Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Hello, Cleveland!"

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
18 June 2016 N21481 SDC (Sodus, NY) - BKL (Cleveland, OH) - SDC 4.5 1556.6

During a cool -- but rapidly warming -- June dawn, five aircraft launched from the Williamson-Sodus Airport bound for Cleveland, OH.

Why Cleveland?

First, the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland is one of the rare remaining downtown airports, interposed between the concrete and steel canyons of the city and the waters of Lake Erie. It is an aviation gem and a worthy destination unto itself.

Second, the Cleveland waterfront hosts a number of interesting attractions, including among others, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the U.S.S. Cod, a World War II era submarine.

Partially inspired by my trip there last summer, the Williamson Flying Club scheduled a group fly-out trip to Burke Lakefront Airport. The day developed into a perfect one for flying with calm winds and a clear sky owing to a dome of high pressure situated over the eastern Great Lakes.

Dave flew right seat with me in Warrior 481. Dave is a Private Pilot and currently training for his instrument rating. He has been kind enough to lend both his eyes and his time to me as safety pilot on a few occasions when I wanted to practice instrument approaches.

When we arrived at the departure end of the runway, Mike was already in the process of running-up Eight Five X-Ray. Dan, our event organizer, was not far behind in his Mooney.

Warrior 481 was the first ship in the air, cleared direct on an instrument flight plan at 6,000 feet. As we transited the Rochester area, ForeFlight depicted Mike in Eight Five X-Ray 500 feet higher and roughly four miles behind. Dan, in his Mooney, was at 8,500 feet and eleven miles in trail. Over time, we gained on Eight Five X-Ray, but we watched the nondescript avatar for Dan's Mooney overtake and pass above us to arrive first in Cleveland. Just before we were switched to Buffalo Approach, we heard Mike, the club instructor, check in from Six Echo Sierra with his family. Farther along, we heard One Delta Tango arrive on frequency as well, flown by the club's newest Private Pilot treating his father to a unique Father's Day Weekend adventure.

"Warrior 481, descend to 3,000 feet and expect the visual approach to runway two four right," instructed Cleveland Approach.

Once we reached our new altitude, we were instructed to fly a heading of 270°. After turning to that heading, Cleveland Approach said, "Warrior 481, fly present heading and intercept the localizer."

Uh-oh. Having been instructed to expect a visual approach, I did not anticipate needing to have the approach procedure and its associated frequencies available. There was a moment of scrambling in the cockpit. Dave went to work on his iPad while I dove into the Garmin 430. Each of us found the localizer frequency simultaneously, though my method popped the frequency into place on the Nav 1 radio without my needing to dial it in manually. We intercepted the beam crisply and, once established, I was able to call up the ILS approach procedure and fly it as required to a landing on runway two four right.

As I did on my prior visit, I shunned the high fees at Signature and parked on the public ramp. For those interested in visiting, the city charges all non-based landing aircraft a fee of $7 that will arrive by mail. As of June 2016, a Cherokee parking at Signature will be assessed a $45 facility fee (waived if 7+ gallons of fuel are purchased at $6.98/gal) and a $5 handling/security fee on top of  the city's $7 fee. Overnight parking at Signature is $20, though none of us stayed the night. Tower can provide information on where to park; avoid tie-downs with ropes as these belong to the flight school.

This was Dave's first trip outside of New York by General Aviation. He seemed pleased by the experience.

The crews of the first four aircraft to arrive took a group photo before heading over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

For the record, I started off holding the guitar correctly, but Dave did not like having the neck in his face and tried to convince me that I would be emulating Hendrix if I held it this way.

The infamous teacher from Pink Floyd's, The Wall.

The Hall of Fame was not my primary interest on this trip because I was just there last year. But we managed a group discount and it was an opportunity to see things I missed the first time around.

One thing that made a significant impression on me this time was how many of the exhibits were video-based. Indeed, while Rock and Roll may be about the music, its story is told very effectively through video: video of Elvis, video of television preachers and Tipper Gore decrying the depravity of rock music, video of iconic performances, video of respected artists recounting the influence of their idols.

One video that I particularly enjoyed was Jimi Hendrix's interview with Dick Cavett following his iconic performance of the National Anthem at Woodstock.

"This man was in the 101st Airborne, so when you write your nasty letters in..." Cavett said.

"Nasty letters?" interrupted Hendrix, puzzled.

"Well, when you talk about the National Anthem and playing it in an unorthodox way, you immediately get a guaranteed percentage of hate mail, people will say 'how dare he'..."

"It's not unorthodox..." Hendrix responded with gentle amazement. "I thought it was beautiful."


Standing near the top of the glass and steel pyramid looking down at the lower tiers.

A prop aircraft from one of Pink Floyd's tours.

When we had seen our fill of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Dave and I made our way to the U.S.S. Cod.

The Cod was constructed by Electric Boat in Groton, CT and launched March 21, 1943. She fought against the Japanese in the South Pacific. The submarine was powered by massive banks of lead acid batteries in her belly that were recharged by diesel engines (built in Cleveland by General Motors, appropriately enough).

Over the course of her tour of duty, the Cod's crew increased from 77 to 97 personnel, all living and working aboard a ship 312 feet long and 27 feet wide.

Flags on the side of the conning tower represent Japanese merchant ships (red suns on white fields) and warships (rising suns with rays) sunk. Hollow suns indicate damaged ships. The tri-colored flags are of Thailand (allied with Japan), the ship silhouette represents a tally of Japanese junks sunk, and the martini glass celebrates the Cod's rescue of the crew of Dutch submarine O-19.

The teak wood planking of the top deck served as a working surface suspended above the tubular submarine hull by a superstructure. To access the submarine interior, Dave and I climbed through a hatch in the top deck, past/through the superstructure supporting the upper deck (above), and through a hatch into the submarine proper (below).

These photos were taken in the forward torpedo room. There are a total of six torpedo tubes at the front of the ship as well as several crew bunks.

Submarines are a study in the optimization of limited space. The walls everywhere are festooned with conduit, valves, and gauges.

Hatches present dexterity challenges throughout the ship, but fortunately, neither Dave nor I were in a hurry and we didn't leave any flesh from our shins on the thresholds.

The control room was directly below the conning tower where a ladder led up to a higher level chamber containing the periscope.

I was puzzled by this chart at first because I did not recognize the geography. Then I realized that sailors would not be interested in inland features; the detailed portion of the chart depicted underwater regions rather than land. Once I accomplished the necessary mental juxtaposition, I recognized what I was looking at for what it was: a nautical chart of Lake Erie.

Peering into this cramped radio room, the first thought that came to mind was of the heat generated by all the vacuum tubes in this equipment.

The Galley. I will never complain about the size of our kitchen at home ever again.

The After Battery Compartment (the batteries were in a chamber below deck) was the most spacious area on board. This is where the crew would have eaten, watched movies, and played games - though, obviously, not all of them at once. There was even an ice cream machine.

Because of the crowding of equipment and utilities throughout, it was easy to become overwhelmed. This is just one of the little details that caught my eye.

One of four diesel engines that powered the ship's lead acid batteries.

Another detail that caught my eye, note the grips on these two handles.

Given the scarcity in space, I was impressed that there was room on board for a lathe. This set me to wondering - how many on-the-fly repairs were necessary to justify carrying this machinery?

These are the controls for the electric propellers providing thrust for the ship.

The aft torpedo room contained four tubes and a ladder back to the outside world.

"Hey, Mister! Watch where you're pointing that thing!"

Dave and I were the last to return to New York. We had a great flight and visit to Cleveland. While I enjoyed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was the U.S.S. Cod that really captured my enthusiasm. It was a wonderful day of flying and learning histories in two very different genres.


  1. Great pictures, as always.

    Another place to add to our bucket list. Mary and I would love to check out the R&R HOF and the of course the ships. Somehow I don't think I'm making it through any of those hatch openings. ;)

    1. Not gonna lie, Gary - those hatches were made for teenagers!