My plan was to make as many miles as possible during daylight hours. I woke up at 5am, checked the weather and was at the airport setting up cameras and checking Estelle by 6am. Everything went smooth and I was wheels up at 6:24am. The ceilings were low but the visibility was 7 to 10 miles so I decided to continue the trek Southwest. My plan was to fly from Cape Girardeau Southwest towards El Paso, Texas with a fuel stop in between. The weather was going to determine my route and there was nothing I could do about it. Even though I checked the weather it is tough to obtain the whole picture. Shortly after departure I was confronted with much more precipitation that the radar was showing me. At one point I was actually headed Southeast instead of Southwest. I kept moving forward and soon I found myself at my first fuel stop, Fort Smith Arkansas. From Arkansas I kept progressing, albeit slowly. It was a difficult weather day and the ceilings would just not raise up. I spent the next three hours plugging away trying to make progress towards home. My next stop was Brownwood, Texas. At Brownwood I decided to make one more stop in Texas, I really wanted to cross the highest terrain without stopping and this was going to take a full tank of fuel. I made a quick turn at Brownwood and was back in the air in under 30 minutes. I had to dodge a couple thunderstorms on my way to Pecos, Texas but it was actually my most relaxing leg of the day. When I landed at Pecos I met two guys that were ferrying a antique biplane from Florida to California and they were contemplating the weather ahead, they decided to overnight at Pecos. The weather would not have been a big deal on its own, the problem was the path. We were faced with the fact that near El Paso Texas, there is a 19 mile wide funnel that all air traffic must pass through. To the South of El Paso is Mexico and to the North is restricted airspace. To go around the restricted airspace to the North means going 150 miles North. Flying Estelle it would take 1 – 1.5 hours, plus it would take me into higher terrain which was not on my wish list. I sat at Pecos for about an hour, watching and waiting for the weather to provide me an opportunity to pass through the tunnel. My opportunity came when I witnessed one of the largest thunderstorms dissipating, I decided to take off to go investigate. It was hot out and incredibly bumpy but I progressed West. When I approached El Paso I had to hug the restricted area to stay a comfortable distance from the Thunderstorm. As soon as I made it beyond El Paso I was faced with 7 more Thunderstorms between me and Tucson but I had much more airspace to work with. I had to fly about 30 miles North to miss two storms, then back to the South to miss another three and finally back to the North around the final two storms before I was able to go directly towards Tucson.
I left Missouri at 6:24am CST and landed in Arizona at 7:55 CST, what a great day of flying, I wish every day was like this.