Ottertail Country

Ottertail Country
Ottertail South

March 18, 2008

March flying!

Yes, turkeys can fly... and very well! Sometimes when I step out the back door the whole flock will fly up, scare the heck out of me, and then they cruise up high and sail into the woods. You think those birds have made a few trips across the yard? It hasn't snowed for a while so it looks like a few hundred have walked through the yard. But that's not the flying I'm referring to.....

I went to Phillips Sunday afternoon and got the plane out. Clear, no wind, about 30°. I fired up and headed North. I had the camera along, so I took a shot of Solberg flowage as I winged by.

Soon I could see Park Falls quite clearly, and I was up to about 4500' by then. I thought maybe I would head north for a while, and I climbed to 6500', appropriate for the direction I was heading. I passed Butternut, Glidden, and then Mellen was in sight.

As I neared the Penoke Range I could see quite easily that most of Superior was free of ice, but the Chequamegon bay and the area around the Apostles was iced in. The photo is not good, hazy, dirty windshield, etc, but the blue stripe through the photo is the lake edge....

Then I was directly over the Penoke mountains. It is noticably higher right there, even from this altitude. Lots of trees, snow, trees and a bunch of trees. A pretty desolate area and I was glad to get over it and in sight of some farm country. The tension eases a little when the woods are thinner.......

Back to things at hand. The gps says 28 more miles to JFK Memorial airport at Ashland, and I'm going 65mph airspeed. Enlarge these photos for a much better view. This is about the lowest tech, most inexpensive gps unit one can get. I bought it quite few years ago for using in the woods and such. Now I have a couple of dozen surrounding airport co-ordinates stored in memory and it's nice to see the direction, distance reaming, time countdown etc. No replacement for planning and plotting a course with a sectional map, but a good addition.

Here's another shot of the islands and bay. I took about a hunnert pix, but very few of the distant lake photos turned out worth a hoot. It was a captivating sight, I must say. I'll go back a little later in the season, and pick a day with good light and no haze. That should help with photos.

Soon Ashland was very obvious to the North. The penninsula looks very different from the air than when driving. You know how it's shaped, but you never get a sense of how it really is. From the air it really is an awesome sight....

Hey, there's JFK!! It looks just like the photo on the airport website. It looks just like the sectional. Airports stick out like a sore thumb from the air. You can notice it more easily than Ashland itself. The airport is on the southwest corner of the city, just of 112, the road you may take to bypass the bulk of Ashland to the west??

I checked the AWOS at JFK (automated weather observation system), noted the 9mph wind from 40°. That meant selecting runway 02 (20° heading), making the proper downwind approach, base leg and into the final approach. The landing was uneventful and I taxied up to the terminal. Here I am parked with the big guys.... the terminal is a log structure, very nicely done.

A guy at the airport said that the ice all around the islands had melted on top, re-frozen and ended up extremely smooth. A little bit of snow on the ice and he said landing on the ice was possible just about anywhere in that area!! If it had been a little earlier, I would have gassed up at JFK and headed out to the islands, but I was on a schedule to get home about 1/2 hour before dark. Darn!!
Anyway,I warmed up for a while, called Peg to let her know where I was, and then I headed back south. Mellen was fast approaching, and this is what it looks like from the northwest.

And here is another view of those bleak, winter Penokes. It looks so different from the overpowing green of the woods in summer, when we have been up in that area the most. Getting over these hills means about another 30-40 minutes of travel to Phillips.

Even before you get to Mellen, you can see the smoke from the mill in Park Falls, and soon after that you can spot the smoke from Lionite mill in Phillips. Here is a view of Butternut Lake, between Butternut and Park Falls and just to the west. It's big lake and it seemed to be calling to me to investigate it at ice level. No time for that today, and it won't be long before flying low over lakes won't be a good idea......

Another view of Park Falls, this one from the northwest. I can't wait until warmer weather so I can leave the doors off the plane and take a photographer with me. I'm shceming about a way to mount a camcorder on the wing struts so I can get a little video of some take-offs and landings. We'll see.

I gotta go, Carlo


Anonymous said...

Great pictures,Gene. What a lot of isolated country. What a nice way we can enjoy your trips.'


yram said...

I love the Penokes! Great range. What a wonderful flight. So the greater lake looks open? How wonderful. You should fly over an pick up John and head north. Plan a couple day trip?
The moon is so beautiful tonight. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

looks fairmeeliurr! i think i been up there in da plane.