Rocky Mountain College student pilot Donne Rossow and I had known each other about two hours before we (voluntarily) found ourselves shoulder to shoulder in the fuselage, which creaked and crackled every time we moved and had a door that refused to latch shut. We didn’t talk much because we were trying to stay warm and sleep—conditions that aren’t really conducive to girl talk—but it sure was nice to have another person with me. We were participating in the Surratt Winter Survival Clinic in Marion, Mont.
While I was trying to get to sleep, I kept thinking about the frosted metal structure against my left side and feet (all of the seats had been removed from the aircraft) and the words of wisdom “Mike” shared on my previous blog post, “Don’t take shelter in the airplane, it’s too large a space to heat.” I also contemplated what aircraft I would rather crash in, based solely on the physical comfort it would provide as a shelter. I chose a very specific one: AOPA’s Sweepstakes Cessna 182 that we gave away in September. I picked it for a very specific reason, too: padding and insulation. The Cessna 182 had a tremendous amount of padding and insulation to help with noise reduction. In my state of mind that night, I reasoned that it would be a little warmer too. (Or, I could have thought about it because it was work related and work was the reason I was sleeping in the frozen fuselage.)
I actually didn’t get too cold, thanks to several layers of clothes and my mummy sleeping bag, but I was glad when morning came. It didn’t take Donne or me long to pack our stuff and head to the bunk house to meet the other 30-plus participants (who slept indoors) and instructors for breakfast. My thoughts on the night echo Donne’s description, “cold…and I really hope I never have to sleep in one again. At least we’re going to know what to expect [if it happens for real]—a poor, cold night’s sleep.”
The second night, I slept in a survival hut that fellow pilot Mary Lemons and I made from tarps, rope, and pine branches. We built it near the aircraft because I knew that if my shelter didn’t work, I could survive in the fuselage. Physically, I was warmer and much more comfortable than I was in the fuselage, but mentally I was more stressed. I was alone; my only “friends” close beside me were my machete and a fire that I built. Even though the instructors and other participants were camping in huts 50 yards away, I felt like I was the only soul for miles. My shelter perfectly protected me from the howling wind and snow (who knew tiny flakes could sound like grains of sand hitting a tarp?), but I couldn’t sleep. To occupy my mind, I recorded a video blog on my camera, prayed, and thought about an interview that I did last year with aerobatic pilot Sean Tucker. He’s so optimistic and enthusiastic and, believe me, I needed some of both!
After 10 hours in my hut, I decided it was time to be “rescued” (if only it could work that way in real aircraft accident situations). I trudged back to the bunk house in the dark to be pleasantly surprised that I was just in time for 7 a.m. breakfast—I had survived the entire night!
I learned several things about myself those two nights outdoors. I need to keep my mind occupied; I need to have my back or side against a solid structure for security (either the cold fuselage or the pine branches on the side of my survival hut); I don’t like to be alone; but most importantly, I CAN SURVIVE. I have the will, and thanks to the clinic, now I have basic survival knowledge.
I’ll be sharing more about the survival clinic in upcoming stories on AOPA Online and in AOPA Pilot, so stay tuned!
Icing was a worry. The overcast wasn’t forecast to break up until after I hoped to be gone. I’d had to add a stop at Fayetteville, 90 miles beyond my original destination, so I wanted to be on my way. Ceilings were above 3,000 feet, so there was room to escape if clouds started sticking to the airplane.
Most of my time with Flight Service was spent discussing weather, but I did get a notams briefing. Good thing, too: Runway 6 / 24 at Person County, my second stop, was closed for paving and painting.
Whoops! Person County has exactly one runway. Landing on the taxiway might be frowned on, so a quick phone call was in order. We picked another field; then I called to amend my flight plans.
The clouds proved blessedly ice-free. They lasted just long enough to put a couple more tenths in the “Actual Instrument” column. Skies were clear before I reached the Virginia-North Carolina border.
Fayetteville was using Runway 4. The tower cleared me to land, adding “Winds are from three-three-zero at one-five gusting two-two.” Hello! It’s been a while since I landed in a real crosswind. It wasn’t pretty, but at least nothing broke.
Being more loyal than smart, I buy fuel at every stop. This turned out to be a good thing, because at the next airport nobody answered my unicom calls. The rescuers met me with the second dog.
“We heard you on the radio, but didn’t know how to answer. There’s nobody here!” Sure enough, the FBO’s doors were open, but there was no sign of the staff. That meant no fuel–this field doesn’t offer self-service. Not good: The next leg was the longest, and winds would be 45 knots right on my nose. The route across West Virginia to Ohio crosses some awfully lonely country.
I launched with the four and a half hours’ supply I had left, planning to divert if the GPS-estimated flight time didn’t settle below 3:30 within the first two hours. It didn’t begin well. The wind produced mountain waves; at one point, pitched up at Vy approaching Roanoke, groundspeed dropped to 44 knots. But the waves dissipated as we reached the mountains and groundspeed inched up from 85 knots to 105 farther northwest. We landed in Columbus with 3:22 on the clock and an hour and a half’s worth of gas.
It was dark by the time I finished taking pictures and waved good-bye. The flight home was graced with a 30-knot tailwind. Mist gathering in mountain valleys looked like moonlight reflected from distant rivers.
Only when I tried to squeeze those 8.5 hours into two lines of my logbook did I realize that in one day, I’d seen a pretty good selection of the challenges we face in GA. I hadn’t suffered a mechanical failure or flown an instrument approach. But I had dealt with an airport closure, icing risk in IMC, three tricky crosswind landings, turbulence, mountain waves, brutal headwinds, loss of a planned fuel stop with the uncomfortably close planning that required, and solo single-engine flight over the mountains at night.
Not to mention live animals. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Tell us about your memorable flights in the “Comments” section!
For the second straight week, I’d had to tunnel into 40-knot headwinds all the way across West Virginia. In a 180-hp Piper Arrow, that slows things down considerably; the groundspeed readout on my GPS only occasionally showed triple digits. But heading east, it boosted us to 175 knots. The 320-nm leg from Yeager Field in Charleston to the Queen City Airport outside Allentown, Pa., actually went seven minutes faster than the 210-nm outbound leg from Frederick, Maryland, and the pups reached their foster homes by dinnertime.
I made my first rescue flight in January 2009. Not long afterwards I began using a column in my logbook to track the number of dogs I’d hauled. This latest pack brought the total to 151. Without a doubt, it’s the most rewarding flying I’ve done. I’ve landed at airports I’d never have had any other reason to visit, flown on gusty, bumpy days when it would have been easy to be lazy and stay home, and put those hard-won instrument and crosswind landing skills to practical use. I have met some of the most selfless, generous, hard-working people on the planet–people who will not let themselves be discouraged by an endless stream of unwanted animals and county shelters that can’t afford to help them. Best of all, I have pictures of 151 dogs (and counting) and the satisfaction of having given them a little help getting home.
Maybe dogs aren’t your thing. No problem! Opportunities for public-benefit flying are everywhere. Whether it’s transporting human patients on Angel Flights, training to do search-and-rescue with the CAP, carrying out environmental surveys, or giving demo flights at your airport’s open house, there’s no end of ways your airmanship can help make things better for someone else. Look around, and you’ll find plenty of reasons to fly–enough to deserve a separate column in your logbook.
If aviating for others has changed your attitude, tell us more in the “Comments” section. We’d love to hear about the worries as well as the rewards … not to mention any really good flying stories.
David Jack Kenny is the statistician for the Air Safety Institute.
Apple released iOS 5.0.1 a few days ago that apparently fixes the delete issue. According to ForeFlight, some app development may also be required, and they are working on that now. For more, check out the company’s blog. If you’ve updated to iOS 5.0.1 and are using a different aviation application, let us know in the comments section how it is working.
iPad and other Apple device users should take note of a rather odd quirk that can occur after updating the operating system to iOS5. According to multiple application developers, the operating system could delete data, including charts and approach plates, if certain conditions are present.
Essentially the device senses the memory is full, or almost full, and will delete previously saved data if new data is brought in. So, the operating system will now favor new data, instead of rejecting it to preserve old data. For those running ForeFlight, WingX, or any of the other large multipurpose apps, you could lose charting data by bringing in any other additional pieces of data. What’s worse, the device will do this with only a minor indication of what’s happening. A small message that says, “Cleaning” will appear under any app that is currently losing data.
To keep this from happening, simply make sure you have extra space on the device. Most of the multipurpose charting apps run around 7 GB, while Jeppesen’s charting app is around 1 GB. The problem comes from having either multiple aviation apps, or having the device loaded with other big programs.
This issue brings to light an important consideration in using the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch for aviation. Make sure to preflight the apps. After you have downloaded the data you want to use on the flight, disable Wifi and 3G, and open your app. Then scroll through the charts and airport data to make sure you have everything you need. This way you’ll know that what you have actually resides on the device, and that you’re not just streaming it off Wifi. Also, each app should have a list of downloaded charts. Check the list for an additional source of confirmation.
Let us know in the comments section if you’ve experienced this problem, or if you have any iOS5 reviews.
My first flight in a tailwheel airplane was in a new Super Cub at the Piper factory with then AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Richard Collins way back in 1988. The mission was a photo shoot for the magazine. I still see those photos around occasionally and laugh because Collins and I were both wearing neckties, which was standard office attire in those days. But in a Cub…..in Florida! What were we thinking.
At that time, brash Stuart Millar had just taken over Piper Aircraft from its previous owners, an investment company. Millar had made great public statements about his plans to revitalize general aviation, lower prices, fight product liability and turn around the general aviation world. He quickly failed in all of the above, but he certainly got his share of media attention, especially when the company went bankrupt.
One of his most lasting contributions, however, was to restart the Super Cub production line after many years of dormancy. Super Cubs continued to dwindle out of the factory for numerous years before stopping once again in 1994.
Now you can own a piece of that history as what is claimed to be the very last Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub produced is up for sale by owner Allen Pomianek. Based in Santa Monica, California, the airplane is absolutely stock, right down to the tires installed at the factory. The pristine airplane has only 550 hours on it since 1994. Pomianek is asking $175,000 for N41594. Interested? You can reach him at: email@example.com.
That’s considerably higher than what Vref says a “normal” Super Cub of the era should be worth, even accounting for this one’s low time, but it will forever be the newest Super Cub. Having just canceled the Altaire jet and seemingly focused on its higher-end piston and turboprop products, Piper doesn’t seem likely to restart the Super Cub line anytime soon, if ever.
Don’t think you can swing that on your own, check out the new AOPA Partnership Program to help you find partners to help you afford this one of a kind airplane.
It seems as if most pilots have at least a little time in the ubiquitous Cub. What’s your favorite Cub memory?
IFR conditions on Saturday kept the small number of VFR pilots who made it to South Carolina from participating in the airlift. But the IFR pilots stepped up and loaded their airplanes with more than 100 dogs. One of these was a spectacular polished Piper Lance based at Lakeland, Fla., whose tail is emblazed with the words Puppy Express.
With that many paws on the ground, you’d think there would be a cacophony of barking and a lot of messes to be mopped up. But from my perspective, the volunteers seemed to have their four-footed charges well in hand.
Pilots and helpers played a game of Tetris (thanks, Alyssa Miller, for giving me that image) as they loaded dogs–some in crates, some not–into baggage areas, back seats, and passenger laps. (In case you’re wondering, these pilots do prepare for accidents by laying down plastic sheets and tarps.) Doug Manual, who flew a Cessna 182 down from Leesburg Airport, told me he carried seven dogs: two in a crate, four in the cargo compartment, and one who rode in his wife Tammy’s lap. Mike Young, who coordinated the pilots flying from Florence to Warrenton, was the last pilot out on Saturday. He ended up “only” carrying four dogs in his Lancair. He usually takes more.
There were tears shed as foster “parents” turned over their dogs to the pilots. The fosters craned their heads and took photos as the airplanes lifted off and disappeared into the 500-foot ceiling. One foster mom of Chihuahuas and Yorkies told me she was sending six dogs to new homes–she’ll still have 16 to care for.
Pilots don’t need an excuse to fly, but a mission–whether you’re in search of the perfect $100 hamburger, or you’re introducing someone new to the excitement of flying, or you’d like to make a difference in an animal’s life–is always a great thing to have.
My article on finding and buying a Piper Cherokee 140 brought me a nice tide of letters from our members. I expectedto hear from the Piper crowd, and I did, all of whom welcomed me to the fold. I got an invite to join next year’s Cherokees 2 Osh event. Flying my own airplane into AirVenture is definitely on my to-do list, so that’s an intriguing notion!
Mark Walker of Phoenix, Ariz., kindly sent a photo of this beautiful robin’s-egg-blue Ercoupe that he bought with a friend after years of wanting an airplane. ”We fly every weekend, weather permitting, and love every minute.” That sounds like an ideal situation to me–an airplane and a good buddy to fly places with. A super-cool footnote: Mark’s Ercoupe was the one Jessica Cox used to become the world’s first armless sport pilot.
Probably most exciting were letters from people who said my story has prompted them to take another look at ownership and the possibilities that exist with purchasing an older airplane. For those of you who still want or need something newer and faster–or if you’re not financially able to purchase an entire airplane–please don’t forget AOPA’s Aircraft Partnership Program. It’s free to register if you are looking for a partnership, and costs $10 per aircraft per month to list a share. And owners: I’m hearing through the grapevine that there are lots of people out there who are interested in buying shares but not as many folks who’ve listed their airplanes. So what are you waiting for, and why are you letting that airplane sit idle if somebody could be helping you to split the costs and fly it?
At home, outside, the crystal-clear blue sky was silent. No airplane noise. No contrails. No nothing.
How unusual is that? Here’s how the airspace shakes out above Frederick, Maryland: At the lowest altitudes are the Robinson R22s from our local helicopter school. They’re almost always flying, and frequently get far enough west of the airport to overfly our house. Above them is the fixed-wing traffic going to and from Frederick Municipal Airport. Next are the airliners heading south to Dulles; and a couple of thousand feet higher, eastbounds for Baltimore-Washington International. Higher still are the contrails of flights making their way up and down the East Coast.
Of course, they all were grounded that night. The only airplane noise came when the fighters flying combat air patrols above Washington, D.C., occasionally strayed in our direction.
Today, 10 years later, all the normal traffic was present and accounted for–although we did hear fighter jets, just once or twice. I much prefer the airplane noise, thank you very much.