Flight: WY, MT, ID: Snow in Montana, Centennial Mountains, Glaciers, Puke

Germans. They are good excuses to take a flight, even if it’s too cold. Being aviation fanatics, I figured the run up to Yellowstone would be a good showing for them.

It was the day after the speed record caused by a strong cold front, and it was quite cold out. Both the passenger and me had regular ski gear on, and surface air temps were in the 50s. At altitude, it was quite bitter, and the clouds thickened up over Yellowstone, messing up my fantasies about wandering around the Beartooth Mountains. It was too damn cold, windy, and showery to bother.

On the way up, we got to see Old Faithful blow from a distance, as well as get some close-ups of tons of hot springs. I give a preview of one spring. The rest you’ll have to just buy the books to see.

After landing at West Yellowstone, we decided to head west into the Centennial Mountains of Montana, where it had snowed the night before down to 8,000’ to 9,000’. According to the folks at the airport, this is a once in 10-year occurrence, evident from some of the green grass visible on the mountain peaks with snow on them as well.

Crossing over the Centennials into Idaho, I asked my passenger if he wanted to pilot the aircraft. His microphone had broken that morning, so all I saw was a terribly beleaguered shaking of his head to my left. Sensing something was wrong, I looked to my right, only to witness him vomiting entirely into my airplane. Aw, shit. Ironically, I heard him basically yell “shit!” from the back, with a German accent, of course. I hit the “nearest” function on my iPad, normally reserved for engine troubles, and the nearest airport was a grass strip, likely without a hose. I went to Stanford/St. Anthony, ID instead, a 21 minute flight with puke smell everywhere. At this moment, I was glad the outer shell of my ski jacket is water resistant, given that I quite likely had been puked upon.

At St. Anthony Airport, the only hose was hot water. Needless to say, that made hosing puke out an even more disgusting experience. There is an inspection panel on the bottom of the fuselage under the cockpit, and I simply hosed the hell out of the thing and rinsed it all out. Thank goodness the airplane has no electronics, or worse, upholstery! Wood, metal, and aircraft grade fabric derived of plastic compounds are the materials I had to work with, which turned out ok. Also what worked well was the fact that we were dressed in layers. The puke layer came off and got stuffed in a bag.

We reassembled the puke-smelling aircraft and flew home, and then hosed it out with the high-pressure hose at the house, thankfully with cold temperatures. The next day, the Germans decided my airplane had “never been washed” (it was washed in May) and they spent 6 hours degreasing, washing, and waxing the entire thing. I asked myself if it is was guilt, and then realized that Germans don’t possess the ability to feel guilt. They simply cannot tolerate something that does not meet unrealistic standards and must handle it with expedience. It was interesting though that I found puke in the baggage compartment, on the seat (after having cleaned it), in the front of the plane, on the bottom of the fuselage, on the side of the fuselage, and on the tail of the airplane.


Grand Teton hiding in the clouds, Teton Glacier
IMG_2952 (43 of 807)

Teton Glacier
IMG_2963 (54 of 807)

Blue Lake, Yellowstone
IMG_3386 (477 of 807)

Centennial Mountains (MT this side, ID other side)
IMG_3559 (650 of 807) IMG_3570 (661 of 807)

Centennial Mountains (MT left, ID right)
IMG_3601 (692 of 807)

St. Anthony Sand Dunes, ID – Imagine the puke smell accompanying this image
IMG_3635 (726 of 807)

Idaho farm fields, after hosed out pukeplane
IMG_3653 (744 of 807)

Bottom end of Swan Valley, Snake River in the middle
IMG_3714 (805 of 807)

Disassembled aircraft. Note inspection plate removed below blue stick. Never thought it was a puke drain.
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Yeah, these get rinsed off.
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Note the official aviation papers on the right (yellow folder). The German was more concerned having puked on authoritative looking papers than, you know, having puked in my airplane. Germans……
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You really thought you’d get Old Faithful photos? Ha!