The Little Turbo That Could

Friday morning was too nice to go to work so we loaded up the Sonex with 27gal of fuel and hit the skies. Departing 3CK (25nm NW of KORD), we flew south around the B and C inner rings and set our sites on Pittsburgh. Climbing to 7,500, we leveled off and watched the sun rise high into the sky. Ground clouds blanketed the rivers and some of the lakes.


A smooth and uneventful flight.
Leg #1 3CK-KAGC
Dist: 412nm
Climb: 90mph to 7,500
Cruise: 140mph, 30.5″, 6.1 gph
Time: 3.9 hours w/ 125mph gs ave

Check out those hills! I never knew Pittsburg had so many hills.

Time for a nice brunch at Square Cafe with my brother in law. The blueberry-lemon pancakes with bacon were excellent.
After lunch and tour around, we went back to the airport to give Karl a ride in the plane. Did he like it? A picture is worth a thousand words.

Time for stop two and our overnight destination, Cuyahoga County which is 19nm NE of KCLE. Flight had light chop and a 10-12kt xwind landing. Uneventful, but with the increasing wind we decided to hangar the plane for the night instead of leaving it on the ramp.

Dist: 50nm
Climb: 95mph to 2,500
Cruise: 130mph, 29″, 5.8 gph
Time: 0.7 hours w/ 103mph gs ave

We had a nice evening with my wife’s family and took my other brother in law flying the next morning.

We also enjoyed a hike through some woods and Squire’s Castle on Saturday until 3pm.
Too busy enjoying the day, we forgot to take a picture of the castle. Here is one courtesy of

Due to incoming weather, we assessed our options for the weekend and decided to cut it short and get home.

Winds had increased by this time, inclement weather was over Chicago and the headwinds winds at 2,500 ft were 15kt. Winds at 4,500 ft were 40kt. So we fueled to the max hoping it would be enough for the 326 mile trip home.

Departing KCGF we got tossed around like a paper airplane. KCLE was too busy to acknowledge us so we couldn’t get clearance for higher altitude and was forced to stay below the B airspace for the first 30 min. After an hour of making decent GS, we were both feeling queezy and decided to sacrifice speed for comfort.

Climbing to 4,500 (between two scattered/broken layers) we found a unbelievably smooth air. The vertical separation wasn’t more than 1,500 ft.


The downside was we were barely passing cars on the highway. Winds had increased to 40-50mph and our ground speed was a mere 90mph. As Center passed us onto South Bend approach the MGL was letting me know we had 1.5hr of flight time and 1.6hr of fuel left. Dang, the new 11gal aux tank wasn’t going to get us home from CLE non-stop. Down into the bumpy air we went, requesting a new destination…KSBN. We setup for a final to RWY19 (winds below 2,000 were 190 @10 g20. On final we advised Tower we were looking for some self serve 100LL and needed a quick departure.

We had a little excitement post landing when a golf cart met us, after being instructed to turn left onto a closed RWY27, with a sign that said “Follow Me – Tune 122.95”. We tune in and hear, “Welcome to Atlantic aviation. Follow me to the FBO”.


I take a moment to process and look around to see 70+ private jets lining closed runways and ramps. There is the owner of the UFC and his Global Express. The Under Armor jet. More Gulfstreams than I can count. Seriously, I have never seen an airport so full of expensive jets and planes. It was packed. We taxied for 4 minutes behind the cart while he wove us around dozens of jets.

We stop the plane and 10 ground crew members come out and are so excited to see the tiny little bird next to all the jets. They loved the Sonex, topped off the main tank (no self-serve on game day) and then invited us in for dinner. Yep, the crews of the jets who’s owners didn’t bring them to the game were all around the lounge in leather seats enjoying chili, sandwiches, desserts, salads and beverages while watching several huge TVs. What a treat it was after the long travels.
We quickly ate and made way for departure. Ground has us squawk to even get clearance to taxi. We went to a holding pad and were number 2 behind a new Citation X. Several Citations and Lears were on final trying to get in before the game kickoff. The Goodyear blimp was hovering over the end of RWY9 (which is where the stadium is).Leg #3 KCGF-KSBN
Dist: 223nm
Climb: 100mph to 4,500
Cruise: 130-140mph, 29″-31″, 5.8-6.3 gph
Time: 2.7 hours w/ 98mph gs ave

We blasted out and with more than enough fuel so we put the hammer down to 32″ and leveled off at 2,500ft. Smooth air but that head wind was back in our faces, this time over 50mph.


We made our way up the Chicago skyline and flew just north of the TFR for Wrigley Field. We could see the game had just started. GO CUBS!

We dipped below the Bravo airspace (1,900 ft) and got tossed around a lot. After clearing we climbed quickly to 2,500, back in smooth air again. The landing was going to suck, I knew that already. It was night, the RWY was 26 (straight into the 50mph wind at 2,500) but a 60 degree cross wind on landing. ASOS said 12 g17mph.

2 mile final I put in 10 degrees and kept the bird fast (90mph final). We cross through the wind sheer which had dropped to 2,000 ft and increased to 52mph, into the turmoil of xwind chop. The plane worked hard for me. A few pockets of air had me at 42″ inches then quickly back to 16″ to keep on the glide slope. I knew this was a one shot landing, because if we had to abort, we were destined to fly to KDPA for a RWY facing the winds.


50 feet above the plane is still tossing. I hammer more rudder and more throttle. She settles in and the mains hit as planned…firm and fast. A gust blows us back up slightly but I keep the stick down and dump the flaps and grab the brakes. She doesn’t side skid or anything, just stays planted as if it had the weight of a 747. It took 2,000 ft to slow her down, and with a smile, I look over at my co-pilot and say, “welcome home sweetie”.

Leg #4 KCGF-3CK
Dist: 103nm
Climb: 100mph to 2,500
Cruise: 135mph, 32″, 6.8 gph
Time: 1.2 hours w/ 107mph gs ave

That is one solid airframe. It flew really well. We idled the engine for 6 minutes so the oil temps and turbo could cool. The engine worked on final and oil temps climbed to 210 briefly. The turbo did it’s job and told that wind sheer who was boss!

Total Distance: 788nm in 8.5 hours and a whole lot of fuel.

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