Saturday, July 21, 2007

Co-Pilot Egg and the Tour of the USS Cod

Having used our quota of July weather back in June, we balanced the scales today with a nice, Spring-like flying day. The high was predicted to be in the low-80s or high-70s, the humidity was low, atmospheric pressure was a respectable 30.22", and the winds were forecast to get no stronger than 10 knots throughout the day. Co-pilot Egg was keen for a trip, so we settled on a ride up to Burke-Lakefront, a nicely situated airport within easy walking distance of downtown Cleveland and several varied museums. And, my favorite attraction of them all, the USS Cod. Egg and I had traveled there together in the Tampico a few years ago, but it's been long enough for her that she only dimly remembers it.

My last experience with flying to Burke was very educational with regards to whether it is better to deal with the air traffic controllers that control the 30 mile radius around Cleveland-Hopkins airport, or stay down below the outer rings where they don't have to have anything to do with us. It is, as far as they are concerned, the latter. Forewarned is forearmed, though, so I planned accordingly. The maximum height that I can fly under the outermost ring is 4000', and the next ring in places a somewhat uncomfortable 3000' limit on where I can fly. That's getting kind of close to buildings and such, so I tend to compromise at 3500' out under the first ring where that gives me a 500' buffer from accidentally climbing into the controlled airspace. On the previous trip I also learned that it is just about equidistant to opt for the route around to the north. That takes you out over the lake a little bit, so what with it pretty much being a choice between firing squad or hanging if I were to lose the engine, I opted for the fighting chance I'd have with I-71 over the near certain flip I'd get if I had to ditch in the water.

Here's the route that I planned out:

Note that my plan wasn't to go all the way out to those waypoints to the east. The plan was to turn north towards the airport once I could see on the GPS that I was far enough east to stay under the less restrictive shelves of the Class B airspace, so this is really just an approximation of the route we'd actually fly. It might seem complicated, but it has the benefit of being predictable; I was pretty surprised to have the controllers send me as far out over the lake as they did last time. I also had the advantage of having a co-pilot with me today to handle charts and other cockpit distractions. This sharing of cockpit tasks is taken to a science by airlines and corporate flight departments under the acronym CRM, or Cockpit Resource Management. Now, I personally haven't had such training, but I've read a few magazine articles about it. Unfortunately, not a single one of those articles mentioned what must be the cardinal rule of CRM: do NOT give your co-pilot a copy of the new Harry Potter book!!

The trip up to Burke was nice, but I am convinced that, much in the same way that the girl that cleans the bathrooms at work has a remote indicator of my current bladder status that she consults to ensure that she cleans the facilities always and only when I have pressing need of them, the altitude that I report in the online flight briefing site (DUATs) is directly linked to the height of whatever clouds I will encounter on a trip. If I get briefed for 3500', that's where they'll be. Every time. Today included. I didn't want to go up high on the trip to Burke because I'd get even more of the headwind we'd be fighting as we flew towards the northeast, and because I'd have to get back down under the Class B once I got up there. Of the two, the first was the bigger consideration as I'm already a few knots in default due to my procrastination on reinstalling the wheel pants. At 3000', we were able to duck around some of the clouds, duck under some of them, and with some we actually did both.

Speaking of bladder capacity, I was also once again reminded of Flying Tip #12:

- Drinking and driving don't mix
- Forgetfulness and parachuting don't mix
- And finally, coffee and flying do NOT mix.

'Nuff said on that.

As approached the airport, I called the tower to let them know that we were 8 miles southeast. Very soon thereafter, a Cessna of some type, probably a 172, called in from a position a fews miles to the east of the airport. It looked like we'd both get the pattern at right around the same time, and that's what happened. We ended up about 500 feet apart just at the point where we'd be slotted into the traffic pattern around the airport, in this case left traffic to runway six Left, with him at my 3:00 high and me at his 9:00 low. With him being a high wing and me in a low wing, that was actually preferable to the alternative of the altitudes being reversed. Had he been below me, I wouldn't have been able to see him with the wing being in the way, and he wouldn't be able to see me above him since he too would have a wing obstruction. Having somewhat recently flown within just a few feet of another airplane, albeit deliberately and in a controlled, briefed flight, I wasn't all that bothered by being that close to him. The tower, recognizing that my plane was the faster and lower of the two, cleared me in ahead of the Cessna.

Egg took some nice pictures as we came in, having long since abandoned Mr. Potter and his ongoing travails due to the bumpiness of the ride. As we turned left base to runway six left, the tower asked me to side-step and land on six right. That let him clear the other plane to a landing on six left. It also put me closer to the parking area, which is always nice. There's a turn off towards the ramp just a little bit down the runway, but the 8 knot headwind down the runway helped keep our ground speed down low enough to get Papa slowed down in time to make it. I wonder how many other planes made that turn-off today; I'm betting on few to none. It says a lot about the design of an airplane to be able to fly comfortably at 200 mph, yet be able to land so precisely and with so little runway, most of it good. It does imply that it doesn't have a good glide range, though, which is something to consider. I like to try my hand at the controls of a -9 someday so I could compare. I could see buying a well-equipped 9(A) someday, but I'd like to try one on first.

Here's some video of Brandon's landing. You can see the first turn off just after his touchdown:

The tower controller told me to just go over an park next to the C-130, which I had no trouble picking out from the other, smaller planes on the ramp. It was sitting in a fenced off area where a collection of other military planes were apparently having some kind of fly-in. As I pulled into a spot at the end of a row of GA planes, an airshow marshal came over and made signals for me to follow him. He walked us over to a wide gate they had set up in the fence, apparently thinking that Papa, Egg and I were part of the show. A second marshal came out with a handheld radio and signaled me to change to 122.5 on the radio. He asked if I was there as a static display, or if I was the one that would need to get in and out as I gave rides. "Well, neither actually. We just want to park and go downtown."

I was pretty sure I didn't belong here, but... they seemed so sure that they wanted me here.

Well, that cost us our sweetheart parking spot, and we were sent packing back to the city ramp. After walking the extra distance back to the terminal to pay the $5.00 landing fee, the clerk at the desk waived the charge, saying that he had already recorded me as an airshow plane and there was no sense in changing it. Fine by me!

As we walked over to the USS Cod, we got our first hint that something was going on at the lakefront today:

Heh, I really don't know how you afford to not have an airplane. I parked for free!

The Cod is only a short walk from the terminal, and as I had insisted that we get an early start, we were almost the only people touring it. That's important because it is very, very cramped in a submarine. I can't imagine how 50-some guys lived in those things for weeks on end. Here are a series of pictures of our tour. I have tons more, being a sucker for brass knobs, wheels, levers, etc., and all of the gauges and dials associated with them. I might post a slideshow later, if there's any interest.

The above was the officer's china. The enlisted folks' dinnerware was somewhat more pedestrian functional:

The Captain was essentially always on duty, so he had constant access to heading and depth data.

Egg driving the boat...

but she's not sure where she's driving it to.

I don't know what these levers do, but I want some. They just look important.

I wasn't sure what she was aiming the big gun at...

This is what Egg aimed the big gun at. Seems safe enough, especially considering that she would have missed.

After touring through the sub, we headed back to Papa to drop off an unneeded sweatshirt and a couple of souvenirs from the Cod. We met our flying buddies Brandon, Laura, and Kaden, who had flown up for a visit to the science museum. Having seen the traffic headed that way before, Egg and I opted to cross the bridge over the railroad tracks and have a walkabout downtown. It's been decades since I visited downtown Cleveland, so I didn't remember anything about it. It turns out to be a nice downtown for a walkabout, if only because of the artistic guitar sculptures randomly distributed throughout the downtown area, presumably as a testament to Cleveland's close ties with Rock & Roll. When she's of a mind to, Egg can be induced to pose nicely, as you can see in this collection of guitar pictures:

This one was my favorite.

And they had pigs too!

Personally, what with me being an old fuddy-duddy, I preferred these guys:

Sadly, Egg's not always in the mood to give me a nice pose. That's ok with random things like this:

because if you're patient, you can still get things like this:

But now and then, you may have a specific idea for a picture, such as my idea to take a picture of Egg standing next to Patty Wagstaff's flying suit exhibited in the Women's Museum of Flight and try to have Patty autograph it when she's here in Columbus for the P-51 fly-in. So in those cases, you really want a nice picture, but you get this:

Grrr, she's going to pay for that. I'm going to do exactly what I had hoped to do with that picture, which is to get Patty to autograph hit. That'll learn her!

We had a very nice walk, but both of us were getting tired and hungry. We found a Subway and had a quick bite, then headed back to the airport to begin the trip home. Egg posed next to Papa just before we mounted up:

Egg has photo duties while the Chief Pilot is busy flying:

The tower cleared us out to six left for a departure to the south, and off we went. Egg took another great picture (it really is the camera after all; who knew??) of downtown as we climbed by on our way to 3500'.

I wanted 4500 to get a faster, smoother ride, but as usual, the clouds had beat me there. No problem, really, as it was only bumpy every now and then. We made good time back and were parked back in front of the hangar with only 50 minutes on the elapsed timer. It was an hour plus ten to get up there, so the wind definitely made a difference. We left a little after 9:30 in the morning and were back by 2:30 in the afternoon, and spent just about $70 in gas. Honestly, I don't know why more people don't do this!


  1. What wonderful writing and pictures. You captured Clevelnad beautifully. I really enjoyed your prospective. If I wasnt so afraid of flying I would love to see Cleveland, my home, from the air. Thank you for sharing. By the way, a slide show would be great. Marie

    P.S. Erika's poses were great!

  2. Great blog! I happen to be the pilot of the Cessna that shared the approach into Burke that day. I was part of a fly-in with Brandon and other pilots. What a day for flying and visiting the lakefront! That is one zippy RV you have in Pappa Golf, and a great kid named Egg.

    I'll keep reading!