Beech River to Baker Oct4 2019
I didn’t plan to but I woke up at 4am. way too excited to go back to sleep. Thanks to the Beech River hospitality all my electronics were charged, I was well rested, and had a hot cup of coffee in hand shortly after waking up.
I got packed, returned the keys, and tried to make sure I cleaned up before I left. Hope I didn’t miss anything, the kindness these people showed me can’t be overstated.
Winds weren’t bad at ground level but forecast to be strong out of the North at altitude. It was also a bit cooler, glad I packed some insulation. I laid out my wing got strapped in(including the repaired cursed fuel bladder) and said goodbye to Beech River.
Launch went well. I got hit by a fast moving wall of air as soon as I cleared the trees, this was expected. The goal was Maury Co. about 55 miles to the East. Pretty fast it became apparent this was not happening.
I use an app called PPGPS to record my flight path and help with navigation. It starts automatically when my speed gets above a jogging pace and stops when I land and my speed drops to zero. It restarted more than once. In the air.
Trying to climb out above the worst of the wind I ended up flying backwards for awhile. I found smooth air and my best speed at around 3000′. The day before I averaged 40mph. This flights average would be under 20mph.
After crossing the Tennessee River emergency landing options got pretty sparse, but from my altitude I was pretty sure I could turn downwind and make a good ten miles before touchdown. That’s a pretty big safety margin.
I decided quickly to go for my alternate airport , Baker(0MB) near Hoehnwald. Again started the fuel transfer about an hour into the flight. Luckily (and I’m not sure why) I had put two valves in my aux. fuel line so the night before I removed the faulty one and ran a full bladder through it to test.
Fuel started flowing, VICTORY, fuel drops started leaking from the connector just after the valve and blowing backwards. My exhaust is on that side. Not victory.
I cutoff the fuel and started working this new problem. I wasn’t sure I needed the fuel to make Baker, but I was sure the wind was really slowing me down and it may get worse. I needed to make the transfer happen. I figured out if I just cracked the valve and held the leaking joint with my glove I could slowly move the fuel into the main tank. For the next hour I alternated moving fuel until my glove was saturated and closing the valve to hold out my hand and let it dry. It was really slow and really sketchy but it worked.
It took almost 2.5 hours to get into Baker. Without the extra fuel I wouldn’t have made it.