Arizona to New Jersey Cross Country Trip 2004

Aug 12, 2004 - Day 4:

So we had a great vacation in New Jersey as always. This one was a little more hectic due to us flying in the way we did. On Thursday morning we decided to get to the airport early to get a jump on some weather expected to arrive later in the day. This was a band of rain and winds coming in front of Hurricane Charlie - probably the remnants of the tropical storm that made landfall the day before Charlie. In either case, we awoke to overcast skies. We had topped off the fuel the day earlier so when we got to the airport we just needed to pack, do a last check of weather and program the flight plan into the CNX80.  The weather didn't look great west of us into Pennsylvania, but there looked to be enough of a break in the rain to proceed. We took off and climbed thru 3000 ft broken ceilings and climbed on top of a layer of clouds heading northwest. We climbed to 10,500 ft and could see the ground below us thru the breaks and it looked like we could stay on top as we proceeded toward the Pittsburg area. Our course was to take us across the lower end of PA, across Ohio and then stop in Shelvyville, Indiana. We would try to make it to Oklahoma City before nightfall.

Forecasts in Pittsburg were calling for light showers but clear half way into Ohio. As we appoached the mountain range south of the area we saw the clouds building too high to cross. We decided to see what it looked like below, but as we decended thru an opening it was raining all around us. I was afraid we weren't going to have adequate ceilings as we crossed the mountains, so I searched thru the nearest airports on the CNX80 and located Cumberland Regional (KCBE) in West Virginia about 10 miles out. We flew direct to Cumberland and set up to land. No traffic was in the area and we landed in a light rain and pulled up to the terminal. As we got out and covered the plane the rains became heavier so we headed inside. It took about an hour to figure out exactly what state we were in - the town of Cumberland is in Maryland but the airport is on the other side of the Potomac River in West Virginia. We watched the radar returns in the pilot lounge and it became clear that we weren't going to go any further that day. We simply had all the clouds descend on us and were now in the middle of the rain. It was slowly moving northeast but staying over the mountains. Until it cleared we would be stuck. My greatest fear was that the Hurricane was projected to move up the coast quickly and we wouldn't get a clearing for a few days!

We continued to watch radar and check forecasts to our west but about 4pm decided to ge into town and get a hotel for the night. The airport manager gave us a crew car and allowed us to park the plane in their big hangar overnight. We drove into Cumberland and checked into the Holiday Inn downtown and got a bite to eat. It rained all day and into the night, but from what I was watching on radar it looked like the rains would stop by morning. This wasn't a very productive day - only slightly more than an hour in the air. To see what the next day brought us, see the Day 5 summary.