Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Girl in the Cub

More Lock Haven tales, almost a month after the fact!

The weather was absolutely horrid all day Wednesday, the first half of Thursday, the second half of Friday, and less than desirable on Saturday too.

It rained. A LOT. Every night. At about 6 on Saturday morning my poor tent finally couldn't take any more and I began to feel faint drips infiltrating my previously dry haven. It took four nights and about eight straight hours of rain Friday night/Saturday morning, but my tent was finally beaten into submission. I took refuge under my sleeping bag for a while, updating my logbook, but eventually I decided to pack up as much as I could take to the shower house and hope the rest stayed dry. Of course, when I left the shower house it had stopped raining. Figures.

Shockingly, 21Y stayed almost completely dry, save for one dribble down the left window. Dan did an excellent job restoring her! In fact, due to the uncertainty of my tent and lack of hanging space, I draped my towel over the seats to dry. It worked quite well!


Sentimental Journey was the first fly-in I had attended with a spot landing contest and bomb drop contest. Since I had never done either, I decided I would enter. Despite the opportunity for public humiliation I vowed I'd have fun nonetheless, and surely no one could fault me for trying.

When I went to sign up for the spot landing contest, I was the third entrant, and I was beginning to get a bit nervous. A girl and a Cub can disappear in a crowd fairly easily, but it's hard to forget when there are only three! Thankfully, the weather cleared up just in time for the competition and a total of 16 pilots had registered at that time. I felt better knowing a dismal performance would likely not be as noticeable then.

A bit of background: My airplane neighbors had pointed out a blue-and-yellow Taylorcraft and white-and-purple Kitfox that frequented the pattern continuously, even on the not so pretty times of the day. They told me they were very active in flying during the fly-in and typically took first place in the spot landing and bomb drop contests. When I told them I wanted to enter, they told me the Taylorcraft and the Kitfox were sure to win. I was somewhat intimidated but hey, this is supposed to be fun, right?

I was in the first group of four airplanes and took up a position as either the third or fourth airplane (third I believe). It was my first time flying since arriving in Lock Haven on Tuesday, and it was sunny out finally! Lock Haven is situated in a beautiful valley and my two short trips around the pattern gave me a chance to fully appreciate my surroundings.

I was surprised at the size of the patterns flown by some of the other aircraft but did my best to stay in closer (21Y, like any Cub, gets frightened when flying large patterns and higher than 2,000 feet AGL, unless for the sake of spins). The approach was looking good but the trick was to figure out how much space I needed to properly flare and touch down. In the briefing the rules had been outlined loosely--it was not stated that you had to make a three-point landing but the judges couldn't very well say you could just slam the mains onto the ground, bounce back into the air, and call that a landing. I'm more comfortable with three-point landings so I just decided to go that route.

The first landing was sweet! I can't say that about all of them, but I was thrilled that I made a nice landing in front of a bunch of people! I knew it was pretty close but it was hard to tell how far from the orange line we settled. The second landing was farther from the line but it wasn't terrible. Within 15 minutes, it was over. As I taxied back it was fun to see people wave at me--so I waved back! Some even clapped (a lot of the wives and other women pilots seemed to be clapping--I felt like a poster child for a moment).

One of the judges held up one finger at me. What did that mean? There's no way I could be in first place . . .

Then he called over the radio, "Nice job, 21Y, you're in first place."

I laughed and told 21Y she was a darling little Cub and that she had done well. I taxied back and Jordan (who works for Cub Club/Luscombe Association/Taylorcraft Owner's Club) helped me tie down 21Y. "They were nice landings," he said, "but 35 feet won't win." I must've had a confused look on my face, because he then added, "I'm just kidding, you're in first place with two feet!" (my second landing was 35 feet from the line)

I'm sure I grinned wildly. How funny to have been so worried and then put up a decent attempt! I walked back by the runway to watch the rest of the competition. I was getting nervous again . . . how cool would it be if I won?!? But wouldn't it be a bummer to watch someone beat you if you got your hopes up? Either way, I was extremely curious and wanted to watch. At some point in time, one of the spectators yelled up to the watch tower "Who's in first?" To which Ed Watson, airport director and VP of Sentimental Journey, replied "The girl in the Cub!"

That was pretty cool. I was now "the girl in the Cub." That seemed like a pretty awesome title to have!

12 other aircraft completed their two attempts and in the end, 21Y and I were still in first place! I was reminded of a time prior to leaving for Lock Haven when I had jokingly said to Steve, "What would you do if I actually won the spot landing competition?" He had replied, with a chuckle, "I might even take a picture with you!" (he did not do so, for the record)

It was sort of weird afterwards . . . people knew who I was. One man was walking behind me and called out "Amy!" and when I turned around he said "I just wanted to see if that was you . . . you're the girl who won the spot landing contest, right?" I would be lying if I said the 15 minutes of fly-in fame wasn't fun, but I did find it funny. I made two landings and all of a sudden people recognized me. Of course, being female helps, but there were at least two other female contestants, one of whom placed second.

Somewhere out there one of my airplane neighbors (the whole group was congratulatory and probably quite surprised) has photos of the first landing, but I haven't received them yet. Maybe someday I will get them, but maybe not, and I certainly understand how one can get behind with pictures!

The less-than-stellar weather--there are some decent-sized towers on this ridge, and they, along with the top of the ridge, were invisible for almost two days. Yuck!

Yours truly and the spot landing/bomb drop trophy, with W. T. Piper in the background

A proud 21Y

A decent turnout despite some miserable weather before/during the fly-in

Meandering around the ridges on Friday, when the weather was finally clear for a decent amount of time! (Jordan got tossed into the front seat and was flying at this time while I was shooting--we were chasing down Steve in the other Cub, but more on that later)

What a view!

Life is good!

We had plenty of time to appreciate where we had been, but that's fine by me!

Lock Haven kaleidoscope

Life is good!


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