Saturday, April 11, 2009

Life Worth Living

Don't bring me down.

Yesterday and today were fabulous. Indescribably perfect. An 11 on a scale of 1-10.

It started with flying the Luscombe from Mankato to Hartford, a total of 3.7 hours of flying. It was my first time left seat in the airplane, and it was some kind of unholy at first.

My beloved Cubs awaited me at Hartford, and after a brief lunch, I finally learned to hand prop! Then I hopped in the Cub with Steve and we did all sorts of fun short-field, obstacle landings. I distinctly recall fighting the urge, on the first takeoff, to yell into the mike, "I LOVE THIS!!!!" (And yes, the caps and excess punctuation are necessary.)

Today, I flew the Luscombe (with Todd sitting right seat) up to Hartford for some more Cub time. It's a short 0.4 hour trip, and Cubs were again awaiting me! I started the airplane three times, once to taxi it to the gas pump, once after fueling, and another time to go flying again.

Steve had me do three landings on the grass before we headed off to some small private strips he has permission to use. All of our previous day's short-field practice now came into action! We flew low, tight patterns, dragged the airplane in over trees and slipped right down to the runway. Cool stuff! At another strip, we flew swooping finals to avoid flying over houses and skidded into lining up with the runway. For those of you who haven't done it, it's absolutely wild!! What a ton of fun! We also did turning takeoffs (now those are a hoot!) and early turnouts to dodge a neighbor who didn't want his house overflown. That strip was a blast, especially with a hill and huge trees at one end, and a barn and trees at the other. Next up was a short, downsloping strip that demanded a slow touchdown (or else you'd float halfway down the runway and run out of real estate). There are some things you can only do in a Cub, and that's certainly one of them!

After some pizza and a break, I asked Steve to do some pavement work. Off we went again! 6 landings later he had seen enough and suggested I drop him off back at the hangar so I could head out on my own.

Excitement ensued . . . then apprehension when I had trouble with the left brake (it's quite soft, and one can't always stop by making a right turn) . . . then exhilaration as I grabbed the tiger by the tail and soared off into the sky.

For the record: Steve's Cub has a C-85 with the O-200 crank, so it makes about 103 hp . . . in an airplane that originally flew with 40. With 110 lbs of me and 100 hp, that Cub gets going! I barely had the throttle forward and the tail up before we popped off the ground. Climbing at 60 put me at 500 feet before reaching the end of the 3000 ft paved runway . . . NICE! The first takeoff went kind of like this . . . Wait for the Warrior flying the 747 pattern, check downwind, base, and final . . . take the runway, power forward, and I exclaimed "WOO-HOO-HOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" as we nearly roared heavenward (I realize that "Cub" and "roared" do not go together, but it sure felt like it!). I laughed out loud gleefully at the controls of my favorite airplane, and favorite Cub. This is too good to be true!

Two landings later, I decided I'd go have some fun . . . I broke off to the north and let 186 climb like a homesick angel. (Steve later told me he briefly thought he was witnessing Cub theft.) At 3000 feet and north of the field, it was spin time! YEEHA!!! With no one else but the Cub listening, I was free to exclaim all those emotions I silenced for the benefit of others. I LOVE THIS AIRPLANE! I laughed through 3 turns, face nearly split in half by a smile. Another spin, a lazy 8 or two, and some delightful steep turns followed before I reluctantly dragged myself back to the airport. My half hour of heaven was coming to an end, and I didn't want to keep Steve waiting. But first, I made another 4 landings on the pavement . . . sweet! The best part was, I felt in control . . . not overconfident, but respectful. But also not fearful, which was a wonderful, wonderful thing.

It was hard to taxi back to the hangar . . . I didn't want to get out and let the magic end. Please . . . one more landing. One more spin. One more steep turn. One more enchanting view of the earth. Please don't let it end . . .

Unfortunately, responsibility called and I brought the airplane back--but I did hug it (Cub hug) before leaving the hangar. She sure is some kind of wonderful.

I once told someone before I left Mankato that if I had the chance to solo the Cub again, I'd be so happy I could just cry. And I am. I can't explain it. But that airplane just brings out every last bit of aviation passion in me and puts it under a magnifying glass. Things are simple again. All I need is that stick and throttle, and life is worth living. Everything feels right. Good. Like slipping an old sweatshirt on. Familiar and welcoming. Like hugging an old friend and realizing you had never really been apart, because you're destined to be together.

Things click. Things make sense. Important things become more clear, and irrelevant things lose their importance. The world is beautiful, and so is life. That one brief moment, a snapshot in time, warms your heart and feeds your soul.

I was trying to explain just how awesome my day was to someone . . . and I realized that you cannot possibly convey that through emotionless text. I tried, and then told him we'd go Cub flying someday and I really hoped he'd be one of the ones who "got it."

It's moments like these when I realize why I want this blog to help others become involved. I'm overflowing with a passion and love for flying, and it would be criminal not to share it. I want others to know, and to feel, the way I do when the sheer joy of flight causes me to laugh gleefully.

I recognize this isn't a very helpful entry. But I was prompted to write it nonetheless, after a fabulous two days of Cub flying . . . hopefully Sunday will bring more!


No comments:

Post a Comment