Monday, June 30, 2014

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Today was my last day of work at VMRD. I have mixed feelings at this point. I have worked there full-time for the last eight years, and part time since the late 90s. Of course it is also my family's business. It has been an awesome place to work, and I am very grateful for my time there. I am leaving a lot of good friends and good people. I guess the best description would be that I'm wistful. On the other hand I'm extremely excited about our future. It is a tremendous opportunity to be able to serve God and at the same time to do something I love. There will be a lot of work and it will not always be easy, but it is what I am meant to do. 
Tomorrow we will begin a new chapter in the life of this family. The first order of business is to get moved to Portland. Karen has been doing an awesome job getting things ready for the move over the past few months. Now I will be able to help her with the move preparation full-time. Since I need a job when we get there, I will also be pushing very hard in the next few weeks toward getting my CFI. We would appreciate prayers for strength, wisdom and safety over the next few weeks as we move.
Meanwhile, this little cutie is being cute:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The last leg of the delivery and back home

The airplane delivery is complete and the buyers are happy with their purchase.  So ends 16 1/2 hours of me flying and 8 hours of travel on United Airlines over four days.  Again, I appreciate everyone praying for a safe and successful trip.
The Route from the morning of Friday, June 13

What it looks like inside a cloud.  Kinda white.
This is called IMC.
Friday morning I was off by 9, and since the weather looked sketchy beginning in New York, I decided to divide the final leg to Boston into two sections, deviating from my original plan to make one leap from Traverse City, MI to Boston.  The stop in Pen Yan, New York allowed me to take a look at the weather, rest a little, and refuel.  As it turned out, this stop was an excellent decision, which I'll talk about later. The route from Michigan to New York took me over a military operations area over Lake Huron. As it happened, this was an active area at that time, so ATC asked me to descend to 5000 feet and to deviate from my planned route somewhat, which left me in a layer of rather bumpy clouds for some time.  

Lake Huron
Eventually they allowed me to climb to my planned altitude of 7000 feet, and resume a direct route to Pen Yan. I had a nice view of Lake Huron at one point, and spent some time over Canada, talking to Canadian ATC (they're just as nice as US ATC people!).  Other than deviating a little for some small rainstorms near Buffalo, it was smooth sailing and I made a visual landing in Pen Yan, where I took on fuel. 

This is Canada
After about an hour at Pen Yan I was off again, on the final leg to Boston.  Originally I had wanted to go to Norwood Airport, which is where the buyers are based, but because of low clouds in Boston, I filed a flight plan to the Bedford, MA airport, which has a precision approach procedure (ILS) for low weather conditions.  If I had not been a hurry I would have read the notice that the ILS system at Bedford was out of service.  But I didn't find that out until later when I checked the weather at Bedford while en route. At that point I amended my plan back to the desired airport, Norwood. The only problem is that there is no precision approach at Norwood so you can't get as low.  But before I get to that let me tell you about the thunderstorms.  
The Route from the afternoon of Friday, June 13
Because they are full of nasty things like downdrafts, updrafts, turbulence, hail and lightning, thunderstorms (the yellow and red areas of the radar on the map) kill airplanes of all sizes.  No one flies through them, not even jumbo jets (so next time your flight is delayed because of them, don't get mad at the airline or the crew; they can't do anything about it).  Fortunately, most of the time you can just go around thunderstorms. ATC has pretty good weather radar that allows them to tell me which way to turn to avoid the thunderstorms, and the storm clouds are also pretty visible when you're near them.  Actually they are beautiful too. In any case, I got to thread my way through a group of storms in New York and began the approach to Boston.  

Thunderstorms over NY - Dangerous Beauty
Finally on the Ground in Manchester
As I mentioned earlier, as I approached Boston, I amended my destination to Norwood, and ATC cleared me to descend and begin my approach.  Unfortunately, the approach procedure did not allow me to get below the clouds and see the runway at Norwood.  However, that is not the end of the world; it's just a setback. You have to do what is called "execute the missed approach."  The approach is dead; it's time to start another.  So I climbed the airplane away from Norwood and asked ATC for a precision approach into another airport.  They gave me an approach into Lawrence, MA, but again, I was not able to see the runway. This is when the I realized that the decision to take on fuel in New York had been a good one!  Because of that fuel stop, I still had 2 hours of fuel left, so it never became a concern.  Once again, I asked for a precision approach, into a different airport, and to an airport that had better weather.  ATC obliged, and I made a precision approach (ILS) into Manchester airport in New Hampshire.  This time, I broke out of the clouds, the runway appeared, and I landed.  

By this time, it was late afternoon.  Since I was over 60 miles north of them, the buyers and I agreed that I would stay overnight in Manchester and fly the airplane to Norwood on Saturday morning when the weather cleared.  Just after noon on Saturday, I landed in Norwood.  After meeting the buyers, we all went for a ride in the airplane.  Then they took me to Boston Logan Airport, where I took a flight home. Karen picked me up in Spokane and we drove back to Pullman. 

Proud New Owners
It was a really great experience and enjoyable trip overall. I gained an enhanced appreciation for the great job that ATC does every day for so many aircraft.  It's really a good system that keeps people safe. Above all, I'm grateful for the Lord's guidance and protection.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

24 Hours Into the Delivery

Here is an update on the first 24 hours of the airplane delivery. So far things have gone quite well. I'm all in once piece and I've been having a good time.  Thank you all for your prayers.  2/3 of the way there!
The Route from Wednesday, June 11
I took off on Wednesday a little later than intended because of the need to wait on a part that had been ordered and needed to be put on the plane before leaving.  That got finished about 2 pm and I got off about 2:45 pm.  After a nice flight across Idaho and Montana, I arrived in beautiful Hazen, ND (KHZE), where I spent the night in the FBO.  They had a couch, a bathroom, a microwave and a coffee maker.  What more do you need?  I'm not sure there was a hotel or motel in the town anyway. One thing that wasn't needed but was cool was a huge scale model of an SR-71 blackbird that was used for wind tunnel testing by Lockheed when that aircraft was developed.  
 Beautiful Mountains of Montana (near Lincoln, MT) 
Cumulus Clouds East of Great Falls, MT.  A view like this is one of the privileges of being a pilot.
The Pilot
The model SR-71

Sunset in Hazen, ND
Thursday morning, I was off by 6:40 am.  It was gorgeous flying, without worry about the icing levels and the high terrain of the Rockies from yesterday.  
The Route from Thursday, June 12

So many lakes in ND!
I made good time across the rest of North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin because of a tailwind, and actually exceeded 200 mph ground speed for a while.  After landing and refueling at Cherry Capital Airport (KTVC) in Traverse City, Michigan, a check of the weather along the route toward Boston led me to call it a night and get a hotel. You don't mess with thunderstorms.  

Another one of those pilot views - a layer of clouds below you that stretches for miles.  Because of this layer I saw very little of Minnesota and Wisconsin
What it looks like when you're going to fly into the side of a cloud (the lines are my propeller tricking my camera)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Airplane Delivery to Boston

Well, the time has come to deliver my airplane to its new owners.  I'm planning to leave tomorrow at around noon and hope to arrive by Thursday evening. We'll finish the transaction on Friday and I'll fly back on a airline flight either Friday or Saturday.

Picture of N6720N HIO
My airplane at Hillsboro Airport a few weeks ago.

I have mixed emotions about selling the plane.  It's a sad moment for me; after more than 250 flight hours in the airplane, it's a well known friend, plus I will miss the freedom of going to the airport and jumping in my airplane whenever I feel like it.  On the other hand, it will be nice not to have to pay for the costs of keeping it anymore. Also on the plus side, I'm excited about the delivery flight.  It's a big challenge to go up against all the weather and distance so I've been putting a lot of thought and planning into the flight.

For you nerdy pilot types, the route will be as follows: KPUW, MSO, GTF, KHZE, KTVC, YYZ, KOWD.  In English that's: Take off from Pullman Aiport, pass over the Missoula VOR, pass over the Great Falls VOR, Land and take on fuel at Mercer County Regional in Hazen ND, Land and take on fuel at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, MI, pass over the Toronto VOR, and finally land at Norwood Memorial Airport in Boston.

If any of you want to follow along my flight on Flight Aware, you can right here.  I will most likely be flying IFR which means you should be able to see my whole route (and it will probably be in three sections). Weather (especially thunderstorms) may change the actual route from what I planned above.

I'd appreciate everyone's prayers for a safe and uneventful trip.  Thanks!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

We Are Moving to Portland!

We have had serious progress toward our missionary aviation goals in 2014.  We can report answers to prayer for a variety of matters, including the sale of our house, sale of the airplane and finding a place to live in Portland. 

Our house sale closed last month, and after two trips to Portland we have found an apartment that is within walking distance of school.  We are planning to move sometime between July 1 and July 15.  If all goes as planned (I get to the front of the waiting list for the school), I will be starting AMT school in the fall semester in September. That will leave us this summer to get settled and to get jobs.  I also have also sold my airplane, and will be delivering it to the buyers in Boston this week. 

I am working on becoming a certified flight instructor (CFI), which involves a lot of work and preparation. I'm seeking this certification for several reasons. First, it will enable me to have an employment opportunity while in AMT school.  Second, if I do get a job as a CFI, I will remain current and gain experience in my flying abilities, which will be helpful later as I begin to fly as a missionary. Third, it will make me a better pilot to have to teach; there is no learning experience like teaching. 

I want to take this opportunity to thank so many of you who have given encouragement and well wishes as we have told you our objectives and goals. Obviously this is a time of significant change in life and lifestyle for Karen and me, which can seem overwhelming sometimes.  Thus we are grateful to have prayers and encouragement.    

We would appreciate your prayers for:
  • The final details of our apartment falling into place
  • A safe trip to Boston to deliver my airplane
  • Success and speed in obtaining my CFI certificate
  • A safe and easy move to Portland
  • Finding a good church in Portland
  • Good part time employment in Portland
  • Guidance on place of service
  • Guidance on choosing a mission agency

As we ask for your prayers, if you have a matter you want us to pray about, please let us know and we will pray.  Galatians 6:2 says: "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."