Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Where I've been...

Posting's been light this week-end, because Murphy and I were traveling.

It was an early morning take-off, delayed a bit due to hazy weather over the field, but we launched and headed northwest because we had someplace to be.

Enroute, we overflew the usual neat stuff. (Click on the pics to enlarge them.) Here's the railroad roundhouse at Cumberland, MD, complete with it's turntable.
Built in 1919 by the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, it's apparently still in use today by CSX as a locomotive repair facility.

And here's a nifty little dam holding back a nice-looking mad-made lake above a town my map identifies as Confluence, PA.
This dam on the Yough river was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1948 to created a lake 16 miles long. They did it for flood control and water power applications but today it's used for recreation.
(You learn so much neat stuff flying over other stuff...)

Then it was onward, around Pittsburgh and past Cleveland to overfly that mecca of the shooting sports, Camp Perry outside of Port Clinton, Ohio. The matches run most of July and August, this year from July 9th through August 15th, with competitions firing every day. On this day at this time, I'm overflying the CMP Games Springfield/Vintage Rifle Match. This one's fired at 200 yards using original "as-issued" 1903 Springfield rifles. A second class fires at the same time using other vintage military rifles.

100 firing positions on this range means 100 people shooting at the same time. I've shot this match and I love that sound. I wish I were shooting it this year, but my hand still won't hold a rifle with it's soft cast on. Also, 95-degree heat makes for a long day sitting or lying in that field with no shade. But still...The Nationals. It's worth the suffering once a year.
Here you can see the whole operation. To the left are the pits where the targets are run down, marked and scored between strings or individual shots, depending on the match. There are three shooters assigned to each target to do this. Add in the other staff back there and you've got about 350 people downrange behind the concrete wall and earth berm. Every shooter gets a rotation down there too for half of the match. It's all part of the game. Moving to the right, or south, you can see the shooters and their support personnel. The firing points are all empty, suggesting that I flew over between match sets. Note that the only shade is one tent put up by and for range staff for their use. Everyone else just enjoys the weather. Bring sunscreen and much water. And there is easily another 600-700 people on this end of the range, or over a thousand people total involved in just this one match. And there will be matches every day, usually multiple matches each day firing on adjacent ranges, both morning and afternoon. Camp Perry is one busy place in the summer, and it's all shooters shooting. (Hey liberals...look! No one gets shot every year despite thousands and thousands of people all in one place with guns! Maybe guns aren't the problem, eh?)

Then it was out over Lake Erie, after first passing by the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant west of Perry.
Aircraft should not overfly this plant at low altitudes. That's bad and neither they nor the FAA appreciate it.

Crossing the lake, I climb to give myself more glide range should a problem occur over the water, and then on the other side I have to drop down to under 3500 feet (and then 2500 feet) to stay under Detroit Metropolitan Airport's controlled airspace. But this is cool, because there's nothing below me but river and I can boat-watch.

There's one!
An ore freighter up-bound passing Trenton, MI.

And a newer, larger one down-bound.

Personally I like the older ones, as they exemplified the glory days of Great Lakes shipping, but most of them are gone now, either scrapped outright or converted into
self-unloading barges like this one I spied:

Here you can see where they've removed the entire aft structure and engines and put in a notch for a large tug to fit in. It's degrading to do that to a proud ship like a Great Lakes freighter.

Blowing up this shot gives me it's name. She's the Sarah Spencer.

She didn't always look like this though. In 1959, she was laid down as Hull #424 in the Manitowoc, Wisconsin, shipyard and launched as the Adam E. Cornelius, a coal-fired self-unloader that was 666.3 feet long. For almost thirty years she sailed the Great Lakes, until declining lakes shipping and the rising costs of operating a coal power plant idled her along with so many others. Now she's this...an unpowered 611 foot barge pushed by a 137 foot tug named the Jane Ann IV, which is not here today.

Very sad.

Equally sad was my RC-172 discovery of the old Bob-lo boats, tied up at this downriver dock just north of the Spencer.
For those who are not from this area, or those who are too young to remember, Bob-Lo Island was an amusement park in Canadian waters that could only be reached by boat. On the American side, two steamers, the Columbia and the St. Claire, took people to the island every day for 89 years. With the closing of the park, the ships were idled and have sat, virtually abandoned and rotting into the river ever since despite attempts to preserve and renovate them by various groups and individuals over the years. I'd heard that they were still on the river someplace but didn't know where until this northbound flight when I overflew them and recognized them.

The Columbia is the larger one farthest inland in the slip (left ship in the pics below). The smaller one facing into the river channel is the St. Claire (right ship in these pics).

They really aren't as bad as they look. The St. Claire is being restored with the promise of local use, and the Columbia is being stabilized prior to being towed to New York, where it is intended to be restored and used on the Hudson River.
I remember taking these boats to Bob-lo back in the early 1980's...sigh. Getting there really was half the fun back then.

Then it was up past Zug Island again, taking pictures just because they've always prohibited it on their grounds.
Your mill is now my turn point and navigation aid, so get used to the red-and-white spy plane, steel people. If you're building Transformers or Battle-Bots down there, I will see you and provide proof to the world.
Turning inland, it was just a short hop to our destination airport. And Murphy cued in on it right away.
"I see 'em! It's my Grand-ma and my Spud!"

Yep. In for a short week-end to see family...and to take the Spud and my father to a very special event, which you'll see in the next post.

Oh, and just because the Bob-Lo boats have me nostalgic...here's a vintage Faygo Pop commercial featuring one of the smaller, Canadian-based Bob-lo boats.

That commercial ran for years every summer back in the 70's. I used to love it.


  1. I always enjoy your flight posts, and this was no exception. LIKE!

  2. Not being critical; just a question. Why ear muffs for Murphy? I've never had a problem with a dog in a light aircraft. Think most of our dogs would object to the ear muffs.

  3. @WSF: It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now he's taking them off in flight and the vet says that he doesn't need them so I'll be sending them back to the company.

  4. Looks like Murphy actually traveled pretty well!

  5. I'd keep the muffs if you ever take him to the range... Just sayin...

  6. SO glad you came and BLESSED all with your wonderful MANLY gift to the Thunder!

    Your newest aunt