Wanna Do Lunch?
It all started with a simple posting from Maj on the AOPA web site, "Wanna do lunch?" I had been conversing with these Babes online for a couple of weeks and thought what a great chance to meet everyone. At first I had other plans the weekend of the planned lunch but after I saw all the other postings of people who were going to attend I changed my plans, Lake Lawn here I come.
Itís February in the Midwest and VFR weather is hard to find. Up until the day before the Babeís lunch meeting it looked as if all the sacrificial chickens had paid off, good weather was forecasted. When I woke up in Iowa Saturday morning it was what I consider severe clear for this time of year. I checked weather with Duats at 9:00am and there was some fog at Rockford and Janesville but the terminal forecasts said at 10:00am Rockford would be "visibility greater than 6 miles, 25,000 feet broken" and remain this way until midnight. I wasnít planning on being there before noon so no problem, but I filed an IFR flight plan anyway just for practice.
After dropping the kids off for their Saturday morning kid stuff it was off to the airport. The temperature was already above 40 degrees, what a winter! After picking up my clearance I was off. 25 minutes later I was over Dubuque heading towards Janesville. On the horizon I started seeing white stuff and it wasnít snow. As the clouds came closer it was clear that I was well above them at 7000 feet. For 15Ė20 miles I would look out over my right wing and see nothing but solid clouds and out over my left wing was the ground and blue sky. You could only see this from the air flying. Gotta love it! As I continued on the cloud layer moved further north until there was a solid cloud layer below me, good thing I filed IFR. Another blown forecast.
Upon reaching Lake Lawn I flew the GPS 18 approach since the NDB was notamed out of service. I later found out that LVV was put back in service on Friday but the notam had not been removed yet. The tops of the clouds were at 3000 feet and I broke out at about 1800 feet so the layer was not very thick. However, it was enough that I was the only airplane on the ramp besides the two that were obviously stored there. I guess I can call myself a Red Neck Pilot now, during roll out I chased a fox off the runway.
Since I was 45 minutes late I decided to walk across the street to the lodge in case anyone drove in as Barb told me she would if she could not fly. I checked with the Hostess to see if any Babes had shown up yet, she was not aware of any. I had never met any of these people before and Iím looking at restaurant full of unfamiliar faces. Iím surprised a couple of guys in white coats didnít come take me away, every time I was near someone I would stare at them to see if I could get any clues as to whether or not they were a Babe. A couple of times I must have stared too long and the person would make eye contact and I had to ask, "are you a Babe?" Then I had to go through the whole explanation that I wasnít trying to pick them upÖ. I went ahead and ordered lunch and was just finishing up when I heard, "are you a Babe?" It was Maj, she introduced herself as "The Babe." Finally I could quit staring.
Maj had quite a trip herself. With cloud cover at DPA Maj started out scud running and ran into a fog bank about 15 miles south of the airport. She must have paid attention during training though; she did the smart thing and performed a 180 and climbed on top. About 5 miles south of the airport Maj saw a hole and pulled the power back and dove though. At the bases of the cloud layer Maj saw the airport and was lined up perfectly with the runway. I knew these Babes were good but sheezz, even flying the GPS approach I didnít line up that well.
While Maj and I were waiting for others to show up she introduced me to her copilot of the day, Monk Monk. This little gorilla has traveled from the East to the West coasts. It has been to the Bahamas and even took a cruise, all since last October. Monk Monk travels with a notebook, which describes all its adventures. There was some debate as to whether or not it was a he or she thus the use of the word "it." Admittedly, Monk Monk is a cool class project. Maj can give you more details if you would like.
After a few minutes Jim and his wife Hope, future Babe to be, showed up. Jim had a similar adventure as Maj getting to the Lake Lawn. He came in from the airport, which was supposed to be 6 miles and 25,000 broken, Rockford. Jim was able to get on top and found a hole south west of the airport but visibility was poor so he found the NDB and followed it in. Iím glad the NDB was working, eh Jim? Maj wanted to fill the ramp with airplanes, which wasnít going to happen on such a crummy day but at least we had three planes there now.
Barb finally checked in on Majís cell phone and she was not able to get into Lake Lawn by air so she was driving in with her IFR pilot friend Scott. It was great; she took her GPS with her and gave us status reports as to her ETA. By the time Barb arrived the restaurant was preparing for diner and the kitchen was closed. Up until now I was the only one who had eaten and everyone else was starving so, we wandered over to the bar, no not for drinks although they sure looked good, but to get some bar food. While we were waiting for the food we traded pilot stories and fun places to fly. Itís sure great to meet fun people with similar interests. Next time I vote we stay overnight so we can have a beer or two orÖ?
By the time the food arrived it was time for me to start home or risk being grounded by my wife and kids. Arriving back at the airport the clouds had moved south and the trip home was perfect.
Stay tuned for the next Babes adventure?????