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Hettinger, North Dakota

We had a productive day of flying. Nearly, 400 miles, fantastic weather and incredible scenery.

After last night’s lightening show in Three Forks, this morning was clear and still and we awoke to the best sound in the world. A 450 horse power radial engine at full throttle as a crop duster took off at sun up. We all roused and broke camp. Jesse said a reluctant goodbye (he wants to keep his job), packed up his Murphy Rebel and after a low pass, headed west back to Missoula. I am still shaking my head in wonderment that a man I went to high school with, encouraged his passion for aviation, and hired as a flight instructor so long ago, happened along our adventure path. It was completely unexpected, and such a treat. I hadn’t seen Jesse for years and was excited to hear his stories about dropping smoke jumpers from a DC 3. Having his company added another layer of magic to an already amazing time.

After Jesse took his leave, we all took showers at the FBO. So refreshing after two days on the road. Thank you to the great folks at Three Forks!

An absolutely breathtaking flight to Laurel, Montana. We flew at 9500 feet over Bozeman Pass and when we crossed the ridge, the smell of piney alpine air was so strong, sweet and intoxicating Chrissy said she wished she could take a picture of the smell. Leaving the last high terrain behind, we were mesmerized by the enormous sweeping valleys, endless sky, twisting rivers and open country. Cowgirl fantasies ran rampant. The Rockies receded into the distance and I silently breathed a sigh of relief and regret. So much hazard and so much beauty.

A quick fuel stop in Laurel, where fuel was 4.95 a gallon (home it’s 6.15) and a helicopter was doing pattern work. With my moving map GPS ( I love it), we skirted Billing’s airspace efficiently and bee lined for Miles City. Lots of looong runways there and another quick fuel turn, stretch legs, go to restroom and off. We followed the Yellowstone River and wondered aloud about intrepid Lewis and Clark and wagon trainers. Eastern Montana and North Dakota are green right now. Unusually so for August. The temperatures have been pleasant, but hot a few days before our arrival.

Our final stop for the day was Hettinger, North Dakota. A rural farming community (sunflowers and alfalfa), our friends from Felts Field encouraged us to stop here. We are glad we did! A neat little airport, home to crop dusters and a small maintenance shop, the local pilots made us feel very welcome and looked after.They made sure we knew where to eat, (Primetime steak house), and warned us that “Barney Fife” might cruise the airport tonight. After a debacle a few years back when local kids decided to race their cars upnand down the runway and take a taxiway reflector, the local cops have added the airport to their beat. But the crowning glory was Uncle Buck. A green, 1970 Buick le saber four door courtesy car. The quintesential airport car, Chrissy’s inner redneck was instantly smitten. We let her drive Uncle Buck to town for dinner.

The nearly full moon has risen, Jerry is tucked into his tent, the crickets are chirping and the Cub and the Prince are tied down next to one another. Halfway to our destination and thoroughly enjoying the unfolding journey.





















18 responses »

  1. Stephen Lindberg

    I am so envious. I want to be there. Looks like a great time.

  2. Absolutely wonderful! I just can’t bring myself to go to bed without reading your finals thoughts for the day 🙂

  3. Okay — not fair… what’s the story about the F86 parked there!?!?! 🙂

  4. Donn Trethewey

    Summer, Chrissy, and Jerry.
    This is so wonderful . . . I read every word, refer to the flight progress map many times a day, and am so proud of all of you. There are many who share my feelings, too.
    And, a Buick LsSabre courtesy car . . . what can be better than that?
    Donn Trethewey

  5. Floyd & Maralyn Tuckness

    Miles City–my folks homesteaded not too far from there and I was born in a tarpaper shack out on the prairie. I always list that as my birth place. Not much there but sagebrush & jack rabbits. I enjoy keeping a close watch on your progress every day…..

  6. Like Susan, I’ve found my days being punctuated by the need to check your progress. I even check the spot tracker several times per day at work and we (I’m Sophia’s dad) try to guess which airports you’ll be stopping in. Thanks for sharing this trip with all of us it is a blast.

  7. Stephen Lindberg

    Is that an F-86? Does it fly?

  8. Doesn’t this all seem like a dream? It sure does to me, or maybe a good movie. And I really like the comments above. I’m luvin it!

  9. Ha, LOVE the green Buick, aren’t courtesy cars the BEST?!? Ditto watching the daily SPOT progress reports, we’re all vicariously sharing your thrill ride (and of course keeping an eye on you out there!). The mountains were that bright green when I flew the Mighty Seneca back from FL in early July, I was sure it to be a short-lived sight but lucky you – not so! I was amazed at your quick fuel stops on your SPOT-checks, and great pics on the ground to boot! Way to go Summer!!

  10. I just know your Dad, is smiling down on you. Just like we all are. Proud of you Summer. ❤

  11. Summer – You took me up in “Lady Summer” almost 20 years ago to the day–21 August 1991. That ride was the sweetest I’ve ever had, better than a P40, B25, or Blackhawk flying nap of the earth. Makes me want to start flying again. If you send me an email address, I’ll scan the pictures my Dad took the day we flew. Good luck the rest of the way! – Erik Nelson

  12. Hi Summer –

    What a great trip, and I LOVE your Blog! We just got back from a similar route – PAE – OSH – PAE. It is beautiful country! If you go near Worthington, Minn (OTG – SW Corner, on I-90), or Sheridan, WY (SHR) or Thermopolis, WY (THP – SE of Cody & Yellowstone), we had great experiences (and classic Courtesy Cars!!) at all 3. Amazing mineral Hot Springs @ THP, and the flight over Yellowstone was amazing, too!

    Have an awesome trip, and keep blogging!

    Dave Desmon
    Navion 4591K

  13. Rusty Richards

    Its been great following your progress. I also find myself checking your progress several times a day. Great writing and pictures.
    If you find yourself near Blakesburg IA,I am sure they would love to see you.
    And if you find yourself anywhere near KBAK(south of Indy),we would love to feed you two at our airport restaurant and then send you on your way to Dayton. If not,then we will see you there at the Ladies fly-in

  14. Summer,

    I stumbled across news of your adventure today and was immediately drawn in. It’s wonderful to know you’re making this journey and capturing it through this blog.

    I am a pilot in spirit only – for now. Living for 24 years within a couple miles of the Galesburg, Ill. airport made me a biplane lover for life. Reading Richard Bach’s books again and again over the past 40 years gave aviation a chamber in my heart. Riding in a Cessna with my son-in-law showed me how magical it is to be in the air.

    I can’t wait to catch up on your blog posts and read about what it’s like to see such a magnificent dream come true.

    As you pass through Illinois, dip your wing and know that a flyer-wannabe is vicariously sharing your sense of joy, wonder and exhilaration.

    Happy skies,

    Ann Tracy Mueller (Lincoln Buff 2)

    • Summer,

      I went back to the beginning and read your entire blog. You’ve got a wonderful storytelling gift which lets your love of the air, your plane and a life fully-lived radiate through your word pictures. Thanks for bringing us along on this adventure.

      As I look up at the sky tomorrow, I’ll know that you’ll be passing through.

      Joyous skies,

  15. What beautiful pictures!!!! Seems like you have quite an evening following…..I make sure I check your blog each night. Best wishes for continued safety and priceless views.

    Marie Spear

  16. This is all so wonderful. The comments so heartwarming. I just want to say “I love you Chrissy” and you too Summer. I’m kinda choked up with emotion. And that’s all I have to say about that. xoxo

  17. I remember that FBO in Miles City, MT… stopped there on a flight to Oshkosh one time. We slept in one of the hangars on the floor but the boom and crash of a thunderstorm kept us awake most of the night. On the way back home we splurged on a room in “town”… I’d like to meet you when you get home. I’m probably related to your copilot, Chrissy Bishop, if she’s from the Albert Bishop/Susanna “Ammeter” Bishop family.


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