Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Flying Bear Visits Sleeping Bear: Returning Home (Day 4)

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
21 Aug 2012 N21481 PTK (Waterford, MI) - 5G0 (Le Roy, NY) 2.4 1079.0

As we ate breakfast in a Clarkston, MI diner, I found the experience of the last few days to be a bit surreal.  Though our trip was nothing more than a long weekend, the amount of activities we packed into a few short days made it seem as though we had been traveling for a week.  Certainly, we fit a lot of little adventures spread across some distance into a very short period of time.  And yet, the vacation was fulfilling and never once felt rushed.

But now it was time to return home. Sadly, there were many more people and places we would have liked to visit. There will always be more trips.

When I briefed the flight and filed the flight plan from Pontiac to Le Roy, there was no adverse weather forecast.  And yet, as we taxied off the Pontiac Air Center ramp to the Bravo runup pad, some dark clouds were forming to the east.  Pontiac tower announced that a severe weather outlook was now available on HIWAS.

We flew under those dark clouds on our way to New York.  While passing through their considerable shadow, we maintained a visual watch on a flight of two A-10s departing Selfridge Air National Guard Base.  They out-climbed us within moments.  We were back in the sunshine before crossing into Canada.

And those dark clouds floating over Oakland County on a day forecast to be free of precipitation?  They hurled torrents of rain down on Pontiac after our departure.  Sometimes, weather avoidance is nothing more than fortuitous timing and dumb luck.

Over Ontario, with Toronto Center, clouds started to build again.  We climbed to 9500 feet and diverted south to avoid those build ups reaching loftier altitudes.

"November 481, are you diverting south to a destination or because of clouds?" queried the controller.

"Clouds," I confirmed.  "On course heading for Warrior 481 is 088."  The center controller thanked me for the additional information and transferred us to Cleveland Center; our diversion had taken us across his sector boundary and into Cleveland's territory.

"Isolate me!  Isolate me!" cried The Bear from the back seat after whatever she was listening to on the iPod was muted in favor of the radio transmission with air traffic control.  Kristy reached over and flipped the audio panel switch to "crew", isolating radio transmissions to the front seat of the airplane.

We passed the worst of the buildups and turned onto a new course that would intersect our original intended track.  Cleveland passed us back to Toronto.  Ping-pong.  We most certainly did not behave like one of those IFR aircraft tracking an airway.

Soon enough, we crossed the Welland Canal and the Niagara River, putting us minutes away from home base.

My daughter and Brown Bear were very pleased to be home.

The Bear waited in Warrior 481 for a "ride" when I pushed the airplane back into the hangar.  Ever the dutiful daughter, she helped me clean off the accumulated bugs and the seagull droppings.

Stepping back to admire the results of our labor, The Bear approvingly commented, "Daddy, it looks like your airplane was JUST painted."

Photo by Kristy

Great trip!  11.4 hours total, four new airports for The Bear, one new airport for me, and lots of fun along the way.

GPS track for Day 4


  1. Very cool trip. Yeah I love going to the Bahamas, but we need to head north someday. Thanks as always for sharing.

  2. Thanks for writing, Geoff. I was sorry to see that flying to Tampa did not work out for you.

  3. Alright, my blog's finally up-to-date so my self-imposed blog-reading injunction has been lifted...

    Sometimes, weather avoidance is nothing more than fortuitous timing and dumb luck.

    Ain't that the truth!

    "Isolate me! Isolate me!"

    Don't know why, but I read that and laughed. Love how well she knows the airplane at her age.

    Great finish to the trip!

    1. The "Isolate me!" bit certainly sounded funny coming from a five year old - it cracked us up, too.

      I would say that, not only is your blog up to date, but that you've been quite prolific!

    2. Yeah, guess I'm gonna have to start flying a bunch to keep up the recent post frequency. I'm outta flights to blog about!

      ...though there are a couple things I've been holding onto for a while that I can use to fill dead space.