RAFE Martin Kennedy LongEZ: Rough River or Bust!
Since bringing the RAFE Martin Kennedy LongEZ to its new home at the Lubbock Canard base last year I’ve flown to several local places and done a lot of patch flying, but nothing like a long cross country with a great destination as the goal. As the Sponsor of the RAFE Kennedy Long EZ and like most Canardians, I had Rough River as that great destination goal. Having had the misfortune of missing last years Rough River due to a broken ignition wire that was not detected until departure day, this year we went over the LongEZ really well. Except for replacing some VGs and airing the tires, all systems were go.
I got on Foreflight and planned the route. The weather all week from Lubbock TX to the Falls of Rough, looked great! The route has lots of airports along the way, so choosing fuel stops was easy. The plan was land somewhere in Oklahoma, then to Murray KY, then to Rough River. If I could leave Friday, then land in Oklahoma, then Covington Tennessee, meet up with Ryszard Zadow, Robert Harris and the rest of the Jet Guys and fly with them to Rough River. An outstanding Idea!
In all my enthusiasm I somehow forgot that I live in the windiest, not to mention flattest place on earth. Friday morning was “west-wind-day”, 25 mph direct crosswind, gusting to something worse. Easy decision, Friday was a bust.
Saturday, was looking great, predicted weather, clear, wind 15 MPH straight down the pipe, and forecasts showed green, green and greener all the way to Rough River. I got a good night’s sleep, wheels up half hour before sunrise and I am landing no later than 1 PM…Or so that was the plan.
Saturday morning, I took a glance at the flight plan and route, and all had changed. A lot of moisture had moved up from the southeast and my route was marginal VFR but forecast to slowly turn to VFR as the day progressed. After a little time delay getting airborne, which allowed more time to study Foreflight, Lubbock to Frederick Oklahoma, an old military field was clear the whole way.
By then McAlester OK, was forecast to turn VFR an hour later. Then onto Murray KY which would be VFR in a few hours ETC. ETC. After a few touch and goes at Frederick, it was on to MCD, what could go wrong?
After landing and In the time it takes to put 15 gallons into a Long EZ, those pesky West Texas Winds seemed to have personally sought me out. A few clouds building in the west could be an issue, but I thought that if I could just get airborne before the winds picked up too much, then I could make it to the next stop. Then it hit me, GET-THERE-IT IS was creeping in, never had that before, I kept checking different routes, rationalizing, checking again but all of a sudden , my strong self-preservation flared up and the mission to get to Rough River was officially a bust.
I remembered that I fly for the adventure, and not the goal of getting somewhere. When the goal is to get someplace, I drive, or fly commercial, seems to work out better for me but it’s hard to take a LongEZ along on the airlines. As the weather unfolded along my route, I was about to get to enjoy a long weekend in …..McAlester, Oklahoma!
The Kennedy Long EZ is a great airplane, and was a big hit on the ramp. FYI, if you wind up in McAlester the FBO was above par, the guy running it, Lane, was great. He made sure the RAFE airplane had a safe dry home for a few days.
I had Carte Blanc and the airports standard issue courtesy car, (this one had that,” I just robbed the 7/11” look) but it ran fine and got me places I have never been to before, nor ever expected to have been!
I’m sure after this story a lot of folks will be planning their next vacation to McAlester OK., may I suggest going to Krebs OK, known as little Italy. Have a feast at Pete’s Place or Ilse of Capri restaurants, both touting that they were world famous, and if they are not, they should be. As for myself I dined at both. I took the “getaway car”, and went to places of local interest over the next two IFR days. A great adventure all and all.
As for Rough River, I grew up just a short flight away in Fort Knox, so the place is not unfamiliar to me. I spent many of summer days, as well as unofficial days off from school there, and maybe have done a few drag races on the airstrip in the AM hours back in the day. It’s not the State Park that I missed out visiting, it’s the people I didn’t get to see, share the RAFE Martin Kennedy LongEZ with everyone and hangout with my RAFE buddies.
See you next year at Rough River Fly 2021. (Panhandle winds permitting!)