Welcome to this rather unique trip report.
Onboard perhaps the most popular plane in the world, my friends and I rented a Cessna 172 Skyhawk for a couple of flights across the midwest. A lot has changed since, one of them being that I have started flying lessons my self. And now that I look back at this report (back when I typed it in, rather) I realize how quickly things can change over time.
I won't be going in to too much detail in this report, but at the same time there are plenty of pictures to go along. Do enjoy this rather unique flight report! And for those of you are very interested in seeing some video clips, please click the link here.
This is an unlisted video on YouTube, so this is the only way one can access the video.
After a long Saturday at work, I headed to the university’s common area, where at the C-store my buddy Y, was at work. ‘Dude, H wanted to go flying. We should go some time’. Knowing the enthusiastic self in me, I said ‘sure! How about the following Sunday?’ ‘Sunday it is’, said Y.
And so, it was decided that I would have two flights at least, within six days! Destination - unknown. Flight plan - no clue. Insane fun time onboard a Cessna 172 - confirmed!
In terms of the number of flights, 2016 fell just short of my 2015 record of flights flown in a calendar year. However, having already flown on the A380 earlier in the year, I was about to embark on a flight in the smallest plane I’ve ever been on - the quintessential general aviation aircraft, the Cessna 172! Here at UND, most students have their training on few of the 43000 Cessna 172s those have produced up until today. Some of them have in fact been phased out in favor of the Piper Archers.
Captain Y, H, my girlfriend and I set off for Grand Forks International Airport. It was September 11th, 2016. Perhaps one of the worst dates in modern history. Flags were at half mast. However, with calm winds and a bright sunny day, it was a day of unique flying adventures ahead. It started off with the usual departure of a Delta Connection CRJ-200 to Minneapolis. There was no other commercial traffic around, just the UND students practicing their flights, and other private aircraft.
We arrived at the rather lavish AvFlight Grand Forks terminal, where everything was in order. Captain Y went ahead and planned the actual flight itself: plan was to fly down to Fargo and get Indian food, while we picked up Chipotle for supper. Getting Chipotle from Fargo is something us aviation students do, since there is none in Grand Forks.
N6021K was the aircraft that was all set for us across the tarmac. Our trip would consist of three legs: Grand Forks to Fargo, followed by a quick hop over to either Crookston (Minnesota) or Hillsboro (by the I-29 that we drive down on to FAR), and then from there back to Grand Forks.
This obviously wasn’t going to be a typical day of flying that included big Boeings or large Airbuses or tiny CRJs/ERJs. This was going to be a different experience altogether. We hopped across the huge tarmac. Captain Y did his pre-flight checks: N6021K was all set to go! However, there was a problem. My seatbelt wouldn’t strap me in! This had to be fixed prior to departure. We wouldn’t go anywhere without getting that sorted. In the mean time, a Cessna Citation Jet came in, while a Socata TBM 700 fired up and departed. Did I mention Grand Forks was really busy full of UND students onboard their Cessnas?
Strapped in and secure at 1155 hours, Captain Y explained the safety producers, before going through the checklist and firing up the 160hp Lycoming O-360 propellor.
Being as fast he is in driving, Captain Y decided to waste no time to taxi down towards the runway, before holding short of runway 17R.
Piper Seminole, the multi-engine training aircraft for UND students.
A quick run up, we took our position on the runway. 1213 hours, we barely took a third of the runway as N6021K took off with another Cessna C172, a UND aircraft (that was from 17L). Captain Y with his usual sense of urgency decided to give the flying car a bit of a steep climb, triggering the stall alarm!
We set course for Fargo, at an altitude of 3500 feet. A bit higher and we’d use up more fuel than normal. It was quite surprising actually - little can such flat land be joyful to see, since one could see miles apart - Montana was almost visible
For a large part of the flight we flew parallel to the I-29 that connects Winnipeg to Kansas City. Captain Y gave H command of the aircraft for a bit, as we set up for arrival in to Fargo. We were instructed to follow a ‘make straight in’ pattern, but we had to hurry as an Allegiant Air MD83 was in hot pursuit (coming in from Las Vegas).
Runway in sight!
Instruments of a glass cockpit
The Red River meandered, as Runway 18 was in sight. And behind, the lights of a Mad Dog got brighter and brighter. After a bit of a long flare, we touched down at 1253 hours, a flying time of 39 minutes.
Allegiant Air MD-83 that followed us in:
A quick exit off the runway, our parking bay was in front of the Fargo Jet Center. Oh, the Mad Dog looked lovely as it arrived, loud as ever! A couple of UND Cessnas were around, too. Handed it over to the marshals, while requesting for some extra fuel, we got our courtesy car and headed downtown.
AA CRJ-700 from Dallas/Ft. Worth
Fargo Jet Center
Following a heavy lunch, we headed back to the airport. We planned on going to Crookston, Minnesota. N6021K was almost melting in the heat. I decided to act Chewbacca for the leg to Crookstoon. Some more checks of the aircraft later, we connected the radio. An American ERJ-145 to Chicago and Delta Connection CRJ-200 to Minneapolis would be in the departure sequence.
Some more pics of our plane:
Traffic around us -
Alpine Air Cargo flies down to Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Fired up the engine at 1530 hours, we had a slight issue with the flight information displays, back up being the analog instruments. We taxied to runway 18, however Captian Y was not satisfied with the malfunctioning system. We pulled a quick u-ey on the runway itself and taxied back to the tarmac.
American Eagle ERJ-145 to Chicago O'Hare....a plane I'd try later in the year (Stay tuned!)
Voila - the instruments worked! We come again towards the runway, beating the regional jets to departure. We took off at 1554 hours, Captain Y pulling a very steep climb out again.
Delta CRJ-200ER to Minneapolis -
This segment of the flight was quite interesting. ‘Alright CA, the aircraft is yours’ said Captain Y. ‘The aircraft is what..dude what the f***!’ I exclaimed over the headphones. ‘Fly the plane buddy, keep it at 3500 feet and follow the heading’. I tried to do what Captain Y calmly asked me to do. And this happened, with minimal success. I kept hovering beyond 3500 feet, and I barely maintained course. My first time as a pilot was less than auspicious!
As we went out of the radio controlled zone of Fargo, I handed the aircraft back to Captain Y. And that’s when we had some fun: controlled stalls (three of them), and extreme turns later… we actually flew towards Crookston.
One could see the huge Walmart roof as we closed in to Crookston. Being one of the cheaper Walmarts in the vicinity, some UND folk actually drive to the other state to make purchases! But anyway, on to the flight itself - we followed a left downwind pattern towards Runway 13. Being a non-towered aircraft, we had to establish contact with planes in the vicinity. Unsurprisingly, most of them were UND Cessnas practicing touch and gos. I’m obviously not used to approaches on small aircraft, so imagine my surprise when I was instructed to turn pretty early on to align with the runway!
A bit of a steep descent, with the PAPI showed two reds and two whites - I was doing alright! I slammed the plane down at 1628 hours, after a flying time of 34 minutes. Taxied out of the runway through taxiway C, and parked pretty close to the runway itself. We had some time to kill, and so we just walked around looking at some planes, one of them being an abandoned Cessna C152.
Dawdled around for a bit, saw quite a rough landings made by UND students, and some very interesting Beechcraft Bonanza! But that’s when disaster struck. We got strapped in, but N6021K would refuse to start to start up. We tried about 4 times before following the checklist - we had to let the engine cool down for 15 minutes. More dawdling around!
Following which, we strapped back in to the aircraft, this time attempting to bleed the fuel (I think..). At this point, some UND flight instructors were bringing out a 1930s restored aircraft. They later came around and helped us. The aircraft literally sh*t out some fuel, following which N6021K fired up at 1735 hours.
Taxied to the runway and took off for a final flight at 1741 hours.
It was going to be a quick flight (no, seriously quick) to Grand Forks. We flew over some pretty nice views of our tiny town, as I could recognize my dorm, my work place, etc.
Quite a few BNSF locomotives
Columbia flyover, Ralph Engelstad Arena, and the football practice ground
Wellness Center and the Ralph Engelstad Arena
Chester Fritz Auditorium and Wilkerson Commons
I-29 and the US-2
It was a nice way to end our interesting day. Touched down at 1800 hours, a flight of just 19 minutes. Taxied back to the AVFlight Grand Forks terminal, where we got off and bid adieu to what was a very interesting day of flying! My other trip reports: 2016Summer '16 trek back home - Part 14: Delta Connection, a quick hop in the Midwest! (MSP - GFK, Aug '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 13: Super old, Super 80, Mad Dog Across the Midwest! (AA ORD-MSP, Aug'16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 11: Epic Lufthansa, Epic A340! (Delhi to Munich, Aug '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 10: Konnect, Lite, Delight...(S2 B73H CCU-DEL, Aug '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 9: Take me home, Vistara! (DEL-CCU, Jul '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 8: Vistara's INAUGURAL flight out of Kolkata! (CCU-DEL, Jun '16)) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 7: Efficient IndiGo! (Mumbai to Kolkata, A320, May '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 6: Big delays, cracked windshield, angry passengers (SG CCU-BOM B73J) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 5: Air India's domestic Dream)liner (DEL-CCU May '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 4: Nearly First Class - stories of the empty A380! (LH FRA-DEL May '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 3: World's longest jet, Lufthansa's B748i! (ORD-FRA May '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 2: ChicaGO on United's A319! (MSP-ORD, May '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 1: Sun rise onboard the long range CRJ (DL GFK-MSP CRJ-900, May '16) (video trip report)The pencil jet(s) for spring break! (+ Iron Maiden bonus): Delta MSP-FLL-MSP, March '16
(DL1608 video trip report
, DL2027 video trip report)De-iced & Delayed, cold onboard a CRJ! (ORD-MSP-GFK on Delta, Jan '16) (ORD-MSP video report) (MSP-GFK video report)Delta's aged B767-300ER across the Atlantic! (CDG-ORD in Y, Jan '16)
)Air France's NEW Economy (B777-200ER, Bengaluru to Paris, Jan '16)
)Delays and despair: stressed out in the middle seat! (Jet Airways B737 Mumbai - Bengaluru, Jan '16)Air India's hybrid babybus from Kolkata to Mumbai (Jan '16, Y)
)2012South Africa 3: 12 days in Scintillating South Africa (Kruger, Kulula and Rand Airport, Apr' 12, LONG!)South Africa 2: Elegant Emirates Economy! (DXB-CPT, B77W, Apr '12)South Africa 1: My first flight on Emirates, my first flight on the 777 (CMB-DXB, Apr '12)2011International transit with Jet Airways (BOM-MAA-CMB, Oct. '11)Konnecting to Bhubaneswar (9W BOM-BBI-BOM, Jul '11)Three trips between India and Sri Lanka (9W BOM-CMB-BOM: Jun '11, Jul '11, Oct. 11)To India's Orange City: Mumbai - Nagpur - Mumbai on Jetlite & Tadoba National Park (May 2011)My last flight on Kingfisher Airlines (and 2 other Jet flights, May '11)