Now, before you get going, I titled this “little” due to the fact that distance wise; this was a pretty darn small trip in relation to the normal TR’s you read here. While it was a short distance, I’m hoping to come close to Mendis’ epic TR when it comes to humor and depth of detail. I hope you enjoy.
So in my mad quest (inspired by the wife) to relocate the family from the greater MCO area to a location where we can afford a house and probably get a decent job; I had to go to TN87 (just outside of KTYS) on a one day hop to look at potential houses.
The mission goals were as follows:
1) Get up there and back safely
2) Get up there and back in time for my wife to go to her night job
3) View a few potential properties and take lots of pictures because the wife had to stay home with the kids.
I wanted to take a commercial flight or even an LCC, but the commercial flight would cost $900, and the LCC’s don’t ‘do’ weekends (unless you count getting dropped off on a Thursday and picked up on a Tuesday).
The only option I had was the mercy of a stranger. THANKFULLY a.net is chock full of strangers willing to help so I started the thread: Anyone Doing MCO To Ktys And Back This Weekend? (by TedTAce Mar 1 2007 in Non Aviation)
Fortunately the first and only person to respond with a genuine offer was A.net’s only member who can wear a beret and make it look cool: MIR!
Mir and I had met at a Shuttle launch so we knew each other in person, though thankfully it was a night launch so he didn’t get the full scope of just how horrifically ugly I was, and thus was willing to spend at least 8 hours in a 172P with me. Little did he know how big a mistake it was or how much use he’d get out of the ‘comfort bags’.
MIR and another student at ERAU (Sam) agreed to fly me up. After spending a few days discussing it in IM we had the following plan:
Get up way to damn early, meet at the FBO @ 0500, wheels up by 0530, fly to Georgia and get gas, fly to TN87 (hopefully get there by 10 AM), spend a couple hours there, fly to GA for more gas, get to DAB by 5:PM.
A Flight using MS FS and the similar 172SP (instead of 172P we’d actually fly) made this seem feasible. 4 hours up, 4 back, build in an hour for fuel stop, Even if the winds made us go long one direction it’d be compensated by being quicker on the other side.
The Main Event:
0330 Came and I woke up to the alarm. After I had stayed up until 2330 the previous night; I was ready to kill someone for caffeine. I go to the dish washer to pull out my favorite mug, and it’s cracked…. It’s a great way to start the day.
I get my stuff together, and review my mental checklist and am somewhat disappointed that there are going to be no TSA screeners involved. The idea (ripped off from Mendis) of including an adult toy in my stash is going to have to wait. But I got my I-pod, my camera (and all my lenses), a warm coat, ID, credit card, and cash. What else could I possibly need for a day trip?
I get to DAB and as it’s only 0430 plenty of time to find the FBO and make the 0500 show. So I head over to the KrispyKreme (the fresh light was out damn it) and picked up a dozen of last night’s glazed, 3 cups of coffee a ton of cream and sugar. On the way out I pass a guy who looked homeless, but was polite enough not to beg as I entered or exited. Figuring I needed all the good karma I could buy; I gave the man a $1 and the coins from my change. I should have given him a $20.
So after about 10 minutes of driving around trying to find Aussie Air, I find it nestled in a storage facility with all the lights out. A few minutes later I was joined by MIR, and Sam. Sam (who I had met before@ the launch as well) was the only person interested in the spare coffee, but Mir did enjoy a doughnut or two. I had at least 3. A few minutes after 0500 the guy working the early shift for Aussie Air showed up and helped us get checked out. He was personable enough so I left the sole spare coffee and 5 glazed in his care.
Our plane for the day was going to be N63425; a 1982 C-172P. This plane has had a relatively un-eventful life especially if you forget that it was used to smuggle illegal’s in a dirty bomb plot and in a separate incident; been forced to land hard in a field adjacent to an airport because the pilot had forgotten the carb heat on decent.
By the time we got out to the Aircraft though it was about 0520 and if I had never read an accident report in my life I would have been chomping at the bit. Preflighting takes long enough, but when you have two guys doing it in the dark (sounds like something Westy would like to have a part of) it seems to take forever. Then the first setback: The tanks were not full/topped off like they were supposed to be. Oh joy. We had plenty enough to make it to the cheaper 100LL self serve @ OMN. So we take off @ about 0545 from DAB enroute to OMN.
KOMN: Ormond Beach Municipal Airport : Ormond Beach, Fl.
Sam was the PIC on this extremely short leg and much to my amazement I was in the right seat with MIR in the back (I thought I was going to be in the back the whole trip). I think we climbed up to all of 2500, when we started to work the pattern @ OMN. We came in a touch close and a bit high. Sam did a reasonable job of arresting the decent, but he did put the plane down a touch on the firm side.
We got to self serve, and grounded the A/C and started to try to fill the tanks. While Sam and MIR were going through troubleshooting why the gas wasn’t pumping: I started to scout a spot to let the coffee from earlier be free. Then I heard Sam triumphantly declare that he had found the ‘on’ switch and it should be working.
Now if I had known what was going to happen next, and I had a clue on how to ‘capture the moment’ I would have caught what would have CERTAINLY been my first accepted A.net shot of a Cessna 172 with a beautiful light cascading over it and AvGas catcing the light as it was spraying all over the wing and MIR in a magnificent display of “I don’t think this is going to work” (At least he wasn’t pointing the nozzle at himself/face).
A few moments after the laughter from all subsided; MIR went to filling the tanks, and I ‘hid’ behind a little shed and did what I had to do.
We got back into the plane Sam in the left seat, MIR in the back, and I up front in the right.
MIR in the back seat WITHOUT HIS BERET!!!
The Dave Matthews look alike Sam:
0625 Wheels up from OMN enroute to 19A Jackson County Airport: Jefferson, Ga.
We make a nominal departure and start to track our VFR flight path up towards JAX. The sun starts to rise but is obscured by frontal clouds. I got a few tolerable pictures of the NAS, but as everyone knows it’s P-3 central, there was nothing OMG worthy.
So in all this we discover that we are tracking a MISERABLE 70 odd knots. Indicating that if I could drive directly in my car in the same manner, I would beat the plane like a redheaded stepchild. Our ETA is updated to somewhere around 1PM to TN87 Ugh and I told the realtor to be there @ 1030AM.
We start to head up through Georgia and that’s when the REAL fun began. As it was getting pretty cold, SAM decided to turn on the cabin heat. In MOST airplanes this is a non event, and at first it seemed to be the case here. Nice warm air started to flow, the CO2 sensor kept its color and all was well.
So we are cruising along and about 20 minutes later one of the controllers tells us he’s got our squawk code, but no Mode C. Oh joy. I know that it brings restrictions so I bring the subject up, to thankfully find out that the only ‘real’ problem is getting back into DAB as it’s airspace requires Mode C. So we continue and all is going ok when Sam’s bladder starts to complain about holding two cups of coffee.
At the point in time his bladder starts to act up, so do the comm. radios. We’d have to turn them off and on, transmit, power cycle, listen to callback, transmit, then power cycle for ack. It was bothersome. So given the problem of Sam’s bladder and the radios acting up, we decided to divert to KMLJ. It’s just North of Macon, which is about the ½ way point so it will be a good fuel stop.
1030 KMLJ Baldwin County Airport; Milledgeville, GA
As we almost crash descend from 6,500 we make an ugly pattern entry almost going over the damn, crossing over the islands, then our final high approach. This time; the descent is arrested too early and the stall warning starts to go off.
Say hello to my plant; Robert.
Anyone know a good chiropractor?
They say any landing you can walk away from is a good one.
Given that we were still able to taxi and the dash was not lying on our knees, it was a GREAT landing!!
We taxied into the only FBO and requested to be topped off. From the Gentleman who had greeted us on the advisory channel. It was windy and cold so we headed inside.
Now the Milledgeville Airport appears to be a GREAT place for the local gentry who want to dodge Church duty. There were at least 6 men (maybe a woman) sitting around and talking in a manner that screams the good old POLITE south, yet was strangely modern given the facilities relatively new aura. It was the kind of crowd I’d die to hang out with on a Sunday if I could afford to live there and if they wouldn’t beat me senseless for my liberal big city ways.
Shortly after everyone caught up with the bathroom, the nice guy who had filled our tanks let us know there was a car free to use to go out and get something to eat. As I had called my realtor to let him know we were running very late and the arrival time weather was still showing possible icing conditions, we decided to go out for a bite to eat.
N63425 Getting Gas @ KMLJL
The car was a former police Crown Vic that Superfly would have LOVED. It drove like a boat, and had a very touchy gas pedal. We made our way to the local Quiznos where I insisted on treating and they insisted on not protesting…. AT ALL. Sorry I couldn’t afford Ruby Tuesdays. We all eat and headed back to the airplane which was dutifully waiting exactly where we had left it.
For this next leg MIR was going to be in the left seat and as the plane was in Sam’s name he had to be in the right, leaving the back seat to me, which is where I honestly expected to be for the whole flight. Now I’m not one to complain about things, especially when I’m getting custom service for the relative pittance I was paying; BUT the windows in the back were DISGUSTING. There was so much schmutz on the windows, that if it were ice we would have been the first people to dye from icing on the windows!! I can read the NTSB accident report now. We took off for TN87 @ about 1205.
KMLJ to TN87
The ride up was almost totally un-eventful as we kept the cabin heat off. It was cold for sure, but that heavy warm jacket was a life saver in the back seat. This was because the window latch on the pax side was loose enough that it allowed enough of the 4 degree C air in to blow dry Dolly Parton’s hair in record time if only it was hot.
Hummm another interesting way to ‘go’: Icing on a PAX’s head!!
A Damn Dam!!
The one point of interest was when Atlanta center asked us if we were ‘orbiting’ while we were climbing from 6,500 to 8,500. As I looked down, sure enough; a drunken snail could have been traversing the ground below faster and with less effort then we were. Thank goodness we actually started to move forward a bit before we leveled out.
1530 TN87 Montvale Airpark; Marysville, TN. (Greater Knoxville, TN.)
Now I had picked out TN87 for a few reasons, not the least of which is that it is walking distance from the first property I wanted to see. With help from my Realtor I had secured permission to land from the Airpark’s manager: Andy. Andy is about one of the nicest and most down to earth guys I have met; especially for someone who looks like they might only be a year or two out of college. He gave us the authorization to land and the big bonus: no landing fee!!! Aww the joys of landing @ no cost.
Finding the airpark from the south was like shooting fish in a barrel and we made a nice decent and I even got a few Arial shots of the property in question as we had to over fly it 2 times because we had to over fly the park once before landing.
MIR made a very nice landing from the North which was interesting as it was downhill from the direction and you had to skirt over some trees. We parked the plane and I got out to my realtor who was patiently waiting.
While I was out looking at houses, they decided to head up to KDKX. Maybe Mir will make a mini TR for that in this thread.
While I was @ the second house I was looking at; I saw the boys flying up to KDKX and got a few lousy pictures.
I made it back to TN87 LONG before they did and got some shots while waiting with my realtor.
It was really nice to see this RJ as low as it was, while the property sucked, thinking of having RJ’s fly overhead consistently was heartwarming.
The boys finally made it back from KDKX, and here are the pics. Sam was flying, and I should have known to follow the whole landing with the camera. As soon as I turned away, they landed on the ground and the tires started to screech!! By the time I got the camera anywhere near the plane the smoke had dissipated, and there was nothing to see but the Andy on the runway.
N63425 Over the Threshold:
After some laughs about that and a quip from Andy about who was going to pay for the skid marks, we got on our way.
TN87 - 19A
This departure was a bit more exciting then the others as we were almost immediately confronted by a bit of hill. While it was obvious we would make the hill it was obvious that the smallest problem in gaining altitude would become a very big one quick. Once we cleared that hill the next problem was the ridge to the ESE and once again while we got it with a bit of room to spare it wasn’t easy. Then Sam started following a chain of lakes that were the wrong lakes and ended up putting us about 20 miles east of our intended track, this was not a tragedy as we were able to easily compensate for it by bypassing some other intended landmarks. Of course the irony was we got to the 19A area and we were west of the field by about 5 miles. My excuse (besides PNF) was I didn’t have a sectional on my lap. The heat stayed off, the radios stayed on and Mode C was fine.
19A Jefferson City Jackson County Airport
Once again we came in VERY high, but honestly I like this kind of approach, something about never having too much altitude. This time it looked like Sam was going to get a greaser even with a direct crosswind. Then all of a sudden, there was a gust that took us up about 6-10 feet. Now if it was me, I would have gone around to try getting a slick one, but Sam hung in there and managed to put it down nice and easy. Literal “attaboys” and pats on the back to Sam!!!
So we taxied to the self serve, and this time was a LOT less traumatic getting gas in the plane though Sam did spill a bit on the wing. The sun was getting ready to set, but there was another 172 in the pattern and I got a couple of ok photos of it. We loaded up with MIR as PIC and Sam in the right seat, taxied and took of no biggie. Time off About 1750 (when I wanted to be home)
19A - DAB
This was a mostly un-eventful leg, Navigation was seamless as MIR had planned it IFR and executed it under VFR.. It got cold as hell after the sunset so we finally relented and decided to try the heat. Radios were fine and mode C was still with us so we proceeded. Things were fine until we got just outside of JAX. Then Mode C died and the Radios started to act up. We dumped the cabin heat and after about 20 minutes the radios were working perfectly and Mode C was intermittent. All the controllers worked with us and got us into DAB ok. On the Ground @ 2130
The setting sun over Georgia:
Downtown Jax @ night
This TR is dedicated to Mir(David), Sam, and Dan. The 3 of you made March 4th 2007 one of the best days of my life!! Thank you all for your patience and dedication!!
[Edited 2007-03-06 03:49:26]