May 7 - Taking Care of Business: When you live in the FL Keys, leg 1 of any trip
is little more than getting off the islands, stopping to top off with fuel and preparing for leg 2. This trip is no different.
As Vern says: I am "blowing through town" in Fort yers and taking care of a little other business while I am here.
Then it is off to the first "Let's Fly Now! event in Jackson, TN. Stay tuned.
May 10 - Here we wait: So much for "blowing through town". Mother Nature decided that the event
in Jackson did not need to happen this weekend. WIth the weather, I was unable to launch as planned so I am remaining in Fort
Myers before heading out to Spencer on Monday. Even here we had severe rains yesterday and hail! Looks like Wild Mama
still has that leak from Mena. Wet carpet again! Ugh!!!
May 15 - Fun times in Tennessee
This first part of the trip has been so far so good. I left out of Fort Myers on the 13th, filing for an 8 am departure. The
more I stared at the weather, however, the more I became uneasy with the storms building out in the Gulf
and the more I doubted my ability to get past them with an 8 am departure. So I amended the flight plane and launched early,
picking up my clearance at 7:10 am. All went well through Tampa when the storms started blowing up. I was vectored to a clear
path along the coast and remained there through Cross City. As I looked back at the radar behind me, it was as though my wake
turbulance made the storms blow up. I had squeaked by narrowly and it was clear sailing ahead.
remained in and out of the clouds through my fuel stop at Western Georgia and on through Sparta. I wanted the RNAV approach
into Upper Cumberland but the controller said: "Airport 1 o'clock and 15 miles, they are landing VFR." In my language
that meant go pound salt - no approach. I cancelled and flew the approach anyway for practice.
hit the ground running with meetings with the contractor doing work on my cabin and a host of other things. I had wanted
to do some flightseeing with a special passenger but today was not the day and I arranged for that flight to happen on Tuesday.
The weather conditions were not optimal for a Monday flight and after over 4 hours in the air Wild Mama needed a break.
brought a beautiful day for flying and with my duties behind me I could concnetrate on my special passengers. Logan will be
flying with me for the 3rd time. He first flew with me at the age of 4 with his dad; then again in Roxie when I stopped briefly
in Sparta evecuating for the hurricane and now again in Wild Mama. He brought hs friend, Mason, a first time ever, ever, ever
flyer. Mason was a bit nervous but handled his nerves quite well. We were not off the ground 2 minutes when Mason proclaimed:
"this is awesome!". I knew he would be OK. We circled Cummins Falls, Center Hill Lake, Rock Island Falls and Fall
Creek Falls and passed by the cabins in the hour long flight. Logan is all about airplanes and I think Mason might be leaning
in that direction as well now, too.
Today brought rain and light duty for me. There was rain in
the forecast so I got Wild Mama in the hangar as that pesky leak seems to be still present. I kicked back for some WINGs credits
so I can work on my Advanced 4 and Master 4 WINGS for this year. HOPEFULLY, June will be available for glider training so
I can finish the flight portion of the program. Tomorrow I launch out for Pensacola and the first of my 99s meetings.
16th - Red Light!: It was a beautiful CAVU type of day: the kind we dream of. I got to fly today which
was even better. I departed realtively early from KSRB but I was not in such a hurry as there was a few passing low clouds,
which is normal for the are in the early morning hours. By 8 am CAVU prevailed and I launched for a rather uneventful flight
for the first nearly 2 hours. Suddenly, there was this little red light that I could not recall seeing before along with a
"flag on the play". The flag was the AI. It was still erect but the little red light was telling me that the vacuum
pump failed. Hmmm.... this is really a non-event on a day like today but could be an issue if I were in IMC. I still had 80
nm to go to Pensacola so I sat back and watched the AI slowly tumble.
As I neared Pensacola I decided
to check and see if the stand-by system was still functioning. I reduced power to the placarded levels and pulled the stand-by
handle and all was immediately well with the universe. I came in for a landing like a normal airplane and set off to get the
pump replaced as I knew that I would most likely face some IMC on the trip to Maryland and Canada and back.
was wonderful. They had a mechanic readily available. He was able to install a new pump off the shelp in record time. I was
even happy with the invoice - VERY reasonable for emergency service in a strange city at an International Airport.
the airplane secure, it was time for a weekend full of my 99s sisters. Most of the group was off on another excursion that
I opted out of so I helped with registration and hung out for the day.
May 17th - Pensacola
Naval Air Museum and Air Academy
: All I can say is OMG - what an amazing Muaeum. This happens to be my
favorite AND I saw my favorite exhibit about the Treasures from Lake Michigan about training the carrier pilots. They have
a Dauntless dive bomber that was recovered and restored. Again, my favorite. We also had the opportunity to tour the Air Academy
- a week long air carrier experience for youth 12-18. The youth are immerced in the carrier experience learning about aviation
also learning lots about team work and themselves.
We had a short visit with the Museum to
get back to the board meeting and evening activities that included a send off to the out-going Governor, Mae Marquet.
18th - Last day of my SE Section Sisters
: This morning we had our regular Section meeting. Myra Bugbee
and I were surprised with the announced that we were noinated for induction into the Forest of
Friendship. We were both quite honored and humbled. Our new Governor, Ramona Banks and her board were installed. The afternoon
we had some interesting military speakers as this was a tribute to females in the military. One speaker, call sign "Sparkleberry"
was particularly delightful! We finished with a WINGs seminar about flying the panhandle and had a nice evening hosted by
May 19th - Let's Fly Now! .... or maybe not: We
had a Let's Fly Now! event planned for Fairhope today but with threatening weather all of the other pilots opted for the safe
thing to do and flew home early. This left me as the only pilot with Inger and Kim Winner assisting. Kim's plane was in the
shop getting a new engine. Fortunately only 19 of the planned 30 showed up for the event. I got in the plane and flew 7 full
loads, getting the mission accomplished in record time.
The weather was not allowing me to
fly out today but a flight would be easy to do tomorrow. I had notice on the last flight that there was a persistent "drizzle"
that remained on the windshield. Not normal. I checked the airplane carefully after all of the passengers left only to find
(long story short here) that the prop governor and prop were leaking. Thanks to Kim who got to use her expert mechanical skills
to assist in the diagnosis. Wild Mama is grounded. Kim gave me the phone numbers of the maintenance staff at Continental
and we arranged for repairs.
The Continental factory shop was very busy but they managed to get
the prop governor off by Tuesday which allowed me to rent a car and drive back to FL. I delivered the governor to the repair
shop in Auburndale and Continental was going to ship the prop either Wednesday or Thursday to Deland. I got home late Tuesday
The plan was to be in Canada Friday. I was looking at trying to put this trip back together
on a commercial flight and decided against it: too many things had been working against me and my gut said "no go".
... and so ends what was supposed to be a fun two week journey. In the end all was well. My gut
was right: I ended with a horrible cold on Thursday that I am still trying to rid myself of at this point. The governor is
being repairs and we are still waiting for word on the prop. So .... stay tuned for the next adventure whenever Wild Mama
is ready to fly again.