By lex, on December 19th, 2009
So, ’twas down to the aerodrome early-aye-o for to sign up with yet another flying club, one such as has a broader stable of unobtanium than does t’other. An hour’s worth of having to listen to one pilot intersperse flying stories with club by-laws followed by another pilot – the safety officer, as it turns out – telling tales over the course of the second hour of those who’ve balled up otherwise airworthy craft through one means or another. None of which were particularly edifying, your host being familiar with the requirement to maintain an adequate supply of go-juice in the machine and keep her more or less tracking down the prepared surface. The cruel hardship of which was, ourselves being aspirants, like, manners prevented us from one-upping.
Bitter beer indeed.
But! We now have access to – or soon will, after the obligatory check out – a Citabria-type tail dragger that will allow us to revise and extend our newly won proficiency in that type aircraft, all covered by a group insurance policy. Which is not nothing. Conventional wisdom being that if a thing flies, floats or – another “f” word that instantly escapes me – it might be better to rent than buy.
Then over to the weekend gig for a couple of hops, the first being a 30 minute learn-to-fly with two young gentlemen but recently graduated from UCONN and down hither for the holidays. It’s funny I think – not “ha-ha funny” – that I get paid fairly well for work that I occasionally abhor from Monday to Friday, and nearly nothing for the little bit of flying around I do on the weekends, but I feel much more like myself during the latter than I do during the former.
But be that as it may.
It was skies pretty much clear below 30,000 feet and a chilling 75 degrees today, so I was forced to apologize for the weather conditions to our guests from New England. Took them up the coast for a few minutes to experience some power off stalls and steep turns, before cruising down the coast, into the Sandy Eggo bay. At the bridge we wrapped the machine back to the north, got clearance from Lindbergh to traverse their Class B airspace at 1500 – it’s always strange to see jet liners pass beneath you on final approach – and then back into the pattern again.
Didja have fun, I asked?
He did, he replied. Thoughtfully. Adding, what’s it take to get going in this whole aviation gig, the great joy that it is?
All it takes is airspeed and money, I told the young man.
Airspeed and money.
Immediately after we went into a dog fight hop with a nearly monoglot Japanese lady and her stunningly mixed-race daughter and fashion artiste from New York – a lass of some 23 summers whom ex-Tomcat pilot Rookie (the very mere rogue) took flying in his trunk, leaving mama-san to my care. On account of it was his turn to brief, and in his shoes I’d have done the same thing with a song on my lips and laughter in my heart. Being only a man, take me for all in all. Only I’d briefed the first hop, leaving the second to him before the paying customers showed up, so I ended up entirely dished.
These are the breaks of naval air.
The brief having been accomplished with some degree of translation from the young lady, I bundled her mother in the back and broke the surly bonds of earth, doing my best to explain some fairly varsity flying maneuvers in the argot of surly bond breakers with a dark seed of doubt in my heart, for it was clear that she wasn’t entirely grokking me. To such an extent that in the midst of our first fight she over-banked the machine, setting us towards an untimely rendezvous with the hard deck, the dread misfortune that it would entail, the horror and the ignominy. A deck bust counting as a kill.
“Get your nose up, get your nose up,” I cried in my best remonstrating tones. Yet response came there none.
“Nose up, nose up!” I insisted, only to hear her say in a strained voice that she was, she was.
I craned around to look back wondering what it was she was thinking, like, for the lady’s protestations notwithstanding yet we were coming downhill like a son-of-a-b!tch. Only to find the poor dear tenderly holding the stick in her tiny mitts with her physical nose pointing up towards the canopy, chin upthrust to go with it, eyes warring with her non-trivial cheekbones to see where it was we were a-heading.
I should have learned more Japanese.