91.103’ing my Flight

So now it’s Thursday, and I’m hoping to be wheels up early next Tuesday morning. I’m already starting to have some nerves about my trip. I think about backing out, but then I tell myself that I’ve been thinking about a trip like this for a long time, and I will enjoy myself! At any rate, the show will go on.

For now I’ve been doing a lot of preflight planning. As previously mentioned, I am probably overthinking every aspect of this flight, but I don’t want to get caught unprepared.

I’ve also been trying to do as much work as I possibly can for the start of the fall 2020 semester so I don’t spend any of my trip stressing out about work. Usually I don’t have a lot of prep work to do because I’ve taught all of my classes before, but because of COVID and having to teach hybrid classes, the amount of prep I’ve had to do for all of my classes has been enormous. I don’t want to spend my trip stressing out about work; I want to spend my trip enjoying the adventure.

FBOs and Overnights

I’ve planned a few places that I anticipate staying the night: Green Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Traverse City, and either Holland or Grand Rapids. So I have used the AOPA Airport Directory to help me determine what FBOs exist at each airport, what their phone numbers are, hours of operations, etc. I’m also reminding myself that there will be a time-zone change once I get into Michigan, so I need to anticipate things closing “earlier” than I’m used to!

The AOPA website has been very helpful as far as figuring out the kinds of services I’ll have access to as far as tiedowns, fuel, rental cars, and other important things like bathrooms. Some airports have two FBOs and some sleuthing and checking out comments on ForeFlight has helped me to narrow down my choices so I’m not fumbling on ground frequencies when asked where I’ll be taxiing to when I land.

Weather

When I taught ground school regularly, I’d always ask students when they should start checking weather for a flight. While there’s no wrong answer to the question, my answer is “I’m never not checking weather.” However, I’ve never had to consider weather over a large geographical area over a period of several days. For now, I’m looking at 10-day forecasts on Wunderground for my departure and first couple overnights. I know not to put a lot of faith in 10-day forecasts, but I’m optimistic with what I see so far!

Wheaton’s 10-day forecast… so far looking reasonable for Tuesday.
Green Bay’s 10-day forecast… so far looking good for both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Sault Ste. Marie’s 10-day forecast… so far looking good for Wednesday!

Performance-wise, I know that I won’t be over gross with my stuff, myself, full fuel, and an empty right seat. The Cessna 150 isn’t known for being a huge performer but with just about every airport I’m intending to visit having at least 3000′ of runway, I’m feeling good about the performance of the aircraft even on warm days. I will of course verify my predictions using ForeFlight weight and balance calculations and performance numbers.

Airport Information

I’ve also made myself a bunch of sheets of paper with airport names, frequencies, runway headings and lengths… exactly the stuff you read about in FAR 91.103 (hence the title of this post). I put all of the pages into sheet protectors and fastened them with a key ring. I also have my paper sectionals pre-folded to where I’m going to want them when I need to use them.

I had an instructor tell me once that you should never fly a flight that you haven’t already flown in your head. Now, if only I could log all of the time that I’ve spent brain-flying this trip, I’d have 1500 hours already!

Probably day of I will be using ForeFlight to help me determine the lengths of each route, altitudes I want to plan for, and plan my fuel stops. Right now it’s too early to get other than a rough guess of where my fuel stops will be. Thankfully nearly every airport I’ll be stopping at has services available, so there’s no excuse for the airplane’s tanks not to be nice and full at all times.

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