Thursday, June 28, 2012

Coming Home--the return flight.

Screw that Supreme Court sell-out. I'd rather write about something good.

So Tuesday, after spending the day beating my father at his own game (Cribbage), I pre-flighted my plane and took off for home, this time flying a different route that I'd plotted, down the Detroit River to Lake Erie, across to Port Clinton, Ohio, and then down to Wheeling, WV before making the last course correction towards my home field back in eastern WV. This route, by just skirting the edges of Cleveland and Pittsburg airspace, promised to knock about 35 miles off my route up. Not only that, I'd get a low-level flight over the river and the suburban Detroit area. How could I pass that up?

I was a bit busy flying out over I-96 at 2500 feet, but by the time I got to the Downriver area, I was clear to ascend a bit so I could do a bit of sightseeing. Here's Ford Motor Company's Rouge Steel plant and dock. When I lived near here a lifetime ago, I used to love watching the huge ore boats come up the Rouge River, cutting traffic as the drawbridges on Fort Street and Dix Street were raised. I always wondered where they were going because you couldn't see from ground level. Well here's where they went:
Taken from Wikipedia: The Rouge measures 1.5 miles wide by 1 mile long, including 93 buildings with nearly 16 million square feet of factory floor space. With its own docks in the dredged Rouge River, 100 miles of interior railroad track, its own electricity plant, and ore processing, the titanic Rouge was able to turn raw materials into running vehicles within this single complex, a prime example of vertical-integration production. Over 100,000 workers were employed there in the 1930s.
Now it's almost gone. No cars are even made there any more. Environmentalists and labor unions finally killed it after Ford weakened it by spending decades failing to reinvest and modernize the plants to ensure that they stayed competitive with newer factories and steel plants elsewhere.

Over it's shoulder to the upper right is the Marathon Oil refinery which remains one of the area's largest employers but which is also being castigated by the greenies and sued by numerous people claiming health problems. Marathon is offering to buy all their homes to create green space, by typically, many won't sell because they think that no matter what Marathon offers, they can hold out for more.

As I flew to the river, I lucked out and snagged this perfect shot of the Detroit skyline, with the Ambassador Bridge in the forefront and Belle Isle behind the Renaissance Center, another gem built by Ford that's now owned by GM.

Then it was south down the river, passing Zug Island, the big steel plant. This place used to be so mysterious back in the day because you couldn't get near it (it's on an island) and because photography was always prohibited on the grounds. But look! Up in the sky! It's an RC-172 overflight!
Who can't take pictures now, eh? Say "Cheese", bitches!

And then there's the ships. The Detroit River used to be the busiest shipping lane in the world, with both lake freighters and ocean-going ships from all over the world passing through day and night, on average on one every 17 minutes. Sadly, those days are gone for good, but there are still ships to be seen.

Here's a ship taking on something from a Windsor, Ontario dock.

And here's a downbound ship, riding high and empty but opening a cargo hold, which suggests that she's about to dock and take on cargo.
I can't quite make out her name on the bow. I'm SO going to get a better camera as soon as I can afford one.

Here's an old lake freighter going into the ship channel off Grosse Isle. She's a self-unloader of the Algoma Central line.
Classic lines. Wish I could make out her name. Not many of these left.

Here's another Algoma freighter up-bound. She's a bit newer (and in my opinion, not as attractive).

Then it was out over the lake, doing my best to stay out of Canadian airspace. But then again, what are they gonna do? It's not like Canada has an Air Force, eh?

Here's South Bass Island, and Put-in-Bay.
I will get there next time if I can. That runway's just too inviting not to.

And Camp Perry again, because we shooters love it so.

By this time, my last camera batteries were done, so I just focused on flying the plane. I kept it at about 5,000 feet and caught a nice tailwind that kept my speed in the triple digits all the way home. I touched down in Martinsburg, WV just three hours after hitting the starter in Plymouth Michigan, covering a distance that would have taken me eight hours to drive.

I loves me my plane!


  1. I'm glad you're enjoying it so much, and having such a great time. Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

  2. Really great pics!! Being a southern-bound gal, Michigan is much a mystery to me. Thanks for the exposure.