Delivering a Tiger to New Jersey

Clytie is always up to an adventure. When the opportunity came to deliver a plane to New Jersey with its new owner, she said, "Yes.".
  -  Gary

One of our customers, Allen, was selling his plane. Barry, from New Jersey, answered the ad and flew to Auburn to see the 1976 Tiger, N74429, in person. 

I liked Barry right off. He was easy going and easy to chat with.  Barry had never seen the West coast. We showed him around Auburn and I think he liked it here. He was quite amazed at the mountains.

Barry flew home and said he'd think about it. After about a week I got a call from him. He wanted to buy the plane. His only concern was how he was going to get 42niner home. I said, "Barry, it's easy. Your plane has a Garmin 530 GPS/NAV/Com. Just put the plane on the pink line, keep the pink line pointing up, and fly home."

Barry: "I've never flown over anything higher than 1500 feet. How do I get over the mountains?"

I suggested that he fly to Auburn and ride back with Clytie and me. I'll do the flying.  That seemed like a good solution.  Barry flew out a few days later and, on a cold Saturday morning in February, we left Auburn for New Jersey. 

If you've been to NorCal you already know that to get over the Sierras requires a steady climb from Auburn to 9,500 feet. By the time we were at our crusing altitude we were passing Truckee. In the distance we could see Lake Tahoe. Barry was quite nervous. He'd never flown this high. I explained that we needed to be over 9,500 feet to fly over Reno. Our next stop would be Twin Falls, Idaho.

We landed in Twin, got gas, then headed for a bite to eat. While we were eating I asked Barry if he'd ever seen the Grand Tetons. "No.  Why?" he asked.  "Barry," I said, "The Tetons have the most dramatic rise above the valley floor than any mountains I'd ever seen.  From the valley floor to the highest peak is about 8,000 feet."

Once back in the air, I pointed 42niner in the direction of the Tetons. I'd flown over the Tetons on four earlier occasions.  Spectacular.  About thirty miles away I spotted the Tetons.  Let me add, here, that I also brought an iPad with ForeFlight and a Garmin 796 with Garmin pilot.  The 796 showed a slice through the mountains along our path.  The best part was being able to see the high spots and low spots.  Barry had been flying since we left Twin.  I noticed that the closer we got to the Tetons, the further South he steered, away from them. I told Barry, "I've got it." and took over flying. 

I turned back toward the canyon between the two Southern most peaks.  This is the same way I went through them the last time.  As we approached the mountain and flew between the mountain peaks, Clytie was taking as many pictures as she could. 

Once through the canyon I started down the backside (East side) of the Tetons.  This side has near vertical walls of rock.  I pointed out Jackson, WY to Barry off the right wing.  He was silent.  Down the backside we flew, picking up speed.  When we had lost several thousand feet of altitude, I rolled the plane to the right and started heading East again. 

I'm not sure how long we flew, but I noticed a very large plateau ahead and to the right. The plateau had a shallow rise to the East.  I put the plane down on the deck and scooted along about 50 feet about the mountain.  It was covered in snow and it was beautiful.  As I rolled left and right I said to Barry, "Barry, look for deer tracks."

When we reached the end of the plateau, a river canyon opened up. I used the altitude to get some speed heading down into the river canyon. That too, was beautiful. The river canyon was plenty wide in which to maneuver.  I followed the river and at one point Clytie said, "Look at the cows up on the mountain." "Honey," I said, "I can't look right now.  I need to watch the river.  Not long after that the river turned sharply to the right and I traded airspeed for altitude and climbed out of the canyon.  Our next stop was Thermopolis, WY.  We needed gas.

I landed, pulled up to the pumps and told the lineman I needed the tanks topped off. Barry and Clytie were already out and heading for the restroom.  I followed. 

When I opened the door to the men's room I could hear Barry. It sounded like he was up-chucking breakfast. I said, "Barry, are you OK in there?" I think he said, yes.

The rest of the fight to our first overnight stay was uneventful.  We stopped once more for gas in Nebraska.  It was 10:00p and light rain when we got to Ames, Iowa.  We walked to a nearby hotel.  In the morning the skies were overcast at 600 feet.  The weatherman said it would be more clear in the afternoon.  Not so.  The next day might be better so we settled in for another night.

In the morning it was still overcast at 500 to 800 feet. 30 miles to the East and it would be clear all the way to New Jersey. I told Barry we could scud run 30 miles and the weather would be better. I think Barry had had enough fun for one day. 

Barry contacted his instructor in New Jersey who said he'd comeout and pick up the plane, with Barry, in a couple of weeks. Barry paid our way to Des Moines where we rented a car and then drove to Florida.

Clytie told me that was the most fun she's had in a long time.
I had to agree.