Huskies wind way to Florida

March 23, 2012

  • Image 1

    The Husky team starts March 22 off right with a
    beautiful morning in Beaufort, S.C., ready to take off.

  • Image 2

    The yellow paint of the Sweepstakes Husky shines like
    a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

  • Image 3

    AOPA President Craig Fuller flies his Husky over Hilton Head, S.C.

  • Image 4

    The Sweepstakes Husky on the ramp at Cedar Key, Fla.

  • Image 5

    The Cedar Key runway drops off into the drink on each end. Luckily, there's plenty of room and a nice ocean breeze acting as a headwind to help the Huskies stop.

  • Image 6

    Follow the leader. AOPA Senior Editor Dave Hirschman
    sticks to the six of AOPA President Craig Fuller.

  • Image 7

    Landing after a photo mission, Cedar Key, Fla.

The Husky team awoke to good news March 22; the weather system that had been impacting most of Mississippi late Wednesday hadn't moved. That meant a relatively clear flight. After filling up, the two taildraggers took off, heading south from Beaufort, S.C., following the coast. Just south of Hilton Head, S.C., the team turned inland to avoid bad weather and restricted airspace farther down the seaboard.

The team encountered choppy air for the first time of the trip as they headed across Georgia. High pressure clouds dotted the skies about 4,000 feet msl. As the sun heated the Southeast, thermals kept the clouds in ascent. The pilots decided to climb up and over to find much calmer air, a welcome relief for this passenger in the back seat of the Sweepstakes Husky.

The day's only fuel stop would be at Cross City, Fla. It was a lucky thing the pilots choose that airport. Fixed-base operator Dixie Aviation Services was offering a 25-cent-per-gallon discount on fuel purchases for those headed to Sun 'n Fun. From there it was out to the Gulf Coast and south to Cedar Key.

The pair flew in formation for photo opportunities over the coastline. "Formation flying is all about trusting your leader," said AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman. "You're not looking at your instruments, you're not looking at the horizon; you're watching the lead plane and striving for no relative movement." After a bite of lunch, the skies were calling again. The team took off during late afternoon to get a closer look at the majestic Florida Gulf Coast. After an hour of flight the airmen retired for the evening in the "Old Florida" style community of Cedar Key. The group found cell phones do not work well out on the key. Nobody complained.

Look for more on the stop off in Cedar Key in upcoming AOPA publications.