GATTS day 0: Huntsville to Manhattan

In my last flying post, I explained why I was going to GATTS to get my instrument rating. For the next few posts, I’ll be chronicling my experiences there.

One of the things that appealed to me about GATTS was that you have the option to use your own airplane. Another is that they assign a single instructor to work with each student for the entire course, and (for a modest fee) they’d send the instructor down a day early to ferry the plane back. I wanted to take advantage of that option for two reasons: in case the weather were bad my arrival in Kansas wouldn’t be delayed, and I could use the extra flight time to get a head start on my classwork. I signed up for the ferry option, and, as planned, my instructor, a cheerful fellow named Peter Schmoling, showed up Sunday afternoon. The boys and I took him to dinner to get acquainted, and then Monday morning I picked him up at his hotel and we headed to DCU to start our trip.

We had planned to fly from Decatur to Kennett Memorial in Missouri, thence to Manhattan, Kansas, where GATTS is located. This plan went off without a hitch. I don’t have much to say about the actual flight except that I hand-flew both legs and logged a bunch of simulated instrument time while doing it. It was pretty smooth.

We found that the Kennett airport had a nest of fast food places right near the arrival end of runway 18, so we walked over to McDonald’s and had lunch. After refueling, I got to practice my hot-start techniques. The POH calls for a hot start procedure that’s identical to the cold start, minus priming. After doing some Internet research, I found that the consensus seems to be that the best procedure is to leave the electric fuel pump off, set the throttle to full, mixture to idle, and then start the engine. It took a couple of tries, but this procedure worked and we were off to Manhattan. Our flight was completely uneventful except that we had a controller out of Kansas City Center who sounded just like Cleveland Brown. I took the ILS approach for runway 3, landed, and taxied to the hangar that GATTS provides– it was a tight fit, but with Peter’s help I got the plane in without bending anything.

GATTS includes housing and a car in the course fee. My car was a late-90s Taurus with great air conditioning– the only thing I was really interested in at that point. After handing over a map and the car keys, Peter took off and I drove downtown to my apartment building, which sits over a swanky restaurant named Harry’s. The apartment itself is basic, but nice: a small kitchen (two toasters but no dishwasher), a comfy double bed, a dinette, and a living room with a balcony overlooking the street below. It sort of reminds me of a timeshare beach condo: it has all the necessities but nothing fancy. GATTS maintains 3 apartments in the building for students, and previous occupants had left a small collection of airplane magazines, books, and movies around.

I unpacked, plugged in all my gadgets, and set out to explore.

My nifty apartment building

My nifty apartment building

Right up the street is Manhattan Town Center, a smallish indoor mall. I walked a lap there just to see what was on offer (answer: nothing I wanted except an iPad charging cord, since I’d forgotten mine). I’d spotted several restaurants during my short walk; the closest was Hibachi Hut, which I’d ignored because of the name. When I looked on Yelp, though, I saw that they a) served Cajun food and b) had great ratings, so I went there for dinner and had an excellent shrimp and crab bisque and a dish of andouille and chicken pasta. Friendly, quick service, great cornbread, and a nice selection of local beers made it a very pleasant meal.

Then I decided to explore a bit more; my apartment is right next to the Riley County Courthouse, and further down Poyntz Street is Manhattan City Park. I didn’t make it to the park my first day, but the courthouse has this excellent statue as part of a small courtyard dedicated to American veterans.

Because AMERICA.

Because AMERICA.

By this point I was pretty tired, so I hit the bed. Day totals: 4.8 hours PIC time, 0.5 actual instrument, 4.4 simulated instrument, and 2 approaches. All in all, a great way to start the week!

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