Airport Hopping to New Orleans

This weekend I was able to carve out some time and head out on another airport hopping trip. Since we were headed east to hit the airports south of Houston and on over to the Texas border, I thought let’s add some fun and extend the trip for an afternoon and evening in New Orleans.

For this trip Mike (The Alt or just Alt if you’re into the whole brevity thing) Altman and I had the pleasure of one of my former students Brent Annear flying with us. The more the merrier! We met up early Saturday morning and after a small repair, the interior door panel had popped a screw, we lifted off at 8am into a low cloud deck. I had requested a VFR on top clearance up to 5,500. After clearing the clouds we canceled the IFR clearance and headed for our first touch an go at Lane airport T54. Approaching the Houston class B airspace, we were given an altitude of 2,000. Mike spotted the airport and remarked that Lane airport looked like a private field that as Houston grew became a public airport. We one by one hopped from airport to airport and then as we were leaving the Beaumont airport I suddenly remembered that either Orange or Beaumont had a good price on fuel. We checked and realized it was Beaumont and decided to turn around and take on fuel at Beaumont.

Arriving at Beaumont we learned that Beaumont had a right pattern. Don’t ask how please. It was surprising since there was some sort of chemical plant with rather high towers on the west side which would make you think they would have a standard left pattern.

After fueling and stretching our legs a bit we contacted Beaumont approach and headed to Orange, Tx and then on to New Orleans.
We were all looking forward to arriving at the Lakefront airport since we were expecting to be flying in over the water. It turned out that the wind was out of the north and were denied the over the lake approach. KNEW is a beautiful airport wedged up next to the Lake Pontchartrain twelve miles east of the Louis Armstrong Int. airport with a splendid Art Deco terminal.

Mike helped a restaurant and we headed out for some serious local sea food after raiding the cookie jar at the FBO. Our lift driver delivered us to a sketchy part of town for our lunch at the Cajun Seafood restaurant. This place was jumping!

After chowing down on some delicious seafood we headed out to our hotel in the quarter, The Quarter House. Our room was on the third floor with the most circuitous route I have ever had at a hotel! We had two rooms and a pullout sofa. We decided to draw for who had to sleep on the sofa. I told of how when my girls were young and we would go out to dinner that we would select a restaurant by each one of us putting our choice in the hat and then drawing from the hat. I almost always won! The girls would complain and accuse me of cheating! Of course my luck had run out apparently as I drew the sofa!
After settling in a bit we headed out exploring New Orleans. We caught part of the wild Pride parade and then made our way over to the streetcars for a short ride. We then decided we couldn’t wait for breakfast and quickly made our way over to the Cafe Du Monde for iced coffee and a beignet and air conditioning as it was a hot day in NO.

I shared some trivia about New Orleans with Mike and Brent. I had often visited NO when I was in the video game biz. I had heard that the game Frogger was inspired by the eight lanes of traffic that you have to cross when exiting the convention center. Later that evening we walked over to Mulates for some more Cajun food and music. Mulates is a huge restaurant in what must have been a warehouse. We enjoyed our dinner and the music and turned in early.

Our departure from KNEW was tricky as there was a considerable convective activity building up between Houston and NO. We had to divert to the northwest weaving our way between the storms. Mike’s Stratus and the controllers did an excellent job of keeping us safe and out of the weather although I kept thinking of plan B and C. We had to delete some of the northerly airports my ambitious plan had us going to as the weather wouldn’t cooperate. We also decided because of the long detour that we would cut the trip short because there was a lack of enthusiasm for doing touch n gos in the sticky heat.
We stopped in Conroe for a delicious lunch at the Black Walnut cafe and had an uneventful cruise back to Austin. Total 10.1 hours, 14 Texas airports checked off the list and a good time!

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