We just got back late this afternoon from a trip to Manitowoc, WI in the RV–8 to visit some of Terry’s sisters. We flew down Saturday morning, via a Customs and fuel stop in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. 4.0 hours of flying time, and we landed at 11:30 AM.

On the way home, we took advantage of the unusually strong westerly winds, and came back non-stop, climbing up to 15,000 ft to cross Lake Michigan. 2.9 hours of flying time, with an average ground speed of 201 kt from take-off to landing, including two separate climbs to 15,000 ft and an instrument approach in Smiths Falls.

I had planned to cross the lake at 17,000 ft, but I should have climbed higher VFR before I picked up the IFR clearance. The 50 kt tailwind during the climb had us halfway across the lake before I got to 15,000 ft, and we were already within gliding distance of the eastern shoreline, so we started a slow descent to 9,000 ft. We had to climb back up to 15,000 ft approaching Toronto’s airspace, as their normal traffic patterns were disrupted with thunderstorms north of Toronto, and ATC couldn’t accommodate us at a lower altitude.

The O2 system was key to making it back in one leg. Without it, we wouldn’t have gone across Lake Michigan, as we would have been at a much lower altitude, and there would have been a long stretch in the middle where we were out of gliding range of land. The trip duration to go around Lake Michigan, even with the tail winds, would have been longer than we would accept for one leg.


There were quite a few Towering Cumulous in the Toronto area as well, but we were able to avoid them with minor deviations from our route.


The ground speed was over 200 kt for most of the trip, except during the climbs and during the instrument approach to get into Smiths Falls.