Sunday, July 22, 2007
We started at Moses Lake early and had hoped to be in Claremore by 6 or 7, but we got off to a slow start. I was programming the GPS while the plane was running and dad pulled the mixture. Apparently Joe's plane wouldn't start. Joe took over the controls from Randy and tried again. He tried long enough the battery was getting weak, after waiting for a corporate jet to leave, we got some help and a power cart. With the power cart it still would not start, we took the P leads off the mags and could not get it to start, we took spark plugs out and looked for spark (saw very little), we put our only spare spark plug in and it started. We all thought it was flooded, but the plugs were dry. We never did figure out what was wrong, but it cost us 2 hours. We left there for Gillette, Wyoming.
Gillette was a great big hot box, temp 100 and density altitude of 7600' (the airport is only about 4300'). We fueled up for a direct flight home and Joes plane almost didn't start again. He got it started, while we watched from the ground, then stole my clearance and left us on the ground for 15 minutes. We departed Gillette with a 300fpm climb which only improved slightly until 10,000'. As our flight progressed I realized that my concern of being over gross at a high density altitude and long climb that I didn't have enough fuel to get home (15 gallons reserve is to close for me) and we had to nearly dive on North Platte, NE to land for fuel. After refueling and departure we navigated a few storms and just missed (because our fligh path was just north) of a massive cell over Tulsa. The lightening from this storm made us glad we were almost home. We did not want to come home in the dark but had run out of daylight, as we were about to touch down in Claremore a deer ran in front of us, I had enough altitude that I pulled back anticipating more and floated over two more for a smooth touchdown.
We are happy to be home, we enjoyed our new friends and our adventure to Alaska. THE END!
Friday, July 20, 2007
More daring souls left in the morning and picked up a little ice along the route. We called those and hoped for a pilot report, but by noon we had not heard from anyone. We finally decided to go, got to the curb in front of the cab and then changed our minds. We waited another hour and finally we got a call from one of the "pioneers". The report was realistic, the temperatures had increased so we called "green light".
We departed Ketchikan with a clearance for 9,00, which was right at the freezing level. we were lucky because we were at the end of the line and benefited from everyones report. We spent the next 3.5 hours in and out of the clouds and never got any ice even though the conditions were right. We think the rain was heavy enough to help prevent ice. I thank Herschel for his experience and reports, Joe for telling me that I should make decisions that keep me flying for years and Dad for believing I was capable.
We landed at Moses Lake at about 8:40, the tower asked how many air miles it was from Ketchikan and I replied it was further than I wanted to know but it was 4 hours 34 minutes 55 seconds. FYI it was about 722nm or 830 miles for you groundlings. After we taxied we found the FBO manager had come back to meet us, give us 2 free cars and have made us hotel reservations. Herschel was ahead of us and arranged the hotel to keep the "Prime Rib Buffet" open for us. After a great meal and 2 double crown 'n sevens it is time for bed.
Tomorrow, towards home...
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Our guides took us to an estuary, there we found brackish water and crab pots. You can see me in the above picture pulling up a crab pot. The pot that Ray pulled up had a fresh soft shell crab and its former shell. The soft shell crab was very soft and it is simply amazing how much of the crabs shell is lost. We did not eat any of these crabs, the lodge only catches them for research and releases them immediately.
After returning to the lodge we had an "all you can eat" crab feast. I ate 1.5 crabs and was quite pleased with my dinner. (these are dungeness crabs btw) We did have a crab shell stacking competition that got quite out of hand when we started using other items to enhance our crab stack. We thought we had it "in the bag" when we used a chair on top of our table, but another person stood on the table and won. We also reminded Dad of his birthday one last time.
Tomorrow we all start the trip home. Don't expect your fellow pilots until Saturday or Sunday, we still have a long, long way to go. (I was forced to buy internet to get weather, so you get pictures)
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The weather was perfect coming into Ketchikan, it is a shame it couldn't have been like that the whole way.
Tomorrow a wildlife cruise and all you can eat dungeness crab dinner. Sorry no pics from Ketchikan, I refuse to pay the hotel $16 per day for internet. I paid in Anchorage, they cut me off and everyone received multiple emails.
Those that went with Dale made it to Yakatat for a burger, fries and a drink, the rest of us were stuck waiting for clearance from ATC. After a 560nm flight we landed with Dale and his group just behind us. We did get to see gorgeous scenerey at altitude and as the clouds broke we had wonderful view of the coast.