Civil Air Patrol

Meet our newest recruit – N586CP

 

By Rex Shoell
UTWG Asst. Director of Aerospace Education

On Mother’s Day Max Kieffer and I flew out of Salt Lake International on an uneventful flight to Tulsa so we could pick up a new CAP member – N586CP.

When we arrived, we beheld the vehicle that would take us the 85 miles to the Cessna factory in Independence, KS. The paint was peeling, there was a hub cap or two missing and the interior had so much sun exposure that the plastic was curling and flaking off.

We could only hope at that point that it would get us there, and after filling up on what were easily the best ribs I’ve ever had we took to the open road.

Since the airport was only a few miles from our hotel, we decided to drop in to get the lay of the land to know where to pick up the plane. The facility was huge and we couldn’t see anyone around, though everything was lit. There were entrances, exits and roads everywhere!

That’s when I remembered I have a friend that used to work out here and was the lead in the avionics shop! I gave Norm a call and excitedly asked “Guess where I am?!” He replied in his southern twang “There ain’t no tellin’. Where are you?” I said “Somewhere in Kansas.” He replied

“You’re not out in Independence are you?”

“Why yes, yes we are! We’re out to pick up a new plane for the Civil Air Patrol. The only problem is, I have no idea where we need to go!”

The next morning, armed with the correct directions, we were treated to a tour of the factory. For the next hour we explored the different lines, including the 172, 182 and 208, as well as the paint shop. We were then taken to the Delivery Center where we took our first look at the bird that would carry us home over the next 13.9 hours and 1,252 nautical miles.

She was pretty; glowing with a fresh coat of wax. Her interior smelt of fresh leather and she didn’t have a scratch on her. There were all of the manuals, all in one spot with fresh clean pages still in the shrink wrap! As pilots we grow to expect grease on the pages with pages marked and folded over. The plane was so pristine. After taking a few pictures, we packed our stuff into the plane and settled in for the journey.

When we turned on the plane we noticed the different feel to it. It was the same, but somehow a little different, a little newer. We checked through the screens and noticed all of the things in the regular places, but with a new feel.

The airplane accelerated forward and before you knew it we slipped into the air. The plane just felt different with that fresh coat of paint, just so much more smooth! The air was stable as we took off. With the airport elevation less than 1000’ above sea level we both noticed a strong performance increase as the air is thicker the closer to sea level you go. We were off! Utah, here we come!

Over the next few hours we tracked towards Tucumcari New Mexico (KTCC) joking that we weren’t in Kansas anymore. As we progressed over the Midwest we started watching the weather closely. We had a 25-30 knot headwind on our nose, moderate turbulence and weather that was building.

The weather was over Wyoming, Montana and Colorado, which excluded a push through the Rockies and meant that we needed to head south. However, in the southerly direction there was more turbulence forecast ahead. This made for a very long day! The autopilot wouldn’t stay connected so the vast majority of the route was hand flown.

On short final into Tucumcari (pronounced two-come-carry), we got a -10 knot wind shear which made things very exciting. For those who don’t know, it’s like suddenly going off an edge. You have to pitch down to get your airspeed back up and keep the wing flying. In the process you can lose significant altitude when you are already close to the ground. We recovered, added power and carried in about 20 knots of extra airspeed for safety. Once we were in ground effect, we let the airspeed bleed off and got on the ground. Fortunately, the air strip was plenty long and we got on the ground without an event.

We refueled and started our next leg of the trek. The G1000 glass cockpit has a very useful feature that is built in that calculates the amount of fuel remaining. We watched this like a hawk! Our next destination was Chandler Municipal Airport (KCHD) where we had made arrangements to stay.

We decided that we needed fuel and would land in Show Low (KSOW). I dialed in the ASOS, automated weather frequency and listened to the winds. They were high, higher than we wanted them to be, but still within limits. We made our approach with a safe margin of airspeed and settled into ground effect. The wind didn’t want us to land and kept trying to blow the plane back into the air. Max kept focused, a little aileron here and little rudder there and we were on the ground.

Upon arriving, we still had that notorious CAP paperwork to complete, which Max took care of. After everything was done, we turned in for the evening in Show Low.

The next morning, we had our final two legs. We flew Zuni Corridor over the Grand Canyon and awed at the sheer size and depth of Mother Nature’s masterpiece. Then it was on to Cedar City for some more fuel.

We flew over Angel’s landing in Zion’s National Park and mused at how small it seemed flying overhead. Southern Utah has some of the most beautiful and pristine country in the world! It was an awesome experience to be able to see it from an angle that few will ever get to see in their lifetimes!

As we came further North the landscapes became very familiar. We were almost home! Pretty soon we were talking to Salt Lake Approach and getting vectors to land at South Valley. What a trip!

We landed and got the aircraft secured in the National Guard facility at U42. It felt kind of funny taxiing a 172 next to giant helicopters such as the Blackhawk. Boy, I’m glad they are on our side!

In short, it was an adventure and we made it! I’m grateful I had a chance to be a part of N586CP’s journey to begin its life as an CAP bird!

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