Author Topic: Been Flying Lately?  (Read 2322 times)

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Offline Bill James

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Been Flying Lately?
« on: March 03, 2016, 06:42:44 PM »
Been Flying Lately?
The sun was three fingers above the horizon. It was going to be close.
Walking in to work yesterday morning my fighter pilot buddy said his usual greeting, “Been flying lately?” And for the rest of the day the urge to slip the surly bonds had been buzzing around my head like a persistent horse fly. There was no getting rid of it until now, heading home. My trusty ’97 Mustang had its head and was topping the mild Texas rises a little brisker than usual. The wind was buffeting the rag top and portended a sporty flight. I was thinking, “Count me in.”
When the engine started the sun was two fingers above the horizon. Time was flying and i needed to be. I didn’t look at the clock anymore, we were going.
Taxiing out, ‘brisk’ was still the operative word. The windsock was busy but almost right down the runway. The takeoff and quick climb was non-Hertzler-esque using significantly more than 4 gph, as was the entire flight. It was about eleven minutes to the lake and 4.5K was good.  It was somewhat unusual to be holding the canard down in a climb. It was also unusual on a sunset run to hold a heading very long where the sun was right over the instrument panel, with the reflection off the nose making for a brilliant double glow. Bad news. Blinding. But wrapped in the rippling willing steed around me, escorted by two proud winglets, it was glorious. Instead of being blinded, maybe you can see further…
The turbulence was a bit intimidating over the ridge lines secluding our little lake cabin, so I coasted almost power-off across the ridge and through a couple of turns around the place. One time I was sitting in the back yard there and counted a trail of over a hundred vultures pass almost effortlessly overhead. At that time I humorously wondered where the heck they were going, as if they had somewhere to be, like an important meeting maybe? Now I was soaring with them, a little higher… they are beautiful in the air… spectacular. Now I know, I know where they were going – they were flying the sunset!
Another turn around the place. I widened the turn a little and followed the creek as it twisted and turned going seven miles length in three miles span. Great for jet skis. Below, the water was high but our floating dock was still in place. All good. Mission complete. I turned to follow the ridge lines and four cove fingers around the lake to the dam. I floated past the cap rock along the ridge lines that was once the ocean floor. I made a turn and took in the entire valley that had been washed out after a meteor hit down in Mexico, some centuries ago I hear. That’s why there are rocks the size of cars that had tumbled down to our yard from the ridge above, also eons ago, thank goodness.
I coasted through the turbulence over the ridges and over the dam, gliding some, and working some, coasting down to see our creek tumble into the Brazos River, finally pulling away from the allure and vista of the Texas Hill Country. 
Oh yeah. The sun! One finger above the horizon. Not good. Still plenty of avgas so forward on the throttle and climbing fast with a little forward pressure on the stick. Let’s get cooking. Crossing over the thick string of headlights on I-20 west I humorously wondered where they were all going. The horizon opened up ahead and the lights of Fort Worth and Dallas sprinkled alive. I remembered the night years ago, I was flying a friend’s Long EZ just past sunset and the space shuttle trailed a brilliant golden contrail across the sky streaking toward Florida. They probably got there and landed before I landed.
I was flying over just about the same spot as that night. Again, a tinge of heightened awareness of the life of flying these planes crept up on me and i got chills up my sides and arms and up my neck into my hair. I watched the airport approaching and struggled through the pattern entry and the landing, not struggling like struggling, but struggling to grasp and hold every moment, to see and hold on, hold on to the feel, the feel of the wings that seemed to hold on to every molecule of lift, holding on…

This morning my fighter pilot buddy had his routine greeting, “Hey, been flying lately?”
I said, “…Yes.”
« Last Edit: August 24, 2016, 07:36:41 AM by Bill James »
Bill James, Fort Worth VariEze N95BJ
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Offline Fred N.

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Re: Been Flying Lately?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2016, 06:22:42 PM »
As a matter of fact - YES.  Glad you asked.  Thank you Bill for taking us on another flight with you.  You have a wonderful way of taking us along with you (instead of your wife).  I really enjoy the flights with you.

  I had one earlier in the day in my  metal alternate.  Using Runway 13, I departed the airport traffic area still over the airport.  (Its a 6 seat retractable and I was alone and the tanks were not full).  Making a right turn out over Utah Lake, I headed toward Rush Valley.  To the North of it are 4 notable landing strips near Eagle Mountain.  The first was at Fairfield where cub type homebuilt planes are assembled.  They have 2400' of asphalt, but I just circled it.  To the North east is Senator Jake Garn Airport 6300' of un-maintained asphalt just South of town.  On the North side of town is a private, dirt strip.  I wouldn't go there but did an overfly.  To the West is a former ultra-lite strip that now is mostly used by the glider crowd.

Finding myself very near the entry point for an ILS back to the runway I took off, I got clearance for a "straight-in".  It was a really good day for at least 2 people identified here.  Thanks again for your report.  (This was the celebration of the arrival of my Whirlwind Carbon fiber prop being put on Ed Kelly's LEZ.  It has been on the ground for almost 22 years.  There is an actual chance it will fly again this year.  It was faster than the metal aircraft before.  With some new boost and this prop it should be even faster.)

Fred Nielson
 

Offline Bill James

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Re: Been Flying Lately?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2016, 07:06:57 AM »
Sounds like a really good day Fred   :)
Bill James, Fort Worth VariEze N95BJ
Downdraft Plenums, QuickCowls
There was supposed to be anhedral?
ATP, Society of Flight Test Engineers