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Virtual Grand Tour of the Continental USA in a Piper Cub

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Leg 3B  Flight- 15 February 2019     Los Alamos (KLAM) to Las Vegas (NM) Municipal

This leg was a bit more challenging. , because of the portion of the flight up the Sangre de Cristor Range/Pecos Wilderness area.  Basically, I screwed up and went up the wrong spur, which dead ended in a peak I think was over 12,000 foot tall, well over the Cub's ceiling.  As my airspeed was dropping off and the ground was coming up as I approached the peak, I took the better part of valor and reversed course, heading south, then turning east.  I crossed the Sangre de Cristor Range near San Geronimo and flew to KLAM from the west, instead of from the north as I planned.  The landing was also challenging.  During my approach to runway 20, the winds were 240/19 with gusts to 27.  I successfully landed the Cub, with only my pride bruised.

Image 1 West of Santa Fe.  Rio Grande River is in Upper Left


Image 2 Approaching Pecos Wilderness from the West, NW of Santa Fe


Image 3 Approching KLVS near Montezuma NM





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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

And now for some real-world photos of the areas I virtually visited during this leg:

Image 1: Sandia Peak, 9,702 ft (2,957 m) Credit: MARELBU https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Albuquerque,_USA,_New_Mexico_-_Sandia_Mountains_-_Sandia_Peak,_9,702_ft_(2,957_m)_-_panoramio.jpg



Image 2 San Francisco Catholic Church , Golden, NM (check point 2 where I turned to 351 magnetic after leaving Sandia Mtns) Credit : Elisa.rolle - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden,_New_Mexico#/media/File:San_Francisco_Catholic_Church.jpg 


Image 3 The Sandia Mountains at sunset, looking Southeast from Bernalillo (checkpoint 1 on my route) . Below is the Rio Grande.  Source: G. Thomas  - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandia_Mountains#/media/File:SandiaMtnNM.jpg

Image 4  Cochiti Dam.  Source:  https://www.cochitilake.org/lake 



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Image 5  Painted Cave, Bandelier National Monument NPS photo by kevin stillman https://www.nps.gov/band/planyourvisit/painted-cave.htm


Image 5 Pecos Baldy 12,487 feet Pecos Wilderness)  Source: https://www.pecosnewmexico.com/images/businesses/attractions/Pecos_Baldy/Pecos_Baldy_Santa_Fe_Baldy.jpgPecos_Baldy_Santa_Fe_Baldy.jpg


And for those with a taste for history,  Las Vegas, where I ended the flight, has a colorful reputation,  being described as "without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes, and outlaws than did Las Vegas." It apparently was at one time or another home to such  illustrious citizens as Doc Holliday,  Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Bob Ford,  and Wyatt Earp, among others.   https://www.legendsofamerica.com/nm-lasvegas/

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16 February

Winds of 31 mph with gusts of 44.  No flying today.  Heck, the Cub would literally take off when taxiing into that headwind.   :D


METAR: KLVS 162153Z AUTO 27031G44KT 10SM SCT075 05/M12 A2959 RMK AO2 PK WND 27044/2145 RAE24 SLP981 P0000 T00501122




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Leg 4  Pre-flight- 17 February 2019  Las Vegas (NM) Municipal (KLVS) to Carrizozo Municipal (F37)

A check of the weather this morning shows that snow is coming from the west, and will cover most of the northern and western half of New Mexico for the next two days. 



I had planned on covering some of the scenic areas in the northern part of the state, but being delayed for a couple of days wasn't appealing to me.   I'll tentatively plan on covering the four corners area (where Arizona/Colorado/New Mexico and Utah meet) toward the end  of the journey, after I do the Grand Canyon.  For right now, to avoid the weather, I'm going to fly south towards the White Sands/La Cruces area.  Later this week, I'll try to fly into the scenic  Big Bend area along the Texas-Mexico border, as the weather along this route looks relatively good for the next couple of days.


Today's flight will end  at Carrizozo Municipal airport.  This is to the NNE of White Sands, and is also next to the Lincoln National Forest, so there should be some good views when I fly out of here tomorrow down to White Sands. (see chart below.  Note that east is up and north is to the left on this image).  The one problem with this route is that the navigation checkpoints are far apart, and they really aren't that good.  I cross a couple of major roads in the early part of the trip, which can give me a groundspeed.  However, I don't get a really good navigational checkpoint until I reach Enicno, NM, almost one hour into the trip.


The weather for  a 17 Feb 1845Z takeoff looks good.  Excellent visibility, and only a few clouds. There are some gusting winds out of the west, but nothing too difficult:

METAR: KLVS 171653Z AUTO VRB03KT 10SM CLR M01/M18 A2984 RMK AO2 SLP107 T10061178
METAR: KCQC (Clines Corner) 171653Z AUTO 25010G17KT 10SM CLR M01/M12 A2987 RMK AO2 SLP128 T10061117
METAR: KALM (Alamogordo/White Sands) 171735Z AUTO 21007G15KT 10SM CLR 09/M09 A2996 RMK AO2.


The terminal area forecast also looks good, although the winds gusts may be picking up to 26 knots of so when I'm landing.  However, Carrizozo Municipal runway is oriented 06/24, and it looks like the prevailing winds will be from approximately 240, so these gusts shouldn't be too bad.  Icing will only be a problem for the first third of the trip, and only if I don't get off the ground before late afternoon.


KCNM [Carlsbad/Cavern City]
TAF: KCNM 171121Z 1712/1812 29005KT P6SM SCT250 
  FM172000 24018G26KT P6SM SCT250 
  FM180100 23007KT P6SM FEW250

KCNM [Carlsbad/Cavern City]
TAF: KCNM 171121Z 1712/1812 29005KT P6SM SCT250 
  FM172000 24018G26KT P6SM SCT250 
  FM180100 23007KT P6SM FEW250


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Leg 4 Flight- 17 February 2019  Las Vegas (NM) Municipal (KLVS) to Carrizozo Municipal (F37)

The flight was uneventful.  Takeoff was at 1913Z  There was a strong headwind, which lowered my groundspeed to only 46 mph in places, resulting in the 126 mile long trip taking 2 hours and 29 minutes.  Although I was blown off course 3 miles to the east by the wind, I was able to identify and correct the error, and hit the Encino, NM nav point.  The remainder of the trip to Carrizozo was uneventful.   See attached images:

Image 1 Near Bernal, NM 1934ZCLZfyPr.png

Image 2 Encino, NM checkpoint.  Although the town is small, the road junction stood out clearly


Image 3 Salt Lakes near Duran, NMRXlNEcT.png

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Here's an interesting write up about Encino, NM, the checkpoint on this flight.  The "City of Dust" moniker the article gives to Encino seems appropriate based on  the terrain I saw on this leg of the flight.   https://cityofdust.blogspot.com/2013/05/after-depot-encino-new-mexico.html.  

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Leg 5 Pre-flight- 20 February 2019  Carrizozo Municipal (F37) to Truth Or Consequences Municipal (KTCS)

Today's flight is intended to took at some of the historic, scenic or interesting sights in the area.   The flight plan is to fly east from F37 and then  around Sierra Blanca, "The White Mountain," whose 12,000 foot peak dominates the area.  After circumnavigating it, I'll fly north west up to the  Carrizozo Malpais, aka, the "Valley of Fires," an lava flow from an eruption 5200 years ago.  After flying NE along part of its length, I'll then fly west to the "Trinity Site," the location where the first atomic bomb was tested in 1945.  From there, I'll fly on to Truth Or Consequences Municipal airport and land.  The route looks like this: 



Although most of the CONUS is experiencing significant winter weather, the New Mexico area has clear skies. 


The weather for the area looks good.  Clear skies, low winds: 

METAR: KALM [Alamogordo/White San]
METAR: KALM 201655Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM CLR 03/M14 A2998 RMK AO2

METAR: KTCS [Truth or Consequence]
METAR: KTCS 201653Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM CLR 02/M12 A2993 RMK AO2 SLP133 T00221122 $


Winds Forecast

VALID 201800Z   FOR USE 1400-2100Z. TEMPS NEG ABV 24000

FT  3000    6000    9000   12000   18000   24000  30000  34000  39000

ABQ              2718-11 2732-13 2748-22 2559-35 257051 247755 247851
ELP      2712    2626-03 2532-08 2437-20 2465-31 239345 239854 239353
ROW      2608    2731-04 2630-09 2543-20 2454-33 249446 740153 239952


And the forecast also looks good, with VFR conditions expected, although some wind gusts are expected to build towards the late afternoon:

El Paso Area Valid 20/12Z-21/12Z...
    Mostly VFR conditions are expected through the period. Skies will
    remain mostly clear with only high level clouds passing through.
    Winds will be generally from the west at speeds of 10 to 15 kts
    during the afternoon hours.

    VFR conditions are expected for the next 24 hours. Winds will be
    out of the west to southwest through this afternoon and will
    strengthen this afternoon. Winds will be out of the south to
    southeast this evening and overnight.



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Leg 5 Flight- 20 February 2019  Carrizozo Municipal (F37) to Truth Or Consequences Municipal (KTCS)

The flight was more interesting than I expected, as weather conditions were not what was briefed.  After taking off from F37 the weather appeared good.  However, instead of clear sky, there were clouds that shouldn't have been there.  However, the weather was fine, so I proceeded on:

Image 1 Five minutes after take off from F37.  Note the clouds


The ceiling began to lower, and conditions deteriorate:

Image 2 Lowering Ceiling South of Capitan, NM



As I apporoach Ruidoso, NM (on the SE corner of my flight around White Mountain)  the ceilings have lowered in some places to just above the ground.  However, the pass I need to take to get west over the White Mountain range appears to be sufficiently clear. to cross.  My hope is to get back to the west and away from White Mountain, where I believe I will have better weather and higher ceilings 

Image 3 Lowering ceiling near Ruidoso, NM



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Image 4 Heading West South of White Mountain



I cross over the pass, with about 500 feet to spare from the clouds above me


 Image 5 Through the pass, over White Mountain Wilderness Area.   White Mountain is to the North



Proceeding on to the Valley of FIre, the ceilings raise, but the clouds that shouldn't be there are still present:


Image 6.  The Valley of Fire near Oscura, NM



I continued to fly NE along the Valley of Fire until I reached my checkpoint to turn west towards the Trinity site.  Then the rain began.  The outside air temperature was -2 degrees C, so that rain was going to become ice on my wings.  Fortunately, I was only five miles away from F37, so I entered the pattern to land.  Sure enough, the rain became ice.  My airspeed indicator  fell to zero, indicating that my pitot tube had frozen.  Fortunately the Cub hadn't accumulated enough ice on the wings to become uncontrollable.  I made a somewhat bouncy landing and parked the plane until the weather cleared.

Image 7 Rain.  Note the airspeed indicator



Postscript: I was surprised that the weather report was so wrong, so I checked after the flight.  In fact, the real world weather  in the White Mountain area was just fine on 20 February.  The problem was I had inadvertently mis-set my weather program in the simulation.    

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1 hour ago, CV60 said:

The problem was I had inadvertently mis-set my weather program in the simulation.

Bad luck Steve, we have all done that, especially in multiplayer when everyone is complaining about the visibility and I'm CAVOK!

Keep up the good work :ok:

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Leg 5B Flight- 20 February 2019  Carrizozo Municipal (F37) to Truth Or Consequences Municipal (KTCS)


After resetting my weather situation program, I took off from F37 towards the Trinity site and KTCS.  This time, the weather was beautify and the flight uneventful.

Image 1 Heading west from F37 towards Trinity.  Oscura Peak in distance


Image 2    Six miles west of Oscura Peak looking North



Image 3 Trinity  Test Site.  Ground Zero is the circular depression area slightly to the right of the center of the image



Image 4  Old Lava Fields (the Jornada del Muerto Desert) SW of Trinity site looking West


Image 5 NE of Truth Or Consequences



Image 6 Extinct Volcano NE of KTCS




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Just out of curiosity-Would anyone be interested in my posting the flight track on Google Earth?  Because I'm trying to fly to points of interest on the route, it might be a way to see some of these sites using Google Earth.

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21 February-Grounded due to WX

Despite my best efforts, I was unable to get off the ground until late afternoon on 21 February.  By the time I got to the computer, the local weather at Truth or Consequences was this:

METAR: KTCS 212153Z AUTO 21019G32KT 10SM SCT110 13/M16 A2966 RMK AO2 PK WND 20033/2057 SLP011 T01331161

And the national weather looked like this:


That big nasty blob of purple is an ice/snow mix that is headed towards New Mexico.  If I could taxi to the runway, I could beat it to Texas.  Unfortunately, the 32 mph wind gusts  at KTCS make taxiing impossible in a Cub. Looks like I'll need a hotel room for a couple of days.  On the bright side, it will give me a chance to do my virtual laundry......

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Leg 6 Pre-Flight- 24 February 2019 Truth Or Consequences Municipal (KTCS) to Dell City (Texas) Municipal (2E5)

Te weather gods have finally relented, and the 24th is an excellent day to fly.  At least in New Mexico.  Where I live in Wisconsin?  Not so much....


Today's flight is primarily aimed at getting the Cub to Texas, where I'm planning on exploring the Big Bend Area.  Although the weather is good, there are potentially some high winds in the El Paso area.  I"m going to avoid those by flying to Dell City, a very small municipal airport about 50 miles east of El Paso.  I've created the route to pass over the White Sands area of New Mexico, as well as the Sierra de Las Uvas mountains north of Las Cruces and the southern portion of the Lincoln national Forrest.  It will also set me up to see a portion of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. on a subsequent flight.  I'm planning on departing at 1800Z, landing briefly at Alamogordo Regional (KALM)  to top off the gas tank and proceed to Dell CIty.  I estimate the trip will take about 3.5 hours, including time on the ground.




My plan is The weather report looks good: Relatively low winds and clear skies for this leg:


METAR: KTCS [Truth or Consequence]
METAR: KTCS 241553Z AUTO 04007KT 10SM CLR 03/M12 A3030 RMK AO2 SLP248 T00281122

METAR: KALM [Alamogordo/White San]
METAR: KALM 241635Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM CLR 04/M08 A3030 RMK AO2

METAR: KGDP [Guadalupe Pass]
METAR: KGDP 241551Z AUTO 07021KT 10SM CLR 06/M12 A3028 RMK AO2 SLP243 T00611122 $


Terminal Area Forcast

KPEQ [Pecos Muni]
TAF: KPEQ 241120Z 2412/2512 22005KT P6SM SKC 
  FM241700 10010KT P6SM FEW250


Winds Aloft

DATA BASED ON 241200Z    
VALID 241800Z   FOR USE 1400-2100Z. TEMPS NEG ABV 24000

FT  3000    6000    9000   12000   18000   24000  30000  34000  39000

ROW      1821    2225+03 2328-03 2637-16 2644-29 265745 266654 276965
ELP      1413    2026+03 2125-02 2427-15 2533-27 264944 265454 265964
INK      1512+03 2219+04 2429-02 2530-15 2734-28 264844 275453 266263


   Aviation Forecast Discussion-El Paso Region
    Expect some increase in high clouds today, with SCT-BKN250
    prevailing in the afternoon. Light and variable winds this morning
    will shift to the southeast and south this afternoon, but with a
    weak gradient, we'll fall back to light/variable (drainage flows)
    again tonight.


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Leg 6 Flight- 24 February 2019 Truth Or Consequences Municipal (KTCS) to Dell City (Texas) Municipal (2E5)

Very unusual experience-I actually got off the blocks on time, and was airborne at 1758Z.  Beautiful weather, winds were as predicted.  The flight to KALM was very nice, with the New Mexico desert displaying some of the wide range of colors it is known for.  See attached images:

Image 1 Elephant Butte SSE of KTCS 1806Z



Image 2 Crossing the Caballo Mts looking south 1812Z



Image 3 Flying along the east side of Caballo Mtns 1820Z 



Image 4 Crossing the Rio Grande at Rincon 1840Z


Image 6 Sierra de Las Uvas 1850Z



Image 7 Near Waypoint 2 Sierra de Las Uvas 1850Z


Image 8 Sierra de Las Uvas 1856Z


Image 9 Approaching the Andres Mnts 1725Z



Image 10 Crossing Andres Mts White Sands NM  in Distance 1928Z


Image 11 White Sands NM 1936Z



I landed at Alamogordo (KALM) at 2002Z and  refueled.  Taking off at 2048Z, I flew across the Lincoln National Forest and into Texas.  The one interesting event on this leg of the flight was that when I was checking the Airport Facility Directory (after take off, of course) I realized that Dell City doesn't have 100LL gas available.  As a matter of fact, they don't have any fuel of any sort available.  The good news is that  I will  have 7 gallons in my tank when I land.  That should easily get me 70 miles or so, with a comfortable reserve.  The bad news is there isn't much in west Texas.   See attached images.


Image 12 Approaching Sacramento Mts after departing KALM 2102Z



Image 13 Sacramento Mtns.  White Sands NM is at right in photo 2103Z 



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Leg 7 Pre-Flight- 27 February 2019 Dell City (Texas) Municipal (2E5) to Presidio Lely (Texas) International (T77)

Today's flight is to the Big Bend area, along the Texas-Mexico border, with a brief detour through the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  Since I wasn't able to get any fuel at Dell City, I only have 7 gallons of gas in the Cub.  Consequentially,  I'll also make a brief fueling stop at Culberson County airport (KVHN).  I'm going to try to take off around 1700Z, which should put me at T77 by 2000Z




The national weather picture is pretty good in this area.  Although the weather in central Texas and Oklahoma looks terrible, the weather in this part of Texas is great.  



 The METAR reports look good for where I will be flying


Winds aloft look like they will be in the 5 mph range.  It also looks to be warm today-approximately 10 degrees at 9,000 feet.



Finally, the national weather service is predicting that the weather  for the next 24 hours looks pretty good for both the El Paso and Midlands region:

Midlands: VFR conditions will prevail next 24 hours. A cold front will drift
    into the area later today, but w/not much more than a wind shift.
    Plenty of high clouds are expected throughout the forecast period.
El Paso   valid 27/12z-28/12z.
    VFR conditions but with skies mostly BKN100-200. Surface winds
    generally around 10-15KT.

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Leg 7 Flight- 27 February 2019 Dell City (Texas) Municipal (2E5) to Presidio Lely (Texas) International (T77)


As is my habit, I got off the ground late, taking off at 1829Z.  The air temperature was unusually warm, even at 7,000 MSL.  I ended up having to open up a window to bring the cabin temperature down from 90 degrees to a more comfortable 72.  Otherwise, the trip was uneventful.  The west Texas  region is not known for its beauty.  However, the very stark landscape is attractive in its own way.    

Image 1 Crossing over the Guadalupe Mtns 1849Z



Image 2 Crossing the Sierra Diablo Mnts approaching Van Horn, Texas (KVHN) 1927Z




I landed at Culberson County airport (KVHN) at 1940Z, refueled and was back in the air at 2122Z.  The weather remained perfect for flying, and I landed at Presidio Lely International airport at 2305Z.  


Image 3 South of Valentine, TX 2212Z





Image 4 Approaching the Chiniti Mtns 2217Z



Image 5 Near Shafter, TX 2245Z



Image 6 Approaching Presidio Lely (T77) 2252Z


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Some Real World Photos of the Leg 7 Flight

 Image 1  Guadalupe Peak (center-left of the frame) from Hunter Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Photographer: CarlCarlsonIV ;  Source: CarlCarlsonIV/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guadalupe_Mountains_National_Park#/media/File:Guadalupe_Peak_from_Hunter_Peak.jpg 


Image 2 Sierra Diablo Mountains, Culberson County, Texas  Photographer: Mike G; Source:Flickr (flickr.com/photos/28149605@N07/24353742513)

Sierra Diablo Mountains, Culberson County, Texas

Image 3 Chiniti Mountains. Source: State of Texas;https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/chinati-mountains/gallery/chinati_mtns-img_1399_1760px796p.jpg



Image 4 Shafter, TX. Photographer: Plazak Source:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8f/ShafterTX.jpg

Interesting Factoid: According to Wikipedia, Shafter's claim to fame is having been used is a couple of scenes from the 1971 movie The Andromeda Strain 



Image 5 Profile of Lincoln -- US 67 S of Shafter TX

This one is a bit of an oddity-it's a mountain just south of Shafter that  has a resemblance to Abraham Lincoln: 


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Leg 8A Pre-flight- 01 March 2019 Presidio Lely (Texas) International (T77) to Big Bend Ranch State Park (3TE3)


Today's flight will have two legs: The first leg consists of a somewhat circuitous  flight to Big Bend Ranch State Park (3TE3), via the Big Bend National Park.  After refueling at 3TE3, I will proceed onto Alpine-Casparis (Texas) Municipal (E38).  My primary objective in this flight is to simply enjoy the scenery at Big Bend National Park.  My tentative plan is to get airborne at 1800Z, and on the ground in Alpine by 2300Z.  Initially, I will fly along the Rio Grande River (the US/Mexico border).  Hopefully, I can manage to stay on the north side of the border.  I will then fly around and through the Big Bend National Park, exiting it at its NE corner and proceeding west to refuel at 3TE3.  I'll then take a scenic trip to Alpine, TX, via Marathon, TX.



Today's weather looks good.  The eastern half of Texas is IFR today, but in this part of the state, the skies are clear:


The temperatures in the Big Bend area are all in the mid-70's and the freezing level is approximately 12,000 feet, so icing won't be a problem.  Winds at 9,000 feet are generally from the west at around 15 kts.  Surface winds at my destination are gusting to 20 knots, which may make the landing a bit more challenging, but nothing  too extreme.  According to the weather service, VFR conditions are expected to last through the evening.  See below:


METAR: KPRS [Presidio/Lely Intl]
METAR: KPRS 011855Z AUTO 21005KT 10SM CLR 25/M03 A3005 RMK AO2 T02541031

METAR: KE38 [Alpine/Casparis Muni]
METAR: KE38 011855Z AUTO 28011G20KT 10SM CLR 24/M02 A3013 RMK AO2 T02431024

METAR: K6R6 [Dryden/Terrell Cnty]
METAR: K6R6 011853Z AUTO 19010G16KT 25/13 A2996 RMK AO1 SLP117 T02500128 $


Terminal Area Forecast

KFST [Fort Stockton/Pecos]
TAF: KFST 011720Z 0118/0218 28012G18KT P6SM SCT250 
  FM012300 24007KT P6SM SCT250


Aviation Forecast Discussion

VFR conditions are expected through this evening across southeast
    New Mexico and southwest Texas. Overnight, low clouds and fog are
    likely to develop again at MAF with IFR/LIFR conditions possible
    after 09Z, and MVFR conditions are expected at INK after 10Z.
    Though fog should disperse by mid-morning Saturday, IFR conditions
    are expected to persist at MAF through 18Z due to low ceilings.
    Other area terminals will remain VFR overnight.
    Winds will generally be light west to southwest through today,
    though west winds 12 knots or greater with some gustiness are
    expected mainly this afternoon at FST and PEQ. Winds will drop to
    less than 12 knots across the region this evening through Saturday

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Leg 8A Flight- 01 March 2019 Presidio Lely (Texas) International (T77) to Big Bend Ranch State Park (3TE3)

Once again, real life interfered with a timely take off.  At least, that's my story.  I didn't get off the ground until 2030Z,   With sunset in Alpine, TX occurring at 1853 local ( 020154Z), I don't have too much time to get to Big Bend Ranch and refuel, so I may have to do the second leg on 2 March.


By the time I had begun to taxi, the winds had increased from 210 at 5 knots to  270 at 16knots , with gusts to 19, giving  a very significant crosswind component to the takeoff from Runway 35.  Truth be known, the crosswind component was close to the limit (if not over) what should be attempted in a J3.  However, by using a lot of rudder and aileron, I was able to get the Cub off the ground safely.  Visibility was excellent, and I got a chance to enjoy the scenery at Big Bend national park, so much so that I decided to continue to fly around the park and spend the night at 3TE3, rather than try to get to Alpine by sunset.  I can always fly to Alpine tomorrow.   See images below:

Image 1 Approaching Lajitas 2042Z



Image 2  The South Face of Chios Mts 2110Z


Image 3 Approaching Panther Junction 2137Z



Image 4 Chios Mtn Basin 2141Z



And here are some real world photos of the area covered by this flight:

Image 5 Big Bend National Park  Source: NPS (US Govt), (https://www.national-park.com/welcome-to-big-bend-national-park/)



Image 6 "The Window" Souce: NPS (US Govt)



Image 7 Balanced Rock.



Image 8 South Rim Flowers: Source: Reine Wonite for National Park Service;  south-rim-vista-at-big-bend-by-reine-won


Image 9 Chios Basin. Souce: NPS


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Leg 8B Pre-flight and Flight- 02 March 2019 Big Bend Ranch State Park (3TE3) to Alpine-Casparis Municipal (E38)


After spending the night at Big Bend state park, I wake up to a fine flying day for the flight to Alpine.  Weather in the area is VFR, with winds aloft from the west at about 9knts at 9,000 feet MSL, and temperatures around 21 degrees C.   A low pressure area coming in from the NE, and the low along the Gulf coast of Texas is creating IFR conditions to the east, so I won't be able to fly towards San Antonio after landing at Alpine.  That front also may create a problem for any flights heading east tomorrow.


METAR: KPRS [Presidio/Lely Intl]
METAR: KPRS 021655Z AUTO 26005KT 10SM CLR 21/M04 A3006 RMK AO2 T02111040

KFST [Fort Stockton/Pecos]
TAF: KFST 021137Z 0212/0312 19009KT P6SM SCT150 
  FM021600 06008KT P6SM BKN200

METAR: KE38 [Alpine/Casparis Muni]

METAR: KE38 021655Z AUTO 29007KT 10SM CLR 24/M06 A3014 RMK AO2 T02361057

Image 1.  National WX situation.  



Image 2  Aviation Forecast 1800 Z



I take off at 1747Z.  The winds were very light-Only 4 knots.  However, at altitude they were gusting, causing me a lot of difficulty in keeping the cub properly trimmed.  Navigation was easy for the second half of the trip, as I only had to follow Texas Highway 385 north, and then US 90 west to Alpine.  The flight was uneventful, and I landed at Alpine at 1940Z.


Image 3 Hen Egg Mountain 1813Z



Image 4 Looking South towards Terlingua 1813Z




Image 5 Heading for Rosillos Mtns 1824Z



Image 6 Approaching Marathon TX 1309Z


Edited by CV60
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Leg 9 Pre-flight and Flight- 03 March 2019 Alpine-Casparis Municipal (KE38) to Real County Airport (K49R)

Sunday morning dawns bright and fair in Alpine, Texas.  The rest of the state?  Notsomuch.  There's a whole lot of IFR out there....  Those two low pressure areas I was concerned about yesterday are giving my flight planning  a whupping....


Image 1  Aviation Forecast



However it could be worse.  I could be flying anywhere else in the country, and I would be dealing with this kind of icing:

Image 2 Icing



I had hoped to make it to the Real county airport (49R) on the western edge of the Hill country, a hilly and scenic region of the state lying north and west of San Antonio.  However, there is too much weather between me and that destination.  My alternative plan is to get to Del RIo International airport (KDRT).  It is located at the crook of the RIo Grande, just about where the VFR/IFR boundary is.  KDRT is currently under MVFR condition.  If I can get past the IFR conditions near Terrel County airport (K6R6), I may be able to make it to Del Rio, where I can wait out the weather, and possibly get to K49R later today.  According to the Terminal Area Forecast, Del RIo looks like it will remain in MVFR during the flight.  According the forecast discussion, visibility is improving and MVFR will begin to predominate.  However, the weather service added the caveat that their  "confidence is very low and amendments are likely."   Since only my virtual life is at risk, I decide to go.  


Terminal Area Forecast

KDRT [Del Rio Intl]
TAF: KDRT 031255Z 0313/0412 08007KT 5SM BR OVC009 
  FM031800 35010KT P6SM BKN015 
  FM032100 35012G22KT P6SM BKN250 
  FM040600 06012KT P6SM OVC040

 18Z TAF issuance
    IFR will stick around much of the afternoon even though
    visibilities have improved the last hour. Most locations are
    expected to go MVFR late afternoon into the evening. Confidence is
    very low and amendments are likely.


Image 3 METAR for 1725Z



Image 4 Flight Plan







Edited by CV60
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Leg 9 Flight- 03 March 2019 Alpine-Casparis Municipal (KE38) to Real County Airport (K49R)


I rush my preflight checks, as I really want to get past that IFR area near Terrell county airport.  Fortunately, the engine warms up quickly in the 75 degree air temperature.  I'm off the blocks at 1833Z, and off the ground ten minutes later.  About 30 minutes after takeoff, I noticed the visibility began to drop (Image 1) but it then quickly improved back to 10miles with  scattered clouds, making it very easy for me to follow the US 90 highway east.   

Image 1 Decreasing Visibility 1916Z



I also pick up a nice 15 knot tailwind which gets me to the Terrell county waypoint 13 minutes ahead of schedule.  By the time I get to the Terrell County airport checkpoint, the skies are clear, with 10 nm visibility.  (Image 2)

Image 2  3nm SE of Sanderson, X 5nm WNW of Terrell County 1940Z



I turn towards the next waypoint, and tune my handheld to check the weather.  Hmm.  Terrell County is reporting rain.  I was just there, and there wasn't any rain there.  Matter of fact, those skies were CAVU....

It was at that point that my weather program TELEPORTED A  CLOUD BANK ON TOP OF ME!!


Image 3 This is not the CAVU you were looking for, 1953Z



Now, I have problems.  No horizon, no attitude indicator, an unknown amount of cloud above me and the ground approximately 3000 feet below me.  Without an attitude indicator, I'm not sure I can safely climb to the top of this goo.  Terrell county reported  1700 foot ceilings, so I opt to slowly descend, using my airspeed indicator and the sounds of the cub to give me  a rough measure of my aircraft pitch, and the wet compass to give me an idea of my angle of bank.  I also continue to head SE, until I get sight of the ground as the ground was lower in that direction.  I break out of the clouds at about 3000 feet MSL and find a North/South road, and follow it, figuring it will lead me to US 90, which I can then follow to Terrell County airport (Image 4). Sure enough, it does, and I make a hurried landing before an even lower cloud bank gets dropped on me.

Image 4 Following a road 2005Z





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