Can't say that I'm ready to do it all over again, but a long shower and a good night's sleep are just what I needed after flying for over seventeen hours on Independence Day, 2007! I'm not sure where the idea came from, but at some point I decided that it sure would be neat to touch down at all of the public use airports in North Carolina. Then some idiot (perhaps me) suggested that it might be possible to do it in one day! That's 109 landings in 24 hours! (110 if you count my home field, which is a private airport.) As Tom May, my next door neighbor pointed out, that's a landing every thirteen minutes. Impossible! As it turned out, after seventeen hours and six minutes of flying time I touched down at all 110 airports (109 public plus one private) and averaged a landing every nine and a half minutes.
Total distance, not including circling to land and a few bomber patterns behind normalâ€ pilots, was 1991 nautical miles and the average speed was 116 knots. The total elapsed time was 19 hours, 51 minutes from the first public airport, Concord Regional Airport (JQF) to the last, Siler City Municipal Airport (5W8). I spent two hours cooling my heels at Currituck County Airport (ONX), waiting for sunrise so I could start knocking off the unlighted airports. First Flight Airport (FFA) at Kitty Hawk was the first unlighted destination and it felt pretty awesome to land at the site of man's first powered flight at first light on Independence Day!
Being a holiday, most of the restricted areas were cold and all of the military bases were quiet but a few events did make me wonder if the day was to be successful. Upon arrival at Wilson Industrial Air Center (W03) at 1:42 AM the airfield lights refused to come on when I triggered the mic button. I didn't want to have my record blemished by omitting a single airport so I circled the field at about 800 feet and made out the runway markings by the moonlight. A single porch light on a building next to the approach end made a good target, so I established a landing pattern and accomplished the porch lightâ€ approach to runway 21. My landing light and a Â¾ moon gave just enough light so see the centerline of the runway on short final.
There are 21 turf fields among the 109 destinations and some of them are downright scary! The shortest are 1400 feet long with huge trees at both ends! I managed a touch-and-go at all of them, but must admit that it would have been a real challenge to make a full-stop landing at some. Keck's Airport (N88) was real special. The NC Airport Guide has special notices/warningsâ€ which note that Keck's has agricultural equipment on runway and buildings on NW edge of runway.â€ What they don't say is that if you stray just 10 feet off the centerline you will leave your wingtip in a tractor garage.
There are mowers, tractors and junk all over the place and an aluminum irrigation pipe is laid across the center of the runway. As if all these obstructions were insufficient to deter one from attempting to land, the farmer jumping up and down and furiously waving his arms was also a good indicator. I managed to touch down between the irrigation pipe and the tractor and I still have both my wingtips, so I must have missed the tractor garage. I now know where Goose Creek (28A) got it's name. I was forced to land long as about fifty geese strolled across the approach end of runway four.
I was pleased to see some of my RV buddies emerge from a hangar at Goose Creek and wave frantically as I passed by. I gave them a blast of smoke and a wing rock then raced off to the next destination. I refueled four times. The first stop was at Currituck County Airport (ONX) at 3:09 AM. It was very dark and very quiet and I stayed for nearly two hours, waiting for first light. It was so peaceful that I feared I would fall asleep and miss the entire day! The old gentleman that helped refuel the plane at Curtis Brown Field (EYF) was thrilled to hear all about my trip and was amazed to see a flight plan with 109 turn points! Tad Sargent, one of my RV formation buddies met me at Ashe County Airport (GEV) and supervised the refueling while I took a break. He even used his own credit card to pay for the gas so I didn't have to wait around for the interminable credit card approval process.
Thanks, Tad; I owe you a few bucks and a whole lot more. The last fuel stop at Macon County Airport (1A5) was the most expensive at $4.64 per gallon, but hey, they gotta' make a living and I was in no position to bargain. A serious case of get-home-itus was beginning to take hold of me. I finally arrived home at Gold Hill Airpark at 8:09 PM and was greeted by all of my neighbors who were gathered for the Independence Day picnic. George Orndorff kept the grill hot for me and I topped off the day with a burger and Miller beer. My thanks to Larry Bowen, Tad Sargent, Len Leggett and Tom May who called several airports to warn them of my arrival and to my wife, Kathy who manned the command centerâ€ at home, keeping everyone appraised of my progress as I sent text messages to her along the way. It was a great trip.
Total Airports: 110 (109 public use plus 1 private) Total Elapsed Time: 19 hours, 51 minutes. Total Flying Time: 17 hours, 6 minutes. Furthest distance between two airports on route: 65.4 NM Closest distance between two airports on route: 1.16 NM Average distance between airports: 18.26 NM Average speed along route: 116 knots Ron Schreck RV-8, Miss Izzy Gold Hill Airpark, NC