Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Flight back from Indy.

Flying back out of Michigan on Monday was a crap-shoot. The winds were bad, but that powerful storm system with it's tornadoes and days of promised rain was coming fast, and if I didn't make it out on Monday, I'd have to leave the plane, make other arrangements for transportation, then come back to get the plane next week. This was not something that I wanted to do, so after checking with Flight Services and making sure that I could avoid the storm front ("You can stay ahead of it if you get going right now."), I did a quick but thorough pre-flight and taxied out to the hold short line, with my eye on the wind sock, waiting for just a bit of a lull in the direct crosswind that was sweeping the runway. I sat there for almost two minutes before the sock dropped, and then it was "Hey ya'll...watch this!" as I poured on the coal and rolled down the runway, right foot already on the rudder pedal down in anticipation of the lateral wind blast to come. I got buffeted a bit but climbed out strong and held off on making my usual turn until I could put a bit more altitude between plane and ground, and then it was "ride 'em cowboy" as I turned into the wind. Needless to say, no nice pictures until I was able to bypass Detroit's Class B and come around to a more wind-friendly heading, but once I was in the clear, I got a few quick snaps of the Ford Motor Co. Rouge Steel plant and the downriver area.
Then there was the turn over Zug Island and it's steel mill.

Heading down the river, here's a pair of Great Lakes bulk carriers doing their thing at a Canadian dock.
The first one there is the Atlantic Huron, owned and operated by Canada Steamship Lines.

Second ship is the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin. She's also a Canada Steamship Lines asset.

And out on the lake, we spot the Chinese-built, Polish-owned, Bahamanian-registered M/V Wicko.
Not quite four years old yet, she was built in 2010 and she's a 20,000 ton bulk carrier 630ft long. Looking good as she heads for the mouth of the Detroit River.

Crossing the lake via the Bass Islands (because I take comfort from their runways just in case...), I got this snap of the Perry's Victory Monument on South Bass.
Then is was a pass by the Cedar Point amusement park at Sandusky, Oh. And would you look at those whitecaps coming ashore...
Knowing that the storm was coming up from the southwest, I took a different route this time, staying farther north as I flew east, trying to get ahead of the weather and beat it back home. Alas, I had a quartering headwind most of the way, which reduced my over-the-ground speed to 60-70kts most of the way instead of my usual 90-110kts, and the nice ATC folks weren't exactly helping matters as they kept trying to vector me further south right into the storm front, which, for quite some time I could clearly SEE out my right windows. I flew with that dark band of rain in plain view for over a hundred miles, but finally managed to leave it behind as I passed below Pittsburgh. And by this time, I was now low on fuel due to the winds, so even though this is normally a one-tank trip for me, I erred on the side of caution and dropped in at Rostraver, PA for some more gas.
Glad I did, too. Tanks were really getting low. Probably could have made it, but not with any sort of comfortable reserve. Easier and safer to just fill it up...and Rostraver's gas is a buck a gallon cheaper anyway.

Then it was back towards home. The last hour was better because I was farther away from the storm and I made better time. I got back in and tied down before the weather got here, and I was almost home in my car before the clouds came down over the western ridge and the rain started to fall. Longest flight ever on that route due to the winds, but I made it, I made it safe, and I learned a few new things. All good.

13 comments:

  1. Glad you made it okay, even if it was a bit uncomfortable.

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    1. Thanks.

      It's actually easier to fly in marginal weather once you've determined that it if gets bad, you are prepared to land and leave the plane for a few days if need be. I got cured of "Get-there-itis" after a couple of poor flight decisions in years past and now it's just "fly if you can and if you can't, there's always a Plan B".

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  2. The only time you can have too much fuel is when you're on fire!
    First heard from Ed Rasimus.

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  3. It was very good to finally meet you in person. And also glad you got home safe even if there was a bit of extra "spice" in the mix. Till next time!

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    1. Today's rough flight is training for tomorrow's rougher flight. If they were all smooth, I'd never build skills.

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  4. Some not-half-bad aerial photography there. :)

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    1. Thanks. Seeing as I have to fly too, the pics are really just me pointing the camera out the window and clicking like mad, and then cleaning up the best ones on the computer when I get back.

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    2. I may have mentioned that most of my photography from Cessnas has been from tightly-banking 152s, hanging out the PAX window while the pilot held the yoke with one hand and my belt with the other. Good times, good times! :D

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    3. Well we'll just have to get you and your camera back up there, won't we? Next time you're up this way...

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  5. Very glad you made it home safe. Driving through that weather was no fun...can only imagine flying around it. *shudders*

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  6. Thanks for sharing these pictures

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  7. Good head work!

    I got in a little time this morning. The airport manager had a 900' grass runway mowed out next to the paved runway. It was fun flying from it.

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