Here is an account of a transcontinental flight Ted Teach of Ohio made in his 1953 M-18C, accompanied by Jerry Johnston of Michigan, to attend the WAMM Fly-in at Porterville, California in May, 2000.
May 30, 2000
For the fifth time, I was looking forward to the annual trek (Might Flight) to Porterville and back, when Dave Dodson called and suggested he would be interested in flying out together. As plans were being made he called and said Jerry Johnston of Roscommon MI (Mite N4124) might join us and even several other Mites along the way, two from Oklahoma, and maybe even several more. This was beginning to sound great.
It was not all to be, however, and only Jerry was able to make the trip. We were going to join up a Blakesburg IA, at the headquarters for the Antique Aircraft Association. Due to some weather and headwinds we missed our connection but did make it the next morning at St. Joe, MO. I was checking out of the motel when I was paged to the phone to find Jerry waiting at the airport. "Off we went---- into the wild blue yonder" No joke! Headwinds gave us at times a ground speed of 49 kts. We landed that evening in Liberal KS in 47kt winds, gusting to 52!!! Obviously, we survived although back taxiing in 47 kt winds can be exciting.
The weather was to improve so we tied down, and since it was only 4:30 PM we decided to go to the Liberal Aircraft Museum on the field. They were to close at 5:00, but gave us a discount since we would only be there about 20 minutes. What a great 20 minutes!! This is a great museum for mostly civil and private aviation. Even had a Mite in military paint!
Out route was direct to Santa Rosa, NM and west to Bullhead City, AZ for the night. Across the river from the airport is the casino complex of Laughlin NV. A room with two double beds, first class, only $22, no tax. What a deal! On to CA and then Edwards, around the southwest corner to Tehatchipi, and into the valley to Porterville. My total time out was xx hours with xx stops.
We had the usual good time and great hospitality of the locals but time to go came soon and we decided to take the northern route home. We crossed the Sierras along V230 and then across NV desert to the beautiful and scenic rock formations in eastern UT. From there to Grand Junction where we landed for the night. Talk about hospitality! We no more than entered the office when the counter girl handed us a set of courtesy car keys and said she assumed we could use a car! The next morning they had the privilege of selling us at least 10 gallons of gas each and then sent us on our way with a box of candy each!
Jerry always had the fantasy of flying his Mite into (and of course out of) Leadville CO, 9927 ft. elevation and 6400 ft. of runway. Now remember, few if any Mites weigh what they were supposed to out of the factory, add enough safety gear, clothing and personal items for more than a week, maps, batteries, cameras etc., and one 210 pounder and a 225 pounder. To Leadville? Charge ahead!
En-route we flew over Aspen and then to Leadville, much of the time at 12 to 13 thou. No sweat. Upon landing a young lady offered the "Certificate of Pilotage" simply for landing there. Nothing was given or offered for flying out! Jerry added enough fuel to get to Colorado Springs but I needed none. We followed a 180 hp Cessna 172 out with two little skinny people on board and it was not obvious during their take-off exercise that it would be successful, but they finally made it after two lift-offs and two settle-back-downs, it was pretty hairy.
On the other hand the Mites were off at about midpoint and climbed right out. Over the ridge and on to Meadow Lake at CO Springs. I stopped along the way to catch some lift in a strong thermal and lost Jerry. After crossing the ridge there is about 50 miles of flat high plateau before reaching the mountains just north of Pikes Peak. I couldn't see Jerry as he was about 5 miles ahead of me and it seemed like a good time to see if I could climb the Mite to 15,000. No sweat; then a long decent into the Springs Class C area and I called approach for approval for flight of two on to Meadow Lake. I thought Jerry was now with me but I couldn't see him. On final I spotted him right behind me only to find he had taken another route in and had arrived from north of the Academy.
There we met Mite owner and pilot Larry Dale, who showed us his Mite, drove us to lunch, showed us the sights including some really interesting antiques and home-builts, and introduced us to several other great pilot types.
From there on not much excitement. We parted Tuesday afternoon at Centerville IA homeward bound arriving in the early evening.
It was a great trip; 44 hours and 22 stops. I'm ready to go again! Can't wait till next year. Maybe then we can find more Mites to join us.
To see the photos taken by Jerry Johnston on their return flight, go to Mites of the Month, July 2000.
June 29, 2000