By lex, on August 22nd, 2009
Two hops today down at the aerodrome, and a ret good time was had by all even if it was beastly hot and humid, like. We had an empty hole in my back seat, so Sam – who works part time for the company in admin – jumped in.
Sam is blond, perky and a mere slip of a girl, with a private ticket in her pocket and all but complete with her commercial license, awaiting only a check ride. The child is all of 19 years old, and doing it the old fashioned way: Hang about the airport, get hired doing anything you can involving airplanes, catch a ride when you can. When she gets her commercial ticket punched, she’ll be flying cadet “learn to fly’s” in the mighty Varga, and breaking hearts along the way.
Nolo me tangere is the word of the day, though: Her beau is a former Marine Corps scout sniper. Your humble was on his very best behavior, which – believe it or don’t – can be very good indeed.
She did most of the flying, although I showed her a bit of trick on steep turns. It’s nothing more than ignoring the instruments entirely and setting the horizon bar to run through one spot on the engine cowling like a laser etching, with maybe a squeeze of top rudder if the nose starts to sag. Done right, the altimeter sticks to its mark like it was glued in place, and the only real trick is easing out the backstick on the reversal, so she doesn’t bloom or droop.
She fought the good fight for three hacks, letting the paying customer come home with the advantage. Complimented your correspondent on his CFI skills after, to which I had to ruefully admit that I didn’t have a CFI rating of any sort. Having jumped straight from military aviator to airline transport pilot. Saved a lot of money that way, by making money. Not to mention the adventures that were in it. Still, it’s not for everyone.
I’ve toyed with the idea of getting an instructional ticket, just to have someone else pay for a little more flight time. But the truth is that I always enjoyed the flying bit more than the teaching of it, and I don’t know that I’ve got it in me working some young person up their first solo and then watching nervously on the ramp, handheld VHF radio in hand, as they make their first circuits around the pattern. I’ve got burdens of my own these days, and feel little need to add to them.
The second hack was with lovely Rebecca, who seemed rather nervous about the whole gig. She’d bought the ride for her boyfriend and a friend of his, but in the intervening time between Christmas and August, the latter had upped stakes, leaving Rebecca to fill in. She watched me brief the maneuvers as though I was speaking in Latin and confessed a bit of trepidation about the whole affair. Did fine when we got out over the ocean and it was all straight and level. Once I started asking her to do some gentle turns, I heard a series or repeated, breathless “oh, oh’s” that left me wondering whether she, 1) wasn’t enjoying it or, 2) enjoying it altogether too well.
Did a couple of practice maneuvers all by ourselves before she confessed that she wasn’t entirely comfortable and wondered whether I’d fly for her at all?
Did she want her young man to win?
I sighed and told her it was a weighty thing she was asking. No fighter pilot worth his salt likes to lose. Even in a good cause.
Her man made it troublesome for us: I was merely holding him off on the first go round, waiting for a plausible opportunity to let him close to guns when he went hurtling through the hard deck. One kill for us.
One the second hack I pulled power back to 2000 RPM, which gave him the advantage he needed. On the third bout I decided to push him a bit before feigning an accelerated stall. By which time, the acorn in my back seat had bloomed into an oak. Could she fly the airplane now?
Did she want her man to win?
No. She wanted to win.
Which is something she might have told me a few moments earlier. We fought the good fight for as long as we could, but the tide had turned and as we joined up for the rendezvous back to Montgomery her young man was all smiles and golly.
She seemed pretty happy herself.