Summer Breeze

Posted August 2014
Summer breeze
makes me feel fine
blowing through the jasmine in my mind
   - Seals and Crofts
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 cold....

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 flying, anyone?

Ron Wanttaja

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