Cold Weather Ops

4:15 came early today. And cold. Now normally I like it when we here in the northland get our yearly cold snap. 50 below zero? Bring it on! 65 Below windchill? Nothing more than a cool breeze. I grew up in Minnesota and sub zero temps are a badge of honor. But this morning? Not so much. It probably had something to do with the heater on the old truck not much of anything. Damn near froze my feet off driving to the airport. And 30 below wasn’t the lowest number I saw on the ride in. I saw 34 below but by then my fingers were so cold there was no way I was going to take my gloves off.

The rest of the morning wasn’t too bad. We preflighted the Great White Hope (Cessna Citation 650) while it was still nestled in it’s nice warm heated hanger, figured out the fuel order and went back to drinking coffee while the lines guys did the incredible job of pulling the plane out, fueling it up and then standing there while us pilot guys sat in the nice warm cockpit and fire it up. We tried to hurry but there are only so many shortcuts you can do when getting a jet ready to taxi. Those guys really earned their pay that day. Johnny boy and I had a really busy day ahead of us. 7 legs, a record for both of us. Normally we do 3 or 4 tops, but hey, it is what it is. First pick up some Finnish and Swedish businessmen in eastern Wisconsin and fly them to central Wisconsin. When it’s that cold everything’s different. When we took off before dawn there was ice fog covering the airport but as soon as the sun came up everything was crisp and sharp. The visibility was unlimited and the air smooth as glass.

By the time we landed on our second leg of the morning the temperature had jumped up to a balmy minus 29. Damn near a heat wave.

Another ramp rat earning our respect.
Not sure he was digging it though.

While we waited at the FBO for our passengers to tour a pulp mill Johnny boy and I helped ourselves to some homemade banana bread and watched a drama being played out as the crew at the airport tried to get the fuel truck, crew car, and two of the worker’s cars started. They were all unsuccessful because it hasn’t been this cold up in about 20 years and kids these days just don’t have the experience. Why back in my day when it was this cold if you didn’t get up at least once or twice in the middle of the night and start your car or you weren’t going anywhere. That was back when cars had carburetors but nowadays cars usually will start no matter how cold it gets. That is until it hits 30 below, then all bets are off.

We sat on the ground for 4 hours. Long enough to be concerned about whether or not we could get get the engines started after sitting in those cold temps for so long. So we played rock paper scissors for the honor of going out to the plane at the halfway point to warm up the engines for 15 minutes or so. Johnny boy did a fantastic job. Next stop Minneapolis international to drop off the passengers, then back to home base to pick up 2 more passengers and some of our company’s employees who’s flights out of Minneapolis had been canceled due to the cold weather. They were going down to Atlanta to help our sister airport deal with the massive amount of private jet traffic that the Super Bowl attracks. Seems that a lot of rich people like to go to that sort of thing. Who knew? We dropped off our teammates in Atlanta, then dropped off our last two passengers at two different airport in southern Florida. What a day. 7 takeoff and landings, 1675 nautical miles and a 104 degree temperature swing. from 34 below to 70 above. But wait, our day wasn’t over yet!

The hotel shuttle got into an accident on it’s way to pick us up. Then the Uber driver that replaced him went to the airport’s main terminal while we were on the other side and no amount of explaining could get him over to where we were. Cancel the Uber and get a taxi to the hotel. What? can’t find our reservation? We booked our rooms at the other Hilton Garden Inn? No problem, just switch us to here please. No rooms available? Crap. How far is the other Hilton? 30 minutes away? Perfect, just what we we needed. another Uber to another Hilton. The first one had literally a dozen restaurants surrounding it. The one we actually booked? Freaking ghost town, nothing closer than 3/4 of a mile. Fine, we both needed the exercise anyway. But it all worked out in the end. We found a lounge/ Italian restaurant (heavy on the lounge) and I finally had a beer in front of me at 10:03 PM. Seeing that I’d left the house at 5:15 AM that had been one long and crazy day. But the Gods had one more treat for us. It was Karaoke night! We were treated to southern Florida’s best local talent and we all sang along to John Denver and Billy Joel and just had a blast. And even Johnny boy got up to sing. And I thought you could only have great flying adventures ferry flying.

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