Sunday, June 11, 2006

Middle Bass Island

The weather this weekend continued to baffle the pronosticators this morning, when rather than the second dismal day in a row we received a nice, fairly high and steady overcast. The morning forecast promised ceilings no lower than 6000' until possibly after 6:00. Having had a long-anticipated camping trip cancelled due to the Saturday rains, it was a welcome break from the rainy weather and decided to make use of it. It was still pretty iffy early, so I decided to work before play and mow the lawn. During the hour and a half it takes to do that, I got rained on for at least 45 minutes.

The weather looked good enough to make a trip up to the islands, and having been to both Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay quite a few times in the past, I decided to try something new. The next island in the chain north of Put-in-Bay is Middle Bass Island, and they just got a nice new airport built not too long ago. It's not a huge runway at 1800', but that's pretty much the norm for the islands, and the RV doesn't need anywhere near all of it. I folded up the new bike that I've been dying to take on a trip since I bought it at Xmas, grabbed the camera, and headed north.

As I mentioned, we had an overcast such that I was pretty close to it at 5500'. Having the cloud layer hanging just over my head was like swimming underwater and seeing the surface of the water like a ceiling - it was not quite claustrophobic, but
still a little disconcerting. Once I got near the lake, though, the skies cleared and I was able to revel in basking in the warm sun and blue sky.

I flew east of Put-in-Bay and set up for a right downwind to runway 10, and with the winds coming primarily out of due east, it looked like I wouldn't have to deal with a crosswind while landing. I don't think it would have been much of a problem, though, as the runway is nice and wide.

I planted it right on the runway numbers and rolled down to the end of the runway, although had I wanted to use the brakes a bit more energetically I probably could have been off by the first taxiway. It's a short runway, though, so there really wasn't any point to that. I taxied in and unpacked the bike. It only took a few minutes to get it out of the plane and put together, and we were ready to ride.

I headed out to the little, thin northeastern tip of the island first. One of the first stops I had to make was to get some pictures of the state wildlife area:

At the tip of the island I discovered a second airport, this one having a grass runway and surrounded by houses.

That would be a sweet weekend home! I turned around and went back the way I had come, and started heading towards the southern tip of the island. I stopped at this little church to take a picture of it and the small graveyard behind it.

There's a small state park on the island which seemingly is comprised of naught but a restroom (and thank-you for that!), a small beach area, and a forgotten playground. The beach would have been a nice place to sit and relax for a few minutes had it not been for the very large and very dead fish that got there before me, and was making no moves to leave any time soon.

Continuing down at very southern end of the island, I found the Lonz Winery.

The ferry was just coming in so there was a lot of pedestrian and motor traffic, and it was thus too hectic for me to stay around for long. I headed back to the airport and got the bike folded up and put back in the plane. I always worry about the engine not starting or some other mechanical failure stranding me 100 miles, and in this case four hours of road travel, from home. No problems there, though, although I did make a very thorough and complete pre-flight before making the somewhat intimidating takeoff. The end of the runway is right at the edge of the island, so a failed takeoff has a very distinct possibility of dumping the unfortunate pilot right in the lake.

Before turning back to the mainland, I orbited the airport once to gain enough altitude to give me some gliding options in the event of an engine problem. On my way by, I took a picture of the Perry Peace Monument on Put-in-Bay:

In what's getting to be a habit, I arrived back at Bolton in a rain shower. It was quite an enjoyable trip, and it just amazes me that I did it in less than two hours flight time. It also got me thinking (AGAIN!) about one of the biggest problems an RV-8 or an F1 Rocket would have for me: there's no way I could carry that great bike in either of them. That would be hard to give up.

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