Friday, August 02, 2013

Flying away

Murphy and I took off this morning after turning the Lair over to the Lair-sitter, heading off towards the Northwest. As I have the whole day to make this flight, I planned to hit a few new airports and just sight-see a bit along a route I've plotted but never flown before.

First stop--for gas--Johnstown, PA, at former Congressman John Mutha's "airport to nowhere". I got a fill-up and Murphy stretched his paws a bit then popped into the pilots' lounge and helped a couple of charter jet crews eat their donuts.

Here's the place over our shoulder as we go.
But what's that below?
Blackhawk Heckiflopters! (Second one from the left's parking job suggests that they have at least one blonde pilot there.)

Here's a small dam on the Allegheny River, with a lock for ships on it's far shore.
When I pulled the power back to level off, I heard a funny noise coming from the back of the plane. I looked over mys houlder and saw Murphy here, sound asleep with his head propped up on the rear of the seat.
Continuing on, I hit crap weather. I had low clouds right at my chosen altitude. Trying to climb over them got to be a mess because of the crazy headwinds up on top, so I dropped back down below them and "scud-ran", trying to stay as high above the ground as I could without bumping my head on the clouds. I actually called the airport back and requested "flight following" because the clouds were really limiting my ability to see other aircraft. With flight following, they track you on radar and let you know if you're getting close to other aircraft. I rarely do this but I did today, and it was a good thing, because there were tons of other aircraft doing the same thing; Bonanzas, Shywagons, Archers, Comanches and more--everyone was at or below 4,000 feet trying to stay under the cloud deck, and the air traffic guys sounded busier than a German Shepherd in a car going through a car wash. But half an hour flying time saw me through the worst of it, and by the time I got turned over to Youngstown Approach I was in the clear.

So naturally I had to drop into Youngstown, just because it was there.
Here I am on final. And look what's waiting on me: A C-130 Hercules.
They have a bunch of them there. Looks like all older ones with four-blade propellers instead of the six-blade jobs on the newer models.

Out of Youngstown, I flew on until I was turned over to Cleveland Approach. I intorduced myself to Cleveland then begged their indulgence while I dropped in and shot a touch-and-go at Geauga County Airport in Middlefield, Ohio. Nothing really noteworthy there, but as I was flying out over the downtown, I looked down and saw these: Amish horse and buggies at the Save-a-lot drug store!
Looks like the store even has a hitching rack along it's wall for them all. Cool!
There were other ones on the city streets and even in a local McDonalds parking lot, but I was a mite busy getting back on course to take more pictures.

Cleveland Approach dropped me into my fourth airport of the day--Lost Nations at Willoughby, Ohio. I wanted moore gas, but thhey were self-serve and I didn't feel like pumping my own, so I just took a picture of thhis Amphibian and took off again:

Next stop: Airport #5--Burke Lakefront in Cleveland.
I landed here, got a re-fuel, and took Murphy out again. Everyone at Landmark Aviation enjoyed meeting him, and as I was taxiing back out, even the tower controller asked me if that German Shepherd got a re-fuel as well. I told him "Nope. but he left something."

They turned me onto the taxiway and told me to be alert for a helicopter that was landing.

I found it!
He was right there on the taxiway all along.

Off we went,est along the lakeshore, past USS Cod (blogged previously here) and the museum Steamship William G. Mather. (mentioned in same post.)
And here's the Cleveland skyline from the water. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is just off the bow of the Mather above.

Next stop: Kelley's Island in Lake Erie.
I just dropped in to hit it and git since it was enroute. It's Runway 27 was my sixth landing of the day.
As we turned final and caught a whopper of a quartering headwind, the plane buffeted considerably and Murphy leaned forward over my shoulder and shouted "Airspeed! Airspeed!" as the stall horn sounded. But a jusdicious application of power saved the day and we hit with a thump that shook the island but at least we were feet-dry. Not my best landing, to be sure. But the plane still worked.

Back-taxi and off again, heading for the mouth of the Detroit River.

Here'e a bulk carrier, coming from there.
And behind her, you can make out the trail of mud churned up from the shallow lake bottom in her wake.

Then the rain started. Not a bad rain, but it was enough to make me put the camera away, especially as I had to focus on remaining below Detroit's Class B Airspace. I called up Detroit Approacdh and checked the winds, and they came back with a wind spaad of 13 knots gusting to 22 coming out of 240 degrees. Yikes! My chosen airport at Canton is a single north-south runway and this wind from the direction makes landing there a no-go. Fortunately I planned ahead, figuring this might be the case after my conversations with Flight Services throughout the morning, so I had a back-up plan ready. I dialed up Willow Run Airport to the west of Detroit and got cleared for a landing there on their runway 23--right into the wind. No issues, and I greased it in smooth as silk on my seventh landing of the day. The longest taxi I've ever had took me right up to AVFlight, the FBO, and they graciously parked and secured my plane, unloaded my baggage, and gave Murphy some water. They even waived their overnight fee since I was only in due to the weather. (And a good call it was, too. While I was waiting, the wind gusts topped 25 knots at 250. That's well beyond what my bird could have handled as a crosswind at Canton.

A phone call brought my mother and my nephew, The Spud, down to pick me and Murphy up, and here we are--spending a few days with the kid, and Aaron of The Shekel. More posts, pics and tales will follow this week as it's expected to be an activity-filled one.


  1. Great post, I enjoyed the trip.

  2. Yep, looks like you had a loaded bird there, nice day in the air, and good headwork on the flight following!

  3. Nice work, pilot! Enjoy the down-time.

  4. Always enjoy reading your adventures. Glad you were able to get it back on the ground in once piece after that crosswind.

  5. What sort of amphibian is that? Looks like 1/3 Airstream trailer with a tail grafted on.

  6. I was in Cleveland once to see a friend at the Cleveland clinic. I went downtown with the express purpose to see the Cod but everything was closed for the winter.

  7. Oh! If I'd known you were in the area yesterday, I could've spotted you lunch!

    If you're ever up this way and have a mind to drop in and land at Medina, you'll have to let me know. The airfield is just a few miles from my house, and there's plenty of good places to eat nearby.

  8. Anonymous9:14 AM

    Thanks for sharing these pictures with us.
    Maybe the helicopter facing the other way was the only non blond pilot.Maybe the other pilots are blonds and parked the wrong way

  9. @Pediem: Medina, huh? Murphy and I may just have to stop by there on our way home.

  10. Bob:

    That funny looking plane is a Republic Seabee. Made around 1947.

    Just today I was moving a box of airplane magazines, and the top one was the May 1972 "Air Progress", with a cover photo of Richard Bach's Seabee sitting on a sandy beach. Good writer, neat plane. That angled line around the co-pilots front window is the front hatch, for mooring and fishing.

    This one has the droop tips added, which indicates an extended wing version, I think.

    Bach paid $9k around 1970. New, they were $3500 to $6500 (final factory price). Looks like a clean, original equipment one today runs $65k. I see one advertised for $36k, but no data in the ad.
    Aftermarket mods include V8 (corvette) engine swaps, and twin engines. Try $295k for a v8 one!

  11. Yay!!! I'll keep an eye out for you. I'm free most days, since I work nights. Just let me know.

  12. @pediem: Great. Send me a comment with your phone number. I won't post it.

    @Will : Cool info. I had no idea. thanks!

  13. @ pediem: I have the number. I'll call on the way back. And of course I remember. ;-)

  14. Looks like an Apache hiding in that Blackhawk lineup too...