Garrison Keillor sports his red shoes on stage at the Fitzgerald Theater while
singing a duet with Heather Masse.
Preflighting the next morning over
a leisurely breakfast.
As we approached St. Paul, we skirted
a few hundred feet beneath the shelf of
Minneapolis’ Bravo airspace and called the
tower. Like the turboprops and jets in the
pattern, I was cleared to land on the
north/south runway. “Why aren’t they
using 27, the runway into the wind?” I
thought to myself.
I contemplated asking for 27, but didn’t
want to be difficult, especially at an unfamiliar
airport with Class Bravo airspace overhead
and all around. I accepted the clearance.
“Carb heat, gas, undercarriage, mixture,
pump, seat belts, 1700 rpm; when I’m in the
white arc, put in first batch of flaps,” I said
out loud, as always.
We were getting blown all over the place,
especially once we crossed the river on short
final. The controller warned us about eagles
over the river and gave us a current wind
report just as I was clearing the threshold,
“Winds 280, 24 gusting 30-(something).” It
took all I had to keep the runway in front of
us, so I didn’t hear exactly what she said at
the end. My brain simply processed it as
“much stronger winds.”
My feet were now almost completely numb
from the cold, and I really had to use the bath-
room—to the point of being uncomfortable.
As the concrete neared, I applied back
pressure on the yoke. With that much
crosswind, the yoke was already hitting
my left knee. As I flared, the yoke hit my
lap, and I had to level the yoke to con-
tinue pulling back and avoid hitting the
pavement prematurely. We started drift-
ing to the right only a couple feet off the
runway. I jammed the yoke back into my
left leg and stopped the plane’s drifting
but could no longer pull back. We
plopped onto the runway.
date. Wow! Mission successful.
Note to self: We need to do more
• I’m now also interested in
pursuing my instrument rating.
It not only will make me a better
pilot, but also will make more
trips like this possible.
• I shouldn’t have let an
• I was glad I developed firm personal
unfamiliar airport and airspace
intimidate me. I should’ve
requested another runway,
• During flight training, my instructor
and I opted not to fly on the super windy
days. This trip made me wish I had. I now
want to go up with an instructor and prac-
tice some crosswinds when it is really
howling to learn how to get my leg out of
the way when a great amount of correction
minimums before the trip, but I need
to add another category to that list—
• Regardless of the fuel range of an
airplane, three hours is my limit without a
bathroom break. Being physically uncomfortable can impair good decision-making.
I’ll keep this in mind when planning my
next long flight.
This trip made Katherine and me
excited about the day we’d own an aircraft
and could go on more of these weekend getaways. Just like our first flying date, this
one wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely a
flight we’ll remember.
Best of all, Garrison Keillor’s fictional
town of Lake Wobegon is now in my
logbook. With apologies to Mr. Keillor,
I learned the news from Lake Wobegon is
slightly different than he reports; it’s where
all the pilots are hardworking, the navigators
are good-looking, and the crosswinds are
We debriefed over coffee before picking up
the kids. Here are my notes:
• Out of eight years of marriage,
Katherine said this was her all-time favorite
Brady Lane, EAA 808095, a multimedia journalist for EAA
and a private pilot, is scratchbuilding a Bearhawk with his
friend Caleb Ihrig. Visit www.SportAviation.org for a link to
his blog, where you can watch them work on the plane live
every Tuesday evening. Contact Brady at email@example.com.