For this adventure I’m on a mission: I’m headed to Michigan via Oshkosh, WI (KOSH). My problem this time was choosing an aircraft with enough power to make it over the 12,000 foot peaks of the Rocky Mountains and have enough fuel to make it to Oshkosh. For kicks I chose the Douglas DC-3. That’s right, the old gooney bird. It might be old. It might be ugly. But it has a fairly long range, and it’s not afraid of mountain climbing.
My flight plane from SkyVector.com was a follows – this is all I used, honest:
KASE ASPEN-PITKIN CO/SARDY FIELD 343° (355°T) 13nm 5.2min DBL RED TABLE (113.0 DBL ) 020° (032°T) 39.7nm 15.9min RLG KREMMLING (113.8 RLG ) 056° (070°T) 91.9nm 36.7min GLL GILL (114.2 GLL ) 065° (078°T) 176.5nm 1h10.6m LBF NORTH PLATTE (117.4 LBF ) 056° (067°T) 213.4nm 1h25.4m SUX SIOUX CITY (116.5 SUX ) 061° (070°T) 139.8nm 55.9min MCW MASON CITY (114.9 MCW ) 075° (081°T) 79.5nm 31.8min UKN WAUKON (116.6 UKN ) 073° (078°T) 79.2nm 31.7min DLL DELLS (117.0 DLL ) 060° (063°T) 58.5nm 23.4min OSH OSHKOSH (111.8 OSH) KOSH WITTMAN RGNL Total 891.7nm
SkyVector estimated this flight to take 5 – 7 hours. Well, let’s just say I made it through about 5 hours before I started getting restless. I kicked it up to 4x a few times between the last few VOR.
The flight was pretty cool. The DC-3 was fun to fly once I got my antique navigation legs back. I flew at 17,500 feet. The weather was fair but I had to keep both hands on the yoke. It tended to drift and rock in 1 kt cross winds; simulators aren’t perfect I guess.
The mountains weren’t really a problem. I went straight north out of Aspen and I crossed the Rockies near their northern end. The fuel was lean and I tried to keep the climb within specs. I think my climb was a little less than 120 kts at about 500 fpm. I say “about” and a “little” because the needles – like the turbulence – were all over the place.
Once we got it leveled off at 17,500 the rest of the trip was smooth. We went from one VOR to the next, using the GPS as “situational awareness” and just to check we were headed in the right direction.
When the main fuel tanks read 20% I switched over to AUX tanks. That happened somewhere over Iowa. The AUX tanks hold about 200 gallons. That took us near Oshkosh. I think the AUX tanks were 20% when I was on final.
I did one missed approach on RWY 36 with a closed traffic (VFR) loop back to 36. At this point in a 6 hour trip I wasn’t much for challenges so I just asked for landing on the second run. I landed safe taxied to the fuel point and promptly shutdown the engines. So much for the beast known as the DC-3. This adventure was in the books and my next trip across Lake Michigan was the one I was looking forward to.