Malibu Annual (and Moab/Rockies Photos!)

It came time for the aircraft annual, and I decided to fly the Mirage to the ultimate Malibu Guru, a man named Kevin Mead in Kansas.  Kevin is a bit of a legend in the Malibu/Mirage community, mostly for his incredible dedication to the make and model, but also for his really impeccable skill.  Kevin remembers everything possible about just about every Malibu/Mirage or Jetprop in the field.  If you want to know where a plane has been, where a particular plane is going, or where the fleet is headed in general, you call Kevin.  And he is “the” mechanical whiz on our type of aircraft.  He knows them cold.  He has been an incredible help and friend to me over the years.  A great example of the wonderful people that you meet through flying.

Kevin had maintained my aircraft for years for prior owners, so I thought it best for the plane’s pedigree to stay with him.  The only issue was the small matter of logistics.  You see, I live in CA and Kevin’s shop is in KS. Even in a Mirage, that’s a full day of flying and a full day on the airliner home.

Weather was grim most of last week throughout the mid-west, and the end of the month was approaching fast (the annual was due by end Jan, so the  plane was only legal to fly in Jan).  The weather turned favorable midweek, and Thursday looked like the good day to fly.  I had to take the kids to school that morning, so it turned out to be sort of a late start, but heck, that’s why we fly (isn’t it?).  9am wheels up from KPAO went smoothly, and there was nary another plane on the freq.  I fear that this recession is really hurting GA, by the way.  Perhaps the subject of another post. . .

Usually when flying east one can expect tailwinds.  This day was a bit different, so I had a slow ride to my fuel stop in Moab, UT. Headwinds of somewhere between 20-25kts meant that I got to enjoy LOTS of satellite radio.  Fortunately, it was the day of the Blagovitch hearings, so CNN was happy to burn hours of my time. Fuel at CNY was somewhere around $4.87/gal self serve, and the day was beautiful with only a whisper of wind across the runway.  I noted the very large Dept of Homeland Security at the CNY airport and wondered about the goings on around Zion, then jumped back in for the second half of the trip, which was spectacular!  I crossed the Rockies at FL230 due to the military space at Colorado Springs.  Clear skies above and loads of snow in the Rockies below made for a picturesque trip.

I’ve always been amazed by what you see from a small plane either approaching or leaving the Rockies.  Quite simply, the world completely changes.  Particularly when going from west to east, you’re looking down on a wrinkled, snowy world, then all of a sudden the bottom drops out from under you . . . In the Rockies, FL230 looks close to the ground. In KS, it’s a world away.

The lights of KS started to show themselves just as I decided it was time to take off the shades and get setup for night flight.  This means checking every interior and exterior light, as well as making sure that 5 or so flashlights were refreshed with batteries and within reach.  Night happens fast when you’re flying into it, and soon I was touching down at KHUT and pulling into Kevin’s hangar in complete darkness.  We got the plane secured and Kevin, ever the great host, drove me out to the hotel at the (commercial) airport  As I got to my hotel I realized that I was  a half a continent away from my warm and cozy CA family, all in about 7 hours.  There are many things that I love about General Aviation, but one of them is that it allows us to move easily and seemlessly across this continent and in fact to another world.  Much as I always miss my world, I find it great to be in a new place with new and different people.  The freedom and adventure of it all is intoxicating.

The airline ride home at 6am was short and sweet, and  I have a new appreciation for Continental.   I was on the ground in CA by 11am the next day.  Talk about a time-warp!

Photos of the trip to follow, as well as the flip-flop, after the Annual’s done.

Explore posts in the same categories: Adventures, Mirage, Photos, Travels

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