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Virtual Grand Tour of the Continental USA in a Piper Cub

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Leg 20 pre-flight 02 February 2020  Vicksburg Regional (KVKS) to Bryan (KSTF)(Starkville, MS)


I'm a bit of a US Civil War buff, so today's flight will pass briefly over the Vicksburg battlefield before continuing on to Jackson, MS, following (in reverse) the route the US Grant took in investing the Confederate fortress.  From there, I will more-or-less follow the Natchez Trace north, landing at Starkville, MS for fuel before continuing the trip:


Image 1. KVKS to KSTF




For the next two days, the weather forecast is good.  After then, it will deteriorate until the weekend. 


Image 2. National Weather 021800Z Feb 2020


The METAR looks good: VFR conditions throughout the flight.   Winds at 3000 feet are expected to be from the SW at around 23 knots.  The icing level is at 9000+ feet, so that won't be a problem.

Image 3. METAR 1832Z


The Termnial area forecasts indicate VFR conditions and moderating winds at my expected landing time of 2100Z: 

KTUP [Tupelo Rgnl]
TAF: KTUP 021720Z 0218/0318 23010KT P6SM SKC 
  FM030000 22005KT P6SM SKC 
  FM031400 20009KT P6SM SCT200










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I'm going to begin a Grand Tour of the continental USA, flying the entire route in A2A's classic Piper J3 Cub.  My intent is to fly this entire circuit VFR using the current weather.  The entire trip

Leg 1- Flight 7 February 2019   Cassa Grande Municipal (KCGZ) to Sedona, (KSEZ)   Takeoff from KCGZ was at 2124Z.  The weather was as predicted-little to no winds.  Perfect weather for flyi

Leg 2A- Flight 9 February 2019    Sedona, AZ (KSEZ) to Winslow, AZ (KINW) I didn't get begin my taxi until 1655Z.  Part of the reason for the delay is that, unlike modern jet airliners, you don't

Leg 20 Flight 02 February 2020  Vicksburg Regional (KVKS) to Bryan (KSTF)(Starkville, MS)


Kmz (Google Earth) file can be downloaded here: https://we.tl/t-QVRZDPPngQ (Link is good for 7 days)


It was a beautiful day for flying. Take off  from KVKS at 2100Z was uneventful.  Similarly, the  landing  at KSTF was at 2247Z and was  unevenful.  Winds were slightly less than predicted: around 20 knots from the SW at 3000 feet, but almost dead calm at ground level.  No problems were experienced during the flight.  Images are attached below: 


Image 1. 022104Z Feb 2020 Climbing out after T/O KVKS



Image 2. 022104Z Feb 2020 Departing  KVKS



Image 3.  022115Z Feb 2020 Turning East over De Sota Island



Image 4. 022135Z Feb 2020 Approaching Barnett Resovoir, Jackson MS



Image 5. 022144Z Feb 2020 Northern Arm Barnett Resovoir near Sand Hill MS



Image 6.  022227Z Feb 2020 Over Tombigbee National Forest



Image 7.  022236Z Feb 2020 Descending to the pattern at KSTF-Starkville MS



Edited by CV60
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Leg 21 pre-flight 03 February 2020   Bryan (KSTF)(Starkville, MS) to Muscle Shoals, AL (KMSL)

Today's flight wil take me further up the Natchez Trace.  Enroute, I will fly over Corinth, Mississippi, as well as the Shiloh battlefield and landing at Muscle Shoals, AL.  Why Muscle Shoals?  Because it is my pilgrimage to where some of the greatest musicians in Rock and Roll  recorded. https://www.al.com/entertainment/2016/12/the_20_best_songs_ever_recorde.html   And, because it it mentioned in possibly the greatest Southern Rock song of all time: 


With that brief digression out of the way, here's my route: 


Image 1.  KTSF-KMSL



Image 2.  National Weather 031800Z February 2020



Image 3. METAR 031848Z Feb 2020



TAFs show some rain moving into the area.  Long range forecasts indicate that this weather will remain for a couple of days, so if I don't fly today, I am unlikely to get off the ground until this weekend: 

TAF: KMSL 031728Z 0318/0418 21010KT P6SM SCT250 
  PROB30 0406/0409 4SM -SHRA OVC025 
  FM040900 19008KT 6SM -SHRA OVC025 
  FM041200 20008KT 6SM -SHRA OVC015 
  FM041500 20009G15KT 4SM -SHRA BKN009 OVC015

 Hunstsville (For the 18Z TAFS through 18Z Tuesday afternoon)
    Issued at 1146 AM CST Mon Feb 3 2020
    VFR conditions will prevail at each terminal for the remainder of the
    afternoon and evening, with high clouds becoming thicker ahead of an
    approaching low pressure system. After midnight, MVFR ceilings and
    some scattered showers will move into the region ahead of a slow-
    moving cold front to the west. Ceilings will continue to lower as low
    stratus develops by Tuesday morning due to IFR to low-end MVFR ceilings.
    Have added prevailing -SHRA after 12z and reduced visibilities due
    to rain/mist late in the period.


Winds aloft at 230 at 27 knots, so I will have a good tailwind.  Icing levels are at 9,000 feet, so ice won't be a factor.

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Leg 21 Flight 03 February 2020   Bryan (KSTF)(Starkville, MS) to Muscle Shoals, AL (KMSL)


Kmz (Google Earth) file can be downloaded here: https://we.tl/t-ZCAPX0UtN5 (Link is good for 7 days)


I was off the blocks at KSTF at 1949Z and airborne at 1957Z.  Weather was as predicted, with high winds  from the SW at 27 knots.  I mis-identified a road, resulting in my getting lost fairly quickly enroute to Houston, MS.  That also threw off my navigation to Tupelo, MS where I had intended a brief diversion from my route to fly over Elvis Presley's birthplace (although I did get within 4 miles of it).  I eventually got back on course, successfully finding my way to  Shiloh battlefield.  Landing at KMSL was a difficult, due to a large crosswind of about 12 knots, but after one go-around I managed to get the aircraft down, landing at 2254Z.  Images are below:


Image 1. 032006Z Feb 2020 Departing Starkville, MS



Image 2. 032018Z Feb 2020 Lost near Woodland MS




Image 3. 032032Z Feb 2020 East of Van Fleet MS




Image 4. 032049Z Feb 2020 East of Tupelo, MS 




Image 5  032053Z Feb 2020 Approaching Rankin Loack and Dam-Ferguson Lake 




Image 6. 032102Z Feb 2020 Bay Springs Lake MS 




Image 7. 032133Z Feb 2020 Over Shiloh Church 




Image 8 032133Z Feb 2020 Pittsburg Landing 




Image 9. 032147Z Feb 2020 Pickwick Lake near Counce, TN 




Image 10. 032229Z Feb 2020 Descending into Muscle Shoals, AL




Edited by CV60
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Real World Photos from legs 19-21


Much of the flight during these three legs has been along the Natchez trace, an approximately 444-mile long travel corridor used by  American Indians, and European settlers, up until the 1800's.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natchez_Trace_Parkway)   


Image 1 A small segment of Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail; near Natchez, Mississippi.  Photo by Ian Abbott



Image 2 Emerald Mound



There are several Indian mounds located near the Parkway.  This is  Emerald Mound, located north of Stanton, MS.  It  the second largest Indian Temple Mound in the United States. It was built and used between 1300 and 1600 A.D. by the forerunners of the Natchez Indians.


Image 3 Port Gibson



Described by Union General Ulysses S. Grant as "too beautiful to burn", the city of Port Gibson survived the US Civil War, despite being fought over as part of the campaign against Vicksburg.   For those interested in the history of this campaign, a good 20 minute video is located here:( https://youtu.be/1eSgimZ8GKQ) 


Image 4 Vicksburg Battlefield


 As the Confederacy's last port along the Mississippi River, Vicksburg was the "nailhead that holds the South's two halves together."  Although overshadowed by the battle of Gettysburg, its capture in July 1863 spelled the beginning of the end of the Confederacy. 


Image 5  Cypress Swamp, milepost 122 on the Natchez Trace Parkway (North of Jackson, MS)


Turning north from Jackson, MS, I flew near a Cypress swamp that is located along the Natchez Parkway.


Image 6 Settler's Cabin,Tishomingo State Park




Image 7 Elvis Presley's Birthplace (Photographer:  Judson McCranie)



Continuing north, I flew over Tishamingo State Park, as well as flying within 4 mile of Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, MS.

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Leg 22 pre-flight 09 February 2020 Muscle Shoals, AL (KMSL) to John C. Tune Airport (Nashville, TN) (KJWN)

I'm continuing my flight up the Natchez Trail to its terminus in Nashville, Tennessee.  The next few days will feature bad weather in the area, so if I'm going to get this flight in, I will have to do it today or wait until this weekend. 

My route will take me west from KMSL to pick up the Natchez Trail Parkway.  I'll then basically follow it into Nashville.  Because I'll be following the Parkway, the navigation will be relatively simple.  The distance on this leg is 145 nm.


Image 1. KMSL-KJWN



The national weather forecast (Image 2)  shows the low pressure area in Texas that will be reaching the Alabama-Tennessee area tomorrow (10 February).  That weather, and the cold front coming in from Wisconsin is going to end any VFR weather until Friday at the earliest.  The forecast discussion for Huntsville, AL and Nashville, TN reads: 

Memphis  18Z 
    VFR conds to begin the period. After sundown, -SHRA will begin to
    approach JBR from the west as a front starts to sink into the
    area. Ahead of the front, strong winds at 2000 feet will result in
    LLWS around 50kts at MEM...JBR...and MKL through the overnight
    hours. Embedded -TSRA as well as MVFR/IFR CIGs will accompany the
    front as it slowly sags southward through tomorrow morning. Expect
    IFR conds to become the rule and linger into the next TAF period.
    South winds will remain strong this afternoon with gusts to 25
    kts at all sites. Expect a wind-shift to the northwest behind the
    front near the end of this TAF period.

    VFR will continue through the day today with south winds gusting
    20 to 25 kts through at least 12z Mon. LLWS is expected tonight
    thru 06z-10z at the terminals as a low-level jet intensifies. SHRA
    will begin around 06z at CKV, 08z at BNA/MQY, and 10z or after at
    CSV. SHRA may become +SHRA after 12z with reduced VIS and
    lowering CIGs possible.


Image 2.  09 1800Z February 2020 Aviation Forecast



The sky is currently clear, albeit with 20-25 knot wind gusts at the surface throughout the area.  The winds at 3000 feet are estimated in the 33-40 knot range from 190-200 degrees.  That tailwind will make this flight relatively quick.  However, I'll be fighting an 30 knot headwind for the first leg, that will require a 46 minute flight to make the 30 miles  in the first leg. The wind speed is predicted to drop to 27 knots at 6000 feet, so I may try to climb a bit higher on this first leg.  That is assuming I can even taxi the Cub to  the runway, as these winds will make even that a challenge.  The Freezing level is at 7,000 feet, well above where I'll be flying.

Image 3.  METAR 091819Z Feb 2020



The TAF for Nashville is below.  I expect to land around 2100Z.  The 24 knot gusts may make the landing a bit of a challenge.

KBNA [Nashville Intl]
TAF: KBNA 091738Z 0918/1018 17015G24KT P6SM SCT150 
  FM100200 18013G22KT P6SM VCSH BKN100 WS020/20050KT 
  FM100800 19012G21KT 5SM SHRA OVC050 WS020/20050KT 
  FM101500 19012G20KT 3SM SHRA OVC015

Edited by CV60
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Leg 22 Flight 09 February 2020   Muscle Shoals, AL (KMSL) to John C. Tune Airport (Nashville, TN) (KJWN)


Kmz (Google Earth) file can be downloaded here: https://we.tl/t-NQgopHfuoW (Link is good for 7 days)


(Note: Because of real life issues, I actually flew this flight on 15 February, using weather saved from 09 February)


I took off from Runway 18 at KMSL at 1940Z.  The winds were 203/16 knots, This caused me to drift a bit to the east as I lifted off, but I corrected before getting too far off the runway center line.  To avoid the high winds, I climbed to 6,500 feet for the first leg of the flight to Tishamingo.  Even at 6500 feet, the winds were 224/34 knots, making this leg very slow.  To speed things up, I turned a bit early to continue the flight to Nashville.  The rest of the flight was uneventful.  Decreasing ceilings as I approached Franklin, TN forced me to descend earlier than I had anticipated.  I also decided that because of the decreasing ceilings, I would alter my course to fly towards Nashville, instead of skirting around the western edges.  I did this because I estimated that  I could always land at Nashville international in case KJWN was socked in.  Fortunately, the weather cleared, and my landing at  John Tune airport was uneventful.  See images below:


Image 1. 091957Z Feb 2020 Over Tuscumbia, AL




Image 2. 092029Z Feb 2020 Near Mingo, AL



Image 3. 092059Z Feb 2020 South of Merriweather Lewis State Park, TN



Image 4. 092110Z Feb 2020 Lowering ceiling near Williamsport TN




Image 5. 092145Z Feb 2020 Slipping into TUNE


Edited by CV60
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