Posted by: Jeff Rhodes | August 11, 2011

Boat Oar Mission

Off topic and light hearted today.  Wanted to relay the story of my flying “mission” last night. 

I’m into boats.  I truly enjoy canoeing and motor boating. I have a 12 foot aluminum “jon” boat that my Grandad used to fish out of.  I’ve often thought that I might enjoy rowing as a form of exercise.  Now, before any of you competitive rowers out there write me – yes, I know that  a straight transom jon boat is not the ideal rowing craft.  But I already own it.  And, if I’m just exercising, all I need is resistance, right?  It’s better than a machine at the gym. 

Anyway – I needed a set of proper oars.  Cheap oars, new, will cost about $150 for a set.  I found some on craigslist for 20 bucks.  Only problem – they are located on the other side of the Atlanta metro area from me.  About 60 miles one way – three hours at rush hour.  The solution?  We’ll fly.

Call made to arrange to have the seller meet me at the Gwinnett County Airport (LZU).  His comment, “The airport?” 

I rush home from work, eat a quick bite and load my 2 kids in the back of a 1963 Beechcraft Musketeer – the only airplane I’ve got capable of carrying 7 foot long boat oars.  Depart my private strip in Taylorsville, GA.  Arrive 5 min later at Cartersville (VPC) to pick up my father-in-law.  He owns the airplane.  Depart VPC for the 35 min flight to LZU.  Arrive right on time.  As I climb out of the airplane, I see a man just outside the TSA fence holding 2 wooden oars, waving at me.  “I’ll bet that’s our guy”, says my 8-year-old son.   

I hand the seller a twenty dollar bill and he hands me two oars, as advertised.  The seller says, “Well, this is a first for me!” 

The Musketeer’s cabin is only seven feet long in one dimension – from the ceiling in the baggage area diagonally down to about the middle of the pilot seats.  So, we cram the oars on either side of the cabin and arrange them so that all four of us still have some room to sit – fire up and depart.  Total time on the ground – seven minutes. 

After take-off we plot a GPS course for the new Paulding County airport (PUJ), west of Atlanta, for relatively cheap self serve fuel.  40 minutes ETE.  We’re second in line at the pumps at PUJ.  We take $158 worth of fuel and depart PUJ as the sun is setting over the horizon.  10 minute flight to Cartersville.  Kick the father-in-law to the ramp without shutting down.  My son moves to the copilot seat and we depart for home.  My eight year old flies most of the trip (except for the pedals, which he can’t reach) and we touch down in the grass at home base, just before darkness sets in.

Total time: one hour, 25 minutes.  Landings at: VPC, LZU, PUJ, Taylorsville Intl.  Total cost of used rowing oars: $178 (see third paragraph above and do your own cost/benefit analysis)  Summer time, fun, family flying at its best!

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