Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Fall Flight

Fall is in the air in Minnesota, which is good because I love fall weather, football, postseason baseball, thunderstorm-free flying, apple cider, pumpkin pie, and changing leaves, and bad because our six-month winter is just around the corner. Autumn here is measured in weeks, not months, so it behooves one to get out and take advantage while you can.

Last Sunday, Dawn and I rented N738FZ for a leaf-peeping excursion to Duluth and up Lake Superior's North Shore. I originally planned on making a day of it by stopping at Two Harbors or Silver Bay for lunch and returning via Wisconsin's Apostle Islands, but someone else needed the plane after us, so we just did it as a non-stop 260 nm round trip. Obviously, we need our own airplane!

It was a beautiful day for flying, and the leaves in the northern portion of the state were at their peak colors. We flew low, navigating by roads, rivers, and lakes. Dawn would occasionally open her window and lean out into the icy blast to take photos, and other times would take the controls so I could do so out my side. It was a lovely time, and a reminder of just how great small planes are for gaining fresh perspective on familiar territory.

Here are some of the best photos from the day.


sounddoc said...

very nice, Sam! welcome back to part 91 :)

Brian Douglas Hayes said...

Looks gorgeous from up there. Familiar territory indeed (I've been back and forth between the cities and Duluth all summer), but the fall colours look so much more amazing up in the sky.

Tim G in MN said...

Thanks for sharing Sam! Wife and I got engaged at Split Rock many years ago. What dam is that in the next to last pic?

Tim G in MN (Maple Grove)

Anonymous said...

Nice Pics Sam! Last time I saw split rock and gooseberry falls from that perspective was a few years ago from the cockpit of a MN Air Force Reserve C-130- we got to observe as Civil Air Patrol Cadets. Don't mean to keep bugging you about this, but I am a UND student and was wondering if I could email you a few questions?

Bob said...

Great pix, Sam.

Let's hope the Apostles make it on another trip/posting.


P.S. You do need your own plane. We ALL need our own planes!

Tom said...

Oh what beautiful pictures! Every time I see pictures of Lake Superior, it reminds me how much it is like the Maine coast and Lake Champlain up here in Vermont. The fall foliage there is spectacular; I hope I get to go to that lighthouse one of these days.

Anonymous said...

Great post, love the pictures of your missions I have been missing that from you.

Sam said...

Tim G- That's the Fond du Lac Dam on the St Louis River just downstream of Jay Cooke State Park.

Dan- Sorry, I'm not great at responding to comments in a timely fashion. I'll comment on the other post, but feel free to email me. samweigel -at- gmail -dot- com.

Colin said...


I've been in conversation with a pilot in this club, which I think is close to you, no?

Sounds like a lot cheaper than owning a plane.

Constant reader,

Fred said...

Touching the face of God indeed.

Anonymous said...

Sent you an email- thanks!

Anonymous said...

Sam, thanks for posting those pics. I'm sitting in Afghanistan right now looking at a whole lot of brown and waiting for the Twins to win a game. The fall colors bursting upward at your little Skyhawk and the words to go with it helped this MN flyboy be home, if only for a little while. Great work!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:05PM -
Thank you for all you do in protecting our country!
I'm glad we could add a splash of color to your day. Hope you get to come home soon.
~Sam's Wife

Jim said...


Owning a plane is darn expensive, though now (because of the depressed US economy) is a great time to buy.

According to the amount I fly and the state of my wallet, owning 100% of a plane is a luxury. Have a look at your logbook and see how many hours a year you fly: If it's 10-30 then renting is your least expensive option. Somewher ealong the line it becomes less expensive to buy.

Somewhere in the middle you can get into the ownership game by buying a share of an aircraft - I just bought into a 12-way C172 share (most shared a/c are 2-, 3- or 4-way shares). My capital costs and annual costs are significantly reduced, as are upgrades. My per-hour flying cost is $80, a bit more than half the cost of renting, and that covers oil, gas, and contributions to the engine fund and the annual repair fund.

The better news: With a lower per-hour cost, I am likely to go flying more often, go further, and stay longer. More "flying", and less "get up once a month and go drill holes in the sky".

And, when I sell, I'll get my investment back. Or almost all of it - if the a/c loses value or the economy tanks again, the loss will also be 1/12 of the total.

Some ownership shares are basically rental businesses, where you cover the capital costs and somebody gets a salary to run the place. Some are nothing more than 2-3-4 guys/gals getting together and splitting the capital costs (the per-hours costs for this arrangmeent are significantly less as well).

Of course, Sam's "hey buddy, can I borrow your plane" method is least expensive of all. Friends with sharable toys are best.

Tim G in MN said...

Thanks for the reply Sam! I kind of wondered if that was one. By the way, have you seen the new aviation show in the Twin Cities? It runs on Saturday mornings at 9am on KSTC Channel 45. Here's a link to their website where you can see some of their video in HD. Some very nice aviation videography:

Tim G in MN

DeAnn said...

Beautiful photos! Wow. I really like seeing the lighthouse. ~DeAnn