Pilot Journal
Monday, November 1, 2004

Cessna 421 Golden Eagle

This one has really gone to the dogs

cessna 421Some pilots will do anything, use any subterfuge and resort to any rationalization to justify buying an airplane. With that said, Pat Cattarin’s excuse is more than a little over the top. He bought a late-model 421, specifically to transport dogs.
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cessna 421The Cattarins’ primary contact for Greyhound rescue was Tom and Joyce McRorie of La Habra Heights, Calif., longtime members of Greyhound Pets of America, which is the largest dog-rescue organization in the world. The McRories had been rescuing dogs from the Agua Caliente Dog Track in Tijuana, Mexico, for nearly a decade. They would drive to Tijuana, arrange for the necessary shots and health treatments, bring the dogs across the border and board them at their metropolitan Los Angeles home, until they were ready to be adopted.

“The problem arose when we were all ready to move the dogs to their new homes,” says Joyce. “We placed greyhounds all over California, Arizona, Oregon and Nevada, and that often generated hours or even days of driving. In several years, we logged 100,000 miles transporting greyhounds around the southwestern U.S.” Even with help from dedicated Northern California greyhound lovers, such as Scott and Ann Sanders of San Jose, Calif., or Jim and Gay Holst of Reno, Nev., the trips were a grind.

The Cattarins instantly had the solution to the problem. “When Pat and Carol volunteered their Piper Seneca for greyhound transport, our lives changed for the better,” continues Joyce. “Rather than have to drive the dogs thousands of miles each year, we simply meet the Cattarins at a local small airport, usually Fullerton or Long Beach, put the dogs aboard, and they transport them all over the Southwest at no charge. With their twin-engine airplane, they can fly distances in a few hours that would take us a day or longer to cover. We still must deal with the political paperwork of bringing the dogs into the U.S. from Mexico, but the Cattarins’ airplane has relieved us of much of the logistical problem of getting the dogs to their new homes.”

Pat loved his Piper Seneca II, but after starting the Greyhound Express, he began looking seriously at pressurization. “For my money—and I did spend a bunch of it buying and equipping the Seneca—the turbocharged PA34 is the best airplane in its class,” comments Pat. “Trouble was, there was no way to get oxygen to the dogs if we needed to fly high, and that was a major concern. Our family dogs were a special problem. Carol and I fly back and forth across the Rockies several times a year to our place in Litchfield, Minn., which often necessitates operating at 17,000 feet or higher to meet IFR MEAs. On those trips, our dogs would simply curl up in back and go to sleep. Our veterinarian didn’t think there was any problem, as we usually weren’t above 14,000 feet for more than one hour or two, but hypoxia was still a constant concern. If we won’t expose ourselves to those altitudes without oxygen, how could we subject our dogs to the same conditions? As much as I loved our Seneca, I finally decided that I needed a pressurized airplane. I was inclined to buy another Piper, but since the Pressurized Navajo was the only one with a big cabin, I decided to shop for a 340, 414 or 421.”

Pat felt that he had quite a perfect application for the Cessna 400 series’ big cabin, so he quickly narrowed the search to the Chancellor and Golden Eagle. “The Cessna 340 appeared to be a good airplane, but the Cessna 300 series cabin was a little small for our purposes. The Chancellor’s huge cabin and direct drive engines were attractive, especially the RAM VII conversion that pumps power up to 335 hp a side, offering performance almost equal to the 421, but with lower fuel burn and maintenance.”

Labels: Piston Twins


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