The Mississippi River Tour: Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

Guest Ed Guest

Hey all,

I've just finished another tour; I decided not to report on it in regular installments like I usually do, because I've been quite busy and haven't had much time to fly lately. In fact, it took me over a month to finish what was really only about 18 hours of flying.

I took the Cessna Caravan 208 Amphibian from the source of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca, Minnesota, all the way to the river's mouth at the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 nm south of New Orleans. It was something over 2000 nm, but I didn't fly every inch of the river. I knew from having flown over it in commercial jets that the southern 1000 miles or so is very twisty, so I just started with the rule that I would cut over switch-backs, so long as I always kept the river in sight.

Finding the source at Lake Itasca is no easy feat, since it's not marked on the FS09 map. And there's a good reason why Minnesota is called "The Land of 10,000 Lakes." 😂 I just went on-line and found the nearest airport to Lake Itasca, then back flew from there to where I could clearly see the river's course heading south towards Minneapolis-St. Paul. But I'm sure one of those lakes I flew over was Itasca. 😉

My others rules for this tour were that I would fly in real time, never save the flight in mid-air (so I had to land every time I stopped for the night), I always landed on the river unless I needed fuel or repairs, and I gave myself lots of things that needed to be repaired-- lost engines, lost instruments, lost electrical system, and lost radios.

Of all the failures, the instrument failures gave me the most grief. If you're flying an amphibian over a river, an engine failure is no big thing (unless you're in the middle of St. Louis, where there are LOTS of bridges across that river 😳 ). But when the instruments failed, I had a lot of problems getting down without overstressing the aircraft. The Cessna doesn't like landing too hard or too fast! And of course, stalling at low altitude is not good for your insurance rates, either.

And just to make it fun, I flew UNDER as many bridges as I could. There are LOTS of cool bridges over the Mississippi.

So I just flew out of one of the many mouths of the river this evening, did a touch and go on the Gulf, and flew to the nearest land airport, and put the Cessna down to rest.

While I was there, I traded the Cessna for a Lear Jet (I am one heck of a horse trader!) because I wanted to fly to Africa. I've decided that I enjoy following rivers, and since I've already done the Columbia, the Amazon, and the Mississippi, the next on my list must be the mighty Nile!

But that's another story for another day. 😀


1 Responses

Pro Member Chief Captain
Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

Sounds like a very interesting tour 👍 Look forward to seeing another one soon 😉

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