I had a talk with Kyle a couple of days ago and he has agreed to to a little aerial reconnaissance of Springfield, maybe see if he can find out what is going on down there. But we would have to wait till the weather warmed up enough for us to clear the runway. Billy wanted to go south and check them out but I figured this is the best bet. I think it would be too risky to go by car.
This morning the sky was clear and the weather warm. By eleven Mike and Billy had plowed the runway and Kyle had the Cessna gassed up and checked out. Jeanette was there to see him off. She was worried but trying not to let it show. I gave them a little privacy for their goodbyes.
The Cessna's motor fired up right away and he taxied the small plane down the runway, throttled up and took off. Jeanette watched as his plane disappeared to the east. The plan is to circle around and come at Springfield from the south to avoid giving away our position. He will make a clockwise path there and a counter clockwise path back. Circling around, he will maintain a distance of 40 miles. This will be far enough out to not be seen or heard in town.
Mike asked if it would not be a better idea to circle out 50 miles instead of forty. I pointed out to him that we are only 40 miles out from Springfield. If they could see or hear us at that distance why bother going to the effort to not be seen or heard only to give ourselves away on takeoff and landing. It would add about a hundred miles to the trip use more fuel. Kyle wants to have as wide a safety margin with his fuel as possible. And I don't blame him. Car runs out of gas, your stranded on the side of a road with gas can in your hand and your thumb out for a ride. But in the air your options a bit more limited.
He says he will be able to do that without having to refuel. The Cessna has a range of about 700 nautical miles or just over 800 miles. Why can't a mile just be a mile. Why do we have to have nautical miles, international miles, survey miles, not to mention a different "mile" for every major country. Anyway we figured it up on the Google Earth and his projected flight plan would be about 400 to 425 miles. After doing his flyover he will head south west to further throw them off his trail. The Cessna is a fast plane to and will be well out of sight before they can get another plane in the air and that is if they have a pilot and a plane ready. Which is doubtful.
Jeanette was quiet on the return trip. She is worried that Kyle won't come back. I tried to reassure her. When Lisa got pregnant she was worried that something would happen and she would lose the baby. I told her that everything would be OK. I promised her. She needed almost constant reassurance. The morning of the accident I again swore to her that everything would be alright. Anyone reading this journal knows how that turned out. I don't make promises like that anymore.
I left Billy back at the tower. There is a backup generator for he tower and we got it running. It's a diesel so there were a few calls back to Jewels for advice. Billy has a knack for just about anything electronic. So he was able to figure out the tower's systems in short order. He sure missed his calling. He will be monitoring the radar and watching for Kyle's return.
Kyle estimated that it would only take him 3 hours flight time. He left at 12:30 and according to my watch it's 3:45 now. Billy has not reported seeing him on radar yet. But I told Kyle to take his time. I have to tell myself not to get too worried just yet. I hope I did not make a mistake sending him down there.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride