Flying Across America

Promoting General Aviation

Best of day 8: 8.500 feet over Texas

Today started in Sweetwater, TX under a solid layer of cloud, reported at 1.400 feet above ground level. Not exactly what we wanted for our first day of mountain flying. Flying at 1.000 feet above ground in an area packed with windmills felt like wrong, so we decided to delay our departure. The flight from Sweetwater to El-Paso required a fuel stop in Pecos and then a climb to 8.500 feet to fly over the Guadalupe Pass and was planed to last for a bit more than four hours. We had not a lot of spare time…

Sweetwater

The weather for airports along our route and for our destination were fine. Shortly before 9am, the weather improved enough and it was the good decision. After a twenty minutes, we were climbing up to 6.500 feet in blue skies. The landscape of central Texas is different from all what we saw so far. No more coast line, no large cities, no forests. Lot of oil fields and open land, pipelines and straight roads stretching over dozens of miles.

Texas Oil Fields

The flight was very smooth at 6.500 feet, in clear and relatively cold air. Before reaching Pecos, we flew over an abandoned airport which is slowly returning to nature…

Desert Airport

After Pecos, we had to fly over the Guadalupe pass. The pass can be safely overflown at 6.500 feet. This was just below a scattered cloud layer covering the area. 40 miles before reaching the pass we could climb to 8.500 feet. Yes, with two of us in a Cessna 150.

4_8500

Being above the top of haze we had an almost unlimited visibility. We could see mountain ranges miles away, and ground slowly rising below us.

Mountain Range

The Guadalupe pass, east of El-Paso was clear of clouds, except for a small cumulus generated by ascending winds across the ridge. With rising temperatures, we had some light turbulence even at 8.500 feet. The ride was still comfortable and a light tail wind was pushing us towards El-Paso.

Guadalupe Pass

We received our landing clearance 13 miles away from the airport. ATC assigned us runway 8R, via a right hand downwind. Coming from the west, we were directly positioned for downwind. Shortly before entering downwind, the tower amended our clearance and asked for a short pattern, turning base before the terminal building. This resulted in a strangely looking approach, a bit more aggressive than the standard one…

Landing on runway 8R at El Paso

After landing, we were welcomed on ground by the team of Cutter Aviation, the FBO supporting our stop in El-Paso. After four hours of flight, we enjoyed their facilities before moving to the hotel they arranged for us. We’ll be back there tomorrow morning to promote General Aviation in front of media. We have a TV interview scheduled before leaving towards west. This is one more opportunity for us to talk about the values we believe in and to defend them. We’ll post more information about this interview as soon as possible.

We changed our route for the next days. Instead of staying two nights in El-Paso and then flying to Prescott we will leave tomorrow for Tucson and the next day to Blythe. This is route is shorter and will reduce the number of hours we’ll have per day. If you’re in these area and want to meet us, contact us to organize a meeting. Any tip regarding accommodation is welcome.

We will reach Catalina Island in four days. We already met a lot of aviation enthusiasts and spread the word about General Aviation in different media and in front of different audiences. You can support our project by buying miles now. Patronage starts at $3.75 - use the yellow buttons on the right hand side to buy some. The more miles you buy, the more chances you have to earn a prize in our raffle. Click here and here to read more about the prizes and benefits reserved to our patrons.

2 Responses to “Best of day 8: 8.500 feet over Texas”

  1. Chris Lockwood Says:

    The funny thing is that a lot of people think Texas is flat, but the highest point in the state is over 9000 feet.

    PJ, Florida also has a lot of those WWII airfields that are now airports in small towns. People probably wonder why a small town has an airport with such huge runways. FL also has a lot of craters from WWII era bombing practice.

  2. PJ Says:

    Those old, abandoned Army air fields are scattered all over Texas. Back in WWII, the Army Air Corps built a lot of them, all with three runways in a triangle shape so there was always one into the wind. That was very useful for the students, as they spent their first 6 hours or so of flight in a Stearman PT-17, so the less crosswind they had to deal with, the better.

    After WWII, the Army Air Corps and later the US Air Force slowed down their pilot training operations tremendously, and therefore they didn’t need all of these airports anymore. Many of them were given to the local municipalities and now serve as the regional GA airports. This is the case in Galveston, TX (KGLS), Conroe, TX (KCXO), and Gainesvile, TX (KGLE). Typically, these places only keep one or two of the runways in operation, and the third becomes a taxiway. In the case of Gainesville, there are now T-Hangars on what used to be the third runway.

    You can find out more about abandoned airports here: http://members.tripod.com/airfields_freeman/

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