Day 1, Leg 1: Ithaca, NY to Wood County, OH

20140527_01_07.51Tuesday morning, the big day — the alarm goes off at 6 am.  A quick look at the weather at breakfast shows isolated thunderstorms along the route, but also a gigantic convective SIGMET (an advisory for serious weather that affects all aircraft, small and large) for most of the eastern United States. Not too promising, but since the weather in Ithaca and up until Chicago is good, we decide to follow closely the development of the thunderstorms with Flight Watch and on the iPads with the Stratus.  We’re sure to recreate the photo from the first pages of Flight of Passage before heading out.

Just after 8 am EDT we take off from Ithaca, with Wood County Airport in Bowling Green, OH (1G0) as our first fuel stop; Jim is the pilot in command for this first leg, and we end up alternating with each subsequent stop.  Ithaca Tower tells us to contact Elmira Departure control, saying they’ll “talk to us soon” — they were surprised and envious when Jim replied with “We’re heading to California! See you in two weeks!”

The first 50 miles of the trip are the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes and Western New York, but it starts getting very flat as we enter Ohio.  The visibility wasn’t great for sightseeing — about ten miles, occasionally dropping down to five or so, but otherwise the weather was fine. It’s hard to get lost when every town has a water tower with its name on it!

As we approach Cleveland, we are cleared into their Bravo airspace without even asking, and after being vectored around to avoid arriving jet traffic, we follow the coast of Lake Erie: perfect for the view! We particularly appreciate the views of Western Lake Erie, around Sandusky, OH and Port Clinton, OH.

But it’s time to descend into Wood County Airport, OH — an uncontrolled airfield that Jim insists on calling Bowling Green after the nearby town. Winds on the ground are around 5 knots from the West, and we set up for a straight-in runway 28. The local FBO is very helpful and refuels our plane, while we get out to walk around, eat an energy bar, and prepare our next flight.