Friday, August 10, 2012

Return fight home

There will be more airshow posts following, but Murphy wanted me to post on our return flight home on Monday.

We went out to the airport, accompanied by my mother and The Spud, and we loaded up the plane. After the pre-flight check and the good-byes, I called my father up at home and told him to be out in his back yard for one final bit of airshow. He lives in a subdivision made up of tree-lined streets that all look like every other street for miles from above, but the day before, I'd plotted out some landmarks that I was sure that I could pick out from the air and once I took off, I headed straight for them. Sure enough, I found my way-points and was able to roll in just north of his house so as to be perfectly visible in the clear space over his back-yard fence. I came in low and loud (while observing all applicable FAA regulations as to altitude, or course) and for about two minutes I made passes over his place as he stood in his yard below and waved. Then with one final wing-rocking pass, Murphy and I were off to the east and gone. But we'll be back soon, and that's a promise.

Flying over Detroit, I called up the tower at Detroit City Airport to get clearance through their Class D airspace. City Airport should not be confused with Detroit Metro Airport to the south. Metro is the big dog airport and I was already flying below the floor of their Class B airspace. City's tower promptly cleared me for a flight out to the north end of Belle Isle in the Detroit River, at which point I made a turn and flew south, just enjoying the city skyline.
There's the Ambassador Bridge over the river, and Canada on the other side.
The tall one is the Fisher Building, and the smaller one that looks like four buildings attached to each other is Cadillac Place, once headquarters of General Motors. Both date back to a time when this city was word-renowned for it's business district, architecture and wealth.

Here's the MacArthur Bridge leading to the southern end of Belle Isle.
"Control, we have an ore boat up-bound in the channel. Rolling in hot."
It's an old straight-decker retro-fitted as a self-unloader. Low in the water, too. Got a belly full of something. Stack logo shows her to be one of the Algoma Central fleet. Pretty sure it's the Algomarine. What a sweetie.
Then it's down the river, veering out over the river to maintain horizontal separation from the Renaissance Center.

Then it's south to the Ambassador Bridge and beyond.
Oh look--everybody's favorite abandoned train station / eyesore--the old Michigan Central Station. Built in 1913, it was once the tallest train station in the world. It's been empty and stripped longer than I can recall.
A quick shot back over my shoulder. Gotta be careful--Detroit Metro's controlled airspace it just above me, and Canada's is just to the left. But heck--it's not like Canada has an air force, right?
Here's the shipping channel at the south end of the Detroit River, with Lake Erie beyond.
And here's another ship heading for the channel. This oldie was built as a self-unloader, probably back in the late 1960's. can't make out her name or stack, though. Anyone wanna research it?

And then it was time to climb for the lake crossing. But once across the lake, I set up for a landing at Port Clinton. Murphy, dozing in the back seat, has already figured out that when I pull power to descend, that means that we're getting ready to get out. He sits up, just like other dogs do in cars when you take the cruise control off and begin to slow prior to exiting the highway in your car. He watches over my shoulder as I make descending turns in the pattern and set down on Runway 36. I park the plane, the fuel truck comes out to see if I want gas, (At just $5.80 a gallon, you'd better believe I do!) and I take Murphy out of the plane for a drink.

Once he was satiated, we headed across the field to the new Liberty Aviation Museum. They'd had their B-25 Mitchell bomber at the air show and their crew had invited me to pop in on the way down, so here Murphy and I were, walking into their brand new building as workers are finishing up landscaping and painting outside.
First, we encountered a nice young fellow on the desk who told us that pets aren't allowed in the museum. I replied that we'd just flown in and that I had no place to leave Murphy, and that I just wanted to go into the hangar and see the B-25. "And if it's any help," I told the fellow, "he's really not much of a pet."

Before he could object again, another staffer appeared and asked me if Murphy was a service dog. Now I can't lie, so I admitted that he wasn't, but then the man said: "Wait...he's a German Shepherd, isn't he? That's close enough to World War Two to get him in, I guess." Then I told them that his name was actually Audie Murphy and suddenly everyone was coming up to pet him and fawn over him.

So did Murphy get to see the B-25?

He and I both agree that I need one of these. Granted, the fuel burn of two of these 1700hp Pratt and Whitney R-2600 14-cylinder engines will probably be a bit more than my Cessna's 6-cylinder, 145hp powerplant, but still...
And nothing says "Get outta my traffic pattern!" like a snout full of .50 machine guns.

This one has better paint than my Cessna, too. Pilot side:
Co-pilot side: first choice would still be an A-26 Invader, but if I couldn't get one of those, this'd sure do.

We took off again, and since we had plenty of gas and no real time-frame to get home, and since the weather was perfect, we hop-scotched various airports on the route home, setting up touch-and-go landings at three others enroute. We hit Ohio's Wayne County airport (BJJ), Jefferson County Airort (2G2), and Washington Co airport (AFJ) in Pennsylvania. I figure that just flying point-to-point isn't really going to make me proficient so I decided to just play and visit a few new strips and simulate a couple of engine-out emergency landings since I had the time. It was much fun, and we still make it back to the home field before dark with five take-offs and landings in 4.4 hours. And Murphy now has 8.3 hours cross-country time in his dog-log. But does he really get credit for time spent dozing in the back seat?


  1. What a great trip. My old stomping grounds - I was born and raised in Birch Run - up I-75 about 90 miles or so. Great photos.

  2. @eiaft: Birch Run...Tony's Restaurant. Pound of bacon. Mmmmmmmm....

  3. And a good time was had by all!

  4. Well done, and nice trip!

  5. Anonymous6:31 PM

    Re: recent posts

    Sometimes I miss the old town...

  6. Cool pics!

    I walked out of the sunlight into a hangar a couple of years ago - when my eyes adjusted, I was looking at this fetching Marketeer


  7. I'm sure if you violated Canadian air space, they would send you a very sternly worded letter.

  8. MSGTB - no, they send you a bill for the use of NavCanada's time tracking you. And a user fee for their airspace. :-P

    That was awful nice of those staffers - sounds like a great museum! It'd be a heck of a run at 80mph less headwinds (you have the faster plane, I'll cheerfully admit!), but if I get up that way and I can avoid any Transponder-required airspace, I'll have to go pay them a visit based on your recommendation alone!

    If you ever want Murphy to give you really dirty looks, do some stall series in the airplane. When a certain beagle looked out the door and saw no ground coming up, man, we weren't forgiven for days.

  9. Canadians can bill me for using their air? That's just rude!

    But one of these days, we may have to arrange a fly-in to Wright-Patterson, or at least the closest GA airport. Game?

  10. If we meet up in Dayton, you may have a problem on your hands - in the form of two neices who are very upset that daddy left THEIR plane pickled at the last base instead of moving it with them. They are utterly plane crazy, and are fiercely plotting devious plots for when their crazy aunt finally brings her yellow plane to see them. Devious, you see, because there are two of them, and only 1 passenger seat in the taylorcraft.

    How's Murphy with small kids?

  11. Murphy is now good with small kids. He tolerates them, shares his toys, and does not try to eat them.

    And Cessna 172s have ample passenger seating for young'uns. You do remember how to fly a 172, right? ;-)

    1. Um, within the reason that it'll have way too many electronics and circuit breakers for me, seem to climb way slow, go way fast, and the rudder and tailwheel will be so sluggish it will almost be like I don't have to dance on the pedals? I've been in a 180 modified for the bush more recently than a 172, but. I think I remember.

      Oh, and toe brakes. How... odd. Wanna fly a nice little bird built to climb like a homesick angel and land on a gravel bar in the river?

  12. Loved this blog. Not just interesting but also the way a dog can just get used to something - like flying: "Yawn, wake me when we're there...."