Thursday, August 02, 2007

Day 15 Part Two: Cattle Barons and Oil Tycoons

Kansas City, MO (MCI) to Cheyenne, WY (CYS)
591 statute miles (513 nm)
time enroute: 4:50 (includes 28 minute fuel stop in Sidney, NE)

The Executive Beechcraft team came through, proving Bernoulli's Law--the vacuum created by money being sucked out a bank account is what causes planes to fly. With contributions from Chris, Terry, Scott and Sunshine, I was airworthy by around 12:30.

I had a little bonus before I left. There was a Cessna Citation X jet parked on the ramp, so i wandered over to peak in the through the open door. A voice from inside invited me in. The jet belongs to a national hamburger chain and I had a nice chat with the pilot. It sure looks like the way to travel. Club seating for two groups of four. The cockpit makes my plane look like a Model T. Okay, a model T with some updates. I guess the good part is that I get to fly where and when I want. All the same, corporate pilot seems like a good life if it suits you.

I took off around 12:45. Once again, I got to experience being a guppy in a shark tank as I puttered around Kansas City International airport in my Cessna. I was assigned the longest runway, so I was probably almost a thousand feet above ground level by the time I passed the end. I was eager to try out my new portable oxygen supply and get familiar with it while I was in an area that I could get by without. I turned it on at around 8000 to give myself time to figure it all out and then climbed to 10500. I know from personal experience that I am affected at that altitude, but today was awesome. I have a little pulse oximeter that monitors blood oxygen saturation level. By keeping it in the happy range of around 90, I knew exactly what I was getting. Two week ago I had never heard of an oxygen bar, now I can have my own.

Flying high got me above the clouds and also had me going nice and fast with relatively low fuel consumption. I could easily have made Cheyenne non-stop, but I realized I needed to set foot in Nebraska to claim it for my life list. I found Sidney, NE, the last airport with fuel in the state and picked it as my stopping point. After fueling, it was less than an hour more to Cheyenne. You have to be on your toes, because the terrain is flat, but gradually gains elevation as you move west. Cheyenne is 2000 feet higher than Sidney.

I flew over to Cheyenne just under a broken cloud deck that ran up to about 3000 AGL. I was free of storms and precipitation, but my NEXRAD showed a big glob of light rain activity just northwest of the airport. I beat it in and got a ride to the hotel here.

The Plains Hotel is the most interesting hotel on the trip and probably the best value. The rooms are clean, well-appointed and roomy, all for $69/night. It has a great frontier feel.

I ate dinner downstairs in what I was told was the best steak place around. I had a very tasty slice of prime rib and a decent salad. After that I walked a couple of blocks to stretch my legs and had a mediocre ice cream from a local shop. As I walked, a gentle rain began. As of now, it seems to have let up.

I'm looking forward to a great night's sleep and then a short flight to Salt Lake City tomorrow morning. The only question is whether the weather will cooperate.

Over and out.


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