Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Annual Aircraft Inspection Inspired Benedict Arnold

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett

Our Mechanic this year did not call me Pope Benedict, but Benedict Arnold. Larry Tibbetts of Tibbett’s Airmotive has been my mechanic for the last five years. He wanted to attend the baptism of his grandson in California this year. He could not give our Cherokee Warrior II its annual inspection until the end of May.

The inspection expired the end of April, which means I would be grounded for the entire month of May. The insurance will not allow us to fly if the annual inspection has expired. I decided to go with another mechanic, hence, Larry is now calling me Benedict Arnold.

I chose Tom Bishop of Nugget Aviation in Palmer. Tom has repaired the Archdiocese airplanes for years. I was not disappointed. Although I consider Larry the best mechanic in the Bristol Bay area, bar none, I have heard good reports about Tom Bishop.

I flew our Cherokee from Dillingham to Palmer (330 Miles) Monday, April 23rd. Tom was at the hanger, doors open, waiting for me to taxi in. He completed the inspection and repairs by Thursday. The total cost was $3,000. Several generous donors contributed to the cost of the annual inspection including Tom Bishop, Catholic Extension, and the “One Bread One Body” Archdiocesan of Anchorage annual appeal.

Flying 330 miles over treacherous mountain passes and over miles of lakes and tundra during Springtime is challenging. The weather was terrible through Lake Clark Pass. IFR conditions, snow, and rain were reported all along the route. so I decided to fly Penair back to Dillingham.

After ministering to the people of Bristol Bay over the weekend, Monday, May 3rd, 2010 I decided to fly back to Palmer and retrieve our Cherokee. I chose a perfect day. I hopped on the Penair Saab at 10:15 AM, arrived in Anchorage at 11:30, and had a fellow priest, Father Nelson Marilag, pick me up and drive me to Palmer.

Tom Bishop, being one of those rare breads (both pilot and mechanic) jumped into the Warrior II and we flew out to the glacier and back. He wanted to be sure everything was in perfect mechanical condition before I flew back to Dillingham.

Here are a few pictures I took in Lake Clark Pass on the way back from Palmer.

Just before entering "The Narrows," Westbound, there was a beautiful lake at the beginning of the East end of Lake Clark Pass.

On my flight over from Dillingham the week before (Eastbound), this part of the pass called "The Narrows." was completely plugged up with fog and clouds. I was able to climb to 6,000 feet, see Cook Inlet, and fly over the top. This picture is taken while flying Westbound. I am just entering the east end of Lake Clark Pass. The pass is about 50 miles long.

Further up Lake Clark Pass I took another picture.

Westbound, Less than 20 miles from Lake Clark, I climbed to 4,000 feet and was just touching the scattered layer of clouds. It took me 3 hours and 15 minutes to fly the 330 miles from Palmer back to Dillingham.

Fly Safe out there!

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