Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Flying back to see family

Sorry I've been absent for a few days, but one of the reasons that I bought the airplane was so that I could get back to see my family more than once or twice a year. They live up in Michigan and I live down here, 8-9 hours away by car. But now courtesy of the plane, that trip has just been cut markedly. This week-end was a test of that theory and it worked very well indeed.

Murphy has not yet been taught to fly (and his new dog hearing protectors have not arrived yet) so he stayed behind with his favorite dog-sitters while I was gone.

I started out Saturday morning with a thorough pre-flight check.
Plane checks out. Got my charts, got my new GPS with sectional map display. Tanks are full.
Got my coffee, got my Choiceasaurus. I was set.

Flying over eastern WV after climbing out. (click on any of these pics to enlarge them.)
I'd plotted a route from my airport to Mansfield, Ohio, and then a course change to Monroe, MI and from there into Plymouth Mettetal airport just west of Detroit. This course was intended to take me around the restricted airspace over the major airports at Pittsburgh and Cleveland, leaving me just Detroit's to deal with.

Cumberland, MD.
No controlled airspace here. Just staying high because this is mountainous terrain.

Hey look--windmills!


Towns along the river. This is Greensboro and Masontown in Pennsylvania.

What looks to be a nuclear powerplant not in use on the Ohio side of the Ohio river just north of Wheeling, WV. Google's not helping me find it's name or story, though.
EDIT: Visitor Adam Smith pointed out that it's actually a coal-fired plant with a cooling tower. And it turns out that it's the Cardinal/Tidd coal-fired plant in Brilliant, Ohio. Thanks, Adam!

It was a nice flight all the way to Mansfield. The air was smooth and clear and Unicom traffic was light in my area. I wasn't going to land at Mansfield originally, but by the time I got there, that 24oz coffee that I'd had prior to takeoff convinced me otherwise. So I got clearance from their tower and in I went.

Bathroom notwithstanding, this turned out to be a poor choice on my part as the tower was letting us departing aircraft stack up at the hold-short line while they gave priority to no end of incoming planes. No fun sitting on the ground in a non-air-conditioned cockpit (and with an air-cooled motor) while the same Skylane makes TWO touch-and-go landings. But every time someone would call that they were downwind, tower would repeat his call of "aircraft holding short continue to hold". I easily spent ten minutes sitting there waiting when I could have gotten off in between any of those aircraft. Aargh!

But on the plus side, I got to see this cool vintage Ercoupe.

And then there was the Holy Grail for us Hi-Power shooters--Camp Perry! Run by the Ohio National Guard, Perry is home of the National Matches and it is also the world's largest outdoor rifle range.
All that open area by the lake that you see is rifle range, some reaching out to a thousand yards. This is also where the Civilian Marksmanship Program is run from. If they only had a runway, I'd have a new Garand today.

The Davis-Besse nuclear plant that savvy shooters at Perry use for wind doping.

Then it was out over the corner of Lake Erie. (And yes, the engine did seem to run rougher as soon as it got out over the water.) But the shoreline was always in sight and Monroe, MI was just a few minutes away. I came in over their field but was too busy complying with Detroit Metro Approach's instructions to take pictures. They kept me down low and just insisted that I stay clear of their Class B airspace as I headed up towards Canton. This brought me into Willow Run Airport's Class D airspace so I got to talk to them, too. Very nice people, those Willow Run controllers.

Here's the Detroit sectional, for those who might be curious. (Part of being a pilot is knowing how to read that and comply.)

Now Willow Run has always been a special place to me. It was built as Henry Ford's production plant for B-24 bombers in World War Two. They made 8,645 B-24 bombers at this plant, pushing them out at the remarkable rate of up to twenty-five a day with Ford's auto assembly-line processes adapted to aircraft production. Sadly, that plant is no more. Ford abandoned it after the war and the county turned it over to General Motors for a dollar. GM used it to make cars for decades and then it's greedy union priced themselves out of a job by demanding more when GM was seeking concessions to stay afloat.

I overflew Willow Run low to the east, and then I was practically on top of Mettetal and their little postage-stamp runway. (OK, it's 2300 feet. Admittedly I'm spoiled by my 7,000 foot runway back home.) I came around following the other traffic in the pattern and landed hot with a tailwind, and just like that I was down 4.5 hours after lifting off, and when you take away the half hour I spent at Mansfield, it was a pretty good trip and an excellent first try at what I expect to become a routine cross-country flight.

On the ground at Plymouth-Canton airport.


  1. That looks like fun.

  2. Anonymous12:17 PM

    Is the dinosaur so, as a pilot, you can state,"Curse your inevitable betrayal!" with other toy dinosaurs before ascending?

  3. Nice pics!

    Guess you can't just stop and run into a McDonald's when needed...

  4. Glad it went well and hope the time with the folks was good too!

  5. Very cool. How long does it take to make the trip?

  6. @amedandlaughing. OL! Now I won't be able to look at him without thinking that.

    @ Andy: I figure 3 & 1/2 to 4 hours from now on. Anything less is just icing on the cake.

  7. Nice! Hope you enjoyed the visit as much as it seems you enjoyed the trip.

  8. Fabulous. Reminds me of when my grandfather used to take me flying with him to Catalina Island.

    Pictures are wonderful!

  9. That wasn't an idled nuke plant on the Ohio side of the river. Iw was an EEEEVIL Coal plant with a hyperbolic cooling tower....

  10. @Adam Smith: Good to know, thanks! And it's the Cardinal/Tidd plant, near Brilliant, Ohio. Much appreciated.

  11. Anonymous10:00 PM

    Great Pictures

  12. Cool pictures!

    and the EEEEvil coal plant has an FGD scrubber attached (The fat, grey smokestack with water vapor coming out) so that makes it a little less evil. (Small 'e' only...)