Transformational

By lex, on January 1st, 2010

Two dog fight hops today down at Montgomery, and the news came as a bit of a surprise, what with today’s holiday being a federal and your correspondent already on the hook for three flights tomorrow. But it wasn’t like I had plans and between the five flights this weekend I might almost make enough to get checked out in that Citabria down Gillespie way.

Getting a hundred hours in her to satisfy the insurers at my weekend gig is something I will have to sort out over the course of the next several decades.

Dealing with the second crew first, ‘a was a pair of gentlemen from Chicago way, which I was forced to apologize for the Sandy Eggo weather, the harshness of the winter time here having driven day time temperatures down to nearly 68 degrees, the mortification of it. Pops had previously earned the call sign “Corn Puffs” on a similar adventure with a competitor at Riverside, the reason for which would be revealed in good time. His young man was typically tubular and speckled specimen of some 16 years. Both of them apparently had a great time of it while making generous contributions to the Food Return Bag, which is found – just as in any of your major airliners – in the pocket of the seat back in front of you. I’ve had a few get sick on me before, but never a repeat customer and never one who did so as gladly as did a certain father from Chicago.

Sorry about that, said I, as we headed back towards the aerodrome. Hisself hacking and coughing all the way.

What is to be done for it, he replied, through breakfast bits. Coming as it did with the territory, like.

Could have gone to the zoo, I offered. Where damned few people get airsick, as far as I am aware.

Where would be the bragging rights in that, he asked.

Answer came there none, for the statement was facially unanswerable.

But the first pair was an interesting set, two young people from India, software engineers as it turns out. He from Delhi, and she from Bombay. Which I didn’t bother to tell her was pronounced, “Mumbai,” these days. For we’ve been taught to be kind to guests and furriners, as once our forefathers were to us.

When it comes to storied lands with sacks full of history that is not easily understood – at least by me – India stands pretty close to the top. I had ancient notions of caste and gender to consider, conservative social culture and the countervailing effect of the tech revolution to factor in. And then there were these two handsome young people before me, clearly in love with unique windows on the universe that like all of us, could not easily be categorized without intimate association. I was flying blind a bit.

The dog fight was his idea obviously, herself clearly nervous, not as who should say frightened. If he was being kind. We took our time through the brief, and once airborne took our time getting acclimated. Taking it slowly, if you like. Easing in.

Small turns, then gradually larger. Level at first, and then ever so gradually more steep, with additional g-loadings gradually introduced. By the time we’d gotten to the first live hack, she was fully in the element, and her swain was in the bag.

We’ll have to wait around a bit, I said. Until your man feels more nearly like his perfect self.

She sat there placidly at ease, happy and full of anticipation. Having one kill on the score sheet so far, and apparently liking her odds.

As is the form, I eased a bit of power on the second hack, and eventually her young man fell in trail, proclaiming himself the better for it both morally and physically.

On the third go ’round I began to sense that I had a tigress in the trunk. The usual coaching on when to execute a high yo-yo – an out of plane maneuver designed to stop down range travel while maneuvering towards the adversary’s control zone – and when to execute the low yo-yo (a mirror image maneuver designed to get airspeed back before closing for the kill) was unnecessary, the lady clearly grasping some fairly advanced concepts intuitively and with an eagerness for the kill that caught me a little off guard. Her having been so shy and retiring in the brief.

I see this sort of thing often, the female of the species is an industrial and methodical killer, especially when technology levels the physical disparities of strength. So I don’t know why it surprises me when I see it in someone from an alien land. Apart from the fact that I believe her young beau was equally non-plussed.

Keep a holt on this one lad, I said to him after. For she has fire in the belly, and hidden reserves.

He smiled, she laughed and I got a $20 tip out of it.

That’s a good start to 2010.

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