16 October 1984

Fatigue, headwind, clouds and bumps

I had slept very little the night before and had just finished a long string of all-nighters in the emergency room. Liz and I were trying to get to Dallas, Texas from Madisonville, Kentucky, near Paducah. With a forty-knot headwind our Cessna 172 was going only sixty knots over the ground, about the same speed as the cars below. After more than three hours of flying, I was forced to land at Searcy, Arkansas, sixty miles short of my planned stop at Little Rock. The instrument approach and landing were uneventful.

We pressed on toward Dallas. After an hour and a half, we were approaching the Hot Springs area. By this time fatigue was setting in, the headwinds were getting stronger, and it was becoming much more turbulent. I was having trouble controlling altitude and heading. I decided to stop at Hot Springs and consider calling it a day.

Once on the ground at Hot Springs we decided we would stay the night, and continue to Dallas the next day. I turned on The Weather Channel in the hotel room, and the entire state of Arkansas was covered with thunderstorms. There was no way I would have made it through them. Someone was watching over us.

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