Posted July 2010

Ron has had a hard year, hasn't flown much, misses flying, blah blah blah.

OK, got that out of the way.  One additional point is that I haven't flown Moonraker to a single fly-in in two years.  I was replacing the wheels and brakes through most of last summer, and the weather here in Seattle has been crap, this year.

I *like* showing my plane off.  I regretted not being able to fly it to Arlington last weekend, but this weekend was the Port Townsend (WA) Airport Days.  Port Townsend is just about the same distance from home as Arlington.

The day dawned cruddy...500 foot ceilings.  I moped around the house through the morning, and when the sun started peeking out around noon, threw on some sunscreen, grabbed my camera, and dived into the car for the short trip to the airport.

Came right back.  It was *cool*...low '60s, and I knew I'd better take my light jacket.

Eat your heart out, East Coast.

Grab some autogas at the one local station without ethanol, stop by the FBO for the new charts, dump everything in the airplane, wind a scarf around my neck, throw on the jacket and gloves, and go, go, GO!

The sun was shining, but the clouds were still about.  I weaved through a few sets, squirming my way out from under the Seattle Class B airspace.  I was glad for the jacket and gloves, and the silk scarf kept the drafts off my neck.  It was almost comfortable...though I cracked the heater on a little bit (hedonist!).

Across the sound to the Olympic Peninsula.  Four military airspace restrictions on the way, so occasional references to the chart to ensure I'm not going to have Black Hawk downer.  The chart shows the Hood Canal bridge pointing right at Port Townsend, so I parallel the bridge as I cross the canal (to the South, due to the airspace restriction north of it).  No Trident missile subs making the transit from Bangor.

Port Townsend is an interesting field.  Up until about ten years ago, it was the last International Airport in the US with a grass runway. Contrary to most of the airports around here, it runs's along the straits of Juan de Fuca, and the ocean breezes follow the strait.

Today, strangely enough, the winds are from the East...unusual.  I wiggle into the busy pattern, fly a wide base for spacing, and land.

A marshaller comes over, after I turn off the runway.  I stick a finger under the headset earcup and pull it up a bit to hear her.

"Are you here for the Fly-In?"

"Sure am!"

She waves to man far down the taxiway.  "OK, just follow him."

I find myself guided far from where most of the planes are parked, running up close to where all the display tents are set up.  I turn off next to the Navion I followed in, followed by the Cessna 150 that had been behind me.

Off goes the engine...and I get swamped.

"Where'd you come from?"
"Aren't you cold?"
"How much does it cost to own something like this?"
"Did you build it yourself?"
"Hey, you've got lights... do you ever fly at night?"

The aficionados went to the Navion, the everyday folks came to me.

Pretty soon...well, some of you have seen me at fly-ins. I pull off the coat, wind up the scarf, pull the Panama hat from the baggage compartment, and go to work.

"From Auburn... about seventy miles away.  Took me a bit under an hour.  Wasn't cold...besides, physical comfort is overrated.  Bought this, didn't build had just 75 hours on it when I bought it.  Paid $10,000, and if I was to sell it, that's probably what I would ask for it.  Yep, I'm sure you paid more for your car.  Expensive to keep?  Not really.  I splurge on a deluxe hangar (wouldn't have to), but the yearly maintenance is about $500, including the mechanic's inspection.

"Night flying?  Well, I tried it see, there was going to be this lunar eclipse...."

A bit later, a man lifted his ~5-year old daughter to peek into the cockpit.  "Do you want to sit in my airplane."

The girl shied away a bit and shook her head.

"Well, *I* want to," says the mom.  So I do the usual spiel about me having to sleep overnight on their couch if she steps on the fabric instead of the wingwalk, and help her up and over the cockpit coaming.

It wasn't until she trying to step over the cockpit sidewall that I noticed...she was wearing a skirt, not pants.  But she managed it, and soon was moving the stick as I pointed out how each action worked.

I talked a lot to a bunch of folks...then a new plane showed up, and they went to look at it.

Chris Brown, and *his* Fly Baby.

Good day.  I needed that.

Ron Wanttaja

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