SportHawk From Texas to Clinton
By: Wayne Westerman
The trip to Clinton was my first long cross country in the Sport Hawk. As usual I had a number of new experiences and learned a lot. It has been decades since I have flown low. In planning for the Clinton trip I found that the winds at 3000' had a strong westerly component while the winds at 6000' and 9000' swung around to the east. By staying at 4000' I was able to enjoy a tail wind component of 15 to 20 knots for the first half of the trip.
After a quick fuel stop at Ponca City, OK I climbed up to 5500', to find cooler temperatures. At 5500' the tail wind component of the winds aloft was completely canceled, but there was no headwind either. We were doing what we were truing. East of Kansas City I climbed to 9500' to get above some fair weather cumulus that were beginning to build. My experience told me that it would be very rough below the cumulus clouds and several hours to go I did not relish being abused for the rest of the trip. As forecast I encountered a 5 to 10 kt headwind. About 150 miles west of Clinton the tops of the cumulus exceeded my 9500' cruising altitude and I decided that with a little over an hour left in the trip it was time to descend and just deal with the turbulence. I cinched up the straps and let down to 5500' to get below the bases of the clouds at around 7000'.