We have a problem – is this an IFR Emergency?

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My friend Jack was flying under the hood, my wife Theresa was in the back with Stella, and I was about to begin a what-if scenario of IFR emergencies for Jack’s instrument training on our cross country.  I was going to discuss an inflight fire, engine trouble, or maybe electrical loss as the “what if” game for today, but today’s real life event was much worse.

“Oh no.  We have a problem”  I heard my wife call out from the back seat of the airplane.

“What happened?”  I respond while turning around.

“Its like a Play-Do factory back here.”  She answered.  The aroma hit my nose and mouth simultaneously.  It was Texas.  It was July.  It was epic.  Stella unloaded.

Immediately I looked at my Foreflight app to see our estimated time of arrival into Temple, Texas.  1 hour 27 minutes.  Ughhh..

On this unforgettable day, I had the privilege of flying in a beautiful 1957 Bellanca Cruisemaster.  My friend, Jack (proud owner), not only gets to share his beautiful airplane with airport people but with the K9 world too.  Jack has been a dog and airplane lover most of his life.  Years ago, he was able to collect information and put his skills and beautiful airplane to work rescuing dogs in need.

IFR Emergencies
Our special passenger on this day was Stella.  Stella was a 4-month old Rhodesian Ridgeback surrendered to a kill shelter because the fur didn’t stand up on her back which is one of the characteristics of a Rhodesian Ridgeback.  She was a great dog and almost perfect airplane passenger, but she would have possibly lived a very short life because someone couldn’t make money off her.  I love airplanes, but sometimes I can’t stand people.

Every year, a disproportionate amount of animals are euthanized because they can not find a forever home.  There’s just simply an animal overpopulation problem in some areas. For a few lucky animals, they get a second chance through organizations such as Pilots N Paws. These life-saving organizations help transport animals from a bleak future in a kill shelter to a rescue or adopter willing to give the animal a better life within the same state or sometimes states away.  They do this through a network of pilot volunteers who can either fly the animal from point A to point B, or relay the animal using several pilot volunteers to complete longer journeys.

IFR Emergencies
If you have a capable airplane and any free time to give back, I would highly recommend flying to help others.  Also, I want to mention that AOPA has an outstanding free online course for those interested in mercy flights:    http://flash.aopa.org/asf/volunteerpilots/

In their course, AOPA points out to the pilot that while flying for those in need is rewarding, there are also other safety concerns we need to be aware of while flying these “missions”.  I don’t think Stella’s was covered in their course, but maybe should have.


IFR Emergencies


Jack is a pretty good guy and has a great airplane.  He also knows that by completing his instrument rating and continually learning he will be an even more well rounded pilot.  He will have a few more tools in his pilot case when the next Pilot N Paws mission gets posted.  Imagine if pilots were a little more like Jack.

Rumble on!

-Matt Hood


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