Sunday, July 22, 2007

$100 Hamburger - Jackson County, MI (JXN)

I've owned an airplane for the past 15 years or so. During this time I've done about all you can do in an airplane except wreck one (I plan on keeping it that way ;). The newness wears off after awhile and doing touch and gos (landing practice) doesn't excite me anymore. When I fly, I like going new places and experiencing something that life has to offer that most ground-based mortals will never achieve.

Fortunately for me, 36G loves to travel as well. You don't buy a Mooney for touch and gos. You buy one to get far - fast. In cruise, 36G travels 3+ Nautical Miles a minute. When you have a plane like this you want to use it. However, it is not always easy to find new places to go.

The where to go question is one that pilots struggle with their entire flying life. This question often is answered with something that we all have in common besides flying -- we love to eat! Combine flying with eating and you have achieved pilot perfection! This is where the term the $100 Hamburger came from. The burger may be $6, but it costs $94 to fly somewhere and back to get one.

Where to Fly & Eat?
When I fly, I like operating the plane for no less than 30-minutes in flight so the oil and heat throughly soaks the engine before I shut down. In other words, I need to fly a minimum of 90 nautical miles to make the startup do more good than harm. I keep this rule of thumb in my mind when I plan any trip. If I fly a shorter flight, I generally do air-work, approaches, etc. before arriving at my destination.

A good there and back flight for 36G is one that is in the 100 to 150 NM range. There are numerous airports within 150 miles of Gary/Chicago (GYY) where we are based, but not all airports have restaurants. At least not restaurants on the filed. Deciding where to go can sometimes be a challenge.

There is a website called 100dollarhamburger.com that use to be very popular. Many pilots used and contributed to the site and the database was impeccable. Unfortunately, the 100 Dollar hamburger guys decided to transition their business model from a free to use site making money from advertising to charging a subscription fee to its users. In my opinion, this has deteriorated the quality of their database since they lost the majority of the content contributors.

I am the last person to throw a stone at making money on the web, but content is king. When you need your customers to contribute to the database to build the product that drives others to the site, it isn't prudent to charge them to do it. You can make money on the web and provide free content. As this blog, gmail, Google Earth, etc. will confirm, it is most certainly possible to make money by giving things away for free. Google has made billions providing good free services to its customers and many others have as well.

Since I don't patronize the 100 dollar hamburger site anymore, I had to find another source of information. During my quest to find a better database, I discovered a website called Adventure Pilot that provides free data to users that includes restaurants, air shows, museums, etc. and sorts by distance from any airport. They make their money the smart way -- selling advertising targeting pilots. Smart guys, great site...

Using AdventurePilot.com, I quickly narrowed the search to airports with restaurants on the field that were 150 miles from GYY and found 19 airports. Airport Restaurant & Spirits at Jackson County Regional Airport (JXN) surfaced as a good possibility. They are 137 miles form GYY, the restaurant had decent reviews and they are located on the airport with a great view of the runways/ramp. I haven't been to JXN before, so let's give it a go!

Flying to JXN
The flight to Jackson County could not have been better. I filed IFR (FlightAware Log), but I certainly didn't have to. The weather was superb.


The above photo is flying over the South East corner of Lake Michigan shortly after departing GYY. We were about 5000 feet MSL.

You may notice the Garmin GPS10 in the window and wonder what it's for. I also fly with a Motion LS800 laptop with a solid state drive that I have configured as an Electronic Flight Bag. I use it in addition to the on-board avionics. This provides me with redundancy and data that simply isn't available with on-board avionics. I'll write more on this in a future posting...


The above picture is of the Michigan lake shore. Beautiful! Might be a good place for a summer home. We flew over for awhile and the beaches are spectacular!

The avionics also performed perfectly! The MFD in the top right corner clearly shows us over the lake approaching the shore. The resolution and capability of the MFD is priceless. It can display Weather, Terrain, Traffic, XM Radio stations, etc.

JXN Airport
The Jackson County Airport is very nice and tower controlled. It was an easy landing and taxi to the ramp. The tower controllers were very nice, cooperative and professional. Once on the ramp there was ample parking.




The Restaurant
JXN's Airport Restaurant & Spirits lived up to the reviews. It was not fancy, but they had a good menu selection and decent service. They had a full house, but room for two more with a window seat! The food was also very good.



Flight Home
36G flew like a champ on the way back. We had a few more clouds, but the the view could not be beat.


This is truly what flying is all about. Great food, great weather, great flying and an awesome airplane. Wow, what a trip!

1 comment:

JB Smith said...

Tx for the $100 hamburger reviews and suggested site for finding good places. I fly out of PTK and was reluctant to pay for the $100 hamburger site, no idea what kind of content they have. I will try your recommendation. Happy flying. JBS