Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rescuing four more paws with pilot friend Mike

Plane: Cessna 172
Weather: Haze, few clouds, 89 degrees, wind 210 degrees at 15 knots

My friend Mike sent me a message late last week to see if I'd be interested in riding along with him on a Pilots N Paws rescue flight this morning. Having flown with him on a similar rescue flight in February, I said I'd love to tag along again. That last flight was a ton of fun and it's always a great mission to be able to help the dogs find a better home.

Today we were headed to Bowling Green, KY to pick up Ranger, a Malinois or Malinois Mix. He had been living in a kill shelter in the Memphis area and is headed to a rehabilitation facility in Upstate NY. We'd meet a pilot there who was transporting him on the first leg of his multi-stop journey. Mike and I would be bringing him back to Dayton, where Mike will foster him overnight, then tomorrow he'll fly Ranger to Morgantown, WV. Another pilot will then pick Ranger up in Morgantown and fly him the rest of the way to NY.

We flew nearly 450 miles round-trip, mostly over Kentucky

I set the enroute video from today's flight to 3x speed - let me know what you think

It was already over 70 degrees when I met Mike at Wright Brothers... summer has clearly arrived! There was a strong wind out of the south that decreased slightly with altitude so, in climbing high to minimize the headwind, at least we'd get some relief in the air. Everything was quickly loaded and we took off around 9:10 am.

Passing over the AK Steel works in Middletown

Mike climbed up to 8,500 feet while getting flight following from Dayton Approach. A direct route would take us almost directly over top Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Int'l Airport (CVG) and through their Bravo airspace. However, Cincinnati Approach directed us slightly west of the airport to remain clear of their arrival traffic. Still, going though the Bravo resulted in a much shorter (and cooler) flight than if we'd flown under and around their airspace.

Aside from the headwind, the flight down was smooth and scenic. We crossed the Ohio River, passed by Louisville, and flew over Fort Knox. I always enjoy the landscape once you get into Kentucky and the rolling hills start to dominate the view. Due to our course, we were essentially on a 25 mile straight-in final as we began our descent into Bowling Green. There was no traffic in the pattern so Mike was able to make a straight-in approach, landing gently and rolling out to the midpoint where we turned off and taxied to the ramp.

Downtown Louisville through the summer haze

Louisville Int'l Airport / Standiford Field - home of UPS

Flying over part of Fort Knox

Godman AAF and Fort Knox

Nolin River Lake, still high from all the rain we've had this spring

Neil and his wife, who were carrying Ranger up from Memphis, had landed a few minutes before in their Mooney. We met them out in front of the FBO and chatted for probably 15 minutes. Ranger was pretty calm, no doubt helped at least in part by the small tranquilizer he was given this morning. He was happy when we gave him some treats and otherwise was content chewing on his blue toy. When it was time to go, we said our goodbyes and Mike lifted Ranger into the 172's back seat and buckled his harness into the seat belt. He quickly stretched out across the seat and remained in that position until after takeoff.

Welcome to Bowling Green, Kentucky!

Saying hello to our new friendly canine, Ranger

Every dog loves a treat!

Pilots chatting before we departed from Bowling Green

Neil preflighting his Mooney

Mike leading Ranger over to the 172

This was the easiest way to get Ranger into the airplane

Buckling in for the flight to Dayton

Just before we were ready to depart a flight of nine Navions entered the pattern. I believe they were members of the Navion Society, as they have a fly-in listed on their website. They arrived in formation and all flew an overhead break to landing. Fun to watch and they all were on the ground rather quickly and efficiently. Following Neil in his Mooney, we departed once they had all cleared the runway. Mike leveled off at 3,500 (to take advantage of a big tailwind) and we again got on flight following.

Watching the flight of Navions land before we departed from BWG

Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport

A bunch of Navions parked on the tarmac at BWG

While the tailwind was awesome (our groundspeed was around 155 knots for a while) the air was quite bumpy down low. The summer heat will do that, of course. After one really good pocket that nearly caused us to hit our heads on the ceiling, Mike had enough and climbed up to 5,500 feet. The air was almost totally smooth up there and was also comfortably cool. Ranger was a great passenger, curling up and remaining asleep in spite of the bumps.

Relaxing in the back of the 172

East Bend Generating Station along the Ohio River in Kentucky

He curled up and slept like this for at least half the flight home

Cincinnati again vectored us slightly west of the airport but we had a nice view as we passed by. Mike began descending shortly after passing over Hamilton / Butler County Regional Airport. With only a slight deviation to the east, we were in position for a 45 degree entry into the pattern for landing Runway 20 at Wright Brothers. The wind was gusting straight down the runway and we landed pretty smoothly - there's always a little thermal and some bumps on short final thanks to the trees on the east side of the airport.

CVG - you can just barely see downtown Cincinnati through the haze

Another shot of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Int'l Airport

Trader's World in Monroe, OH

Dayton Christian School - in the middle of a big demolition project

Flying over my neighborhood on final at MGY

Ranger happily playing after we landed at Wright Brothers

This whole dog rescue thing was again lots of fun. You get to meet other great people and it's a nice, charitable excuse to fly in lieu of another $100 hamburger. Hopefully I am able to find the time and money to volunteer as a pilot myself in the near future! If you'd like to learn more about volunteering for Pilots N Paws or to make a donation, check out their website.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File

Friday, May 20, 2011

Three years later

Plane: Cub, 85 hp
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees, wind 330 degrees at 5 knots

This is my favorite personal tradition. Back in 2008, on my birthday, I flew at Stewart for the very first time in Cub N98286. Every year since, I've flown (as a certificated pilot!) the exact same airplane up on my birthday. Gina and I both took today off work and enjoyed a beautiful morning flight off the very green grass in the venerable J-3.

Prior Years: 2008 | 2009 | 2010

As I recap each and every year, in the past 365 days I have:
Considering the record-breaking amount of rain we've had so far this spring, I'm quite lucky that the weather gods cooperated today. Only a few white puffy things were floating in the sky when we arrived at the airport. Gina helped me pull the Cub out of the hangar and I pre-flighted, then taxied over to the fuel pump to top off the tank. The grass is amazingly green and lush (see weather comment above) and made for a rather graceful takeoff into the crisp spring air.

Enjoying ourselves in the J-3 like usual

Takeoff from Runway 26

Turning crosswind after takeoff

Flying over US-42 while departing the pattern

Some of the farmland is still flooded...

I climbed up to 5,500 feet over Caesars Creek Lake with the intention of having a little toilet paper fun. Unfortunately, we had a TP malfunction - it didn't unroll properly so there was no streamer to cut. It was quite cold up there so I elected to use a steep spiral to quickly lose 2,000 feet and get down into warmer air. Then we just flew around for a little while, screwing around and having fun - steep turns, pushing on the stick for a little weightlessness, etc.

Up high above the haze layer

Some of the fun we had in the Cub this morning

After that, I descended and followed the shoreline of the lake for a few minutes. The water has certainly receded from when Rob and I went flying last month but there are still signs of the flooding. The beach is clearly stained brown where it was underwater and some areas of the park are still closed off. You could see the water rushing out the dam's spillway, which the Corps of Engineers must have finally opened now that the intense rainfall has subsided.

Flying near Caesar Creek Lake

Water being released at Caesar Creek Dam

Looks like quite the nice house down there...

I headed back to the airport, keeping my eyes to the sky while entering the very busy pattern. Emerson was up in the Stearman, practicing his aerobatic routine for an evaluator to renew his ICAS card for the coming airshow season. There were also two Champs up practicing takeoffs and landings. Every airplane NORDO, of course. A pretty standard day at Stewart but I'm sure it might scare off some unfamiliar pilots!

Emerson doing acro in the Stearman as we approached Stewart

In usual fashion, I wanted to log three takeoffs and landings today. The first landing was good but I didn't fly the most stabilized approach; I was staying out of the Stearman's way while Emerson flew some of his routine over the airport. The second was better but I still hit a little bump on the runway and lifted a few feet back into the air before settling down on the grass. My final time around I did a simulated engine-out approach and used a healthy forward slip on short final over the house and power lines. Touchdown was again smooth but I still caught that darn bump.

Downwind leg in the pattern

Your happy pilot for the (birth)day

There's no better way to spend a birthday in my book...

Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Total Time: 188.5 hours

Sunday, May 15, 2011

USAF Museum Series: Part 12

I thought it would be best to separate these photos from the ones I posted the other day. Yes, they're all from the same visit to the Restoration Hangars at the USAF Museum. However, these two aircraft are so special that I believe they deserve their own post.

The Swoose is the only B-17D remaining in existence. It flew in the Pacific theatre during WWII and provided personal transport for General George Brett. The museum acquired it in a swap with the Air & Space Museum a few years ago and will send them their current B-17G "Shoo Shoo Baby" when the Swoose's restoration is complete.

Do I even need to explain the significance of the other B-17 under restoration, the Memphis Belle? It's easily one of the most famous airplanes in aviation history. You've probably seen the movie and know the aircraft's history. It flew 25 combat missions over Europe with the 91st Bomb Group during WWII. Needless to say, it was incredible to stand next to this historic aircraft, to look inside, and to see the restoration in progress.

Replica gas caps being fabricated for the B-17s

Faded artwork on The Swoose

Replica lamp housings for the B-17 cockpits

The Memphis Belle

Names carved into the Belle's fuselage from when she was parked outside in TN

The Belle's wings

Wing root and engine mount

A collection of Wright R-1820 engines

Looking into the Belle through the open nose

The infamous Norden Bomb Sight

Lots of restoration remains but I can't wait until she's on display!

As always, just a reminder that you can access any of the posts in this series by clicking on the USAF Museum tag in the navigation bar to the right or at the bottom of the posts.