to 75 knots indicated. Leveling at 7,500 gave
us comfortable terrain clearance but put us in
a strong left crosswind component. We trued
at about 112 knots, with a fuel-sipping rate of
5. 5 gph showing on the MFD.
The 162 proved light and easy to cross
control for the winds, and best of all, we
made Yuma in an easy 1. 3 hours—within a
couple of minutes of our plan and 144 miles
from our start. A quick replenishment of our
fuel and on to our next stop, Tucson (TUS).
;e afternoon air started getting rough leaving TUS, but the SkyCatcher rode the bumps
well and keeping it on altitude and on-course
got progressively easier as my touch on the
controls got light.
By the end of the first day we had flown
5. 1 hours and covered 584 miles to put us
in El Paso, Texas.
Leaving out of 3,900-msl El Paso a little
after 8 a.m. rewarded us with crisp, cold
temperatures. The climb to altitude came
briskly, about 800 fpm at 70 knots indicated, and in about five minutes we leveled
at 7,500 msl.
Even before leveling o; the air-data function of the G300 panel showed us in a solid
tailwind that grew stronger with altitude. As
we leveled it continued to accelerate until we
showed about 160 knots across the ground.
But as we cruised, tail-wind enhanced,
toward Louisiana, the view became far less
inviting—and the news from the Wx Worx
datalink weather became more ominous.
As we headed toward the clouds and rain,
the best option became Beaumont, Texas
(BPT). We spent another night in Texas,
about 135 miles short of our goal for the day.
DAY THREE: TAMPA BOUND, MAYBE
Saturday we departed BPT around 9 a.m. for
Mobile Regional (MOB). We initially enjoyed
clear flying and more tail winds—albeit less
than on Friday. Two-finger flying remained
the rule. A low layer of clouds, with a comfortable altitude above the lush terrain, made for a
serene scene as we spent about 50 miles flying
VFR on-top. And then conditions went sour.
Descending to stay below the cloud layer
put us in air that required more a;rmative
flight control, but the SkyCatcher handled the
bumps and sways nicely, responding quickly
to both corrective inputs and my weather-avoidance maneuvering.
Weather at Mobile and a closed runway
at Bogalusa sent us in search of alternate
airports. We made fuel stops at Poplarville,
Louisiana (M13) and Brewster, Alabama
(12J), hoping for Tallahassee (TLH). If we
could get past the system while still west
of Tallahassee we figured that Tampa Exec
would remain viable for the day.
Climbing through some rough air to
3,500 feet put us quickly into eyeball view
of the weather, and the need to go back
down. ;e Skycatcher and the G300 got a
Below: Kirby Ortega warms the SkyCatcher’s O-200D
engine on the ramp at El Paso, Texas.
The 162 proved light and
easy, and best of all, we made
Yuma in an easy 1. 3 hours,
within a couple of minutes
of our plan.
There are two common usages
for the term “Johnson Bar.” The
first is a simple lever (often
with a small pair of wheels)
used to jockey heavy equipment or machinery into place.
But for railroad engineers or
airplane pilots, the Johnson Bar
is something quite di;erent. It
refers to a long lever with a
locking mechanism to hold it in
a desired spot within its travel.
For a steam locomotive
engineer, it’s most commonly
seen as the large lever used to
control the amount and direction of steam flowing from the
boiler to the pistons.
For a pilot, the most common spot to see a Johnson Bar
is in the cockpit of an airplane
with manual flaps. The lever;is
often mounted on the cabin
floor. At the top, where pilots
THE “JOHNSON BAR” FLAP HANDLE
would place their hand to pull
on the lever, is a pushbutton
lock. Early Cessna and Piper
aircraft had Johnson Bars. They
were also used in the braking
system on a Ford Tri-Motor,
where a vertical bar mounted
across the cabin gave the pilot
(or co-pilot) the option to move
the lever left and right for braking action while also steering
with their feet.