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Tuesday, September 17, 2013: Day 25 - Minot-Aiken, South Carolina
Today is the last day of our great Around-the-World-by-MU-2 adventure. My email from Baseops had me filed at 27,000 feet at long range cruise with a tailwind; we don't have a tailwind so it must be wrong. When we arrived at the airport we were 091713 Mike Laver inspects nose gear repairinformed that there had been a towing error, and a bolt on N50ET had been sheered. An A&P had come out and replaced the bolt and had made an appropriate log entry for me. This is the very reason I do not have an aircraft towed when overseas. This has been the first problem since I departed Aiken 25 days ago. I thoroughly inspected the nose gear area four times (photo right) and everything was normal as the log entry stated.

We were airborne out off Minot at 0600 with clearance to 27,000 feet, but of course I asked for 25,000 feet as my final altitude. It was a crystal clear morning as we waited for the sunrise--it looks like it will rise out of the east this morning--just the same as yesterday. Mike has his camera poised and waiting, and at 0648 we had a beautiful red sunrise. We are heading for Frederick, MD, with the wind behind us as forecasted on this 1188 nautical mile and second-to-last leg. We really do have a tailwind--30 knots and all! As we fly just south of Green Bay, WI on this clear day I see Joe Megna at Jet Air hard at work. With just 1.6 hours to Frederick it looks like we will land with 90 gallons remaining, so I will not have to use the outers. I have only used the outer tanks on 3 legs for this entire trip around the world, and there have been a lot of long legs. With all the tests done over the last year at different altitudes, fuel flows, and true airspeeds--I believe I have learned how to get the maximum range out of N50ET, which has really helped a lot on this trip.

091713 Welcoming committee at AOPAFrederick was in the clear so we were able to make a visual approach on runway 05. As we taxied in to the ramp it was obvious that some of the AOPA folks have missed Mike Collins. (Be sure to check out Mike's AOPA Pilot blog--MU-2 Around the World if you haven't already done so!) We taxied over to the AOPA ramp where we both received a very Memento from BaseOpswarm welcome (photo left: welcoming committee at AOPA).  As I stepped from the aircraft, I had another surprise. Astrid Naparstek from World Fuel Services and Baseops had driven to Frederick to welcome us back. Also Astrid brought a plaque (photo right) on behalf of BaseOps in recognition of our around the world flight for the 50th anniversary of the MU-2, the fight that they so professionally handled for us. And that's not all--Astrid had lunch as well. That was especially appreciated since it was 1100 and I wouldn't be arriving in Aiken until 1500.

Welcome HomeAfter lunch and fuel I was on my way to Aiken for the final leg of this amazing journey. It is hard to believe that I am just 1 hour away from Aiken-N50ET has carried us around the world--how cool is that! This incredible MU-2 has operated without a fault or squawk for the entire trip, I have just turned over 100 hours with .8 to go.

I arrived into the Aiken Municpal Airport to a nice welcoming committee as well including a 12-person W-E-L-C-O-M-E-H-O-M-E-!!!  sign(photo left) and flowing champagne.  Seeing my wife and so many close friends on my arrival back to KAIK made this a wonderful ending to a life-long dream.