Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Silver Plane

As usual I woke up early Saturday morning.  I went to the airport and started the coffee pot.  My friend Gary showed up and we visited for awhile.  About three cups later, I decided it was time to see if Travis was up.  It was about 8:30 and we’d talked about going to Fredericksburg for some lunch.

It turned out Travis wasn’t feeling good, so I pre-flighted and pulled the plane out into the sun.  It was cold!!  Soon I had the engine warming and though the winds were calm, which would normally prompt me to use 35, I opted for 17 to give the engine more time to warm up.

Soon enough I was lining up on the centerline of 17 and gently pushing in the throttle.  She was eager to fly.  I turned right crosswind and departed to the West.  I leveled off at 4500 and settled in for about an hour flight.  Of course I snapped a few photos, but it was a tough call… get the photos or keep the cold air outside!

I flew over the LBJ ranch and looked down on the runway where Air Force One used to deliver President Johnson to his home.  A Lodestar he flew in while Vice President is now there and the tail was sticking out from under the hail shed.  I then flew over Burg Lake Aero where my friends Howard and Cynthia have relocated their Luscombes since Kittie Hill closed.  Their hangars were closed, so I continued on to Fredericksburg.

I tied down the plane and it wasn’t long before I had people walking over to ask about it!  That’s always fun.  I wasn’t really hungry yet, so I walked over to the terminal to get out of the cold wind and warm up a little.  I sat where I could watch my plane.  It’s nice to see people walk past all of the Bonanzas and 172s and head straight for my plane!

Eventually I walked back over to the plane and once again found myself answering questions.  A local guy named Dick was flying radio controlled airplanes down the street when he saw me fly over.  He walked over to see the plane and we talked for probably 45 minutes.

Some old cars and trucks started showing up and there was a photographer who brought her own models dressed in period clothes.  I watched them for awhile, then went in to the diner to get a burger and chips.  Not a bad burger and the waitress was really sweet.  I think she thought it was funny listening to all of the questions I was getting.  “You fly around just for fun?”  “How old is the plane?”  “1946?!  Really?  It looks brand new!”  “How much does a plane like that cost, $200,000?”  No, but I’ll sell it to you for half of that!

I called Howard and he said he’d be at his hangar around 2PM, so I headed that way.  It’s a fun little strip.  I’d never been there before, but it’s easy to find.  It has a nice pond and just seems like a good place to hang out and enjoy airplanes and the company of good friends.

I tried to come in slow, even using flaps which is rare for me, but still came in hotter than I wanted to.   I might have flinched a little as the mains kissed the grass, wondering if I was too fast.  As I crossed the road that goes through the middle of the runway and realized it was now going downhill, I was a little surprised.  It looked flat from the air!  No worries though, I probably used less than ¾ of the 1900’ strip.  It’s always interesting going into a new field though.

Howard was waiting with his cowboy hat on and his new electronic cigar replacement.  I’m glad he’s quitting tobacco, but it seemed strange not to smell that cigar!  We quickly pulled out chairs and started catching up.  Cynthia soon arrived and declared she was going up.  She soon had her beautiful Luscombe fueled and ready to go.  Howard and I watched her takeoff, then later she did several landings.  She can sure fly that plane!

After she landed, I decided I needed to leave.  We took some photos and I was soon lined up on 36 and bouncing down the runway.

On my way back I was watching my fuel level closely.  I was purposely trying to let it get as low as safely possible as I need to lube my fuel selector and change out the gaskets in my now leaking primer.  I heard a helicopter leaving Taylor as I was about 10 miles out and one other radio call I couldn’t quite make out.

As I entered downwind, I heard someone say, “The white powered parachute has the traffic in sight.”  It was Bruce.  After putting the plane away, I grabbed a beer from the fridge and walked out on the ramp to watch Bruce land.  He did some touch-n-goes before putting it away.  It sure is pretty to see the sun shining through a parachute.

And that was it.  Another great flying adventure!  Maybe next time you’ll go!

Jack “Silver Plane” Fleetwood

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