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Old 12-08-2013
iamflagman's Avatar
iamflagman iamflagman is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Hopkins
Posts: 11,506
Default Know where you're going

With todays technology it is real easy to set our course on our GPS device from point A to point B and just rely on wherever the GPS decides to send me, I personally map out my route using the GPS software from turn to turn and stop to stop and the GPS will still surprise me at times, I'm lucky as in my old business of helping to move some really big oversize loads all over the USA for over 30 years and that has given me something to fall back on, by knowing most of the areas that I choose to travel as I like to use a lot of my old permit routes and try to stay off of the Big Road as much as possible, but it still is important to know basically where you are going. Sometimes the weather conditions can create a big problem for us too, take for instance driving into a snow whiteout condition.

I was talking to a WOG member recently about traveling during bad winter weather conditions and related to a personal experience of moving one of these big loads that was over 16 feet tall from South Carolina to Michigan and while we had cold but otherwise great traveling weather with excellent visibility until we got within 25 miles east of our destination Muskegon, Michigan when it started to flurry which was not creating any problems, I could still see the low hanging tree branches and cable TV cables drooping down across the road, the overpasses and traffic signals were still clearly visible through the flurries, we were getting along just fine moving this load around the low obstacles and then all of a sudden it was like someone dropped a truckload of snow directly on top of us, the lake effect snow whiteout was so bad that even seeing the edge of the pavement was getting difficult I looked for a place to pull off until this weather got better, but I couldn't even see any parking lots big enough for us to get into as you just don't pull a load that is 14 feet wide 16 foot high and 100 foot long over on the shoulder of the road where it would be a great place for someone to run into, luckily after some slow paced tense miles we got to US 31 and the weather got better so we dodged the bullet that time and we got to the construction site, but something was missing, our rear escort, we figured since we couldn't see him back there due to the size of the load and this guy who I had never run with before hardly talked on the radio at all as we had been traveling on just two lane roads ever since we picked him up near Bristol, Indiana and he was back there mostly to meet the Michigan permit requirements anyway, so I waited a while thinking he might have gotten stopped at one of the traffic lights on the way here, but he never showed up, he didn't have phone with him so I couldn't call him either.

Thinking the worst I made some calls to the police and sherrif and found out that he had actually been involved in an accident during the whiteout conditions where a driver had hit him broadside after running through a stop sign that he couldn't see and the escort drive was in the hospital, I met with him at the hospital and he had a broken leg and arm, so that was why he couldn't call us on the radio when it happened. Ever since then I have been a little paranoid about driving in the winter as the road conditions can change in a heartbeat sometimes.

Here is a story that I got from WOG member Ed Nowokunski about the importance of knowing where you are going and while it involves flying the message is a very good one for those of us that like this WOG/RV lifestyle.

Thanks Ed.

The Payoff
Dedicated to Frank Crismon (1903-1990)
by Capt. G. C. Kehmeier (United Airlines, Ret.)
“I ought to make you buy a ticket to ride this airline!" The chief pilot's words were scalding. I had just transferred from San Francisco to Denver. Frank Crismon, my new boss, was giving me a route check between Denver and Salt Lake City.

"Any man who flies for me will know this route," he continued. "'Fourteen thousand feet will clear Kings Peak' is not adequate. You had better know that Kings Peak is exactly 13,498 feet high. Bitter Creek is not 'about 7,000 feet.' It is exactly 7,185 feet, and the identifying code for the beacon is dash dot dash.

"I'm putting you on probation for one month, and then I'll ride with you again. If you want to work for me, you had better start studying!"

Wow! He wasn't kidding! For a month, I pored over sectional charts, auto road maps, Jeppesen approach charts, and topographic quadrangle maps. I learned the elevation and code for every airway beacon between the West Coast and Chicago. I learned the frequencies, runway lengths, and approach procedures for every airport. From city road maps, I plotted the streets that would funnel me to the various runways at each city.

A month later he was on my trip.
"What is the length of the north-south runway at Milford?" "Fifty-one fifty."
"How high is Antelope Island?" "Sixty-seven hundred feet."
"If your radio fails on an Ogden-Salt Lake approach, what should you do?"
"Make a right turn to 290 degrees and climb to 13,000 feet."
"What is the elevation of the Upper Red Butte beacon?" "Seventy-three hundred."
"How high is the Laramie Field?" "Seventy-two fifty."

This lasted for the three hours from Denver to Salt Lake City.

"I'm going to turn you loose on your own. Remember what you have learned. I don't want to ever have to scrape you off some hillside with a book on your lap!"

Twenty years later, I was the Captain on a Boeing 727 from San Francisco to Chicago. We were cruising in the cold, clear air at 37,000 feet.South of Grand Junction a deep low-pressure area fed moist air upslope into Denver, causing snow, low ceilings, and restricted visibility. The forecast for Chicago's O'Hare Field was 200 feet and one-half mile, barely minimums. Over the Utah-Colorado border, the backbone of the continent showed white in the noonday sun. I switched on the intercom and gave the passengers the word.
"We are over Grand Junction at the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers. On our right and a little ahead is the Switzerland of America--the rugged San Juan Mountains. In 14 minutes we will cross the Continental Divide west of Denver. We will arrive O'Hare at 3:30 Chicago time."

Over Glenwood Springs, the generator overheat light came on."Number 2 won't stay on the bus," the engineer advised. He placed the essential power selector to number 3. The power failure light went out for a couple of seconds and then came on again, glowing ominously.

"Smoke is coming out of the main power shield," the engineer yelled.

"Hand me the goggles." The engineer reached behind the observer's seat, unzipped a small container, and handed the copilot and me each a pair of ski goggles. The smoke was getting thick.

I slipped the oxygen mask that is stored above the left side of the pilot's seat over my nose and mouth. "Emergency descent!" I closed the thrust levers. The engines that had been purring quietly like a giant vacuum cleaner since San Francisco spooled down to a quiet rumble. I established a turn to the left and pulled the speed brake lever to extend the flight spoilers.

"Gear down. Advise passengers to fasten seat belts and no smoking." I held the nose forward, and the mountains along the Continental Divide came up rapidly. The smoke was thinning.
"Bring cabin altitude to 14,000 feet," I ordered.

At 14,000 feet over Fraser, we leveled and retracted the gear and speed brakes. The engineer opened the ram air switch and the smoke disappeared. We removed our goggles and masks.

Fuel is vital to the life of a big jet, and electricity is almost as vital. The artificial horizon and other electronic instruments, with which I navigated and made approaches through the clouds, were now so much tin and brass. All I had left was the altimeter, the airspeed, and the magnetic compass--simple instruments that guided airplanes 35 years earlier.

"Advise passengers we are making a Denver stop." "The last Denver weather was 300 feet with visibility one-half mile in heavy snow. Wind was northeast at 15 knots with gusts to 20," the copilot volunteered.

"I know. I heard it." I dropped the nose and we moved over the red sandstone buildings of the University of Colorado. We headed southeast and picked up the Denver-Boulder turnpike.

"We will fly the turnpike to the Broomfield turnoff, then east on Broomfield Road to Colorado Boulevard, then south to 26th Avenue, then east to Runway 8."

The copilot, a San Francisco reserve, gave me a doubtful look. One doesn't scud-run to the end of the runway under a 300-foot ceiling in a big jet.

Coming south on Colorado Boulevard, we were down to 100 feet above the highway. Lose it and I would have to pull up into the clouds and fly the gauges when I had no gauges. Hang onto it and I would get into Stapleton Field. I picked up the golf course and started a turn to the left.

"Gear down and 30 degrees." The copilot moved a lever with a little wheel on it. He placed the flap lever in the 30-degree slot. I shoved the thrust levers forward.

"Don't let me get less than 150 knots. I'm outside." I counted the avenues as they slid underneath. . .30th, 29th, and 28th. I remembered that there was neither a 31st nor a 27th. I picked up 26th. The snow was slanting out of the northeast. The poplar trees and power lines showed starkly through the storm. With electrical power gone, we had no windshield heat. Fortunately, the snow was not sticking.

"Let me know when you see a school on your side and hack my time at five-second intervals from the east side of the school yard."

Ten seconds. "There it is. The yard is full of kids. Starting time now!"

Good boy. Smiley faced Holly. From the east side of the school yard, I counted Kearney, then Krameria, Leydon, Locust. Remember the double lane for Monaco Parkway. Then Magnolia, Niagara, Newport. Time the speed at 130 knots. Only eight blocks to the end of the runway. Oneida, Olive, Pontiac, Poplar. From Quebec to Syracuse, the cross streets disappear; figure eight seconds. Keep 26th Avenue under the right side of the nose.

"Full flaps." Dead ahead, glowing dimly in the swirling snow, were the three green lights marking the east end of Runway 8. We crossed 20 feet above the center green light and touched down in a crab to the left. I aligned the nose to the runway with the right rudder, dropped the nose wheel, popped the speed brakes, and brought in reverse thrust.

It took us 10 minutes to find the terminal in the swirling whiteout. We saw the dim, flashing red light atop the building indicating the field was closed to all traffic.

A mechanic materialized out of the snow carrying two wands. He waved me into the gate.

I set the parking brake. "We have ground power," the engineer advised. "Cut the engines."

The bagpipe skirl of sound spiraled down to silence.
"My hat is off to you, skipper. I don't know how you ever found this airport."
"I used to fly for an ornery old chief pilot who made me learn the route," I replied as I hung up my headset and scratched the top of my head where it itched.

Frank Crismon passed away at his home in Denver on 25 Jan 1990.
Editor's note: Professionalism, readiness, and knowledge can never be replaced by all the electronic gadgets in the world. Whether you drive a truck or a C-17, nothing beats knowing your capabilities and those of your machine, and knowing where you are at all times. It's hard to come up with options if you don't know what's going on.

1982 FC35RB
I'm NO EXPERT, but I did stay in the FINN'S INN EXPRESS last night
Visit the WILD HARE RACING website

Last edited by iamflagman; 12-09-2013 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 12-08-2013
Rob Robinson's Avatar
Rob Robinson Rob Robinson is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Victoria
Posts: 4,384

Enjoyed that John. Thank you
Rob Robinson
Victoria, British Columbia
1999 LXi
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Old 12-08-2013
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Rick Rick is offline
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Bellefonte
Posts: 13,226

another pearl Mr Finn.
Rick Shawver
1SG Ret
2000 LX
Vise Grips
Bellefonte, AR
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Old 12-08-2013
bubblerboy64 bubblerboy64 is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Shippensburg Pa
Posts: 6,839

Boy, One of those situation you hope to never be in and glad for a true professional if you have to be. Nice writing as well. Thanks John.

Just pulled into the drive after a long drive home from Phila. Conditions not good and getting worse. '

An appropriate tail for the day.

Another of those situations. As a kid I looked for lousy conditions to drive in or at least never considered the risk. I suspect with years you learn the realities and perhaps as our numbers of day diminish they become more precious.

I am not a good passenger in a car or plane and don't enjoy traveling when I am not in control.

I'll park the BB at first sign of trouble. That's another great thing about the buses. Pull over in Wal Mart and sit it out.

John Heckman
Shippensburg Pa
1987 PT 36
The Bella Mia Sold
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Old 12-08-2013
schamp schamp is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Pine Mountain
Posts: 384

Thanks John.
Spencer Champion
Pine Mountain, Georgia
2004 M380 Was OCBIRD (sold)
1990 PT-40 Blue Thunder
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Old 12-08-2013
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Suska Suska is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Cape Cod, MA
Posts: 805

Thanks for posting this john....I learned the hard way on my trip from MA to GA. I was not prepared enough .... Maps, Gps and a good amount of study is surely needed ! I might still be out there somewhere if it weren't for Crit

1973 31FC
Cape Cod MA
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Old 12-08-2013
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gcyeaw gcyeaw is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ridgewood
Posts: 8,878

And isn't it a shame that that kind of knowledge isn't part of the manditory training and flight prep for all airline pilots
Gardner Yeaw
86 PT-36 Golden Memories
78 FC 33 Happinest (Sold)
Ridgewood, New Jersey
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Old 12-08-2013
oldmansax oldmansax is offline
Black Sheep Division
Join Date: May 2010
Location: delaware
Posts: 1,147

What an outstanding story. More proof electronics are no substitutes for knowledge, information, wisdom and hard copies.

1985 PT36
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Old 12-08-2013
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JD33 JD33 is offline
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Location: Perth, ON
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Great story Mr. Finn, thank you
Jim Doel
Birdless for the first time in many years!
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Old 12-08-2013
Bob Johannesen Bob Johannesen is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Argyle, Texas
Posts: 1,099

Good one, John. I flew helicopters in the Washington DC area and had several scud running (Special VFR for you FAA Inspectors) routes from prominent landmarks such as Potomac Mills Mall sign on I-95 to the south end of the Manassas runway with lots of obstacle clearance.

Always have a Plan B....like John says, the BB gives you all sorts of flexibility......Judy and I stopped at the mall in Jackson TN and saw two movies while waiting for weather to pass over us.

Bob & Judy Johannesen
1991 WLWB "Seldom Blue"
1978 FC "Smell The Roses Now" SOLD...Costa Rica
Argyle, Texas

FMCA #72567, WL #1986, Vintage Birds # 345,
IBA #11205
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