After a pleasant visit at my brother’s house on the water in New Port Richie, we took off heading to Key West.
It was a beautiful day so we flew VFR, enjoying the view along the coast. I avoided Victor 225 that routes you directly from Ft. Myers to Key West. It takes you several miles off coast. We were not in a hurry and we could jump across a much smaller stretch of water by crossing the Florida Bay to Islamorada; and, it is a much prettier flight. Especially flying along the keys from Islamorada to Key West.
My wife, Jeanne and I enjoyed several days in Key West before heading home. Again, we planned to stop and visit my brother and his wife for a couple of days.
We reversed course and flew back to Tampa Bay Executive airport and enjoyed ourselves for a few days in New Port Richie including dressing up as hippies for a neighborhood Halloween costume party.
So as to avoid wearing out our welcome, we finally headed home.
Once again, we chose a day of beautiful weather for our return to Rome, Georgia. After departing Tampa Bay Executive, we leveled off at 6,500 feet on a course that would take us directly to Columbus, Georgia. The route paralleled the coast a couple miles off shore for several miles until coming back over land in the vicinity of Cedar Key.
We were just past Cedar Key when it happened again.
I asked Jeanne, “Do you smell smoke?”
Sure enough we were losing oil pressure just like the week before. I knew immediately we had blown the other external oil line.
Turning back toward Cedar Key airport I estimated we were about 10 miles away, so I began a search on the map to determine if there might be a closer airport.
It appeared the area was marshy and void of decent landing options so I focused on Cedar Key. Tuning to Cedar Key’s unicom frequency I heard another aircraft announcing it was inbound to Cedar Key. I keyed the microphone and announced to the Piper Cherokee that I was 10 miles northeast inbound to Cedar Key with an engine-out.
He responded immediately saying he would stay clear of the airport. I remember him asking me if we would be able to make the airport and I replied, “I hope so.” To this day I don’t know why I responded that way as I KNEW we would make it. Maybe I was being a bit dramatic. I don’t know. What I do know, is my answer scared the hell out of Jeanne who once again was as quiet as a mouse as she listened to the exchange with the Cherokee and the screaming gear-up alarm.
Even though I had felt so bad the previous week for not communicating to Jeanne that everything was fine, I did the same thing again. I never said a word to her after asking her if she smelled smoke.
As we approached Cedar Key airport from the northeast I determined we didn’t have enough altitude to enter downwind and land on runway four even though that was the runway favored by the winds.
But, I was way too high for a straight in approach to runway 22 unless I could kill my excess altitude. I lowered the landing gear and flaps and took a few seconds to evaluate our decent. I was still too high so I side-slipped for a few seconds, losing a couple of hundred feet before stopping the slip to check my glide path.
Again, I determined we were still too high, so I slipped some more. I was careful not to decend too much, so I'd slip for only a few seconds and then check to see if we were on a good glide angle to the runway. I think I slipped about four times for a few seconds each until we were on a glide path to bring us to the first fourth of the runway. The closer we got the easier it was to determine the correct glide path and we ended up landing just past the numbers. After landing, our momentum carried us to the far end and just barely clear of the runway.
After securing the airplane, a Good Samaritan flew Jeanne and me to Ocala in his Cessna Caravan where we rented a car and drove home.
A few days later my Dad rescued the Bonanza by plugging the oil ports, bypassing the external oil filter and flying it to St. Augustine. Jeanne never flew in the airplane again even though I told her Dad had removed the external oil lines. Her mind was made up.
I finally gave in and sold the airplane a few months later to the owner of the Latin American Aviation Magazine, “ALA” in Arlington, TX.
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