Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Day 14: Nothing a Mojito Won't Fix

Carbondale, IL (MDH) to Kansas City International (MCI)
320 statute miles (278 nm)
time enroute: 2:32

It all sounded so simple. We got on the road by 8:00 and were at the airport by a little after 9:00. We had a medium-length flight over to Kansas City where Lisa and Sarah would board a Southwest sardine can back to California. I would then continue westward.

The flight over here was smooth and easy. This was my first landing at a Class Bravo, but it didn't seem much different than an arrival at a busy Class C like San Jose, Oakland, or Albuquerque. Besides, I've had experience with Class B transitions in San Francisco and had VFR flight under the Bravo on this trip in St. Louis and Chicago.

The ATIS advertised runways 19 left and right in use, and the approach controller told me I would be assigned one of those after I was handed off to tower. In fact, tower asked me if I would like runway 27 to save time. The wind was 4 kts from the south so it was an easy yes, since I was arriving from the east. It would also get me closer to my intended parking location.

I was advised to land long, partly because it would get me closer to my destination, and also to help out traffic that was waiting for me so he could depart on Runway 19L which crosses at around the midpoint of 27. I aimed for the intersection and still landed with at least 2500 feet to spare.

We taxied over to Executive Beechcraft, where everyone was super-helpful. I had decided to head downtown for Arthur Bryant's BBQ. It's a pilgrimage I've wanted to make ever since I first read Calvin Trillin's Tummy Trilogy back in the mid-80s. The folks at Executive Beechcraft suggested a rental car and arranged for one in just a few minutes.

I dropped Lisa and Sarah at their terminal and headed for town. For about the fourth time on this trip, I neglected to load street map data for my destination city in the GPS ahead of time. Luckily I had a Xeroxed map to point me in the right direction. Instinct and aroma got me the rest of the way.

From the street, the restaurant lived up to my expectations of appearance. Inside, the food scored on all fronts.

I love ribs, but one of the specialties at Arthur Bryant's is their burnt ends. These are trimming from the smoked beef brisket. I had no choice. I ordered the two-meat combo sandwich. Sandwich is used loosely here. There were two slices of white bread. The burnt ends oozed their juicy goodness on one slice, while the ribs rested neatly on the other. I've never had burnt ends before, but they were great. There may be better BBQ restaurants, but Arthur Bryant's is good enough for me. They've fed a slew of notable diners over the years, from presidents to movie stars. Now they've fed me. Oddly, they didn't ask to take my picture for the wall.

Nirvana achieved, I headed back to the airport to get going on my flight. I taxied out to the runway and started the run-up checks. My last checklist item is the carb heat (for non-flyers: carb heat is needed to prevent or remove ice which can form on the intake of the carburetor, leading to power loss during flight. It can occur even on warm days if the conditions are right.) I pulled the knob, which usually has about two inches of play. Four inches later, I knew something was wrong. So I got to call Kansas City tower and request a taxi back to the ramp. A 737 jet got to change taxiways to let me by.

There is no maintenance facility for teensie little Cessna's here at the International Airport. However, Executive Beechcraft had one of their mechanics stop by on his way home. He secured the heater box, so I might be able to fly down to their downtown facility in the morning. I'm still debating that vs. asking them to bring the replacement cable they have ordered up here so I don't have to fly. It might cost more in time and money, but it would be a better choice.

So that's why I'm staying at the Amerisuites in Kansas City and drinking mojitos (well, just one) at the Ruby Tuesday next door. Hopefully I will be on my way by mid-day tomorrow. We've been a day ahead of schedule since arriving in Chicago last week, so now I am back on the original schedule. I'm flying alone, so I can hopefully get in more hours each day. I still expect to be back in Palo Alto by Saturday, which was the plan.


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