The Highs and the Lows

Posted January 2018

I absolutely love flying when the weather turns cool.  Today, I experienced both the highs and a low.

Don't get me wrong, I like it when it's warm, too.  And every summer, as the carefree coat-free days of flying drain away, there's a feeling of loss.

Doesn't last.  I STILL like flying when the season changes.  I love climbing into the ol' leather coat, punching my fingers tightly into the gloves.  Even putting on a ski mask, and wrapping its bottom end with a flying scarf.  Mount up, slip on the flying helmet, position the mike muff off my lips, and off into the frosty blue.  The air is sharp and smooth, and my creaky old Fly Baby rockets into the dense cold sky like its mother had been scared by an Atlas rocket.

Western Washington has been getting some snow lately...not down in the lowlands where I live, but in the mountains.  Today, the clouds had cleared away, unveiling a new coat of powdered sugar on the foothills. Temperature about 38 degrees.

Dressed for success, of course.  Turtleneck sweater under a flannel shirt, the sheepskin B-3 flying jacket, ski mask, scarf, heavy-duty gloves.

Fired up the Fly Baby, taxied to a remote spot to let the engine warm for a bit.  Then off to the runup pad.  People nudge their friends and point to that crazy fool in the open-cockpit airplane.

As I was getting ready to run up the engine, a Cessna Skywagon came in to land.  Absolutely beautiful...painted on a wheel landing, then stopped to catch the first turnoff (less than 500 feet).

"Nice landing, Skywagon," I sent over the CTAF.

"Thanks," said the Cessna pilot.  "But the real man today is the guy in that Fly Baby...."

THAT felt pretty good.

Gorgeous flight.  No wind, no turbulence, the plane cutting through the air like an Exacto knife.  Explore the usual places, then back to the home drome.

Now, there's a bit of procedure to be followed, here.  If I just come back and land...well, people will raise their eyebrows, snicker a bit, and say, "I guess Ron got cold."

Can't have that.  So I usually shoot two or three touch-and-goes before bringing the airplane in.

It happened on short final, on the third touch and go.  "Auburn traffic, Fly Baby 8-4-8 short final for 34, touch-and-go, Auburn."  Then my nose started running.

Not usual...but just the time I didn't want to be distracted.  All I had time for was a quick wipe with the back of a glove.

Landing was OK, gunned it for climb.

Noticed it when I was getting ready to call my crosswind turn.

The mike muff was now a bit....sticky.

I'm guessing it was salty, too, but that wasn't an answer I really wanted to hear.....
Ron Wanttaja

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