Sunday, September 01, 2013

Off on another adventure

Saturday moning, I loaded Murphy and a fair amount of gear into my trusty little plane and headed off northwest.

I flew farther north of my regular track to avoid some convective activity, and in so doing, I found this grass field airport at Mt. Pleasant, PA.
In we went, just for the fun of it. Because grass strips are cool.

Lesson learned: if it rained the night before, dropping a loaded 172 down onto a grass strip might not be the smartest move. I almost got stuck in the squishy soft grass turning around, and I needed every foot of that strip and 10 degrees of flaps to get back out of there. And when I did get out, there was mud splashed clear up onto the lower surface of my wings.

A bit farther west, I spotted a bright flame shooting up out of the forest to my north.
Naturally I had to go check that out. Fires in the wooods? not natural. Heck, maybe it was some sort of forest fire just starting out. I figured I could find out for sure, then call it in and orbit until the fire department got there. I'd be a local hero. They'd interview me on the news and maybe I'd even get a parade. All the local chicks would dig me.

Aw, rats. Just a gas well. Sigh.

Next I shot touch-and-go landings at Rostraver and Finleyville, this time with a newfound appreciation for paved runways. Paved runways are cool.

Then I found this steel mill in Weirton, West Virginia. It's the old Weirton Steel plant, an integrated plant with everything from blast furnaces to final production mills.
There's nobody there. This pace should be bustling with workers!
Apparently this plant used to employ over 12,000 workers. It was founded in 1909 and was the reason for the town of Weirton around it. But then the 1980s happened. A slump in the steel market and greedy unions was all it took to bust this place. Now a skeleton crew works one small part of it's once massive operation. Sad.

Nice shot of the Monongahela River.

Then we landed in Carroll County, Ohio, because Murphy wanted to go outside. I topped off the gas tanks and we were back on our way.

The haze started to get bad by the time we reached Norwalk, Ohio, but local AWOS was still calling it ten miles visibility and I could hear plenty of aircraft operations at Port Clinton, Sandusky and the Bass Islands to the north so I kept on going.

Overflying Port Clinton, I got a treat. Look what's there!
Yep. That's a B-17 on the ground. And a B-25. And over in the corner, that's a P-51 Mustang, but I didn't spot him until I started blowing the pics up on the computer post-flight. Looks like the bombers of the Yankee Air Force from Ypsilanti, Mi are in town. The B-17 is Yankee Lady and the B-25 is Yankee Warrior.
And here's a view of a B-17 that you don't often get.
The flight out over Lake Erie was interesting in that even though AWOS reported visibility at greater than six miles, the haze was heavy enough that I couldn't make out the shore on the other side. I could see the Bass Islands to my east, and plenty of blue sky above me, but once out over the lake, I flew out of sight of the islands and then all I had was sky above and water below and no horizon ahead. I banked into a 180-degree turn to go back to Port Clinton but it too was gone in the mists. Damn.
Detroit AWOS claimed higher ceilings and good VFR visibility though, so I turned again and headed that way. If nothing else, once I got over that way, Detroit ATC could help me out. Thank God for two GPS in the aircraft to point me in the right diirection. The next fifteen minutes had me focused on the water below and the instruments. Looking outside, I could see everything except the shoreline. Yet both Cleveland and Detroit were calling this mess "VFR". My ass! Even Murphy weighed in when he sat up on the back seat, leaned over my shoulder and said: "Dude! What retard flew us into this crap?" Such a helpful, supportive dog.

Finally I got to the Detroit River and it was like a curtain lifting. I could see again! Grosse Isle airport was operating and thhe pattern was chock full of planes, so I hit it once myself, just to shake the fog off.
They fly right pattern here to keep the planes and plane noise away from the luxury homes west of the airport.

Here's a tugboat and barge going up the Detroit River.

Lot of history in these shots. At the left in the first pic is the self-unloader barge Sarah Spencer, formerly the proud steamship Adam Cornelius before her aft section and engines were cut away. She's been mothballed in this slip for a while now.
We've also got a self-unloader of the Lower Lakes Towing Co. taking on what looks like coal or coke, and ahead of them in the slip are the old laid up Bob-lo boats.

A bit farther up-river, I came across the H. Lee White unloading coal as a gas barge passes her in close quarters in the Rouge River. The White's got quite a past as lakers go.

Heading up the Rouge, I overfllew the Ford Motor Co. Rouge Steel Plant, or at least what's left of it. They aren't doing all that hot these days, either.
Yes, those are trees growing up through the roof of that building.
Back in my day, this plant was the area's largest employer. Now? Not so much.

Ten more minutes saw me on the ground at my destination airport, and Murphy cried and leapt with joy when he saw my mother, his grandmother. 4.4 flight hours and seven airports later, my day was done.

Sunday and Monday's adventure? Check back and see!


  1. Hope you washed the bird down, caked mud in the brakes and wheels isn't good! OR did Murphy do it for you? :-)

  2. Oh squeee! From that angle the Yankee Lady looks just like the toy on my dresser!
    Beautiful photos - I hope you and Murphy have a good weekend.

  3. Should have done a split 'S' and got a closer look at the bombers on the tarmac.

  4. Stuff like Wierton is why there's a joke in West Virginia about how they give you 2 pieces of paper at your high school graduation - your diploma and a road map out of the state.

    Read about Rouge River in the bio of Henry Ford I read after my last trip up - amazing place.

  5. We need to rig you up with a floor mounted camera, and a shutter switch on the yoke.
    You could play "B-17" in your Cessna, flying over targets and clicking away.

  6. I really enjoy your flying posts...and the Murphy posts and the gun posts and... Anyway, the comment about the grass field made me chuckle. The link is to one of my recent (mis)adventures with wet airstrips. And here's one of getting stuck in the mud . Good job not getting stuck. Getting unstuck is a LOT of work. Like Old NFO said, I hope you washed it down and made sure to wash the brakes off well. Mud can grind off your brake pads and disks.

    Post more flights! Great stuff

  7. Great Pictures. I second you on the grass runway bit. If you ever land on one and find it's not been mowed for a while, don't even try and take off unless you like flying BETWEEN the trees at the end of the runway.

    Have a great time!

  8. Murphy,

    I assume you can see my email, I would like help identifying a rifle and I thought you might be able to help me do so, if you are so inclined, please email me. If you can't see my email, let me know how to contact you.



  9. You lead a rich life, my friend!

  10. Jay: Wow, man. Nice pics. Where are you flying?

    Brigid: Yeah. So I just learned. Wow.

    DrJim: Life is meant to be lived.

    And roger that to everyone on washing the brakes.

  11. ScotchDave: No I can't see it. Post another comment and include it and I won't publish the comment. Glad to help you any way that I can.

  12. "That Building" with the trees growing out of the top is what is left of the original Powerhouse Henry Ford built for the complex. A massive explosion back in 1999 destroyed the powerhouse and killed a bunch of people. DIRECTLY across the street is the new Power station that CMS Energy built as a "replacement". And promptly staffed it with a NON-UNION workforce! Much to the chagrin of the UAW big-wigs across the street, the CMS plant is STILL proudly un-unionized!

  13. Adam Smith: I remember that explosion and I was wondering if that might be that building or not. Thanks!

  14. Oh..and by the by..the steel mill you photo'd belongs to the Russians now....Severstal bought the steel mill in the mid 2000's.

  15. That B-17 shot looks like a model airplane diorama! I'm thinking too much polishing is the culprit.