Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I'm sorry I couldn't blog from prison.

I have been behind on my blogging lately, but I have my reasons! Being in prison did get in the way a bit. Before I get to that story, I'd like to fill you in on why I was asking last week about how pilots best make their go-no-go decisions.

My friend Suzanne and I planned to fly to Youngstown, Ohio the Friday after the Fourth of July. We would depart in morning and come back to Maryland on Sunday. The problem was, we had to be back in Maryland on Sunday. No alternate option. So, we had to be pretty darn certain the weather Sunday would be safe for us to fly in. Other factors to consider were the extreme heat and the lack of sleep we would be getting that weekend.

Friday morning Suzanne and I were on AviationWeather.gov at our homes texting each other. We eventually woke up her professional pilot husband for his advice, too. He gave us the typical CFI spiels of "Time to spare? Go by air!" and "Better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground!" No help. 

All weather forecasts called for severe storms. We checked one of my new favorite weather tools as well, the TAF forecast discussions. We could leave very early Sunday morning, but it would be pushing it. In the end we were frustrated at having to make our decision two days out. But, we had three things going against us 1. Weather 2. Uncomfortable heat and 3. Lack of sleep. When things pile up like that for a pilot and they fly, it often ends in something not so enjoyable. 

In the end, despite seeing beautiful, sunny, perfect flying weather on Friday and Saturday, a huge band of storms barreled across our flight path Sunday. It included tornado warnings and hail. I also learned that Youngstown is the third cloudiest city in the country, so that may have not been the easiest to fly VFR out of anyway. In addition, as predicted, we were absolutely exhausted. Here's why:
We spent all night locked in a haunted prison with the lights out. It was awesome.

We visited the Mansfield Reformatory around 7:30pm Friday and did a quick tour of the layout. Around 9:30 they shutoff all the lights and we were free to roam and ghost hunt. We stayed until about 4AM. The prison was built in the 1880s and is famous for it's numerous ghost sightings. It's also the spot where films such as Shawshank Redemption, Air Force One and Tango and Cash were filmed. Music videos were also shot here along with TV specials like "The Scariest Places on Earth" and "101 Things to do Before you Die". I guess I can check that off my list now!

The closest airport to the reformatory is KMFD, Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport. If I am correct, it is very close to the reformatory as I saw an airport beacon from the roof. We were staying just over two hours away in Youngstown though and were going to fly in to 4G4, Youngstown Elser Metro Airport. If you are ever in that area I recommend checking out the Golden Dawn Restaurant for cheap drinks and pizza and MVR for more cheap drinks and free bocce ball courts!

I believe I am still recovering from such a spirit (drinks & ghosts) filled weekend! Despite being disappointed in not flying, I could rest on the car drive home knowing we made the safest decision. I cannot wait to fly in and get locked up again! 


  1. Great call on the forecast discussions - those blurbs of gold from the meteorologists have proven to be the most helpful thing in my planning arsenal on more trips than I can count!

  2. Oh yeah, one more thing - Salem (38D) is another great destination (with a great restaurant!) in the area.


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