At the end of the day I secured the shop and zipped home to collect my flight kit. I stopped to fill up a couple of gas cans and was soon on the highway northbound. Blue sky started poking through and soon visibility was clear with a slight haze.looks like I'll get some flyin' in!
Arriving at the airport I was casually greeted by Knuckles the Hanger Cat. After a quick "hello.got any fude?" he reassumed his duties as gate guardian, flopping onto his starboard side so as to better display his pot-belly in a brazen act of intimidation.
Rounding the corner I found Tom's Fly Baby C-GJTS parked in front ready for scramble, with Tom and Fly Baby owner/hanger-mate Chuck enjoying the sunshine and BeeEssing over sodas.
I fuelled Stringbag, made my walkaround, and called for my transponder code. Put on the Mae West, too warm for the fleece-lined flight-suit today. Preposition my charts and kneeboard in the cockpit..time to fly!
Holding at November I make my call in, taking pains to identify my exact position on the 'field (so the Ground Guy can spot me in spite of Stringbag's cammo paint job), and receive permission to taxi.
Tom does the same, but there's a minor kafuffle as Tom isn't at his normal dispersal point.
We taxi across Runway "2-0" and onto the north-side perimeter track, holding at one point to allow our buddy in his VariEze to taxi to his hanger. I'm blind as a bat in the three-point.
We line up side-by-side on Kilo for our run-ups:
A call to Inner Tower and I'm off: power up, stick forward. Tail raises nearly immediately.right rudder to check the swing.and at high-30-something-knots Stringbag unsticks. As I'm rolling Tom is cleared for take-off in sequence.
We're cleared for the Cordova Bay departure for local South, Flight Level 2.0.
At 1000 feet on a cross-wind departure I call Outer Tower:
"Outer Tower, Charlie Foxtrot Uniform Fox Lima through one-thousand for Two thousand".
Outer Tower reports my encoder not functioning (again). Dang.just got it fixed (again).
Tom is now on my port wing.
We level at 2000' and Tom crosses over to my Starboard and assumes lead. I tuck in and we cruise toward the city. The fog is still there obscuring the Inner Harbour. Otherwise visibility is 30 mile in haze.
A Turbo Otter on floats transits to our west. Those are the prettiest working 'planes in the harbour, IMHO.
Outer Tower calls and clears us out of their zone. I switch to Harbour Radio and call in, requesting to transit their CZ, "Special VFR.clear of cloud". Harbour Radio adamantly denies my request..."zone is IFR". Hmmph. While the Inner Harbour is socked in most of the zone is clear.
They let us transit last week in similar conditions, but this nice man in the fog bank swears the zone is IFR. We must have interrupted his supper :) Instead of arguing the point (not like someone I know who did laaaast weeeek) I signed off and turned west.
Tom is now tucked on my starboard wing. Instead of flying the hills to skirt the zone I call Outer Tower back and inform them that we'll be flying on the southern edge of their zone and will remain on their frequency for traffic.
Tom and I fly about in loose formation, eventually straying a bit far over water. I waggle and turn inland away from him. Keeping my head on the swivel I suddenly see the FB-109 break towards my tail. I power up and tighten my turn.time for some jousting!
We made three orbits, with Stringbag slowly gaining on the Wiley Staples' tail.both maintaining altitude. Air is dead smooth. Sunbeams occasionally glinting off of his canopy. This is what flying is all about! Tom levels out and I tuck back into formation.
Soon Tom waggled and broke off, heading into the hills. I puttered about enjoying the sights and circled the Gardens. In our post-flight debrief, it seems that Tom decided to hold off for a "Drainage Trial". If anyone has ever noticed a jar covering Tom's fuel tank cap-vent.I highly recommend the use of gloves prior to handling it.
What a great evening! Listening to Outer Tower frequency they were getting busy. A shortage of controllers has led to VFR restrictions, and this evening they were busy as the Grumman Tracker fire retardant bombers are actively working. The tower had VFR flights orbiting while they got the IFR sched's in.
Tom re-emerged from the hills, requesting clearance for re-entering the zone for landing. I checked ATIS and followed suit, being vectored across the arm to follow mountain highway route astern of Tom in his FB-109. What I great evening. I increased the separation between Tom and myself. They had Tom stooge about in a 270 short of 0-2 to facilitate another IFR take-off. Cleared to land, he requested a go-around.
I'm now #1. Making my approach at 65 KIAS, a bright red and white painted Tracker idles to the side awaiting take-off. Cool. I made a fair, cross-wind wheel landing, "stirring the pot" and keeping the tootsies active in yet another successful attempt of not making a fool of myself.
I expedited my exit and the Tracker was immediately cleared for take-off, retracting his gear has he thundered past my left quarter.
After securing Stringbag, Tom drove over from his hanger to pick me up, and we grabbed some McTake-out. Returning to the hanger we retired to the comfort of the lawn chairs. We watched the circuit, happily chatting and munching our cheeseburgers while the sun set behind the hills.