Monday, August 11, 2014

Long flight home

So yesterday morning I lifted off with my poor old Cessna pretty much loaded to Gross--my mom and my nephew, The Spud, came back with me. A couple of nifty Experimental kit planes were gassing up at the departure airport.

Here's a Staudacher S-600F, getting ready to go up. Can you say "Aerobatic"?

And this one is a Sonex kit plane that the pilot told me that he built over seven years.

I got gas, loaded the pax, and departed, flying my usual track eastbound down I-96 and then banking around to the south Detroit Metro's airspace, overflying the Rouge Steel Plant in Dearborn. Let's see if there are any freighters in there today.
It's the Kaye E. Barker. We've seen her before, about two years ago when I caught her out on the Detroit River.

And heading downriver, the poor old Bob-lo boats are still wasting away in Trenton.
There are restoration efforts of a sort going on on both, but it's minimal at best and I hope that it's not too little to late for these historic old steamers.

And about this time, my windscreen started picking up oil. WTF? Oh, hell--I know what that's from. My engine oil cap worked it's way loose again because the dipstick who checked the dipstick (me) didn't make extra sure that it was completely cranked down again. This old bird has gotten me like this before, and by the time that there's a little oil on the glass, it's a given that the engine compartment, belly and side are thoroughly coated. Fortunately Grosse Ile airport is just ahead, so down I went to tighten the cap, replace lost oil, and clean her up.
Nothing says "careless" like an oil-slathered airplane. Grade: "I" for "Idiot".

Luckily for me, an A&P named Steve Paone was there and he helped me clean her up with a compressor and some mineral spirits and a lot of rag work. In addition to being seriously helpful, he owns a 172 a year older than mine and he offered several bits of advice related to keeping mine running right that were well worth the stop for that if nothing else. The man is definitely an asset at that airport and they're lucky to have him.

Then it was up and off again and out over Lake Erie, heading towards our panned lunch stop destination: Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island.

I figured that we'd land here and have a nice lunch and do a bit of sight-seeing, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the airport jam-packed; they were hosting a fly-in.
Piper Cubs!
A Bellanca 7ECA.

We socialized for a bit, then rented a golf cart for a foray into town. We grabbed a few pricey burgers then I turned the cart over to The Spud to take us to the Perry's Victory Monument.
This monument is 352 feet tall, making it the fourth-highest monument in the US, behind only the St. Louis Arch (630ft.), the San Jacinto Monument (567ft.) and the Washington Monument (555ft.). It is taller than the Statue of Liberty (305ft.).
It was built between 1912 and 1915 to commemorate the peace that followed us wiping the British and Canadians off of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, and inside it contains memorial carvings naming all of the US sailors and Marines killed or wounded during the Battle of Lake Erie.
Additionally, three US and three British officers killed in the battle lie interred beneath the floor.

The view from the top: nice.

We finally flew out again, a few hours behind schedule, but hey--who cares? That's the nice thing about doing your own flying.

Since I was flying heavy, I opted to take off with less than full fuel tanks and make a gas stop en route at Beaver Valley Airport (BVI) in Pennsylvania.
It was here that the Spud learned a valuable lesson about being around aircraft that are being fueled. As I was filling the left tank, some fuel blasted back out of the tank neck and ran down the wing. I saw Spud below the wing and I yelled "Watch it behind the wing!" I might as well have yelled "Don't look, Ethel!", because he looked straight up into a face-full of 100LL gasoline.

It was really my fault for not making sure that he was safe and clear of the aircraft, but it make for a better lesson to put part of it back on him for not having the common sense that God gave a goose. He's seen this plane fueled enough times that he should have known better too. Oh well...he got a lesson in eye-washing, free of charge.

Then it was off for our last leg. We flew over the northern Pittsburgh area.
We spotted a place that might do me well as a retirement home.

And we did a fly-over of the Flight 93 Memorial north of Somerset, PA.
Then it was back to my home field, through a building haze that was getting really ridiculous over the last flew mountain ridges, before we settled down and taxied to the tie-down with 5.1 flying hours logged. (Should have been 3.5-4 hours, but it was headwind all the way and we just poked.)

And here's the Spud, learning to tie aircraft knots to secure the plane.
He did good, and he made sure to steer well clear of the fuel tanks this time.


  1. Double checking, didn't we talk about that??? And you swore you wouldn't trust line rats again? Glad y'all are back in one piece, and yeah, he learned a 'valuable' lesson!

    1. It wasn't a line rat that didn't put that oil cap back on right this time. It was me. Sigh.

  2. As my Navy Chief used to say, "Nothin's ever wasted, so long as ya learned somethin'."

  3. Well, I'm just glad you noticed the oil BEFORE you crossed Lake Erie. Don't see no pontoons on your airplane.

  4. The most important lessons are learned through experience.

    The sad thing is sometimes we have to experience them twice!

  5. around this time next year you might find an interesting event going on around Butler, PA. don't know if it's a no-fly, but it might be worth your time to cruise over and see the goings-on from the air.

  6. Anonymous9:47 AM

    Great pictures .The good part of the loose oil cap is no engine damage.