Barnstormers Logo
ISSUE 642 - July 7, 2020 • Over 9,000 Total Ads Listed • 1,000+ NEW Ads Per Week
  Home     Browse All Classifieds     eFLYERs     Events     Testimonials     Post Ad     Search Ads  
BARNSTORMERS eFLYER… a collective effort of the aviation community.
YOUR photos, videos, comments, reports, stories, and more…
Click to Subscribe

*If images aren't loading, please try refreshing your browser.
Crossing the Sea
Ben Keirn, Contributing Writer & Photographer

A few weeks back I had a unique opportunity to cross the sea by air, both directions in one day, and in two different planes! Alright, so it wasn't really a sea per se, it was Lake Michigan. But hey, if the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, and the Sea of Galilee can claim that title, then a lake whose shores are out of sight at 4,000 feet ought also to qualify.

Having lived in Indiana or Michigan most of my life, I'm no stranger to the Great Lakes. But apart from some airline travel, I'd never previously flown over the big water. The first crossing made me feel like a king. My father being a corporate pilot, I have been blessed with several opportunities to hop aboard when airplanes are going for maintenance. In airline parlance it would be called hitching a ride in the jump seat. But when the aircraft is a business jet and you have the whole passenger cabin to yourself, it's a wee bit grander than a "jump seat."

The well-appointed interior of an IAI Astra jet. Replete with creature comforts and some fairly impressive technology for its era, it certainly makes you feel like a king when you're used to light single engine planes.
"One if by land, two if by sea," I had the chance to travel over both. The farmland of Indiana passes ‘neath the wings as we head toward the Lake Michigan shoreline.

As we crossed over the Michigan shoreline, the weather was ideal for a day at the beach. The good Lord was giving us plenty to enjoy, with a steady breeze, the sun on display, and just enough clouds in the sky to be interesting. Nobody would be in the water at this time of year, though. Even if the state of Michigan weren't locked down for COVID, the temperature of that water would deter all but a Yooper! Once we got past the shallows and the sandy bottoms whipped up by the rip currents, it was all black water and whitecaps. The benefit of the cold water was the resulting smooth air. The first few minutes of the flight we were jostled something fierce by the thermals. A sunny breezy day might be nice for a trek on the beach, but it's the devil on a jet flying at less than a mile high.

The Michigan "seashore" trails after us as we leave behind the Gipper in search of musky; GIJ VOR in search of MUSKY waypoint, that is.
The transition to black water with the occasional whitecap belied both the temperatures and the winds of the day.

The first indication that we were closing on the Chicago side of the big lake was the change in the color of the water. Once again, the water shallowed, the sand mixed in, and the color lightened up a few shades as a result. Spring rains, the wind, and the waves all serve to make the water around the shores of Lake Michigan look more like a cappuccino than fresh water. Now that's something you won't see while you're rocketing into the sky on the airliner headed for FL320.

Illinois sand and silt has the same effect as Michigan sand on the big lake. Puts you more in mind of the "Muddy Mississippi Line" than the Great Lakes.

In short order, it was time for the KPWK approach to landing. One thing about Palwaukee, they like to keep you in tight. Even with the leading-edge slats on the Astra, this was some pretty impressive maneuvering. We had the ground, and nothing else, out the port windows nearly all the way around to short final.

On the approach to KPWK there were sights to see like this set of four ball sky to speak of, but plenty of sights to see.
Getting into shape, the leading edge slats on the IAI Astra effectively change the shape of the airfoil and help us maneuver a bit easier on the slow, descending turn that is the arrival to KPWK.

A quick pit stop and a chat with the folks at the Astra maintenance facility, and we were back in the air. On the climb out we got to see some of the sights from the inbound course, though at a slightly less harrying angle. The crossing of the sea on the return was no less enjoyable, albeit a wee bit less expedient. We hopped into the Skymaster for a taste of centerline thrust and a closer view of Lake Michigan.

From leading slats to trailing props, there's no mistaking the hindquarters of a Skymaster, with a twin boom tail and a prop between the booms.
A better angle as we viewed the same four ball diamonds from the approach path with the nose pointing skyward, rather than the right wing.

Crossing the barge routes rewarded us with a bit of time to watch waterborne commerce in action. But it wasn't too long before we were back over dry land. Nearly home, we crossed over KSBN and were surprised at the number of immobile airliners at the aerodrome by The Golden Dome. While the barges were still trundling across the lake, the airlines were nearly at a standstill from the COVID slowdown.

Barging in, okay it's a freighter, not a barge. But it was headed in toward the shore when we spotted the big iron from our vantage point above the shipping lane.
The sad aftermath of COVID 19 as the passenger parking is nearly empty at KSBN. Meanwhile over two dozen regional jets litter the tarmac waiting on air travel to pick back up.
The Green Fields of Amerikay indeed. The green grass of the home turf conjures up the lyrics that the Chieftains sang and the corn across the way is starting to sprout green too.

And with home base back in sight, it was time to put away other people's toys. It's always enjoyable to get in the air and see the sights. So much the better when it's a place you‘ve never been, with flying friends, and in different planes. As the COVID crud starts to lift and people are able to gather again, perhaps it's time to start looking in the Events section of for a destination. And if your weight and balance will tolerate it, why not help bolster this industry of ours by taking some folks along with you. Someday in the near future those regional jets will be carrying passengers once again. And the youth today need good mentors who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences to guide them toward the Captain's seat.

By Ben Keirn, Contributing Writer & Photographer
Return to eFLYER
Visit - post an ad to be viewed by more than 1,000,000 visitors per month.
Over 20 years bringing more online buyers and sellers together than any other aviation marketplace.
Don't just advertise. Get RESULTS with Check out the Testimonials
Registered Copyright © 1995-2020 All Rights Reserved.