Sunday, February 28, 2010

The end of winter by air

I love flying in the winter, probably more than any other season. In another month, the combination of dark and light ground in Minnesota will make for uneven thermals and turbulence, a few weeks after that the geese will be on the move, and after that, hot and humid weather will diminish aircraft performance -- not that I'm complaining, mind you.

Today the temperatures got well into the '30s with a gorgeous blue sky and little wind. In February in Minnesota, that brings people out like Key West at sunset.

I'm trying to fit in a flight review next week, so I went out in this perfect weather and ran through a few flight maneuvers -- stalls and steep turns mostly -- and a couple of landings out in Glencoe and did some sight-seeing on the way back to Flying Cloud Airport southwest of the Twin Cities.

On Lake Waconia, I found this ice-house neighborhood...

You can click the image to see bigger versions. This is the day Minnesota requires ice houses to be removed from lakes in the southern two-thirds of the state. You can see trucks pulling a few off.

And from this shot, you can see that there were probably more ice houses here before. Some of the "streets" remind me of suburban corn fields that have been subdivided for housing developments.

Of course, it's also manure-spreading season. A few weeks ago, a farmer down in Albert Lea made news because he spread the manure in the shape of a heart for a valentine for his wife. Do you suppose this guy got an earful?

Of course, as this picture attests, there's still plenty of winter left in Flyover Country. That diagonal black line in the middle of the picture is the Glencoe runway.

Here's a typical farm on the prairie. A windbreak around the house. It's needed. There's nothing between here and the Rockies to stop the wind. You'll want to click the image to see the bigger version.

As I approach this lake, if you look way off on the horizon -- straight ahead -- you can barely see the buildings of Minneapolis.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It's good to be a dog

Is there anything better than sprawling out on the carpet, soaking up the February sun?