Friday, August 12, 2011

Rescue from Pontiac

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
12 Aug 2011 N21481 PTK (Waterford, MI) - 5G0 (LeRoy, NY) 2.2 975.2

Very quickly, plans fell into place to retrieve Warrior 481 from Oakland County International, where we had abandoned her on August 7 owing to pervasive thunderstorms along the route home.  Two of my fellow Le Roy pilots very enthusiastically volunteered to help: Ed with his Arrow and Darrell with his Skyhawk.  Matt had dismantled his Lancair on August 6 for annual and was unable to help, though this did not stop him from participating in the planning of the rescue mission.  This mostly amounted to him teasing Darrell about being "part girl" for not wanting to fly over Canada without a valid passport.

In the end, Ed and I flew over Canada early Friday afternoon en route to Pontiac.  Along the way, I obtained the ultimate pre-flight briefing by actually flying the route before I had to fly it myself.  Most of the flight was at 6,000 or 8,000 feet.  The Arrow punched through building cumulus, going from visual to instrument conditions and back again rapidly, flying through vast canyons of vapor.  It was my first time in IMC in a light airplane.

Ed settled the Arrow gently on Runway 27 Left at Pontiac and we taxied to the Pontiac Air Center (PAC).  Warrior 481 was waiting there for us, still bundled in her cockpit cover.  My mother was there, having stopped on her way home from work to check on the airplane and unaware that I was en route.  She helped me wrangle the cover off the Warrior.  During preflight, I found that the nose strut had gone flat, but Doug from PAC was able to add some additional nitrogen in between juggling the needs of two private jets and a helicopter that arrived while we were there.  We watched Ed depart in the Arrow while still waiting for the nitrogen charge.

I flew home at 9,500 feet in clear skies with an average ground speed of 125 knots and a true airspeed of 120.  The building cumulus that Ed and I saw flying west had mostly dissipated.  It was a quiet, smooth flight home with my iPod quietly playing symphonic music in the background.  ATC chatter across Ontario, as usual, was minimal.

Back home from the Le Roy airport, I discovered this chalk mural depicting my day's adventure inscribed on the driveway, courtesy of my family.  Out from Pontiac, over the cross-hatched farm country of Ontario, past Niagara falls, and back home at dusk.  I must have made for a curious sight, standing on a step ladder in the middle of my driveway trying to get the whole image in frame.  Talk about low level aerial photography.

I think everyone was glad to have Warrior 481 back home.

Thanks, Ed.  I hope I can repay the favor someday.


  1. I married into a very artistic family. Me? Not so much. :-)

  2. Chris,
    Fr: first time commentor.
    Just wanted to jump in and thank you for the pleasure I've had following you site. Not sure how I first stumbled onto it but it's been great. I live in Portage and just started working on my Private. Took my "Intro" and did t&g's at Haines. Flying a '77 Cherokee, N38240 kept at AZO. Your details of getting your cirtificate are good encouragement. I need lots of that!
    A co-worker (at our plant in 3 Rivers) flys an RV out of HAI.
    More later.
    Thanks again,

  3. Hi Greg - Thanks for writing - it's always a pleasure to hear from someone in Kalamazoo! I think learning to fly out of AZO will serve you well - ATC is quite professional, but also accustomed to interacting with students. The next time you fly into HAI, ask 'em to mow the weeds growing up through the cracks in the pavement, would ya?