Day 4: Traverse City, MI to Holland, MI

Stats for the day:

  • 3.5 hours flight time
  • 10 landings, 2 full stop
  • Airports: 5D5 (Woolsey Memorial), Y87 (Empire), KFKS (Frankfort), KMBL (Manistee County), KLDM (Mason County), C04 (Oceana County), KMKG (Muskegon County), 3GM (Grand Haven), KHLM (Park Township), KBIV (West Michigan Regional)
  • 17.1 gallons of 100LL burned
Day 4 track log of airports I landed at.

Today is the penultimate day of my trip, and I’m looking forward to getting home tomorrow! Tomorrow I should have only about 2 hours of flight time, but after my delightful trip around the lake it’ll be the worst views of the whole trip.

So far, cumulatively, I have flown 14.5 hours, landed at 31 airports, and gone 849 NM point-to-point. Yesterday put my total time at just over 300 hours.

Sunrise while flying up the east coast of the Traverse City peninsula.

I had a very pleasant morning, I’m getting spoiled by the good service at all the FBOs. I got a shuttle ride from the hotel to Avflight, got Pokey ready to go, and watched a hot air balloon flying in the distance. I couldn’t believe how many airplanes were tied down at the ramp; Traverse City really is a busy place!

I was expecting tower to open at 0700, but NOTAMs show that tower isn’t opening until 0800. I started the engine at 0750, and didn’t feel like waiting for the tower to open, so I took off calling Traverse City traffic. I was practically out of the delta by the time tower opened.

If anything, today I was worried about possible low visibility as the morning GFAs were showing patchy fog along the coast. There was definitely some haze or smog in the air the entire day which made visibility somewhat crappy out to the east, especially as the sun was rising. But I did get some beautiful sunrise views as I flew up the east side of the Traverse City peninsula.

My first stop was 5D5 (Woolsey Memorial), that has two grass strips at the tip of the peninsula. I saw a paraglider, so I kept my eyes open for others. Turns out, there was some sort of paragliding event taking place at the airport. I doubt they were listening to the CTAF as I made a lot of position calls but arrived to find people on the runway. Thankfully it was a long runway, I landed long, well past any people, did a touch and go and departed south bound.

View of Lake Leelanau.

The views were pretty great as I headed south. I didn’t hug the coast terribly tight but I could still see the beautiful sand and clear water of Lake Michigan. It’s definitely stunning in a different way than it looks on the Chicago side. Next up was Y87 (Empire), which is just about due west of Traverse City. I had heard about the allegedly very poor runway, and Jon even warned me about the AFD statement of “Rwy 17-35 loose stones on rwy.” But I didn’t think the runway was all that bad! It was slightly displaced, but otherwise perfectly good albeit slightly short. I had an audience of a couple paragliders (who thankfully were not hanging out on the runway but near it).

Displaced threshold at KFKS (Frankfort).

There were lots of displaced thresholds today. Hills, trees, all sorts of obstructing phenomena. At KFKS (Frankfort), my next stop, the runway was 25% shorter than normal due to 1,000’ of displaced threshold. At this point I’ve gotten pretty solid with landing in Pokey. It’s funny because the first few times I flew Pokey with Jon, even before I was allowed to be PIC (before I got my medical), I would be so nervous flying it while sitting next to him that I couldn’t make conversation at the same time. (Jon is probably very nostalgic for those days… now I’m more comfortable and you can’t shut me up!)

Arcadia Golf Club, between Frankfort and Manistee.
The FBO at Manistee Regional.

At this point I was ready for a full-stop landing to stretch my legs and top up, so I landed at Manistee. At this point, I was hearing radio calls for Poplar Grove, which was kind of a nice reminder of “back home.” I landed right behind a Hawker jet bringing a family on a vacation.

I think by now I would classify FBOs in three categories. (1) Swanky (2) rustic and (3) Midwestern no-nonsense. Of the places I’ve stopped at:

  1. Swanky: Green Bay, Traverse City, West Michigan
  2. Rustic: Pellston, Manistee
  3. Midwestern no-nonsense: Manitowoc, Sault Ste Marie

I called Vision Air Center while I was stretching my legs and got a rental car reserved for me for when I got to Holland.

Reservoir along the lake just south of Manistee.

I did a couple more touch and goes, over at Mason County and Oceana County, with nobody in the area. Then I called up Great Lakes Approach to get radar advisories in the Muskegon TRSA to do a touch and go there. I love towered airports, so I’m always in my comfort zone when I get to fly through one, especially after having landed at so many non-towered airports this trip. It was pretty slow at Muskegon so at like 15 miles north I got switched over to tower, who immediately cleared me for the option on runway 14. A helicopter took off before me, but otherwise there really wasn’t much going on over there.

The next few stops were quick hops. Grand Haven, Park Township, and then just a few NM south east is West Michigan. I’ve now been to every paved airport along the coast of Lake Michigan EXCEPT for Oconto which was NOTAM closed when I was flying on Wednesday.

At some point, I was back on 122.8 and… the Lewis calls started coming through. So as always on that frequency it was almost impossible to make position announcements in between the ten million students making very slow radio calls at Lewis. I’m ready to have flight following tomorrow, have only one CTAF on 122.7 (which isn’t clogged with Lewis calls), and then do flight following back to Aurora.

Veggie wrap and chips and salsa for lunch. Yummmmm.

I’m getting really spoiled lately. I landed at Holland after a Grumman, and when I taxied up to the FBO the marshaller asked me “are you Alyssa?” once I opened the door to Pokey, and brought my rental car around next to the airplane. I wasn’t expecting to have any issues finding a hotel room so I called around and found that rates were about $350 a night! That’s almost twice as much as what I paid in Traverse City! So tonight I’m in a mediocre to crappy hotel room that is very overpriced, but at least it’s clean and doesn’t smell bad. (What a rave review!) I had a delightful lunch, and will probably order Thai food delivered for dinner. 🥡 I can’t complain too much!

Tomorrow is the last day of my trip. It has been super fun, but after four days I’m ready to be back home, and I think Pokey wants to be back in her hangar in Skyhaven. Tomorrow I’m planning to have lunch in Michigan City (which has the added bonus of bringing the number of states I’ve landed in on this trip up to four) with Jon, who will drive out to meet me. Then I’ll fly back to the airport as he drives back. It’ll be nice to see a familiar face.

I’ll have one more log for tomorrow, then maybe a trip overview post about things I’ve learned. Otherwise, if you’re a friend of mine whom I regularly see at the airport, expect to hear some stories about my trip the next few times I see you. 😂

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