Monday, September 9, 2013

Week Twenty-Three: Cross Country

Haven't forgotten about this, just didn't get a true weekend. I flew cross country so I got back Sunday night. The cross country was pretty awesome, I chose to fly to Colorado so I could visit home and also fly around in the mountains. It was very cool overall and I'm glad I got to do it.

First off, you have to plan out your route extensively, making sure to plan for which airports you're going to, getting ramp space and gas, places to stay and things to do. Since I was heading home, it was pretty easy to find a place to sleep, but the other stuff was the same. You also have to fill out a couple of forms saying where you'll be headed, which both authorizes your trip and also serves as a means to get paid your per diem when you return.

Friday was the big day, so we brought in our bags packed with clothes, our large amounts of publications we'd be using in-flight, and the rest of our normal gear. I was in 3716, a green-tail T-6, so I started getting ready as usual with the small exception of throwing my stuff in the small baggage compartment. We were headed to Garden City, Kansas for our stopover point before flying on to Centennial Airport in Colorado. What's cool is it's about 10 minutes from my house, so my family and close friends were able to swing by and check out the jet and take a bunch of pictures and stuff. It was really good to be home again after quite a while away, and Colorado was really great compared to Oklahoma.

We (me, my IP, and my family) hung out that afternoon and night which was pretty sweet. The next day we had planned a VFR trip up to Grand Junction. Flying up into the mountains was very cool, it was a perfectly clear day and we could see everything below us well. It was pretty quick hop up to Grand Junction, and we passed many of the common skiing destinations on the way up. Though they were quite devoid of snow at this point in the year. Still, the scenery was great and we enjoyed turning from side to side to catch better glances of stuff as it passed by below. After shooting a couple of approaches to Grand Junction, we landed and refueled. Right as we landed a couple of helicopters flew up and landed close by, and it turns out they were Army choppers (but didn't really look like it). So we got a chance to chat with them in the planning room and catch a quick glance at the college football games that were on that day.

Then it was back in the jet and off to Centennial again, though by a different route. We fly over to the Black Canyon near Gunnison, which was pretty phenomenal to see. A river wound its way through a massive gorge with steep slopes on either side. Pretty awesome. From there we flew from lake to lake until we were once again out of the mountains and in sight of the field.

We had planned on catching most of the Air Force football game that day, but there were plenty of delays, so we caught only about the last third of the game. Not too bad to see some old friends who were still at the Academy and also to see my dad. He had driven up from NM that day to watch the game and see me, and we chatted for quite a while at dinner that night, which was really good.

Back up to the Denver area that night for one last night out, then in the morning we set off for Amarillo after some goodbyes at home. The flight over was mostly straight, so there was plenty of time to relax (kind of) way up at 27,000 feet.

Amarillo was pretty bumpy and busy, but we got some good approach work done. What really sucked was when I was opening the canopy on the ground, my helmet bag (with my wallet and phone in it) got caught in the opening struts next to my seat. I kept trying to open the canopy, but it was stuck... on my phone and wallet. So I moved the bag and got out without realizing. But when I reached in the bag to grab my stuff, I saw the damage. My phone was crushed beyond functionality, so now I'm without a properly working phone, though I think the data and stuff still works. Just the screen is destroyed as hell. So that's a big bummer.

We had a LONG flight back to Vance, stopping quickly at Oklahoma City for some last approaches and then flying home. We landed and departed 3716 Green for the last time that weekend, making sure all our stuff was accounted for.

I really enjoyed my time, though it does kind of suck not having a true weekend to relax. As you can imagine the whole experience was a bit draining, and I'm definitely less-rested than usual. But hey, the real thing to be happy about is the fact that I'm only 6 rides away from T-6 completion!

~ Dakota


  1. Hey Dakota,
    Good stuff here.
    What is the max range you can go for your Cross Country?
    I start OTS in a week and will be in Vance in December.
    Thank you


  2. Hey Gabe,

    The max allowable range from Vance is 750 nautical miles. So heading west that's just about Salt Lake City, UT and east, around Pensacola, FL. North and south are pretty much within range. Each leg is around 300-400 nm.

    Best of luck!

  3. Awesome
    Im currently stationed at KDMA, Davis-Monthan AFB and I want to fly back. It's 690ish.
    Appriciate it.