Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Leaving the Arizona Sun for Chicago Rain


We had a few days home (a rare thing indeed these past few months), and Gladys had a chance to spend some time with our favorite mechanics at Embraer. They always take such great care of us. I’m just glad that they are so close…just an eight-minute flight to get us there for some updates!

It’s the weirdest thing…but I always miss her. When I get to see Gladys again, no matter how long it’s been, it’s nothing but a pleasure.


We picked up the airplane from maintenance at Willy Gateway Airport to fly to Chicago Midway to meet a few passengers. We were set to finish our evening in Dallas, where I got a whole evening and morning with my sister, brother-in-law, and two nephews!

What a treat!


A little sunburst action behind the Embraer Service Center hangar today! Cue the angels!


I would much rather have people in back for every flight, but occasionally we get these empty legs to pick people up. I had their blankets washed and their snacks ready for our few days on the road.

Let’s go get some passengers!


Willy Gateway is the perfect setting for several airplane manufacturers to set up maintenance facilities. Until Hawker Beechcraft went bankrupt this past year and shut their facility down, there were three service centers on the field!

They must have gotten a good price on land…since all three of them are right next to each other!


As we were taxiing to the runway, I grabbed one last shot of our beloved maintenance hangar. We’ve spent lots of quality time here working out some bugs on such a new-to-the-world airplane.

It happens with any new airplane.


Willy Gateway is in the southeast corner of the Valley of the Sun. It is the perfect location for flight schools, and there are plenty on the field!

In fact, my favorite school in the world, The University of North Dakota John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, even has a satellite campus here. And with three-hundred and sixty four flying days a year, it’s a great place to get started in aviation.

Hint hint…


Eek! Here are some of their airplanes now! In fact, I’ve flown that Piper Seminole on the end! It was named Sioux 97, using the last two numbers of the N-Number.

After flying for a few years at the main campus airport in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the airplanes are sent to the satellite campuses all over the country. They switched back to Cessna airplanes a few years ago, as you can see here. (sniff sniff)

This makes me miss Grand Forks. Maybe I’ll go visit this summer! There is now a direct flight from this very airport!


Some government airplanes have been parked here for a while. You can tell because their flaps have started to lose their hydraulic pressure to hold them in place. Can you see them hanging down on the wing near the body of the airplane?

Once the engines start up, hydraulic pressure is sent right back to them to retract them into proper place.

And now you know!


And we’re off!

You can plainly see that I was wearing a zebra-stripe cardigan today for work. Sorry. It kind of interfered with some pictures.

Dang zebras. They always ruin the party.


We passed some pretty mountains on our climb towards the east. Our flight will take just over two hours to get into Chicago Midway today.

But the weather won’t be nearly this nice, so kiss it goodbye!


It kept getting flatter and flatter as we made our way east. I am starting to think there’s a reason that they call them The Great Plains!


Here is the airport diagram to Chicago Midway Airport, which is just south and west of downtown. It is a popular reliever airport for Chicago O’Hare. And it is a hub for Southwest Airlines, since they avoid big airports where other guys are based.

In this case, United and American.

So Midway is crazy busy because of all the Southwest guys and all of the corporate guys!


We started our descent into the rainy muck that is Chicago. But it would be worse…it could be snowy muck.



This was our view for the last twenty minutes of the flight as we made our way into Chicago this afternoon. Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) all the way!


We were soon on the ground and taxiing to the ramp. We tried a new FBO today, since our last one had gone under. Another sign of the times?

Actually, this is my first time to Chicago with this new job, so we could have gone anywhere we wanted. We chose Atlantic Aviation, and they were wonderful!


They even marshaled us in to the ramp. Thanks, guys!

But I always get worried when the locals are bundled up in heavy coats and hats. I think this warm-blooded girl is in trouble!


We parked and cleaned Gladys up. We will only be here for a few hours before our passengers arrive for our flight to Dallas.

But you know what? A few hours is plenty of time to drive the half-mile to Giordano’s to get some lunch! Yippeeeeeee!


As you can see, lots of private airplanes were visiting the lovely weather in Chicago today. The far-left is a Westwind. I’m always worried that they will scrape their bellies when landing because they sit so low to the ground. Then we have a Citation Excel, which is oh-so pretty. And last but not least…a Beechjet, which is what I used to fly.

Have I mentioned lately how very much I love Gladys?


The winds were terrible today in The Windy City. I was anxious to be on our way to bluer skies!

Bye, Southwest! Have a good flight!

Now, let’s go get some lunch Chicago lunch!

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