Dick’s Follies Part 3 — The Ferry Permit

If you’re a fan of these stories, yes, Dick did it again. Some years back, Dick was the owner of an older Beech 35 series Bonanza — it was back in the late 1980’s, when the tail mod was a mandatory repair to the plane. Dick wanted to take his plane to one of the local Beech shops, and because the aircraft was out of license, applied for and obtained a ferry permit.

From here, everything was pretty much legal. Since the plane was out of license, Dick needed the FAA’s permission to fly it. He filed the paperwork, got the permit, and flew the plane out to the Beech shop. The reason he wanted to go to the Beech shop with such urgency was the cost of the mod — Beech had decided to pay for some of the cost, but only if the work was done at a qualified facility. Thus, the need to fly the plane there.

Since the repairs would take some time, Dick had some friends fly along in another plane, to take him back home. They arrived shortly after Dick did, and watched as the shop manager took a good look at the flying wreck that had just landed on his ramp for the tail mod.

It only took a few minutes before the shop manager reached a verdict. The old V35 was in such bad shape that if it was left at his facility he would have to ground it, until the necessary repairs could be made. Those repairs were going to cost an arm and a leg, and Dick wasn’t interested, so he decided he would wait on the tail mod, and flew the plane back to his home airport.

In case you haven’t guessed, Dick is a bit of a speed freak. His friends left shortly after Dick did, and quickly began to pass him in their old Cessna 172. Dick’s ferry permit required that he keep the landing gear down while flying the plane, since it had not received a retraction check in several years. Still, Dick decided that he wasn’t going to let that Cessna show up his Beech product. Up came the gear, and off he went.

AS THE CESSNA APPROACHED THE AIRPORT, the radio traffic was interesting. Dick was talking with people on the ground, asking if his landing gear was down. The word from the ground wasn’t good — the gear was tucked up into the gear wells. It was not down and locked.

AFTER SOME SWEAT AND EFFORT, Dick managed to crank down the landing gear by hand. He flew one more pass over the airport, got confirmation the gear was down, and then made a safe (ahem) landing.

IF THE GEAR HADN’T COME DOWN, Dick would have had a hard time explaining to the FAA how it got up in the first place. Translation: Can you say “What happened to my license?” Of course, Dick also managed to catch the attention of the airport staff and his fellow pilots, who chastised him for his act of blithe stupidity. Worse yet, the plane would have been totaled, and true to Dick, he wasn’t flying with insurance.

Dick knew his ferry permit didn’t allow him to retract the landing gear, but instead of following the rules, he made up his own. For his transgression, he got a good burst of adrenaline, a rapid change in his heart rate, and the chance to practice some emergency procedures that he probably wasn’t very proficient in at the time.

BOTTOM LINE: By sticking to the rules, we will all be safer in the air. Those rules apply, whether we are flying our favorite plane, or ferrying a wounded bird in for repairs. If there is such a thing as ‘stupid rules‘ even they do something — they provide a familiar framework and help us all know what to expect from one another. While it may seem trite to say, you will be far cooler in the cockpit if you follow the rules while you are flying.