I’m writing this in beautiful downtown Sevierville, Tennessee, home of Dolly Parton, just a few miles from the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Aiport, the end of today’s travel.

Today’s trip didn’t go entirely according to plan – it seems like no plan for a long-distance trip ever goes just as I expected. To start with, my 8:00AM departure became 10:00AM, because of low ceilings (they were below my house, and I decided it didn’t make any sense to even go to the airport until I could see down my own road). When I checked the weather early in the morning it was MVFR in Ithaca and Elmira, and a mix of MVFR and IFR most of the way to Morgantown, where I’d planned to stop for lunch. The culprit was an occluded front running from south of Buffalo southeast down to the coast. So, instead of going south through Elmira and central PA, I went west to Dannsville (DSV) and Jamestown (JHC), then turned south to Clarion (CIP) and finally Morgantown (KMGW).

When I finally got off, the sky was clear, with a widely scattered deck around 2500 feet.

Turning south at Jamestown put our path quite far west – at one point I was under the Pittsburgh Class B, and the evidence of the area’s industrial past was everywhere.

About three hours ten minutes into the flight, I was on final for KMGW – Morgantown, West Virginia.
Morgantown is a very friendly airport, with the FBO right in the terminal, along with, of all things, a Middle Eastern restaurant. While 493 was being topped off, and I was enjoying a Gyros pita, I checked the weather – to find a line of strong thunderstorms along my route, stretching from south of Morgantown through Virginia and the Carolinas. It was moving fairly quickly, though, so I replanned the flight to go westerly to Charlestown VOR, then south, figuring that the storms would have passed through by the time I got there.

And so they had, but they’d left behind a lot of clouds in what one can only call a flock – not a deck, really, but a layer of small, puffy clouds, running from about 2000 to 4000 feet.

The flock got thicker and thinner, but basically for the next three hours I was doing the cloud slalom, over, under and around clouds as I passed deeper into West Virginia. This is really rugged country, with deep gorges and rivers in every valley.

Every so often, though, you’d see them dismantling the mountains. The shovels seemed perfectly ordinary – until you realized that the tiny specks next to them are trucks.

Finally, I crossed the Tennessee border and the sun began to shine. You can tell you’re crossing the border – there’s a huge mountain line to keep the states apart…

About three-quarters of an hour later we were at Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge (KGKT), and tied down, six hours and fifteen minutes total flying for the day.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow – I’d planned Fayetteville, Arkasas, as the next stop and then on to Dallas, but I think I’m going to have to insert a day in there somewhere. The weather’s supposed to be OK here, but Fayetteville and Dallas are questionable. I’ll probably go as far as I can, and stop overnight somewhere to wait out the weather. Watch this space…

3 thoughts on “Day 1 – Ithaca to Gatlinburg, Tennessee

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