By lex, on May 22nd, 2010

Mad busy all the live-long day: Eldest daughter finishes her first year in Portland early in June, and she enthusiastically endorsed my but lightly considered trial balloon to come, pick her up and fly her home for the summer rather than spend a cuppla days fighting the freeways.  How much much have you got, I asked, a-thinking about the Cardinal, and more specifically about weight and balance. Roughly 978 pounds gross weight being available to an empty airplane, but some nearly seven hundred pounds of that being taken up by your non-trivially burdensome correspondent, his really-ought-to-eat-more daughter and 60 odd gallons of 100 octane, low lead gasoline at six pounds to the gallon, give or take.

Couple of suitcases said she, but I was not deceived, for those couple of suitcases have on at least three occasions come home more or less empty and left for parts north again fairly bursting at the seams. I do not mention text books, which – as anyone who has ever moved a library before can attest – might as well have been constructed out of crushtheworldium, once you stack a few together.

You: Are there no other options, Lex?

Me: But of course there are, gentle reader. Laying aside the mere pragmatism of terrestrial conveyance – and eschewing commercial aviation altogether –  options abound: A flying club to which we have the honor to be a member in good standing has not one, but two Beech Duchesses, each of which is capable of carrying over 1200 pounds of wetware, gasoline and cargo while cruising at what seems today to be the hair raising speed of 150 knots. That having been just short of nosewheel liftoff speed in your run of the mill FA-18.

You: Is there nothing speedier, Lex?

Me: But of course! There is also a Piper Aztec that will whistle along at the better part of 180kts while carrying 2000 pounds of useful load, but it appears – at $250 to the flight hour – to be fueled by unobtanium. And, lo! With 140 gallon tanks it has the potential to arrive in Portland non-stop with a solid hour or so of reserve fuel. But do we really want to spend the better part of 5+ hours sitting at the helm, with no breaks for a sammich or the biological imperative?

At this our state of encroaching decrepitude, we are not so sure.

You: Done a lot of flying lately in piston engine twins, have you lex?

Me: I have not. A check-out will probably be unavoidable, and – although civilian standards for such things are risible in comparison to that imposed by the federal – yet am I loth to pay some other bugger $50 per hour on top of the cost of operating the machine for to come up to speed.

You: What about that Cessna 210L, with its nearly 1500 pounds of available gross weight, 167 cruise speed, GPS and WAAS?

Me: I’m glad you asked. But at $210 per hour, they aren’t giving it away, and anyway you can double your engines – ret useful when one of them decides to play the fool – for less. Even if the remaining engine only allows you to carefully choose the site of your crash landing.

You: And the Cirrus SR-22?

Me: Wholly out of the question. Too costly to fly, and too damned daunting to learn.

Besides, it could become addictive.

(Anyone local who cares to lend or lease a Garmin 496 GPS is invited to drop a note via PM.)

Also! Two flights at the home ‘drome, the first a one hour learn to fly with Person of Means Todd from Riverside, who enjoyed every moment of the flight right up until my chandelle at the Coronado Bay Bridge, the memory of which never quite left him – or his stomach – until we had firmly placed pied back à terre. Followed by a dogfight hop between two big, boisterous, brash Lon Gilsanders. (Is there any other kind?)

Pére was  a retired detective with the Nassau police department, and fils was his clearly adoring son, now owning his own cellular tower construction company in Orange County but having not lost the (to certain ears obnoxious) brogue of his yute. Both of whom were clearly constructed back when meat was cheap, and when hizzoner the fadder moved about in the trunk, sure I could feel the plane shift to accommodate him.

(Parenthetically – or is that redundant? – the brash, middle class Noo Yawkers kept their stomachs under control and tipped handsomely, while the easy-going Californian of means gave an easy going wave of his empty hand to go with his diminishing nausea. The reasons why and wherefore are exercises left to the reader.)

And! We are invited to the Stars and Stripes gala by our employer, which we considered summat of a kindness until it was determined that the attire was black tie. Your correspondent having never worn a tuxedo since his senior prom (mess dress white and mess dress blue having served admirably over the intervening interval), we were summat at sixes and sevens, until we stopped by for to lease a same-day rental. Only to find that same-day rentals require two weeks notice. We are now the proud owners of a tuxedo compleat with all the accessories, and eagerly anticipate what might be one of the more expensive free meals to which we have ever been treated. Complete with dancing, and the heroic quantities of lubrication that such an unnatural act necessitates.

So: It is not that we have been slack in our duties – nor have you failed to do a fine job keeping the pot stirred in our absence – but that we have been mad busy.

Good talk. Chat later.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Flying, Lex

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