I’ll preface this with the fact that has been one of the most miserable and yet adventurous ferry trips I have made yet! I think this one really sums up just what can happen while ferrying an airplane like this across our beautiful country!
My customer this time is also a good friend, Patrick. We’ve been talking over the last few months with him sending me pictures or barnstormers links asking for my opinion. He finally found one that both he and I agreed on that sounded like a good deal and would be a great aircraft for him.
Once the deal was made, I hopped onto a passenger tube and headed west, yet again. I had some miscommunication with a Marine buddy that lives close, and he picked me up at the airport, however, i didn’t realize how far he now lived from the airport the Champ was at, oops. No big deal I think, after all, I am just outside of Denver in Fort Collins, there has to be a hotel close. Wrong again. A quick call to the FBO by the seller, and they let me use their pilots lounge to get a few hours of sleep in for the night, not the most comfortable, but it was inside and climate controlled, that is a pretty big plus in my book! The next morning I give the airplane a good look over and make sure everything looks up to par before i hand over a stack of money to the seller. I start packing the airplane as the seller is filling out the last couple portions of the paperwork, once we are both done we shake hands, and I walk towards the airplane to start taking the Champ back east to Patrick!
I try to keep the first leg of ferry flights pretty close to an hour for a couple of reasons; first, it gives me a real world idea of what to calculate for fuel burn and second, I can feel out the airplane and see what kind, if any quirks it may have. Upon landing at Fort Morgan Municipal, (run by an Ag company) I notice that it can use just a little more up elevator, the local mechanics were more than willing to let me borrow a couple of tools to make the trip that much nicer. The rest of fly went great that day. Clear skies and light winds, only stopped at one airport that didnt have self serve fuel or anybody around, but I plan for that and had enough fuel to make it a bit further.
My next to last stop was at another small un-named ag strip that was open to the public and had fuel. The wind was starting to pick up a bit so I landed on their grass cross runway, that turned out to not be a legit runway after all. However uneventful of a landing, the airplane may have gotten a bit muddy, sorry Patrick! Anyway, topped off and pushed as far east as i could, which was Burlington, Iowa. Met another nice ag pilot whom gave me a ride into town and dropped me off at the Holiday Inn. As it turns out, the fertilizer plants are running full swing this time of year and ALL of the hotels with in 45 miles have been sold out for the last month, and for upcoming month. Good thing I brought a tent and sleeping bag with me.
Walked across the street to McDonald’s to grab some food and wait on a taxi to take me back to the airport. When I taxied in at Burlington I noticed an open hangar with a cub in it, and a truck parked out front. Lucky for me it was still there when i got back! Not too sure what was going on, I left a note on the zipper of my tent, that i set up inside of his hangar, briefly explaining the situation and that I would be glad to move somewhere else if needed. The worked out really well actually, I had a roof over my head, and electricity to charge my phone. No shower, again, but I quit noticing the smell a few hours ago anyway.
Sunday morning is when the trip started to get really fun. I was woken up by thunderstorms that were very close. I disassembled the tent in record time and was packed up and ready to go in 10 minutes. A quick look at the radar showed that I was on the very northern edge of the storms and they were moving mostly east. Nobody came over night to check on the cub, so I put his hangar door down, would hate to see the airplane blown into his truck or worse.
It came down to decision time, the weather, both radar and visually, looked ok to the north so I decided to go for it. Just as my wheels were braking ground, I noticed a few drops of rain on the windscreen, not a lot, but they were there. They quickly went away as I headed north and the weather turned to overcast with good visibility underneath. I made it Illinois Valley Regional Airport and borrowed the crew car to go grab another quick bite in town. Then fueled up and tried to push farther east. I ended up returning to Illinois Valley and waiting a bit, everything south of the Illinois River was fogged in, and as it started to lift it actually got thicker, which made things a bit, interesting at times.
My second attempt I made it Fulton County Indiana where the thunderstorms were starting to be imbedded in the overcast, and I don’t play with those. Patrick was starting to get pretty anxious at this point, it had been thunder storming in Ohio for a couple of hours, and he said something about not sleeping the past couple of nights, I took it personal that he didn’t really trust me to deliver it safely! Which was all in fun of course.
Continuing to practice my Class G airman ship, I pushed on south to Richmond Indiana, where I made a call to my wife, whom was standing next to Patrick, and told her to have Patrick go outside in 30 minutes. Then i text Patrick telling him I was at an airport about an hour and a half away waiting on weather to clear up.
I made sure to approach from my final destination from the north and just a bit high, so that I could keep the power low and do an extended glide in. I had it timed just right and threw in full power for the go-around just as I was coming around the tree’s and surprised Patrick pretty good! Wish someone would have caught that on video, but that’s probably for the better!