Flight to Austin, Texas


Nathan and I visited my sister and her family in Austin, Texas.  The round trip flight was 1,506 miles and took 12.6 hours flight time (119 mph average).  We used 50 gallons of fuel (30 mpg).

Nothing but trees under the wing.

Looking south over the Bankhead National Forest.

We departed Huntsville Executive late in the day so Nathan didn’t have to miss any school.  This meant we arrived in Vicksburg at 5:05 pm.  We quickly got fuel and departed, hoping to make it to Natchitoches, Louisiana for the night.  We weren’t quick enough and it decided to turn around and stay in Vicksburg.

Vicksburg-Tallulah KTVR

The guy who fueled the plane said he wished we made up our mind earlier since the headlights in the courtesy car weren’t working.  The airport manager let us borrow his “baby”, a Chevrolet pick-up truck.  He seemed doubtful that I would know how to drive a stick, but I think I passed the test backing out of his driveway.  We appreciated the generosity and Nathan loved getting to ride in a truck.

We drove back across the Mississippi river and stayed at the Candlewood for the night where Nathan got to swim in the indoor pool.  Unfortunately, it was not possible to use my points to make the reservation from the front desk, and I’m pretty sure they charged more than if I had booked over the phone/internet, but we were happy to have somewhere to stay.

The temperature dipped below freezing during the night and the dew that condensed on the airplane frosted, so we cranked the engine and waited in the sun for the oil to reach temperature and the frost to melt.  Both happened at about the same time.

Angelina County (Lufkin) KLFK

The FBO here is really nice and even has a cafe.  We were in a hurry to make it to Austin, so we just grabbed cookies from the snack machine.  One of the cookies eventually got shared with Nathan’s cousin.


In front of the FBO


Austin Executive KEDC

Austin Executive has a huge canopy you can pull use in inclement weather.  They can tow your airplane to a tie down or hangar when you leave and have it waiting for you when you get back.  P1030237We told the line-man we’d rather just taxi to a tie-down.P1030236 Austin Executive has expanded significantly in the last 8 years or so.  The runway is new and the FBO is newer.P1030234


Much of east Texas looked just like this. The air was smooth and peaceful with a hint of a tailwind.

We had a great time visiting with my sister and her family.  I chose a slightly more northerly route for the return trip so we could see new sights and fly through an extra state (Arkansas).  Nathan took hundreds of pictures over the course of a couple hours.  Here I’m fine-tuning the mixture to squeeze out the last bit of power.P1030324This is my favorite picture picture he took.  He’s a pretty serious guy when we’re in the airplane, but when we get out he always has stories to tell.P1030623Shreveport, Louisiana was the largest city we saw on the trip.  Shreveport Approach let us fly through their airspace, but asked that we stay above 2,500 feet (we were cruising at 3,500).


Shreveport, Louisiana

Minden KMNE

The FBO here was very simple.  The only person staffing the FBO drove a fuel truck over and fueled us up.  I removed the cowl and added oil while Nathan sang and danced on the ramp.  We were parked in front of two large hangars without front doors.  The open hangars reflected Nathan’s singing back at us at almost full volume.


Bayou Bartholemew


Where the Arkansas (foreground) and Mississippi rivers (background) join

Not long after departing, we picked up a fantastic 20mph tailwind.  I revised our planned fuel stop a couple of times.  One of the options we passed up was in Oxford, Mississippi.  I snapped this picture as we flew by and only later realized it is the University of Mississippi “Ole Miss” campus.P1030684

Northwest Alabama Regional (Muscle Shoals) KMSL

We could have made it back to our home airport, but decided to make a final fuel stop in Muscle Shoals about 30 minutes from home.  It turned out to be a good thing since Nathan was feeling slightly airsick from some of the turbulence we found in eastern Mississippi.  The time we spent walking around on the ramp cured him.

We had a brief scare when the FBO informed us the FAA wanted to talk to us.  My mind raced through all the possible mistakes I could have made, but couldn’t think of any specific one.  After a brief wait they said the FAA was looking for a different airplane and we were okay to leave.  What a relief!

Here we are returning to the familiarity of Huntsville, Alabama.  Nathan even recognized the Saturn V rocket in the distance.



  1. Great trip generating father/son memories. Thanks for sharing.

    T51 N351D
    ONEX (N951X reserved)

  2. David Jacob Heino

    What a terrific first long cross country flight in your gorgeous Sonex aircraft! Fond memories for both of you that will last a lifetime.

  3. Hehe. Singing and dancing on the ramp. I can see it!

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