by Wayne Westerman

Clinton was great this year. The weather was most cooperative if you don't count the downwind landing contest, and the downwind take off contest. The temperature and humidity were both low, for July, making the weekend most enjoyable. The attendance was respectable if not large, about 40 planes I would guess. However, it was nice to renew old acquaintances, make new friends and put faces with some of the folks on the forum. There were plenty of activities to keep one amused and still leave plenty of time for hanger flying and getting acquainted. For my taste the event was just right; low key, well organized (but not over organized), lots of planes to gawk at and lots of nice folks to visit.

Royson was much more relaxed this year, Lori was in there pitching the whole time and Steve worked his tail off marking parking, running the flying events and just generally being helpful. Steve's son Tom seemed to be everywhere all the time, just helping out and anyway possible. Really a good kid. All of the members that attended owe a debt of gratitude to all of those who worked so hard to put on the event. Those members that didn't make it missed a good time, but there is always next year. My trip up to Clinton started early Thursday morning dodging thunderstorms. The devil was sitting cross-legged across the Llano Estacada (cap rock) just daring me to get close enough for him to take a swat at me. I had to swing fairly far to the northwest and fly at 5500 feet to avoid the bumps and flashes. The sunrise through the thunderstorms was one of the most spectacular that I have ever witnessed. I tried to take some pictures but nothing can do justice to the show that God put on that morning, you just had to be there. After I turned the corner around the northwest end of the squall line and got headed northeast I picked up nice tail winds all the way to the KC area, where the winds turned out of the northeast but at only 10 to 15 kts. With a 17 minute fuel stop in Ponca City, OK I made it to Clinton in a bit under eight hours, with an average flying speed of 131 MPH and 8.2 hours on the tach. Once I got into KN the temperature at 5500 feet was 53°F (it was 61°F at 3500 feet), I even gave consideration to turning the heater on. For a desert rat it is a real treat to have such low temperatures at such low altitudes.

During the summer I normally try to fly at 60°F but have to climb to at least 10,000 feet to find it. My return trip started at Clinton at 8:00 AM with a broad area of thunderstorm activity moving across Nebraska and Iowa, bearing down on the Clinton area. By deviating about 40 miles south of my planned route of flight I was able to miss all of the bad weather but had to contend with some fairly stiff head winds, 20 to 25 kts. By KC the winds at 10,500 feet slacked off and I began to see decent ground speed. Again I stopped at Ponca City for gas but it only took me 15 minutes; I had figured out how to operate their infernal credit card machine. When I landed at Ponca city, at 12:30 PM, the surface temperature was already at 100°F and the decent was bumpy. After leaving Ponca City I climbed back to 10,500 but found that the heating had made that altitude uncomfortable. So I drug out the oxygen and climbed to 12,500 where the winds were light and variable and the ride was nice. Somewhere around the Texas-Oklahoma line the tops of the fair weather cumulus were poking up above 12,500 in a lot a places and I had the choice of going up or down. Below the clouds would be hot and rough above would be high, smooth and cool. I chose up, that's why I have the big spinner after all.

It was a struggle for the SportHawk to make it up to 14,500 and I started wishing that I had not done that top overhaul; the plane climbed a lot better before the new cylinders. Once at 14,500 I checked the DA and found that it was 17,600, no wonder the climb was an effort. (I have determined that the SportHawk has a service ceiling of 17,800 feet.) I arrived at Midland Air Park at 4:27 PM, 8:27 after leaving Clinton with an average flying speed of 121 miles per hour and 8.2 hours on the tach. For those of you who have been paying attention the trip to Clinton took about a half hour less than the trip back to Midland but the tach time for both trips was the same. I flew the whole trip to Clinton at 5,500 feet turning 2650 RPM. On the return trip I flew a lot higher turning 2750 to 2850 RPM. I suppose that the most remarkable thing about my trip was that there was really nothing remarkable; nearly 2000 miles of flying and only some minor deviations to avoid thunderstorms. Those who don't think that a 150/152 is a capable cross-country plane just don't appreciate our little birds. The trip from Midland to Clinton is well within the capabilities of a stock 150. A stock 150 would have made the one-way trip in about 1.5 hours longer than the SportHawk. The return trip would have been a little less comfortable because of the afternoon heat but that would be a small price to pay for attending a supper event. When flying a 150/152 you just have to leave a little earlier and arrive a little latter than in a faster plane. Try traveling 1000 miles in one day in your $40,000 SUV. The trip will take at least twice as long, use the same amount of fuel and you will be worn to a frazzle when you get there. I have decided that this engine is never going to stop using oil. It has been 87 hours since the top overhaul and I used two quarts of oil each way. At a quart every four hours I add 6 quarts of oil every 24 hours, I just will never have to change oil again:-) It was a great weekend. I hope that more members will be able to take advantage of this fine event next year.

Wayne Westerman
150WW Midland, TX

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