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  #61  
Old 08-25-2019, 07:24 PM
Paul K Paul K is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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Scott, Your trip is inspiring! Makes me want to go exploring with the 7!

Couple of observations: That terminal is over the top for a small field! We are in the long term process of planning a new terminal and would like to add this one to our list of prospect to look at. Pilot overnight accommodations have been suggested and I will show your photos to the manager.

The other is that the brass laying on the ground is interesting. Our department makes us clean it all up, almost accounting for every casing! We would get scolded for leaving brass laying around like that!

Can't wait to read about the coming adventures, fly safe!
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  #62  
Old 08-26-2019, 07:30 AM
rackley16 rackley16 is offline
 
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Thank You! This is a really awesome post.
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  #63  
Old 08-26-2019, 02:21 PM
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  #64  
Old 08-26-2019, 02:22 PM
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The son did not bother to set an alarm for the next morning. There was an element of needed rest crying out from within his body that the son indulged, and gratefully so, the mansion at Baxley being a providential gift that could not have been received at a better time. The son felt like an old man when he went to bed. But he awoke feeling strengthened and completely reinvigorated, reborn.

He went downstairs to the kitchenette and made a pot of coffee. Nobody showed up at the airport, and he checked weather to the south in Florida. The family who flew into Baxley with the Saratoga the day before had departed home later that evening for Lakeland, Florida, and the son decided to venture in that direction as he finished his coffee and packed his gear.

It was by far the finest FBO the son had ever spent the night in, which made leaving a little difficult. But rested as he was, in very little time the Dove was packed, pre-flighted and ready. Even after 9:00 AM that Monday morning, he remained the only soul on the field. Then he blasted out and headed south.

He set a course for a 345-nautical-mile flight for Marcos Island, Florida (MKY). Only twenty minutes into the flight, the son noticed a large storm cell building quickly over Marcos Island on his Foreflight display, and an hour later, the entire region was IFR under a full-fledged thunderstorm. He had to divert. After only one hour in the air, the son felt a strong draw and call to land at Marion County Airport (X35), so that is what he did. He touched down on RWY 23, back-taxied over to the pumps and topped off. After fueling, an RV-9A fired up just a few hangar doors down and departed as the son taxied over to the transient tie-down area in front of the FBO building.


Inside, the son met a big, heavy-set man in his forties with a military style crew cut and a thick neck that resembled a tree trunk. His name was Mike, the airport manager. Mike showed the son the pilots lounge where he had 24-hour access to Wi-Fi, a bathroom and shower, and a clunky old Dell computer if he wanted to use it. Seeing the Dell, the son was immediately reminded of a recent telephone conversation he had had with the Garmin company who told him, in no uncertain terms, that to properly update his GPSMap 396, he needed to use a computer with the old-style 2.0 USB ports. In fact, said Garmin, "the clunkier the computer, the better." The Dell looked perfect for the need.



Even though there was no couch in the pilots lounge, there was air conditioning and plenty of room on the floor to set up his brand new air mattress. So given the weather conditions south of him, and not wanting to pass up the opportunity to fully update his GPS database, the son decided to stay the night. He went back out, wiped down the Dove, and covered her up.



Afterward, the son walked back beyond the pumps toward a row of hangars where he heard the deep rumble of a motorcycle engine being revved up and let to idle, then revved up and let to idle again. The doors of a hangar were slightly ajar, and he found the nose of a Grumman AA1B staring at him. He stuck his head inside where he saw a man in his seventies mounted up on his motorcycle and listening carefully to the engine as he opened up and closed the throttle.

"Sounds good!" said the son. The rider turned his head. He saw the son standing there by the open doors and shut off the motor.

"Well, it needs some work," said the man as he kicked a leg over the seat with some effort and dismounted. The son introduced himself, and the man shook his hand. His name was Rich. He invited the son in and began talking about his plane, his life, and his involvement with the airport.





Rich told the son that he was originally from New Jersey but born in New York City. For years he had been a flight instructor, but was a retired chemist who worked with paper products. At one time, he was the Marion County Airport Manager, the same position Mike now held, and he told the son about having to cut over 700 acres of grass on a constant rotating basis and eventually coming to despise it, not so much because of the grass-cutting itself, but because of all the ridiculous politics involved with running an airport. Life was too short for that nonsense.

Then Rich and the son began talking about installing ADS-B to meet the FAA?s 2020 mandate, about using either the uAvionics Skybeacon or the Garmin GDL-82. That was when the son expressed his need.

"Do you know anybody on the field who still uses a 396?" asked the son. "I need to borrow the USB cable so I can update my database." The son explained carefully to Rich how over half of the airspace in North America was missing on his device and that, in order to repair it, he needed to use the old Dell computer in the FBO and a USB cable which, unfortunately, was coiled up over 2,000 miles away in Merced, California. Because his autopilot was tied to the Garmin, he really wanted to get the thing fixed.

"Why don't you fly on over to Ocala," Rich suggested. "They have an avionics shop there."

The son asked about a row of corporate-size hangars that he taxied by earlier on the way to the pumps. One of them looked like a large aircraft maintenance facility, and lots of aircraft were parked near it and inside.

"Well," said Rich, "you can sure try there. But I don't think they're an avionics shop. The place in Ocala is strictly an avionics shop, and they should be able to help you."

But the son felt the draw and had no intention of flying over to Ocala. "I think I'll just walk over there and ask," he said. "The worst that could happen is that they don't have the cord I need. I don't really need a full-blown avionics shop. Just a USB cord for the 396."

The son was dripping sweat on the wing skins of the Grumman and his shirt was completely saturated. There was no air circulation in the hangar and the day was becoming ripe for thunderstorms. He could feel his own blood pumping across the temples where the reach for cool air failed and fell instead as drops to the ground.

"You want a ride over?" asked Rich. "I'll take you over there in my wife's car."

"Sure, I'd appreciate that," said the son.

Rich closed up his hangar and the two of them drove slowly down a long taxiway and drew up to a large white hangar near the approach end of Runway 23. Rich braked cautiously and seemed to be driving the vehicle as if some inherent danger lay ahead. When he stopped, he shut off the motor and let the keys rattle on the steering column for a couple of seconds. Then he turned and faced the son.

"They're missionaries," said Rich in a near whisper.

"Missionaries?"

"Yeah," Rich continued. "The owner was a kid back in the fifties, I think, when his father, Nathaniel Saint, took off in a J-3 Cub down in Ecuador and got speared to death by a bunch of natives down there. They made a movie out of it. End of the Spear, I think it's called."

The son knew the story very clearly. Only a few years earlier while training for his own short-term missionary work in Ecuador, there had been a detailed description of the massacre when 5 men were killed by the Waodani, an indigenous group who were known to be some of the most violent people on earth. After successive contacts with the tribe which resulted in its eventual conversion to Christianity, Steve Saint, the son who lost his father that day, was later baptized by those who actually did the spearing. It was an incredible story of faith, forgiveness, reconciliation, and the resurrection of hope for a society that once thirsted solely for blood, for warfare, for the opportunity to kill.

Rich and the son walked inside the facility, the result of Steve Saint's persevering spirit: Indigenous People's Training & Education Center, or ITEC.









Across the back wall of the hangar there was a large mural, painted by Steve's grandfather, Lawrence Saint, entitled, Walking With God.



Rich and the son walked in.
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  #65  
Old 08-26-2019, 02:24 PM
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Default 11. Need

There were several people in a small shop, including the RV-9A pilot the son had seen flying earlier. The son explained his problem and asked Jesse, the supervisor there, if he had a USB downloading cable for the Garmin 396. After searching through dozens of drawers and file cabinets, Jesse handed the son the cable he needed.

"Thank you so much," said the son. "I'll bring it right back as soon as I'm finished with it."

Rich drove the son back to the FBO building and dropped him off in front of the Dove.

"Now there's a plane you can be proud of," said Rich. "A real keepsake with your father helping you build it." The son thanked Rich for his help. Rich replied that he wouldn't be leaving until after noon, so if the son needed anything else, Rich would be in his hangar. Then he let the son out of the car and drove away.

After removing the GPS from the panel, the son took it into the FBO and sat down in front of the Dell. It was operating on Windows 7 and took well over 5 minutes to boot up. He connected to the FlyGarmin website and downloaded the necessary software to update his device. However, when it came time to install that software, a pop-up menu told him that he needed an administrator's password to do so.

The son got up and walked into Mike's office and asked him to come into the pilots lounge. The son explained the entire problem to Mike, detailing that he was over 2,000 miles from home and needed to repair the database in his GPS because it was missing airspace for half the country, including Florida. Then he showed Mike what he needed to get the job done, including the password for the installation of the FlyGarmin updater.

"Do you have the administrator's password here?" the son asked. The popup menu was on the screen again.

The airport manager did nothing but stand there shaking his head. Like a mountain of discouragement, he simply blurted out, "Nope. Not even the IT folks at the county let me know it." And with that, without so much as offering even the slightest sliver of hope for solving the problem, he spun around and walked back to the office, leaving the son staring at the popup menu helplessly.

It did not take the son long to realize that he was being challenged by opposing spiritual forces and that, by so flatly refusing to help the son, Mike, the airport manager, had clearly made his position known: that helping a pilot in need was not part of his job description. Apparently, mowing 700 acres of grass was more important.

So the son did what he had been taught many years earlier during his time in the military. He jumped the chain of command. He took out his phone and did a search of the Marion County website for the IT Department. When he called the number, a woman named Patricia answered. The son calmly told Patricia the entire Garmin database story, even detailing why redundancy in the cockpit was so important, particularly when a pilot was 2,000 miles from home and needed that redundancy in a part of the country where weather was a constant factor in navigation. Patricia listened to the son intently, fascinated. Finally, when the son described the installation of the Garmin software and Mike's reticence to help, the conversation suddenly switched gears.

"Where is Mike?" said Patricia.

"In his office."

"Go get him," she said.

Then the son walked back over to Mike's office and handed him the phone. "The IT Department wants to talk to you."

The airport manager was flustered. He seemed to shrink in his chair as if whatever authority he once believed himself to have had been suddenly and deftly stripped from him. He took the phone. "This is Mike," he said.

"Mike, this is Patricia," she said sternly.

"Oh, hi Patricia!" Mike said in a quickly fabricated attempt at sounding gleeful.

"So, is this legitimate?"

"Uhh, yeah," stuttered Mike, "it's legitimate. He's trying to get his GPS to work, and, uhh, he's needing to install some software on the computer out there in the pilots lounge."

"What's the serial number on the unit?" she asked. Then Mike suddenly sprung out of his chair like a marionette and went into the pilots lounge where he obediently recited numbers on a label and watched with the son as Patricia remotely commandeered the old computer, installed the Garmin software, and wished the son a good day. When she hung up, Mike was still there.

"Thanks for the help," said the son.

"I'd appreciate it if you'd come and ask me first before you go and call the county. What you did there was wrong." And he spun around like he had before and stormed out of the room.

"I'm sorry," the son said, but the airport manager would have none of it. He was gone, and that was just fine with the son. Everything was now as it needed to be. With some effort, with patience, and after over 30 attempts, one of the downloading procedures finally installed correctly and the GPS was fully updated with terrain, obstacles, and airspace. The Dove's panel was again squawk-free.
The son walked back to the ITEC facility and handed Jesse the USB cable, thanking him. He was genuinely thankful for having people nearby who were so willing to help him.

"Do you have time to give me a little background history of your mission work here?" the son asked.

"Go up to the front desk and ask for Ron or Jim. They'll tell you everything you need to know. I'm not really part of the mission work."

So the son went to the front office and met Jim, the ITEC Administrative Director, who took him into a large conference area where he let the son begin the tour by watching a couple of historical videos detailing the spearing incident, the resulting conversion experience of the Waodani people, and the formation and purpose of ITEC. Steve Saint, author of the book, End of the Spear, from which the movie was made, narrated the videos.





Jim showed the son an example of the extremely lightweight and mobile dental/medical exam chair manufactured at ITEC, used in difficult-to-reach areas of the world, as in mountainous rain forests.



Jim posed with a drill in his hand next to Robert and John who were in the process of building a dental exam chair.



Jim introduced the son to Troy, the lead engineer and designer in the UAV department. There, the drones were developed and tested to fly everything from food, medicine, clothing, whatever the need---even scripture---to places that would not otherwise get it because of hostile or unnavigable terrain.





ITEC designed and developed an FAA-approved, street-legal flying car capable of driving at highway speeds and of deploying a parasail to go airborne. The throttle controlled the propeller in the air and the drive train on the ground. To reach some of the indigenous people living in inhospitable terrain, the flying car, powered chutes, or unmanned aerial vehicles targeted the need by solving many transportation problems.







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RV-8 N898W Descending Dove

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  #66  
Old 08-26-2019, 02:25 PM
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Default 11. Need

When the tour neared completion, Jim showed the son part of the training facility where experimental farming and composting techniques were used, documented, and practiced, then taught to indigenous people worldwide to help address hunger problems. Much of that need could be met by helping indigenous communities become self-sustaining and productive.







The son thanked Jim for the tour and for a new set of books to read. The son looked forward to reading them and offered Jim a much-needed donation that was received with joy.



The son walked back toward the FBO building and let the poignancy of the moment sink in. He felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for being able to witness firsthand how love---expressed so intentionally through technological advancement---could bring resurrection and life to people who might have otherwise perished without a trace of outside support. Catalyzing the passion of his heart was a hot, stiff wind that blew down the taxiway. Thunderstorm activity in the area began developing in earnest.



The airport manager had locked up the hallway entrances and driven off some time earlier, and the son found an empty building when he arrived. The couchless lounge was a little irksome, and because of the fact that the airport sat nowhere near any town or settlement, the son decided very quickly to explore an airport only 15 miles south of him. Besides, he was somewhat disenchanted with what had happened between him and Mike over the GPS incident and wanted to be somewhere else when morning arrived. So he packed up, cranked over, and taxied down past ITEC to Runway 23. An approaching thunderstorm to the north made him expedite the runup.



Soon, he was airborne again and heading south. Over Lake Tsala Apopka, the son looked down and beheld a beautiful and sprawling network of airboat pathways through its algae-covered surface. Life down there was burgeoning green and phosphorescent.



In just a few minutes, the son had landed and parked in front of a large FBO facility in the city of Inverness, Florida (INF).



When he climbed out of the Dove and walked over, he discovered locked doors and an empty tarmac. The large maintenance hangar was open on the south side, but it was clear that the son's best options for the night, given the approach of bad weather, rested back at Marion County. So he climbed back in the plane, cranked over, and taxied back out for takeoff. A pair of ibis bade the son farewell as he entered the runway environment and blasted back out to the north.



Returning to Marion County, the son quickly tied down and covered up the Dove, brought his camping gear into the pilots lounge, and cooked himself a large pot of freeze-dried Chicken Alfredo. He had eaten nothing all day and was very hungry. When he finished, he thought he heard somebody talking outside the building. There was.

It was a man in his sixties who was parked just outside in a white GMC pickup. He had both doors open and he was on a cell phone, fidgeting around inside the cab on the passenger side, speaking in either Spanish or Portuguese. The son could not tell which language it was.



The son walked outside and strode past the stranger who clearly did not want to be interrupted. So he continued walking across the tarmac until he reached a lichen-covered concrete picnic table that was deteriorating under the shade of a tree. The benches were falling apart. He saw the man in the distance walking back over to the driver's side, than back to the passenger side, and he could hear his voice rising and falling in frustration across the asphalt. So finally, the son went to find out who he was.

His name was Alfonso. He was on the phone with his son. He was trying to find out why the key to his hangar no longer worked and why his gate code no longer worked. He was very upset about being locked out of the airport. He exclaimed with real resentment that he had to tailgate somebody else onto the airport to get through the gate. Then he ended his conversation and hung up the phone. He turned to the son who was standing there.

"Can you help me find my key?" he asked the son in a Hispanic accent. On the front seat of the truck there were over twenty sets of keys that Alfonso said he had tried, but because it was too painful for him to stoop over, would the son please look under the seats and floormats for the key to his hangar?

"Sure, Alfonso, no problem." The son looked on both sides, under the seats, in front of them, beneath the floor mats, and through the passenger area. "I'm sorry," said the son, "but there aren't any more keys to be found here."

Alfonso thanked the son with some disappointment, and the son went back into the FBO. When Alfonso backed out and drove off through the perimeter gate, the son felt badly for him. But now that the airport was darkening for the night, it was time to set up a sleeping arrangement. So he went into the room where the old Dell sat idle, and he moved a few chairs out of the way. Then he inflated the new air mattress, took a long, soothing shower, brushed his teeth, and lay down to sleep. And the need for sleep was very great.
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  #67  
Old 08-26-2019, 03:51 PM
moosepileit moosepileit is offline
 
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Wow. Meeting Jesse Saint's folks, a fixture here and in the RV support world, when knowing the story, but not realizing you were at his base, then ending that chapter with a dad locked out of an airport.

I'll take the former over the latter. Glad you figured out how to get the gps done. Most any USB-mini cable should work, some cheap ones don't. They also dislike going into some USB hubs, best right into the computer body USB port.
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  #68  
Old 08-27-2019, 11:41 AM
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Default 12. Open Doors







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  #69  
Old 08-27-2019, 11:43 AM
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The son awoke in the pilots lounge at Marion County Airport just before his alarm went off. He heard a car door slam shut outside. It was 6:00 AM. He threw off his sleeping bag and stood up to look outside where it was still dark. Mike, the airport manager, had come to work. The son heard keys rattling down the hall and the FBO lights came on. He could see the white glare coming through a small pane of glass on the locked door to the lounge.

Very quickly, the son pulled the plug on his air mattress and began stuffing his sleeping bag. In his mind he could picture the huge shoulders and the crew-cut head peeking through the glass and then barging into the lounge to expel him. There was a keen sense on the son's part that he was not wanted there, so he moved expeditiously. But while he was folding up the air mattress, he saw a sudden sweeping flash of headlights on the ramp outside as the airport manager drove off to inspect the runway. He watched the amber warning lights, blinking on the roof of the truck cab, disappear down the taxiway.

Before packing his gear into the Dove, the son checked weather. A large tropical depression had formed in the Gulf of Mexico and was spinning atrocious storm cells south of him from the Florida Keys all the way up past Lakeland. Everything looked fairly clear and stable to the north.

"Father," he said, "take me where you want me."

Then he took his bags out to the flightline, packed up the Dove, pre-flighted, and went back into the FBO while Mike continued his inspection of the airport grounds. The son made two large cups of Keurig-style coffee and dumped both into his thermos bottle. After that, he climbed in, buckled up, cranked over, and taxied out to the runup area. The son watched a parachutist dangle and twirl about 1,000 feet up from the crosswind side of Runway 28, exactly where the son was planning to depart. The parachutist made an aggressive spiraling descent below a line of trees and disappeared. The son took off soon after.

He made an aggressive right crosswind departure to the northwest, leveling off at 10,500 feet.



There was a lot of moisture in the air. The Gulf region was cooking up a hefty batch of thunderstorms early that day, and further north, the sun made cookie cutter-like shapes through the steam and cast unusual patterns of sunlight on the ground below.



It was a great feeling to have a GPS in the panel again that was squawk-free and fully up-to-date. After 335 nautical miles and 2 hours on the Hobbs, the son landed about 20 miles south of Birmingham, Alabama, at the Shelby County Airport (EET). The transient tie-down area was empty, so the son took a spot directly in front of the FBO. After wiping down, a King Air landed and parked right in front of him. Then the son covered up the Dove and walked inside.







There was an after-hours access keypad outside of the pilot?s lounge, but the lounge itself was more like a snack bar or cafeteria. It did not appeal much to anyone looking for a place to sleep.



The son used the restroom and walked back out into the lobby where a blonde lady in her mid-fifties sat behind the counter. The King Air crew was already gone by the time the son walked up to her. He introduced himself and she told the son her name was Judy.

"Judy, I'll be getting some self-serve fuel when I depart later, but for now do you have any courtesy cars available? I'd like to go into Birmingham for a brief visit."

There was an immediate wilting of the smile that was on Judy's face. She replied in a near whisper, almost as if there were some secret she did not want any eavesdroppers to hear, "Oh, I'm sorry, but the crew car is for the 4 people who just came in."

"I see," said the son. Judy seemed very guarded and very reticent to divulge any other information about the crew car. She was sitting down with a stamp of reality covering her face.

The son walked over to the large plate glass window that provided a wide view over the tarmac, across the runway, and beyond. He stood there for a long while with his back to Judy, staring earnestly in the distance toward some unknown and unseen object that might offer the son some idea about what to do next. Then, under his breath, he whispered, "Father, send me where you want me. Please provide me some direction here."

"You're only one person, right?" Judy suddenly said behind him. It caught the son off-guard.

"Yes," said the son.

"There's a truck I can let you use. It's a small white Sonoma parked over by the fuel pumps," she said. "Would you be interested in using that?"

"Sure," said the son. "And I really appreciate that."

Judy asked for his driver's license and had him fill out some paperwork for the vehicle. After handing him the keys, Judy quietly sat down and went back to work behind the counter as if the interaction between her and the son had never taken place. Suddenly he felt like he was not even standing there anymore. So he walked out of the FBO and over to the Sonoma. He got in, adjusted the seat, started it up, and drove out the gate. In about 30 minutes, he was entering the downtown district of Birmingham.



There was nowhere to park as he drove through the center of town. Everywhere he looked, the spots were taken. Suddenly, he saw an open gate on the left. There was an invitation go through it, so he pulled off the main thoroughfare and entered.



He found a place to pull over under the shade of a mighty oak tree. Then he turned off the motor, got out, and started walking. Downtown was just a short walk away.



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  #70  
Old 08-27-2019, 11:44 AM
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The son walked through the Oak Hill Cemetery and turned toward downtown Birmingham. The son himself was only 6 days in the world when a Baptist pastor named Martin Luther King, Jr. walked there with his followers to City Hall and was subsequently arrested and imprisoned. 56 years later, the son walked the streets freely and calmly and felt the decades-old Good Friday March of 1963 beating under his feet.

There was a major construction project taking place in downtown Birmingham with a freeway overpass being built through the heart of the city.







Beyond the construction zone, the son continued walking through town toward City Hall and beyond.











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