Monday is usually a busy adventure for the folks at Homebuilt Parking at Sun ‘n Fun. Homebuilt drivers will descend on the field in large numbers to be on the field for opening day on Tuesday. This year, however, a huge blob of green radar returns stretched from Tampa to Jacksonville, blocking most pilots from the upper 47 states. While a good weather year would normally yield a healthy squadron of Monday arrivals, today only 9 rolled onto the field. Of those 9, eight came from south of Lakeland, where the weather was fairly clear. The sole exception was Andrew Manila.
Andy Manila’s day job is herding an A320 for Delta. This year, he decided to do something he had never done before, attend Sun ‘n Fun in his beautiful RV-8. He departed Ogden, Utah on Sunday morning at 10:30 am in freezing weather. Crossing the Rockies on a northern route, through Wyoming, he avoided weather to the south. Andy was rewarded with spectacular views of a snowy continental divide. Pressing on by picking his way through weather, Andy landed at night in Starkville, Mississippi, his first true night landing in his RV-8. The cockpit lighting design that he agonized over during construction proved to be a satisfying success during the night landing.
On Monday, Andy launched from Starkville towards Lakeland, eventually meeting the aforementioned green radar blob. Equipped with both ADSB and Sirius XM, Andy compared their data and picked out a reasonable route. Using ForeFlight, Andy found cheap gas at Moultrie, Georgia and launched once again southward. Finally, over Valdosta, Georgia, Andy used ForeFlight once again to file an IFR flight plan. He called Center, picked up his flight plan and he was back in business. From there, Andy cruised between layers at 5,000 till his descent into Lakeland. He was surprised at the dearth of traffic. Minutes later, he broke out to see the favorite southern fly-in destination.
Welcome to Sun ‘n Fun. Being the only Homebuilt IFR arrival, Andy was an instant Celeb.