My buddy, Steve, called in a favor to have me fly him up to the upper peninsula of Michigan to visit with his sick grandmother in law. His wife drove up a long 16 hour or so trip a few days prior and had the luxury of staying longer, however he wanted to visit but didnt want to risk a commercial flight for concern of increased exposure to germs, not to mention the nearest major airport was like 2 hours away. We got an 8am departure to beautiful sunny skies and perfect crisp fall air. There was spectacular fog snaking through the Tennessee river valleys that was a fun sight to start the journey.
Steve and I had a great time jamming to the music that my XM player provided while jabbering about this and that ranging from sports to politics. The flight was an easy 4.5 hour VFR trip as we skirted around the west side of Chicago airspace and into Stamburg (Y73) Iron River, Michigan. I learned the locals call this field 'the aircraft carrier' and it was evident why as we approached because the short 2000 foot field had 100 foot drop off on each end and a little jutting side that made it really look just like a carrier. It was fantastic! The fall weather exposed brilliant colors in the trees and made me want to plan a fall trip up there one day to spend a little more time than the taxi service afforded me.
I kicked my buddy out and immediately started back towards home since it was going to be a long day. I climbed up to 17.5k (with oxygen on of course) and enjoyed the efficiency up there with no headwind component. With just me and no baggage the airplane was pretty light, although fully fueled, and I dialed in a respectable 7.5 gal/hr at 161 kts true airspeed. Not bad! 6.5 hours into my 9 hours of flying I got a bit bored, despite listening to an excellent audio book (Make It So, by Patrick Stewart) and decided to call up ATC and test max aircraft ceiling. This is something I've always wanted to do and was the perfect opportunity with great weather and just me on board. "RV 42BU request FL240". Felt great to get the clearance and I started my upward trajectory to glory at a steady 500 feet per minute. I reached 24,000 feet with no problem, although I did have to slow the climb to about 300 fpm in the last couple thousand feet and push the RPM to 2500. The outside air was a chilly minus 12, but I was quite warm with just a sweater on since I had the heat going. I was surprised my true airspeed stabilized around 157 kts true with an indicated of about 105 kts. Fuel flow was around 7.0 gph. I dont know what I was expecting with airspeed, but I guess higher or lower and not right in the middle like that.
After spending only 2 minutes or so at that alt I started my decent back down to sane altitudes and had an uneventful rest of the flight as I munched on snacks and listened to more audio book. It was a long day but went by surprisingly quick, easily, and comfortably. I love our RV10!