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Fly High and Fast – Vol. II: Chapter 19 – Piper Navajo

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JJ Meehan
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The Meehan Family

By 1987, we need to expand our territory also meant that we needed to have aircraft that would allow us to carry prospects from their home cities to our headquarters in Cedar Rapids.  My search led me to Midwest Nameplate in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.  The owner was Richard (Dick)  Novetzke, his wife was Sally J. Novetzke who was Ambassador to Malta in the early 1990’s.

Dick owned two Piper Navajo’s (PA-310) and was leasing them to 4 companies in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area.  He agreed to let us use the aircraft if I would assist him and fly for him as time permitted.  This became a relationship of friendship and respect for many years.

One day, we took both planes up and flow them around Cedar Rapids.  I was flying N610WA (Which is painted to look like N6-IOWA.  I took along my camera and took pictures of the other Navajo which was N27977.  We finished the flight with a fly by of the Cedar Rapids Airport where I landed and Dick did a rollout  and then landed behind me.



These two planes were valuable tools in our efforts to capture new business in Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska.  In addition, I would spend many hours with employees of the other companies who used the aircraft for business use.  We spent a lot of time in Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota.  One flight took to to Minot, North Dakota.  I flow up to pick up five employees of CMF&Z who had become stranded in Minot after a snow storm.  I spent so much time in the Midland Michigan area that I can remember shopping at the mall in Saginaw, Michigan (Fashion Square) one day, flying home and having Jeannie approve or disapprove my new clothes and then returning the ones I did not want the next day.  One of the best customer’s was Dow Chemical and CMF&Z would visiting either Midland, Michigan and later Indianapolis, Indiana three or four times a month.  I was blessed to be able to fly many of the flights and still continue working for Banks of Iowa Computer Services (BICS).  Later when Firstar acquired Banks of Iowa, I would fly for Dick full time for a short while (2 years) before going to work for Rockwell Collins.

Needless to say, these planes gave me tools to sell additional business in places like Omaha, Nebraska, and Sedalia, Missouri.  I also enjoyed flying the employees of CMF&Z and the other companies that leased the planes around the USA.  The following chapters will cover just a few of the experiences, fun and excitement that I enjoyed while flying N610WA and N27977.  This start with another trip to Chicago.

Chicago O’Hara was one of my favorite airports.  The controllers were very professional and always treated me with respect and assistance.  I’ve landed at O’Hare over 100 times and I never had a bad experience.  In may cases, I needed assistance finding the Fix Base Operator (FBO) but the Ground Controller was always very helpful.  The taxiways were like a large city and each time I would enter from a different direction.

Anyway, on this occasion I was flying N610WA from Cedar Rapids to O’Hare for CMF&Z.  Weather was perfect.  We had a full plane with six passengers plus myself as pilot.  We were given the approach for Runway 27 R which is now the “27 C”.  They have added one new runway to the north which is now called “27 R”.  I’ve added our landing path in read.

At the time Butler Aviation was the FBO and was located on the north side of the International Terminal.  It later moved to the south side of the airport off of “27 L”.  The FBO is now Signature Aviation.  Anyway, I was given the approach for 27 R and all went smoothly until we landed.  It was one of my best landings and for some reason I held the nose wheel off for an extended period of time.  When it final touch down I realize that I had a flat nose tire.  I was still traveling at 70 KTS.  I some how managed to keep most the pressure off the front gear and slowly pulled into Butler Aviation which was just off to the right as shown.

The picture above is what the tire should look like.  As soon as I managed to park the plane I checked and it was nothing but sheared rubber and smoke.  I was luck on several points.  First, I had a full load which moved the weight to the back of the plane.  Second, Butler, the FBO was located just where I stopped.  Third, the weather was perfect which allowed me to make a very smooth landing.  Forth, the tire did not get caught in the wheel well.  I have a feeling that I was very lucky plus I happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Any other runway would have been a problem.  I also believe this was the lost of another of my nine cat lives.  Butler Aviation changed the tire while my passengers were taking car of their business and I was visiting a banker.

As I mentioned earlier, this was one of many positive experiences I can relate about the service, and personnel at O’Hare (ORD)

As I mentioned earlier, CMF&Z spent a lot of time in Midland Michigan USA.  We would always fly into Saginaw, Michigan.  During the winter they appear to get more snow than most.  I can remember several trips would get extended in Midland because of snow and low ceilings.  Many trips were IFR from start to finish with low approaches.   FSS Weather Briefing were always long and detailed.   I loved the Saginaw area which today is a very depressed city in the art of a very depressed state – Michigan.  As I mentioned earlier, I spent so much time in Saginaw that I would shop at the Fashion Square Mall and then fly home to return the next day with the items that my wife did not like.

Fashion Square Mall

Just a few miles south of Saginaw was Frankenmuth, Michigan.  This was a German Community that had great food, especially Fried Chicken.  I drove down for their chicken dinners several times when I was in Saginaw.

I wished at the time that I knew RJ Doyle lived about 100 miles to the west.  I would have taken the time to visit.

Our route home as shown below was always over Lake Michigan and and just north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

On one IFR Trip, we were just about 50 miles from the Michigan coast over Lake Michigan and the auto pilot gave out.  I was drinking a cup of coffee that went flying as I reached for the Yoke as the plane started to go into a steep dive.  I was able to regain control in about 30 seconds with the lost of only 1,000 ft.  I notified Center and with their approval climbed back to my assigned altitude and flow the rest of the flight manually.  The plane actually had a Flight Director so I lost a lot of auto support but was not in any serious problem during the flight.  I notified Center of the problem but again this is just a legal formality.  The flight was always about 2 1/2 hours long and this one just over 2 1/2 hours.

This ends another chapter in the series “Fly High and Fast”.  I hope you have a very safe journey through life.


Written by jjmeehan13

February 18, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Flying

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