By lex, on October 17th, 2007
Went flying with SNO a few years back, back when I was still on sea duty and could afford that sort of thing. We flew a T-41, which is an old USAF version of the Cessna 172 that I’d rented from the local Navy flying club. **
I’d gotten checked out in the T-41 because I still had random and disconnected thoughts of retiring and going the airline route back in those days. That was back when the notion of sleeping in an Atlanta-based flop with four or five other guys on reserve two weeks of the month, or hoping to be a junior pilot at 40+ years of age who might get called up for a flight on Christmas Eve in order to have a shot at earning $35,000 a year seemed to make some kind of sense.
Recently? Not so much.
I’d have to keep my hand in to earn that kind of money, and while I’d earned a multi-engine Airline Transport Rating at the end of my command tour, multi-engine proficiency time is expensive. Didn’t have a single engine rating, so the flying club T-41 was a good way to get one. I think the Navy had gotten them as cast-off aircraft once the USAF was done with them.
We get a lot of our gear like that.
Wasn’t much to it, really. A 145-horse engine turned a fixed pitch prop fast enough to propel a pair of occupied seats through the breeze at a 110 MPH or so – strange that the airspeed wasn’t in knots, but there you have it. I believe you could have filled two seats in the back, so long as you weren’t entirely committed to actually getting airborne at the end of your take-off roll, but they were stripped out of our machines. I think for insurance purposes.
It’s not a big airplane, and neither your correspondent nor his number one son are anyone’s definition of small, so the young man’s eyes grew round and thoughtful as we walked out for preflight. It’d be alright said the old man with a grin, and the poor kid actually believed me.
The young: They are so trusting.
Up and away and over the sea for to do some very gentle maneuvers. Not like you could do much with it anyway. Decided to demo some stalls to the young man, power on, power off, approach turn stall. That sort of thing. One look in his eyes told me that he’d considered his earlier trust misplaced:
“You’re going to do what?!?”
I guess I should have briefed him more carefully on the ground, but stalls demonstrations and recoveries are a routine bit of familiarization for almost any airplane. People who haven’t flown before are often surprised to hear that, associating the word “stall” very frequently with “crash”, “burn”, and “memorial service”. We just do them at a safe altitude when we’re learning to fly airplanes, while those who are learning how to crash them do not.
Funny what you get used to.
Talking about getting out of your comfort zone, I was helping the Hobbit with her high school photography assignment – I know – and “we” had been tasked to use “my” Nikon D70 to take an action photo wherein a moving subject was blurred against a fixed background.
After a fair amount of head scratching trying to remember how to set up the manual settings for shutter speed and aperture width, we managed to get some images that were about right: I used a tripod, set the shutter speed to 1/50 and dialed the aperture all the way down (it was a hazy bright day). Set myself up at the bottom of a local hill popular with bicyclists and went at it like we meant business.
We got the blur effect right, but the colors were supersaturated in blues hues and required some aggressive photoshoppery to make presentable.
What did I leave out?
“The Outlaw Josey Wales” is the best western movie ever made.
You, of course, are free to disagree. But you’d better come armed with a scene that can top Clint Eastwood’s “word of life and death”** speech to “Ten Bears”, tobacco juice and all.
** 08-15-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.