Messing with Models

Posted December 2008

Back when I was a kid, I spent a lot of hours peeling glue off my fingertips from working on plastic models.  Fortunately, the modern cyanoacrylic glues hadn't made real inroads into the modelling community by then, or I'd STILL have pieces of  Messerschmitt stuck to my hands.

But when I got older, I realized there was ANOTHER  kind of "Model."  Which, sadly, never....

...hmmm, my wife might be reading this.  Let me put it this way:  THOSE kinds of models and I never really got involved.

Until today, at least.

Weather's been bad on the last two weekends, and since I'd flown last, my ANR headset had come back from repairs and I installed replacement lenses in my goggles.  Was really eager to give them a try.

Today *wasn't* supposed to be very good...the morning was forecast to be OK, but we were going to have rain moving in in the afternoon.  When I woke up this morning the sun was positively beating in the bedroom window, but by the time I was up and moving it'd started to cloud over a bit.

Anyway, I grabbed my A2 about noon and headed for the airport.  The temperature was about 50, and the skies were mostly cloudy.  The wind seemed to be dead calm.

When I got to the hangar, I had a bit of a surprise.  A few doors up from me, there were a lot of cars and people gathered around an Archer that was partly rolled out of its hangar.  There were about a half-dozen motorcycles and ATVs, to, plus some young women in rather skimpy clothing.  There were a bunch of tripod-mounted lights, and several large cameras.

A buddy came by to say hi.  "What's up?" I asked.

"Photo shoot for one of the Hispanic TV networks," he said.

I shrugged it off and ran the preflight.  When I rolled the plane outside, the crew around the other hangar hopped into their cars and opened up the taxiway further.  One man came by to ask if I had enough room.  "No problem," I assured him.

I wandered back into the hangar to grab my gloves and scarf.  I noticed that they'd moved some of their cameras and stuff to shoot across the taxiway between the hangars.  I'd be taxiing right through their filming area.

It was a temptation impossible to resist:  I tied the Hollywood Knot in my silk scarf.  This was my first time "in anger," so to speak. :-)

Anyway, mount up, strap in, and get ready to fire up.  Shout "Clear", take a REAL careful look around (a lot of non-pilots about), and pull the handle.  Note that they are getting a model posed down where I'll be taxiing past.  She's wearing what looks to be three large white puffballs; one at the waist, one at the, ummm, "upper torso,", and one on her head as a hat.

A surreptitious tug on my scarf to get it smoothed out, then brakes off and start rolling.  As I taxied past the model, I turned towards the camera and pulled the biggest ****-eating grin I had.

And the camera strobe fired.

Mind you, I have a face built for radio.  My ****-eating grin has been known to make strong men whimper and haunt the nightmares of young children for years.

Betcha they don't use THAT shot. :-)

Anyway, I taxied out of the hangars and headed for the runway.  It seemed to be dead calm.  I could have done my runup right near the hangar and taken off to the south, but Runway 34 is the preferred no-wind runway.  So I taxied to end, did my runup, and leapt off into the blue.

A bit cloudy, but absolutely a gorgeous day.  Reports said the winds at 6,000 were at 40 knots, but it was dead smooth down where I was flying.    The leather coat, silk scarf, helmet and gloves kept me comfortable, but there was a nice brisk feeling to the air.

I pulled over to the Cascade foothills, then flew a wide arc around the home field, sightseeing.  A quick circle (1500 feet up) around a buddy's house, a pass over a tall bridge that was recently closed due to land slippage, a  glance over a small airfield where a friend is based from, a look at a waterway that had been closed due to a sunken barge.  Then curve for home and some touch-and-goes.

I make the usual position calls inbound over the CTAF, heading for the blue water tower that was the primary marker for pattern entries. "Auburn traffic, Fly Baby 45848 over the water tower, maneuvering for the 45."

"Auburn traffic, Cessna XXXX is also over the water tower."

Hadn't heard a peep from him, before.  "Cessna, this is the Fly Baby, where you at?"  I start the NORDO shuffle, trying to clear the blind spots on my airplane.  On my last flight, a local flight-school trainer did the same thing on me, ignoring my requests for more-detailed information, eventually turning downwind right in front of me.

"The Cessna is over the water tower at 1400 feet."

I was at 1300 and descending.  Finally, as I was easing onto the downwind, I saw the guy...just over the water tower, a good quarter-mile behind me.  I've noticed a lot of folks seem to consider that anything within a half-mile of a landmark is "over" it.  A little more precision would have been nice....

Anyway, into the pattern for touch-and-goes.  Still no wind.  Hard slip on short final, then ease back into the flare.  Hmmmm...not bad. Power up to go around again.  Notice the photo team is now at the end of the hangar row, apparently shooting me as I climb out.  I wave.

On downwind again.  "Aircraft in the pattern at Auburn, this is Cub XXXX.  What's the wind sock showing there?"

I punch the mike button.  "It's calm."

The Cub pilot is on again.  "No, I want to know what the wind sock says."

The Cessna pilot, having just completed his own touch-and-go, comes on.  "It's *calm*!"

"No, what's the wind sock say?"

I blink a couple of times.  "It was hanging limp when I took off a half-hour ago," I say.  "It was showing about 90 degrees to the runway, but that's just where it had stopped.  The sock was hanging straight down."

"What's it showing now?"

I pause for a second, then punch the button.  "The Fly Baby's touch-and-go, I'll give you a report after I'm past."

Around, slip, touchdown (another smooth one!) power up for climbout.  Punch the mike.  "Midfield windsock is pointing as if the wind is from
the west southwest, the far end windsock is pointing straight south. Both are limp, showing no wind."

Around again, do a touch and go (ANOTHER good one!) after the Cub's full-stop, then back around for a full stop.

I was four for four for landings today, and at least one photograph ruined.  Pretty good day. :-)

Ron Wanttaja

(Needless to say, if anyone ever sees that photo, PLEASE send me a copy!)

Comments? Contact Ron Wanttaja .

Return to The Stories Page