I have come to the
considered opinion that I LIKE tooling around in Fly Babies in
the warm summer breezes
I haven't had much chance, the last couple of summers.
Either the plane was laid up (bad exhaust, expired annuals,
etc.), knee pain was making each flight a grim experience, or
we just didn't get that nice of weather. We *are*
talking Seattle, here.
But the weather here has been fantastic, for the last
month. Mostly clear (I actually have to go out an buy a
sprinkler for my lawn), highs in the mid-80s. Working
with a trainer over last winter, I've completely eliminated
the knee pain when I fly.
I was at the airport today, basically to replace the crankcase
breather on the off chance that it might be the source of my
oil leak (it ain't). Didn't actually take long to do,
but there were a lot of flying buddies stopping by. Was
done by about four o'clock, and was getting hungry.
Time to home and eat. Hmmmm... or maybe I should fly
first, to test out the new breather?
Complete a pre-flight, roll the plane out of the hangar.
Clamber in, careful to not scrape a bare leg (I was wearing
shorts) against the pointy bits in the cockpit. On with
the helmet, and 30 seconds later, the Continental is turning
over. Head to the departure end of the runway, runup,
roll onto the freedom ribbon, and pour on the coal.
Winds were a bit fluky, with the Superunicom reporting a
sudden left crosswind at nine knots. Stick hard left,
feed right rudder to keep straight. Feel the right wheel
pick off the ground, roll on the left for a hundred feet or
so, then pull clear and start a climbout crab.
Beautiful, fantastic, GORGEOUS day. The wind is balmy;
coming in the cockpit with just enough energy to feel
refreshingly cool. Unaccustomed to wearing shorts, the
tickling feeling as my leg hairs get blown around is
indescribable. The wind is fluky, but somehow, the air
at 1500 feet is rock steady. The plane just bombs
along. I'm not really needed, it feels like 'Raker would
just play around all day by himself, if I let him.
Hmmm, somebody did a big graffiti in that asphalted parking
lot. Pressure left on the stick, try to figure out what they
were drawing. People drifting downstream on the White
River, inner-tubes linked. One white faced turned
upward. Circle to the right, lift up an arm and
wave. See the wave returned, and white faces blooming
like poppies as others look up, waving.
Curve around, back towards home. I really *am* hungry,
and the restaurant my wife wants to go to fills up quickly on
weekend evenings. Head home. Wind still a bit
strange, will just do a full stop instead of
touch-and-goes. No one will think I quit early due to
Around the empty pattern, slide down on final, do a careful
wheel landing. Roll off the runway, pull off the helmet,
and taxi back to the hangar with the prop blast rippling my
hair. Swing around in front of the hangar, kill the
engine, and hit the "ejection" switch. About a 20-minute
flight. The oil leak? Still there.
Meh. Put the plane to bed, and go eat.
Some may say, "Well, that makes up for all those flights you
make in the winter, Ron."
I don't see it that way. I enjoy those flights,
too. I love wrapping a white scarf around my neck and
zipping up the 'ol leather jacket. I love the cool
caress of the cockpit across my cheek, as the jacket, scarf,
and gloves engulf me in a warm cocoon.
But...well, perhaps my flight experiences over the last couple
of years have tended a bit too much toward the coat-and-scarf
variety. It is nice to just walk up, get in the
airplane, and fly.
And it's supposed to stay nice all week. More after-work