This past weekend I flew my longest cross-country flight yet, down to Bloomington, Illinois (KBMI). It was also the best meal I’ve flown to, as well as taking up two new people in a small plane. All-in-all, a great day of flying!
A good friend of my wife’s family opened up an Italian restaurant in Bloomington, Il Caffé Italia. We were originally thinking of driving down for dinner one weekend, but I when I looked up driving directions, I noticed the restaurant was literally adjacent to the KBMI Airport! When I mapped it out, it would be a 3hr 15min drive from our house, versus about 1hr 15min flying. Needless-to-say, I knew we HAD to fly there! Plus my wife’s Uncle had been itching to fly with me, and I knew this could help kill a few birds with one stone.
The weather was gorgeous this past Sunday: about 75° F, clear skies, and <10kt winds in all of Northern Illinois. The four of us (me, my wife, my wife’s uncle, and his fiancé) flew down in my club’s trusty 2003 Cessna 172SP, and made it in 1hr 25min. There was a bit of a head-wind which slowed us down just a tad. My in-laws (who were driving down) were supposed to meet us at the airport to drive us over to the restaurant once we landed. Much to my delight when we landed, the FBO (Image Air) insisted on letting us use their Crew Car. I had always heard about free cars for pilots to use at smaller airports, but I never actually took advantage of one before. I found it particularly funny when the regular guy before me at the airport was filling out paperwork to rent a car for money; and when I just walked in as a pilot they throw me keys to a car, no questions asked, no ID, no anything! That was pretty sweet! Image Air was a very nice facility and the staff was super friendly. We then drove over to the restaurant in the crew car (about 90 second drive).
Dinner at the restaurant was awesome; super authentic Sicilian food. We had all my favorites like Arancini, Linguini and Clams, Penne Bolognese, Cannoli and Lavazza Espresso. Homemade Limoncello finished off an incredible meal with family and friends (which unfortunately I only got to taste a sip since I was flying). Thank you to Frankie and Renell for a great afternoon!
The flight was back was a little quicker due to the tailwind, and we made it back in about 1hr 10min. My Cessna virgins (Lino and Pam) loved the whole experience. I can’t wait to take them up again. As I said before, it was just an awesome day to fly. Thank you to everyone to made it a great day (including my wife who came with, and it was over a year since we last flew together).
And if you are ever flying through KBMI, be sure to stop at Il Caffé Italia, it’s definitely worth the trip! I logged 2.9 hours of Cross-Country PIC time (126 nautical miles each way) this trip.