Where Aliens Crash
Day two of our adventure to Oshkosh started under beautiful conditions in Tucson Arizona, it was early but Estelle, Ken and I were ready for the day. We took on 52 Gallons of fuel for our next leg to Roswell, New Mexico, said goodbye to our new friends at Million Air and fired up for another hot day of flying.
Our planned route was to take us over Chochise Arizona, East to El Paso Texas then Northeast to Roswell New Mexico. Soon after departure I noticed the winds were not favoring our direction of flight and thus our ground speed was slower than anticipated. My first thought was that it was going to be close but we would make it to Roswell with 45 minutes of reserve fuel. As the flight progressed East the math started to show that we were going to end up in Roswell with closer to 15 minutes of fuel. This was not a safely margin that I was comfortable with so we started searching for an alternate to fuel up. We checked airport information, wind direction and speed, runway lengths and everything else that was pertinent to our situation. I decided that Las Cruces International was going to be our stop. The winds were light at 6 knots and only 20 degrees off runway centerline, not a big deal. Even with light winds I was still able to bounce the landing a couple times, none the less we landed safely and taxied in for fuel.
Immediately upon shutdown a gentleman by the name of John walked over to the airplane and introduced himself. I could tell he wasn’t a line guy that would fuel Estelle, but he seemed nice so I introduced myself and shook his hand. John proceeded to tell me about an upholstery shop that he was going to take us to and previous work they had done. I was obviously looking confused because he stopped mid sentence. I asked who he was looking for and he replied “Aren’t you the 195 guys that are looking to have your upholstery redone”? I let him know we were the wrong guys and we had a good laugh, it turned out he was waiting for another Cessna 195. Small world, what are the chances two Cessna 195’s were going to land at Las Cruces on the same day within an hour of each other, when there are only about 120 left flying in the United States?
We fueled up Estelle, filled ourselves with water and we were back in the sky in under an hour. We had lost some time but it still looked good for beating the afternoon thunderstorms that typically build up during the summer months. What we weren’t going to beat was the forecast increase in winds at our destination in New Mexico. After 1.5 hours we were making our descent towards Roswell, the Automated weather at Roswell was reporting just 8 knots of wind, almost down the runway, things were looking up. I called up approach and requested runway 03. They quickly advised me that the winds were 150 degrees at 08 gusting 17 knots. I decided runway 17 would be a better choice and they agreed. On short final they advised the winds were 130 at 08 gusting 18. This did not make me happy but I always have the choice of a go around if I don’t like how the approach is lining up. I made the approach and it was actually pretty smooth, the touchdown was nice and I kept applying the control inputs necessary to keep going straight. We caught one gust of wind that caused us to lift the downwind wheel but she settled back on and the landing stayed straight.
It has been and continues to be a great experience crossing our beautiful country in an airplane built for this type of travel.
Tomorrow our plan is to make it to Wichita Kansas to tour the Cessna Factory. Our route of flight is direct, we will have to make a fuel stop in the middle somewhere, winds and weather will determine our fuel stop location.
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