Hurricane Ivan Trip Report 2004

by Paul A. Rosales

This trip report details a 3-day marathon trip that I made from SoCAL to Sikeston, Missouri (south of St. Louis) and back in early September to pick up a friend who was moving a plane out of harm's way... The late summer of 2004 was a mean hurricane season for the state of Florida. First, there was Hurricane Charley that made landfall at Punta Gorda on August 13. Charley was followed by Hurricane Frances that made landfall on the central east coast of Florida on September 5. Hurricane Ivan followed Frances hitting near Gulf Shores, Alabama on September 16 and finally Hurricane Jeanne hitting the same area on September 25th :-( My longtime friend and coworker Craig Woolston owns a Cessna 152 that has been in the family for over 20 years. With the recent passing of his Dad who'd bought the plane in the late 70s, Craig became 100% responsible for the care and maintenance of the family 'bird' and hopes one day his kids will learn to fly in the same plane he learned to fly in... In early 2004, Craig flew the C-152 from SoCAL to Punta Gorda, Florida so his Sister and Brother-in-Law could get their Private Pilot licenses. The plane was based and hangared at Punta Gorda's Charlotte County Airport. Fast forward to the arrival of Hurricane Charley, which made landfall at Punta Gorda and tore through Charlotte County Airport damaging numerous planes. The final tally was over 200 aircraft damaged at Charlotte County alone. AMAZINGLY, Craig's C-152 made it through the hurricane without a scratch even though all the planes in the hangars all around him were either damaged or destroyed. His hangar had a big, 3 foot hole in the front and back of the hangar, but whatever 'flew' through missed the plane... Next came Hurricane Frances that, thankfully, missed Punta Gorda but still wreaked havoc on the eastern Florida coast. And then came Hurricane IVAN... On Wednesday afternoon, September 8th, Craig called me late afternoon telling me that he wasn't feeling so lucky anymore having had his plane survive the wrath of Charley and Frances. With Ivan heading towards Florida, Craig didn't want to push his luck a third time and decided on Wednesday afternoon that he had to fly back to Florida and move his plane north. He would have to leave the next day, Thursday, on a 'redeye' flight to Fort Myers arriving early Friday morning then fly the plane all day to get it as far north as he could. He would then get on an airliner and fly home on Saturday. The only problem was COST. Do you have any idea how much a 1-way ticket to Florida (1 day advance notice) and then another 1-way ticket home from a yet-to-be determined airport would cost?!?!?!? Answer: 1 arm and 1 leg... Wanting to help in any way I could, I offered to Craig that if he could get the plane out of Florida to Georgia, I'd fly and pick him up in Georgia!!! That would reduce his cost to only 'an arm' but he'd get some fun RV flight time on the way home :-) It was my 'off' Friday from work so I had a 3-day weekend open to fly. Wednesday night, I got on the phone to friend and fellow RVer Mike Stewart, and Mike gladly offered to help out with providing hangar space at his airport near Atlanta. And it gets better... Mike tells me that he's flying with TEAM RV to Sikeston, MO on Saturday morning for some formation checkrides with his group. He said if Craig can get the plane to Atlanta on Friday, he'd bring Craig to Sikeston the next day! Saves me 300nm; THANK YOU MIKE!!! The weather outlook for the weekend was looking fine, so I layed out my route, all 1414nm :-) Flying solo and fast...it could be done in one day's flying. I know my limits and this would be it. Craig made the redeye flight on Thursday, and started flying his C-152 north on Friday morning. I also departed Friday morning eastbound out Rosamond at 0700 PST and landed Sikeston at 1915 PST. Here are my flight legs for the day; Here are three pictures of my morning takeoff looking east over Edwards Air Force Base, Albuquerque and Dalhart;

I arrived to Sikeston just before sunset, and I was welcomed by Stu & Diana McCurdy and Glenn 'Air Dogg' Miller who knew I'd be arriving before sunset. Stu & Diana had arrived earlier from Round Rock, TX and was there for the formation checkrides of Glenn and Chuck 'Strato' Stratman. We had a great visit and dinner, and afterwards, I checked in with Craig who was sitting comfortably in the home of Mike & Michelle Stewart :-) He did it; Craig flew from Punta Gorda to Atlanta after having flown the redeye out of Los Angeles (LAX). The plans were coming along nicely! Saturday morning, Stu, Glenn and I pulled the planes out of the hangar and fueled them then Stu briefed a 3-ship flight. We were then hoping the timing was right to meet TEAM RV inflight rendezvous and return to Sikeston.

Shortly after takeoff, we heard from Team RV who was inbound, earlier than expected. We went ahead and flew our formation then returned to Sikeston to find numerous RVs parked on the ramp. It was then that I realized the date was September 11th, and I remembered...

Stu, Dogg, Strato and Mike 'Kahuna' Stewart then briefed the formation checkride, and I was teamed with Rocky, Speedy and Doug from SC. We flew a 4-ship practice while Stu and the others flew the checkride. After the checkrides, we flew a 5-ship routine. There are some formation pictures Michelle took on TEAM RV website. I'm #3 and either next to or behind the orange (dark) colored plane. It's great to fly with Stu leading! After all that flying, we were all HUN-GRY so we loaded up the van and went to World Famous Lambert's, home of the Throwed Rolls :-)

I am telling you that if you are ever flying in the vicinity of St. Louis or southeastern Missouri, you have to fly into Sikeston and experience this fun cafe! Pilots are welcomed, and you don't have to wait in the long line that is ever-present: Pilots are escorted in the back way and seated immediately :-) Since Lambert's is 'Home of the Throwed Rolls', I just had to get a picture of this! I was able to capture a guy throwing a hot roll across the room; look closely and you'll see roll in flight. "HHHHot Rolls, get your HHHHot rolls!"

And for those of you (me included) who have heard of but never seen/eaten Hog Jowl, here it is! I'd describe it as really thick slices of bacon, and I ate about half the serving as it got a bit salty for me;

After lunch, it was back to the airport where we said our goodbyes and thanked Mike again for helping out with Craig's plane and flying him from Atlanta to Sikeston. It was then time for Craig & I to start our trip back to California. Craig was PIC all the way to California since it would help to have PIC time logged for something other the C-152 when it came time to get insurance for his fixed gear Velocity XL.

We'd planned to fly to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (about 3 hour's flight), spend the night then fly home to Southern California on Sunday. We flew a 2-ship with Stu & Diana as they headed home for Round Rock, TX (just north of Austin).

We said our goodbyes to the McCurdys and turned west towards DFW at Texarkana VOR. It was a bit hazy as we descended under the scattered clouds we'd been flying above and continued on the southside of the DFW area towards Pecan Plantation (0TX1), landing 3.5 hours after departing Sikeston. I wasn't sure how Saturday was going to go so I hadn't made any overnight plans. I told Craig that I had several friends based there at Pecan and figured that if we landed, we could more than likely find a place to stay for the night. As we were rolling out on the runway, I saw Don Saint waving from his mini-tractor mower :-) Hey, that was enough of an invite for me so we taxied to his house. Don and his wife were wonderful, and not 20 minutes after landing, we were enjoying a beer in the swimming pool while watching one of the local residents flying his usual late afternoon aerobatics routine. We then went out for a nice dinner, and Craig was just amazed thinking that 3 days earlier, he was very concerned about his airplane and here he was in Texas, relaxing knowing his plane was safely tucked away. Amazed that it all came together... Sunday morning, Don cooked up a great breakfast, and we pulled the plane out of the hangar and packed for the flight home. We departed Pecan Plantation with our first stop (2.0 hrs) at Borger (BGD), TX where they ALWAYS have great prices on avgas then (3.0 hrs) to St. Johns (SJN), AZ for more cheap fuel.

We continued into Van Nuys (VNY) airport where I dropped Craig off. He'd driven from his house to catch the Van Nuy's Flyaways bus to LAX so his car was still there at the Flyaways' parking lot. Craig drove home (an hour), and I flew home (20 min) to Rosamond landing 3.7 hours after leaving SJN. Total hobbs time for the 3-day trip was 23.3 hrs. It was a fun trip, and I'm glad that I could help my buddy out! *********** Here's Mike Stewart's take on the story;

The Rosie/Mike/Craig Hurricane Relocation Story "What do you do when you live near Los Angeles, you are building a plastic airplane (Velocity almost complete), your family-owned 20+ yr old spam can family jewel airplane is in Punta Gorda Florida directly in harms way of a Cat 5 hurricane, and you have not a clue what to do? Well you call your local RV buddy who knows somebody who knows somebody of course. This is the beginning of a story that started Wednesday September 8, 2004 when I got a call from good friend and fellow RVíer Paul Rosales who said, ĎMike I need some help!í He proceeded to tell me about his friend with the aforementioned circumstances. We discussed options. Bottom line was, any friend of Rosieís is a friend of mine and let's get this plane outta there! Thursday night his friend Craig hopped a redeye to FL, then flew that Friday morning in his 152 all day from Florida to Atlanta, GA where I stuck him in an EAA hangar and brought him to my place to get some much needed sleep. He was up on the redeye, and flew a 152 all day. EEE Gadz! Meanwhile, Friday Rosie set out from California in his very well traveled RV for a hookup in Missouri for a handoff. Saturday morning Team RV flew a four ship (we hate to fly alone) to Missouri to hand Craig off to Rosie for the return flight to Los Angeles. By Sunday night Craig was home near Los Angeles with Rosie, the family jewel was safely nestled into a hangar out of harms way, we got to practice formation flying, Craig got some RV stick time so his insurance for the Velocity won't be in the stratosphere, & I got to see an old friend and meet a new one. Who cares that by Sunday Hurricane Ivan was taking a more westerly track and not even headed for Punta Gorda. Not me. I got to be part of a team that helped a friend of a friend save an airplane that it turns out didnít need saving. What could be more fun? Friends donít let friends build plastic airplanes, but friends donít let friends leave planes in harms way either. I think we did the right thing." Michael Stewart Proud member of EAA, Team RV, the RV community, and the "save a plane from Ivan" club. *********** We built our planes to fly, right!!??!! It really came together, with MANY thanks to Mike Stewart and Team RV. THEY ROCK!

Keep poundiní them rivets because trips like this make it ALL worth it! Paul & Victoria

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