Long Legs Louise
By: Archie Woodworth
After I sold my previous airplane to a local flight school, I became a renter, until the day that my rental airplane's engine quit on short final. I decided right then and there it was time to become an airplane owner again.
I bought a $34 calling card and began calling Cessna 150 owners to see if they might be interested in selling their airplane. 1,000 minutes on the calling card later, still no luck … I got close a couple of times but didn't find anyone seriously interested in selling … Over the course two weeks I talked with a real cross section of the flying community. There really are some different folks flying out there!!!
Finally, on the list of Michigan Owners I found this beautiful Aerobat, N9981G. She was located in Ludington, and owned by a retired United Captain. This guy retired as the “top dog”…the number one captain from United … really a great guy. I think that he had flown just about everything since the Wright brother’s started hanging engines on wings.
In July of 2002 a buddy flew me over to see her in person. We piled into his Piper Arrow and off to Ludington we went. After a quick “heart attack in a sack” lunch, we inspected the Aerobat, and took her for a flight around the patch. I was pleased, and wrote a check on the spot.
From Ludington, I proceeded southeasterly to St Clair County airport, on the eastern edge of Michigan. My plan was to file a flight plan and cross Canada direct to William-Sodus Airport (3G7) Not knowing the exact fuel burn, I was somewhat anxious to get N9981G in the air and pointed home on the last leg. The procedure to over fly Canada, at the time, was to file a flight plan and then initiate it prior to take off. With the FP filed and the tanks topped off, I tried to open the FP. This had to be accomplished through a series of radio transmissions and automated phone dialing systems.
It quickly became obvious that the lowest bidder won the government contract for that “automated” flight plan filing system. Exasperating doesn’t even come close to describing the experience. Finally, I was cleared to proceed into Canada. To increase the tension just a little more…I wasn't familiar with the particular transponder in this plane. I entered in the code given to me and was not sure the transponder was working…. no flashing green light…Turns out the dimmer was turned down…(hate to admit that I didn’t figure that out until the next day). Anyway, there was no way I was going over the river (Canadian/US border) without knowing the TX was functioning. A really helpful Canadian controller confirmed that the TX was in fact “alive and well” so homeward bound I went.
At well under a hundred mph ground speed, it took more than a little time to cross Canada. As I proceeded past Toronto, I was “handed-off” several times to different controllers. Great fun trying to catch your new call sign amongst all the Toronto Pearson “chatter”.