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


  1. What a great story! Although I played a very insignificant part, I was part of the team that helped to get Ranger to his forever home, with Pilots and Paws' wonderful assistance. I live in Memphis and walked Ranger while he was being boarded. I met Becky and Neil the day Ranger left Memphis, off to spend the night at the Cohen's home. He took my heart with him, so needless to say, when I saw the video, my eyes well up with tears! How can we thank you enough for all you did for this puppy?

  2. It takes everyone's help for a successful rescue. I was simply a passenger (Mike did all the flying) so I made sure to at least do something useful and document our part of the journey via photos and video. Glad you enjoyed the post! :)

  3. Good video and pictures! Always fun helping transport the critters. Thanks for sharing the write up and getting the word out.

  4. Thank you for bringing some happy tears to my eyes today! The rescue world can be so difficult at times that it is nice to see these types of stories and the goodness that is still left in people! Thank you pilots for flying our sweet four leggers and thank you Steve for documenting Ranger's journey to a new and better life!!!

  5. Great job on all counts as usual Steve. Enjoyed the virtual trip. :-)

    On a different note, what do you think of the Kodak PlaySport Zx3 I'm thinking of buying for a purse/beachbag/sailing gadget for my wife's birthday?