16 July 2004

The Tandem Flight

Summer 2003, I taught my nephew, Mike to fly. On this day we decided to fly two planes to Cedar Point near Sandusky, Ohio. Mike flew the flying club's four-seat Archer and I flew the P210. The flights in the morning were uneventful in clear weather. While eating dinner, thunderstorms and rain moved into the area. Since Mike was not yet instrument rated, we would have to find a way home without getting into poor visibility or clouds. This was particularly important because we were flying at night. After discussing the route with Flight Service, we decided to try to fly home by flying south and a little east toward Columbus, then south toward Chillicothe, then west to Middletown.

Mike flew in the lead as fast as his plane could go and I followed behind him and to the left. We kept each other in sight at all times but collision avoidance was my responsibility because I was the following airplane. We received periodic updates from flight service making minor adjustments to our course. The flight was actually fun until my alternator #2 died thirty miles from home. By that time we were racing a wall of thunderstorms that was approaching Middletown from the west. (Alternator #1 had died earlier.) I had to shut down all radios until I was approaching the airport. Fortunately we made it to Middletown about thirty minutes before the storms.

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