"Sarah" is now in Cincinnati, OH
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Laura could see that “Sarah” was still amped up from her speech at Eureka College the day before, where tens of thousands gathered from points worldwide. Laura knew how “Sarah” felt about having her own space after events and was not about to become the aviation version of the perky one. She maintained a respectful distance, quietly getting the weather briefing, filing the flight plan, pre-flighting the plane, doing the run-up, then shutting down and coming back. Laura, too was not feeling particularly talkative. She wanted to silently savor this moment with her heroine. This trip to Cincinnati would be the last of their long flights together. “Sarah” is 2718 miles from Wasilla with only 362 miles remaining to Reagan National after this flight.
Finally, Laura broke the silence. “OK ‘Sarah’. It’s time.” They walked out to the plane. Laura gave the safety briefing got the clearance and taxied to take-off to the southeast. As they taxied, a C-130 landed.
Laura was cleared to take off and climbed toward her filed altitude of 7,000 feet.
Farewell Peoria and Eureka
The airport, the Illinois River, and the city slipped by. Their flight path would take them away from Eureka’s campus - forever.
Both Laura and “Sarah” felt that pang. Laura would never see the campus again. Watching "Sarah" speak there was a fleeting stop on her life’s journey. She turned to “Sarah” who clearly realized that her travels would take her to many new destinations. On her travels, "Sarah" would visit the world's leaders and the world's poorest. She'll likely visit places full of joy and full of strife; But, that speech in Eureka was once in a lifetime.
A second pang hit Laura – her flying time with “Sarah” was in its waning hours. After this trip, they had two more flights left – with three, maybe four hours between them. Laura pushed it out of her mind. “Enjoy it while you have it,” she thought. The only sound in the cockpit was the steady drone of the propeller. The view was clear. No thunderstorms. No valleys of darkness. Cornfields stretched as far as the eye could see.
As the flight passed over Central Illinois Regional, some cumulus clouds formed bringing turbulence with them. Laura accepted the first jolt, and the second. As the third one hit, she turned to "Sarah" then requested and received an altitude increase to 9,000 feet, her voice quivering slightly – emotional overload from Eureka. There it was smooth. The flight passed Champaign Illinois, and crossed into Indiana. Laura set her watch and the plane's clock to Eastern Daylight Time. “Sarah” did not wear a watch, but had pre-set her Blackberry prior to shutting it down.
More clouds formed near Indianapolis. As the flight entered Indianapolis’ airspace, the controller vectored Laura for a visual approach to Cincinnati Lunken Municipal Airport’s northeast-facing runway. “Sarah” mentioned the Indianapolis 500 and her trip to the Daytona 500 earlier in the year, something the pair spoke briefly about. Then, “Sarah” turned to Laura. “Thank you, Laura,” she said. “For what?” Laura asked? “For respecting my space when I needed it the most. It did not go unnoticed,” “Sarah” said. Laura turned around and smiled. “My pleasure.”
Arrival to Cincinnati
The instruction came to descend to 2,500 feet. The flat cornfields and farms gave way to rolling hills. A large refinery could be seen ahead along with the Ohio River and Cincinnati International.
The flight would leave Indiana, cross a snippet of Kentucky and enter Ohio.
The flight passed Cincinnati International on a southerly track, then turned east. Downtown Cincinnati came into view.
Lunken was across the river but obscured by trees. Laura found it and was instructed to fly parallel to the runway with it off her right wing. Right now, it was to her left. Laura clicked off the auto-pilot. “Time for some good old fashioned hand-flying,” she said. She turned the plane east for a minute, then turned back to the west, then southwest, setting up the directed right-hand traffic landing pattern. Laura was cleared to land.
She flew over the Ohio River, then turned, descended some, and turned again to line up for the runway. The terrain was rather high, but Laura managed the descent angle and speed and smoothly touched down.
She taxied to parking. Laura did the post-flight checklist and tied the plane down. She turned to “Sarah,” barely able to get the words out:
“You’ve answered your summons. We have one more intermediary flight – Clarksburg, West Virginia.” Laura gulped a mouthful of air and finished, “ then, our final flight will take you to the place where you’ll execute the summons. I know you’re ready.”
If you enjoyed this journey, please sponsor it by
donating to the Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund
Last year, the Alaska Fund Trust was established to raise money to defend Gov. Palin against frivolous ethics complaints and lawsuits that were filed against her in a coordinated effort to drive her out of office. On June 24, 2010, the Alaska Fund Trust was replaced by Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund. Those of you who donated to the Alaska Fund Trust will be receiving refunds within 90 days from June 24. You will have the option to re-donate these funds to the new Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund, which is the official, and legitimate fund now in existence. Please re-donate those funds to the Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund.