UPDATED 2012 SEP 09 - WITH VIDEOS OF THE FLOODING! SEE BELOW.
2012 August 30 Thursday
Lakefront Airport, New Orleans, LA
It was fun to watch Hurricane Isaac arrive. After all, we had been assured that all drains were open, the maximum expected surge was 5 ft -- and hey, Katrina had been 25 ft, and this hangar and building were as stout as anything ever built here. Well, this was all true. Problem is, it was irrelevant. The drains backed up. I have no idea what the final surge was. The hangar and building did not fall down. But they sure filled up...
I'm very glad we hunkered down and stayed here at Flightline First. I wasn't about to leave our trusty On Wings Of Care plane ("Bessie") alone in a storm any more than I'd leave my pets or family. But I should have made sure they all left, and then if I wanted to stay here, I should have stayed by myself. Nobody living is in any danger here; we have modest power thanks to a generator, we have a supply of fresh bottled water, and some great pecans left from picking trees at a friend's place in Mississippi a while back. Even the dogs finally agreed to urinate in a tub in the bathroom (they are great dogs!). But Bessie, our trusty airplane. Ohhhhh Bessie dear, I am so sorry.
Yesterday morning, Wednesday August 29, water began spraying into the hangar through the huge east-facing door. Well okay, that happens in any hard rain storm. The floor gets a little slick, and a few puddles form here and there. But by this time, all my hunches were screaming "Why didn't you listen to me yesterday?!!!" So at 5am yesterday, the two of us began moving airplanes about the hangar, to get them out of the low spots and herd as many as we could to higher ground toward the back. It's hard enough on dry ground in open space for just two people to move an airplane around, but on slippery wet painted concrete in very crowded space, with one of us weighing less than 5% of what even the smallest airplane there weighs, it was arduous. Where we could, we used the electric tug. (Today, that tug is four feet under water.) But when it got really close, with wings and elevators and propellers squeezing by within inches of each other, it was up to us to push. And pull. And lean.
The three primary aircraft that we were able to move to higher ground, we moved. And we re-wrapped their landing gear (wheels in the case of Bessie, which has fixed gear, not retractable gear) with heavy-duty Hefty trash bags and duct tape. No sense in having to repack all those bearings if we didn't need to! Our mantra became "Praying to Hefty that the trash bags hold and the water don't rise!" We felt like we had it beat.
Read the story and see the photos and videos here!