The End of an Era - Shutting Down Cloud Nine

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Ted, Aug 11, 2020.

  1. catmandu

    catmandu Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Dangnabbit, wanted to start a conversation with you at some point to see if you wanted a right-seater in Mitzi sometime, to see if this would be a good retirement job (unpaid). Oh well. Bravo Zulu on focusing on family, flying will always be there waiting for you. Time with your kids, not so much. BTDT.
     
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  2. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    I will always try to talk people out of starting a non-profit like what I did. It's a tremendous amount of work (like any small business, just without getting paid) and when you commit yourself to it there are expectations like any other job.

    As a retirement job? Maybe that would work better since you don't have kids at home to return to and can stop to smell the roses more. When I started doing this I was 24 and a lot of people said "This is the kind of thing a retired person would do."

    I definitely smelled the roses more in the early days with the Aztec - the trips that could be easy one-day trips going from PA to the Carolinas to the northeast and back I made 2 or sometimes even 3 day trips, almost always going down to NC the night before, spending time with my friends down there, almost always getting a meal up in the north with friends, and then sometimes hanging out for the night. Those were better. It got harder when the trips started getting longer and let's just say I didn't necessarily connect and make friends with the senders like I did with the senders in the Carolinas. Pretty much all the trips are long these days and have been since 2011 or 2012.

    My general recommendation is just to do Pilots'n'Paws trips when you feel like it and as the budget allows and not mess with fundraising. It takes the fun out of it.
     
  3. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    This evening will mark one week since I told my wife I wanted to shut down Cloud Nine. I felt less stressed basically instantly and now that I'm a week in with the MU-2 under contract and starting to turn things off one by one, I feel that much better. No doubt, this was the right decision, at least for me personally.
     
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  4. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    Today I found the people who are most violently against the shutdown of Cloud Nine - my kids. I hadn't told them yet, but we had to run to the airport for something and so when we got there I told them. They were all sad, two of them just cried and said I was being stupid. Well, they're kids, and I get it. It's good that they've enjoyed the flights and remember them enough to be so emotional about not doing them anymore. One day they'll understand, or they won't and will think I'm lame. And either one is fine.

    They also think that the idea of buying a J-3 Cub is stupid because it only holds two people and would be slow and stupid and dad that's the stupidest thing ever have I said stupid enough? :) I have a feeling that they'll change their mind once they see that they can actually fly it and learn how to fly in it instead. But I guess that does help me to know that they really do love flying, and have loved the trips. Sometimes we certainly wondered. But, time for new experiences for them.
     
  5. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Get a Waco. You can carry both kids up front at the same time. Or a Cabin Waco and carry the whole family.
     
  6. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    No. We specifically do not want to do that. One on one time.
     
  7. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    nothing brings a family together like ground loopin' together! :D TC
     
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  8. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Kids are funny, no filter at all, it just comes flowing out lol. Ted, they'll be fine, and you'll be fine as they'll soon be over it and on to the next adventure (mischief?)
     
  9. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    Oh it didn't bother me. Maybe for half a second it made me wonder if I was doing the right thing for them, then I remembered how much happier I've been and thus being a better parent to them over the past week. They may not put two and two together for a long time, if ever, but yes - they'll be fine. They'll see the other adventures are fun, and when they grow up I think they'll appreciate the variety and realize some of the realities. Clearly, the flights we did were enough of a flashbulb memory that they'll remember something for years to come.

    Sometimes I wonder about the order of things and whether in life I'm doing them too soon (I do tend to work ahead of what most consider a schedule for life). But I think seeing this, it works out well. When they were really little we got cute pictures and they got flashbulb memories, but they were never going to learn to fly the MU-2 as a starter. The Cub they can have fun with now that they're approaching the age where they can learn how to hand fly, etc. etc...
     
  10. NealRomeoGolf

    NealRomeoGolf Pattern Altitude

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    Watch, in 10 years one of Ted's kids is going to troll us here asking if an MU-2 would be good for a first plane to buy.... ;)
     
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  11. Lachlan

    Lachlan En-Route

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    Ted, people like you make the world a better place. There’s never enough thanks for all of the time, all of the money, the sleepless nights, the stress... But most of all, here’s a heartfelt thanks for every single animal you saved. Cheers! Besides, there’s nothing better than a J-3 low & slow, door open, 500’agl.
     
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  12. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    Thank you :)

    According to my son in his infinite 7-year old wisdom Cubs are stupid and I’m stupid for wanting one. I think he’ll change his mind. ;)
     
  13. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Thinking about a “Classic” MU-2... :)
     
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  14. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    I'm with your son I'm afraid. As someone who has flown both cubs and supercubs, if I were in the market for a classic tandem taildragger, I'd be looking at Supercubs or possibly a Citabria. If you want me to solo from the back seat, you'd better have a Stearman up your sleeve.
     
  15. Spring Ford

    Spring Ford Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Ted likes this.
  16. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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  17. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    You're in good company....
    upload_2020-8-20_20-55-56.png

    Michael: Yeah, well at least your name isn’t Michael Bolton.
    Samir: You know there’s nothing wrong with that name.
    Michael: There was nothing wrong with it, until I was about 12 years old and that no-talent @ss clown became famous and started winning Grammys.
    Samir: Hmm… well why don’t you just go by Mike instead of Michael?
    Michael: No way. Why should I change? He’s the one who sucks.
    :D
     
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  18. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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  19. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait

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    Cloud Nine is a good name for a strain of weed..
     
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  20. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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  21. JCranford

    JCranford En-Route

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    Ted, good on ya for going strong for 12 years! You did a good thing with Cloud Nine. Good luck closing it out and enjoying the next adventure!
     
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  22. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    Yesterday I made my last flight in the MU-2, doing the demonstration/acceptance test flight for the new owner. He found everything to his liking, and the sale is complete. He starts his training today, and I think he will do well with the plane.

    The flight was somewhat atypical but not entirely so for me. We flew up to FL250 to demonstrate that the plane could do it as well as systems functionality, and then did a simulated emergency descent into a normal pattern and landing. The MU-2, especially the short body planes, are not known for having inherently smooth takeoffs and landings. I won't say my landing was a perfect greaser but it was definitely on the smooth side for an MU-2. I was happy. I removed my headset from the plane, put it on my desk at home. It will be some time before I use it again, almost certainly not this year and potentially not for several years to come.

    You don't always get to end things in life 1) when you want to 2) on your own terms. Yesterday was a very emotional day for me. Selling the MU-2 does not just mean selling an airplane that was always a goal for me to be able to fly and something I never thought I would be able to end up flying, it also marks the end of something that I have poured every ounce of my being into for nearly 12 years. Almost nothing has been that constant in my life, save for where I lived growing up (same house from birth through age 18 when I went off to college) and my mother. Not only is this ending that era, but with it the struggles that went with it, and a one-way ticket out of animal rescue essentially entirely, certainly these kinds of trips. Undoubtedly, there are animals that I would have rescued that will now die. That is the burden that some have tried to put on me since my announcement that I'll be shutting down Cloud Nine, and the point is valid. In all likelihood a large percentage (certainly greater than 50%, and probably closer to 100%) of the animals I flew represented saved lives. However I knew going in I couldn't save them all, and at over 3,000, I feel I have done my part in that world, now my part goes back to just having rescue animals for pets and being able to actually enjoy them as the families who adopted pets I flew have been able to. I've received many notes from families, people who I never recall meeting (and probably didn't meet) who said that they adopted an animal that I flew and how it changed their lives.

    It's also the start of a hiatus from powered fixed wing flight. Yes we anticipate a Cub in the future, which is an entirely different kind of flying from what I've done my entire flying career. My medical is certain to lapse, as is my instrument currency. Flight review? Probably not since I'm working on the balloon and want to go collect ratings for a while like many of you have done the whole time I've been doing the same old thing. In a way, I was always envious of those of you who could just do aviation for the fun of it without having work or commitments tied to it.

    All of that resulted in several rushes of emotions all running through at once yesterday. At one point when talking to my wife (she's at work) she asked if I was ok and I said "I will be. Now, not so much. But I will be." Good decisions are hard sometimes, even when you know full well they are the right ones, done for the right reasons, and in the best interest of yourself and your family.

    Now I suppose it's time for me to start writing the book, and finish shutting down the organization before the end of the year.
     
  23. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    @Ted DuPuis let me say: very well done! I’ve followed your exploits here from Aztruck through today and contributed a little along the way. It is certainly an emotional ride to walk away from something even if you know it’s right.

    We often think “I’ve arrived at where I need to be and now my life is set” when the truth is we’re always moving through life. You have done much for animals. You have a beautiful family and a wonderful life-enjoy it as it progresses.

    My hat’s off to you.
     
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  24. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    @Ted DuPuis , I have saved about a dozen. At this rate, it will take about 250 years to catch up with you. That’s 3-5 lifetimes. Ya done good. I know you know that, but if you ever catch yourself thinking about your ground-based rescuers...
     
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  25. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Take a break, sit back, and consider this: Buddy, you have made the world a better place. And I think that’s one of the best compliments a guy can get.
     
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  26. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    I know exactly this feeling. When people find out I'm retired, they often ask what I did before then. After that comes the "don't you miss it?" question. I realize now that when you asked me that a few months ago, you were probably wondering about it for yourself.
     
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  27. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    I didn’t talk much about the fact I was thinking about shutting down, but I was for a long time.
     
  28. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    I had thought about it for a long time too. And when the stars aligned, I knew it was my chance. Weird that it happened pretty much on the timeline I had given myself.
     
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  29. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Please don’t beat yourself up like that. When a Doctor retires there’s always more Doctors.

    They may not do it in the bulk you did, but folks will find a way to rescue the pups. No MU-2 just means cars, vans, smaller aircraft, and more of them.

    Our rescue girl from OK never got an airplane ride. But she’s here, and the people searching for dogs in her circumstances haven’t stopped.

    They’ll move through hell and high water to get them.

    Think of it more that you and your big airplanes saved on some logistics difficulties when large quantities were found that needed help, not that you failed in any way to have to close down flying the big cargo planes.

    Ours was terrified of car rides when we adopted her. Probably a long one in a van with a bunch of other terrified pups. But she got over it after many shaking and hiding under her brother’s trips, and now long car rides and defending “her” vehicles with insanely loud warning barks is her MO! She twirls in circles of excitement whenever she thinks she’s going for a ride.
     
  30. catmandu

    catmandu Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Emotional trauma is a good thing sometimes. It means what you did, or what happened, mattered. I can sympathize to a degree, we're currently vacating (on a short timeline, thank you, hot real estate market) the house I built 17 years ago to raise our kids, and downsizing. So we've been looking at a lot of "mementos" for the last time as we trash them. Cathartic and painful in waves.

    Good God, where did all those aviation themed koozies come from!
     
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  31. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    Thanks, Nate, I appreciate that. To be clear, I'm not saying it so much in a "beating myself up" manner. I set the line many years ago that I knew I couldn't save them all and so I had to balance between saving what I could save and my sanity, and be comfortable with that. This is no different.

    That said, I can also tell you that there is a shortage of transport capacity on the whole, although the need has overall improved. When I didn't do transports, the groups I worked with typically didn't have alternatives to get them done. When animals get out, they make room for others. When they don't, well... they die. One of the nice parts about transport is that you don't have to see that part of it directly when compared to the "boots on the ground" people, though.

    However, and this was part of my decision to shut down, there are groups now who do this better than I do. That wasn't the case 11 years ago, and I don't feel I'm being arrogant by saying that. Back then you had Pilots'n'Paws and Animal Rescue Flights, both of which were basically only doing small scale transports that were multi-leg. And of course those transports play a very important part of the overall picture. However they didn't do large scale and they didn't do reliable (I don't think a lot has changed there, although maybe now there are more people volunteering with larger planes than there used to be). When I started Cloud Nine it was a new and novel organization in what it did and how it did it. Now, Wings of Rescue (which was founded a couple years after I started Cloud Nine) has grown a model similar to what I used with some tweaks into an extremely effective transport organization. They fly more in 3 months than I've flown in 12 years. There are other groups that do similar ideas and do it well. There are also others who claim they do a similar idea and they do it poorly. :)

    But Cloud Nine shutting down now will have a smaller impact than it would have a decade ago.

    I agree. I'm friends with the man who flew the MU-2 for one of the previous owners for 25 years. He told me that when it flew off to its new home he cried. I think the feeling was similar to how I felt yesterday, but attached differently. To him it was the end of that era of 25 years flying that airplane and everything that went with it. For me it had to do with the adventures and experiences of Cloud Nine, but this is plane #4 in Cloud Nine's history so it's not all attached to this plane. If anything, the adventures in the Aztec were the most significant, and the adventures in the 414 were the most harrowing. The MU-2 was a very pleasant way to end the years of Cloud Nine because it was such a great plane, so capable, and so reliable. And the 310 was just a good plane that rarely gave me grief.
     
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  32. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    My parents got me a video game for Christmas when I was a kid. I asked for ____ #2 and got _____ #3 and told my Dad I hated him. To this day I have no idea why I said it, I didn't even know that 3 existed and it was a better game.
     
  33. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    Sunday I watched the MU-2 fly off. The new owner and instructor headed back home with it to start his training.

    Watching the MU-2 fly off was a bit odd perhaps but not sad for me. I think it was sadder for my kids, but they also seem to be starting to get it. Friday night I got home and picked them up from the babysitter late, much to their protest, and I pointed out that now that the plane is gone I won't be making these long trips that get me home late anymore. That part is a truth, although knowing me there will be some other things that go on from time to time - picking up a new project, things like that. However those will be things that we can more easily do together. The RV has a good towing capacity after all. :)

    From this point it just comes down to tidying up the legal bits to shut down Cloud Nine by the end of the year. Honestly there's not much at this point, the plane was the only asset of any value (the crates were all given to us over the years and we've found a local rescue that wants them). Finish cleaning out the hangar and turn it back over to the airport. Minor details that will be done in the coming weeks.

    Retirement is a good feeling. Of course I still have the day job, but Cloud Nine was as much work as the day job. It's also a good feeling to be free from the financial and time burden of taking care of a complex aircraft. Although I haven't owned an aircraft personally since selling the Aztec (the 310, 414, and MU-2 were all Cloud Nine property), I still ultimately maintained responsibility for keeping the things flying. I'm happy to not have to do that for a while. Sure we have the balloon but that's not a big deal.

    We'll get something else eventually, when the time is right. For now, the kids are screaming, and without the stress of having to run this organization, I can mentally handle it much better. Tomorrow we take the RV to Mount Rushmore on a 700-mile (one way) trip. The kids are actually looking forward to being able to see things on the ground vs. just flying over them in the air. I am too. I love the view from the sky, but for now, I'm looking forward to looking at things from the ground again. I think the part I'm going to miss the most about flying the MU-2 is seeing the weather up close, personal, and three dimensional.
     
  34. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait

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    All I can say is good job. Very well done. Both with the rescue part and knowing when it was time.
     
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  35. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    Thanks. I've done a lot of thinking about whether I should've shut it down sooner than I did. My thought is that overall, I wouldn't have changed a thing. I think I could've been happy shutting it down instead of getting the 414. I remember telling my wife that we had to upgrade, downgrade (basically quit Cloud Nine and just get a taildragger at that time), or get out. The 310 just wasn't doing the job anymore and that wasn't going to improve.

    I think I could've been ok with it then, but I also think I would've wondered more "What if?" thoughts, and personally I did want to achieve a few more things with the organization. Plus that was at the end of a few year period where I really wasn't doing as many transports due to babies being born. The 414 checked a box, and the MU-2 really checked a box. We got some great family memories between those two planes, too. So overall, yeah, I think I got the timing right.
     
  36. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    You also need to change your signature.
     
  37. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    I already changed my signature to remove the references to Cloud Nine. However my signature now contains ratings. The MU-2, while not a rating, does more or less amount to a type rating because of how the FAA structured the SFAR (now 14 CFR Part 91 Subpart N).

    I am still 100% MU-2 qualified. That doesn't run out until sometime next Spring. My MU-2 currency will run out in 3 months (actually I guess 2 months, as I only did one landing on Friday) but I'll still be legal to fly an MU-2 until my recurrent training runs out. So, I don't need to change my signature. You could argue that when my training expires I should remove it, but I don't think I will. I received the training, I have the sign-offs, and not a lot of people can say they've been trained in and flown an MU-2.
     
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  38. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Ah. I thought it was more along the lines of an ownership thing.
     
  39. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted Management Council Member

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    I haven't owned a plane since selling the Aztec.
     
  40. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    And I don't either. ;)