We got the call expressing the need to get a redbone coonhound from Virginia to upper Pennsylvania. It was our contact at ABTCR (American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue) working in conjunction with FOBCAS (Friends of Bedford Animal Shelter) trying to help this hound who had been through so much abuse and needed ride to a foster to finish his recovery.
Having everything arranged on both ends, we took off at 7 p.m. and flew into the darkness over the Virginia mountains and Shenandoah National Park where a friend and I experienced an alternator failure resulting in a complete loss of battery charging capability. With only the aircraft battery and backup power to the main avionics we declared and emergency and prepared for a precautionary diversion to the closest airport. As we began to divert we obtained the airport’s weather report and the winds where at a direct crosswind, gusting, and the airport’s runway was narrow and short. We chose to divert to an airport with more favorable runways and wind conditions but upon arrival the runway lights wouldn’t turn on! Finally knowing that we were running low on battery power we selected an airport we both knew had the larger instrument approach runway lights that stay on all night with a wide and long runway. Battery power running low we landed and secured the aircraft on the ramp, taking a 1 1/2 hour Uber ride back home. On the way I began texting everyone involved and some of my pilot friends in the hope that someone would step up and help us help Hambone. Arriving home at 1 a.m. I received a text from a friend that he would meet me at the hangar at 5 a.m. to complete the flight prior to us both having to be at work that afternoon. I got a quick nap then drove back to the airport.
That friend to the rescue was James Hwang who owns a very nice Piper aircraft. We met and prepared the aircraft, flew to Virginia, picked up Hambone, and flew back to Maryland where Laura was waiting to drive the remaining distance to Pennsylvania to meet the hero foster. Hambone’s journey inspired us to push forward and in perseverance see Hambone have a bright future!