Power Trip

Posted July 2014

     Farewell and adieu to you fine Spanish ladies,
     Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain;
             For we're under orders
             For to sail to old England,
     But we hope in a short time to see you again

     We'll rant and we'll roar, like true British sailors,
     We'll rant and we'll roar across the salt seas;
             Until we strike soundings
             In the Channel of old England,
     From Ushant to Scilly 'tis thirty-five leagues.

It may be thirty-five leagues from Ushant to Scilly, but it's only eighteen miles between Puyallup and Maple Valley.

Thun Field in Puyallup (aka Pierce County Airport) has a darn nice pilot store (Spencer Aircraft).  I dropped in there today to see if there's anything I needed before flying to the Arlington Air Show next weekend.   Beautify day, just some puffy cumulus, 85 degrees.  Made me glad I'd had the exhaust patched last month.

Taking off (with an interesting small folding chair...1.9 pounds... tucked into the baggage compartment), I decided to drop by my friend's place in Maple Valley.  I do that fairly often; he lives on a very obvious corner in a housing development.  I take a turn overhead, and if he hears me, he runs outside.  We then shake fists at each other and shout insults neither of us can hear.

Great fun.  Done at a legal altitude, I should hasten to add.

Anyway, I broke ground at Puyallup, climbed a bit, and turned East.  My buddy's neighborhood is on high ground, tucked right by the Cascade mountain range.  There's a water tower on high ground above him, and I could already see it.  Swing the nose to the northeast, settle back, back off to cruise once we hit 2,000 feet, and kick back and watch for traffic.  Neat country, with creeks, rivers, lakes valleys, and still some pretty heavy forestation.

As I was making the pylon turn above his house (wasn't home...rats), it hit me.

One hundred and fifty years ago, western settlers had started coming to the Puget Sound area.  That eighteen miles would have been a nightmare trip, with no roads, rivers to ford, valley walls to climb up and down, and the potential for hostile natives.  Depending on whether one was on horseback or riding a wagon, the trip would take days.

Even today, on the ground, it would have been an awkward trip.  There are no direct routes; one has to take this road, get off and take that road, backtrack to pick up another one, etc.  Over an hour, for sure, especially if some of the roads are backed up.

And there I was...I'd just traveled that distance with just three fingers lightly gripping the top of Moonraker's control stick!  Less than 15 minutes, with most of it rubbernecking the sights on the way and seeing how well a Continental engine syncopates with "Spanish Ladies."

Geeze.  Pilots are often accused of having an abundance of ego.  But it's just amazing the kind of seven-league boots provided by even a basic airplane like a Fly Baby.

Ron Wanttaja

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