Flight Log: Kalamazoo to Treasure Cay and the 2002 Fly-in
By Larry Bowdish
I passed my many times delayed check ride for my IFR ticket on
Tuesday, April 30, and on Wednesday, May 1 we were supposed to leave
Kalamazoo, Michigan for Miami. Our plan was to get there (Miami)
early on Thursday, visit with Ernie Martin and hi family, and see
some of Miami. Unfortunately, we didn't get going until nearly 1
PM on Wednesday. This was our first trip in the Skymaster, the first
time Kathryn (my wife) had flown with me in several weeks, since
I had been concentrating on getting my IFR ticket. It was also the
first time Kathryn had flown with me in weather.
Due to thunderstorms in KY, TN, and GA, I planned to fly pretty
much south, stopping in BWG for fuel, and a break. Just north of
Indianapolis we went hard IFR. We got to BWG and the ATIS ceiling
dropped from 900 to 600 in a few minutes. I elected to not try that
with my wife on board, and we went on to Nashville. We picked up
the ILS for Nashville, popped out of the clouds about 900 AGL. My
wife was tense, but thought it was very impressive that the runway
was straight ahead. We got fuel in the plane and us, filed for Montgomery,
We got in the air, went up to about 5K, and Kathryn started not
feeling well. Her pulse was racing, she was getting hot, and looked
terrible. I called up center, they directed me to Tullahoma, AL
(THA), and then called THA to tell them I was on the way in. Kathryn
rested, but was not feeling well, and we elected to spend the night.
She was cold, and obviously running a fever, from what we suspect
was a food allergy.
The next day, we got off to Cross City, FL, IFR immediately after
At CTY we stopped, fueled the plane and us, called Ernie to let
him know we were 2.5 hours from TMB. The flight to TMB was uneventful,
we got the plane parked, and unloaded. We went to Ernie's house,
met his wife Inata, and daughter Lauren. We had a pleasant evening,
dinner at their house. Ernie's wife and daughter are delightful
people. Ernie let us borrow his life raft, and life preservers,
which was greatly appreciated.
Friday, we met Chachi at TMB, and we flew to TCay. It was beautiful
weather, and coming in you could see the bottom of the ocean, it
was so clear and beautiful. We got checked in, enjoyed the resort.
At 7PM we had a meeting at the beach front bar, met everyone who
was there, and Bob Cook went over the agenda. During the day, Chachi
had made some "jungle hats", out of palm leaves, and gave
one to my wife. I thought it was incredibly neat, and couldn't imagine
how long it took. He said it only took him about 20 minutes!!
Saturday, at 8AM we started the seminar, and I have to tell you
it was incredibly informative. Kathryn sat through some of it, and
was impressed by the discussion, the breadth and depth of GMAS's
knowledge. His presentation was smooth, extremely informative, and
well delivered. The questions were answered with in depth explanations.
Never did we hear "because", there was always the well
thought out reason behind the answer. I felt stupid, at how much
I didn't know. I kept thinking, boy this is cool!
After the very thorough discussions on Saturday AM, many of the
people went to the Marina, and took the boat over to Nippers. Nippers
is a very unique and enjoyable place. The scenery is incredible.
Saturday evening we went to a restaurant that had a lot of Bahamian
food. I think it was called Coconuts. Anyway, it was enjoyable,
but went until very late. Very enjoyable conversations, with a variety
At the Saturday seminar, Bob Cook had introduced Brad, who was
interested in owning a Skymaster, and I offered to take him for
a ride. On Sunday morning, we met and went to the airport at 6 AM.
I wanted to do this early, and get back for the seminar. Unfortunately,
we had to wait for customs, who don't get there until 7 AM. We couldn't
preflight, or do anything, until we were cleared by customs. We
got in the air, climbed up some, and then I let Brad fly the plane,
and he enjoyed it. I did manage to get the plane up to about 225
MPH, and as a result did a very gentle climb out, so as to not stress
the airframe. Because of the late start, we were late getting to
Fortunately, it was being held in the restaurant, so we could eat
and talk. Again, more very informative discussions, a lot of suggestions
for maintaining your plane, enjoying it, and keeping the costs in
line. How to check the hoses, what to replace them with, how to
replace them so you don't fill the lines with air, and that part
was probably a half hour alone. We discussed, on both days, the
flap cable problem, and expanded that to include all the cables.
Notes on how to get a good annual from your A&P. Just incredibly
Around 3 PM, Ernie Martin and I left for the airport, and I flew
him down to Great Harbor Cay, where he is building a house. Sunday
afternoon, many people left, and that evening we had a dinner at
the restaurant at the hotel, and continued our discussions.
GMAS had problems getting his flight off the island in time to
connect to his flight going home, so we offered to give him a ride
to FLL. I talked with Kevin Kenison, and he loaned us a headset.
After dropping GMAS off at FLL, we got fuel, and headed north. We
landed at Athens, GA, and spent the night.
The next day, the weather channel was displaying the same storms
and things across our direct flight home, and I talked it over with
my wife, and we decided to do an end around. We headed up to Richmond,
VA, (RIC) stopped, checked weather again, talked with FSS, and headed
over towards Wilmington, around the East side of DC. Quite a sight
to have a flight of F-16's entering the pattern, crossing ahead
of us, as we were taking off. We did exactly what ATC called us
to do, and as precisely as possible. We kept getting re-routed,
but eventually ended up at our destination, Williamsport, PA (IPT).
We stopped, checked weather again, then headed home for Kalamazoo.
Up to this point, we had been in clouds several times during our
trip, but no real rainstorms. About 30 miles west of IPT, we encountered
rain, but I did well. By this time, Kathryn was getting more comfortable
with flying in hard IFR, and I had given her several things to do,
keep track of the VOR frequencies, keep the map to the right section,
watch the engine, and particularly EGT gauges, and keep track of
altitude (we have 2 altimeters). This was very helpful. We
have radar, and at one point, it showed a real heavy return, almost
round, with a solid core. We deviated around that, just as we picked
up a second return, stronger and offset from the first one. After
missing both of these concentrations, we continued back on course,
and landed at Kalamazoo at 10 PM. This was Kathryn's first night
landing. She was very concerned, until she finally saw the airport
and it worked out really well.
Aside from the seminar we learned more things about our Skymaster,
and traveling. First, 4 hours can be long, but it's not bad, and
beats setting up for a landing every 2 hours. Second, the cargo
pod is going on and is going to stay on. Third, we are going to
do our trip planning together, so we have mutual expectations. Fourth,
Kathryn is going to learn more about how to operate the plane. On
our next flight, I'm going to have her start talking to ATC.
I talked with several people who were at the seminars, and asked
what their impressions or opinions were. Everyone was impressed,
and everyone said they learned. Kim Geyer is an A&P who takes
care of 3 skymasters who do fire patrol work (he does the 100 hr
inspections overnight), and he said he learned things that he will
put into practice. That, to me, says a lot. There are lots of things
I learned, and have started to put into practice.