Saturday morning (5/6) there was a Young Eagles rally at Millard Airport. There were not a lot of kids to fly, and I was done with my one flight before 10. It was a perfect day, and I wasn’t ready to quit flying — not after many weeks of out of town travel, bad weather and competing priorities that kept me out of the cockpit. I decided, in a semi-random way, to fly out to O’Neill, NE and back. Just because.
I’d been to O’Neill, briefly, back in 2012. My student pilot long cross-country trip included a quick stop-and-go at KONL, when weather blew up my planned route. Today that wouldn’t be a problem. I launched from Millard and headed northwest, about 138 nautical miles (159 statute miles) as the Dale flies. Once I climbed up to 6500 feet it was nice and smooth, and with the outside air temp at about 52 degrees I could keep it reasonably cool.
After a little more than an hour and a half I landed in O’Neill. Surprisingly, I was not alone on the ramp. A King Air was parked in front of the Jet A pump, and a Piper Malibu was in front of the 100 LL pump. I still had 10 gallons of unleaded premium in the tank, plenty of fuel for the return trip — especially since I’d have a tailwind. A Comanche showed up at the pump while I checked out the FBO – a pretty nice little facility, even including a couple of beds for pilots to use if they need to stay the night. I bummed around for half an hour or so, drank some water, then followed the Comanche and the Malibu out.
The ride back to Omaha was again smooth and relaxing at 7500 MSL. I flew part of the trip by had, and let Otto fly the rest. I hadn’t let Otto do en route climbs and descents before, so I played with those functions. They worked fine, with Otto doing a decent job of maintaining a climb or descent rate of 500 feet per minute.
All in all it was a pretty good day. I put 3.7 ours in the log book, flew one more Young Eagle, and burned about as much gas as that Malibu in O’Neill probably did before he hit his cruise altitude. I may not be as fast, or as pretty, or have as many seats, but I’m still flying, and that’s good.