of Sporty's fame. After tie-down, a cordial fellow in a hot-rod, chopped and channeled truck (EVERYBODY in Ohio has a hot-rod somewhere.) gave us a lift into town.
N7081E at Rowan County Airport, Salisbury NC
The next morning, we launched before the rooster crowed so we planned a landing at Richmond, Indiana to refuel. Even though Richmond was a little slow getting started that morning, we were on the last leg headed for Chicago by 9:30 CDT.
The clouds got lower as we came North. But, we were able to stay VFR all day Saturday. Alan hadn't seen Chicago before, so the ride up the lakefront (Soldier Field, Comiskey Park, Miegs, Wrigley Field and the skyline overall were a fresh and enjoyable site below.
As we turned west from the lake to PWK (126 radial on the OBK VOR, or
use the huge, white BHAI Temple for a visual mark), it began to rain.
A few minutes later after we parked on the ramp at Service Aviation, Rick
came out to tell us he would put 81E into the hangar during the coming
storm. We beat the storm by about 20 or 30 minutes.
N7081E her first day at Palwaukee Airport, Wheeling IL
What a great trip. Thanks to Alan for all the instruction. Thanks to Smith Kirk, George Johnson and David Lackey, Harry Van Dyke and everyone else at Rowan County Airport for making me comfortable and for all you work on N7081E.
She has a great new home, Smith.
We'll have lots more pictures and stories of the travels of 81E in future articles. Anyone else who would like to send 175 info or pictures of their own, feel free to do so and we will build up a Skylark page.