Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Every day, I am reminded how incredibly fortunate I am to have the world's best network of friends.  Not surprisingly, many of them are involved in aviation (though certainly not all), which emphasizes one of aviation's most appealing aspects--that of the sense of community.

Not everyone can find a friend that knows someone to answer just about any question that comes up, yet this is common in aviation.  What's even more awesome is that I have many people I can call and prod for advice or just to chat.  I'm like the Travelocity gnome--I never roam alone ;)

So, airplane friends, thanks for being there.  Thanks for the advice and open ears and head-clearing services.  I know my friends will always be there, whatever far reaches of the earth we get flung to.  With such a widespread smattering of friends, it is fun to realize that I can be at home almost anywhere in the country.  I count myself very lucky to be able to be a part of this community and hope that we are all doing our share to introduce others to this unique atmosphere.

Just had to share and say thanks.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In Love With the Moment

It strikes me that we as humans fixate on moments, and for good reason.  Moments are more than an event; they are a feeling, an emotion.  As I reflect on the awesome experience I have had through my involvement in aviation, I can't say that I really had a moment where I knew instantly that I wanted to fly.  I do, however, remember snippets of flights like they were yesterday, and I am of the belief that we as a community must help other fall in love with moments.

A few favorites from this year involved the trek to and from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.  On the way out, my friend Dave in his PA-11 and I in Little Airplane stopped in Knox, Indiana for the night.  We had stopped at Knox on the way back from Lock Haven in 2011 and had had a great stay with couches available and even a shower.  This year, we arrived about 30 minutes prior to sunset (which is a world record for Dave) and tied the airplanes down.  As we each checked in with family members, I sat down on the ramp under Little Airplane's tail and took in one of the more perfect evenings I've ever experienced.  The pavement was pleasantly warm, the remaining rays of sunlight warmed my face, and the view was spectacular.  I can't remember what I said or how long I was there, but this image has been burned into my brain forever.

As far as I can tell, this image should appear in the dictionary next to the word "perfection."

Later in the evening, we took the courtesy van to town and picked up Chinese food to go.  There is nothing quite like picnic tables at an airport with takeout food, a good friend for company, pleasant weather, and only the sound of crickets and the rotating beacon making its rounds.  Absolute heaven.

Another great moment from the Lock Haven trip was on the way back.  We ran out of daylight and picked an airport that can only be described as the best option available.  I am sure it had great facilities but there was no way to utilize them.  With no cab service in town and the nearest restaurant (and restroom) 3 miles away, we got creative and called Domino's (this did not solve the second problem, but that is another story).   Again, we plopped down on the ramp and had our dinner leaning up against tundra tires watching the world go to sleep.  We popped the tents and settled in for the night, departing before the FBO ever actually opened.

These moments are by no means glorious.  In fact, they're sort of crude and rudimentary.  They're not fancy.  But they are things that, to me, epitomize the barnstorming mindset of aviation.  You get up, point the nose in the direction you'd like to go, count to a given number of hours, and then poke around for a fuel stop.  It's delightfully unsophisticated and freeing.  

Essentially, these moments are about finding your place.  For me, it is somewhere in an eternal summer with an airplane that has the little wheel in the back at a grassroots airport as I wander about somewhere.  I suppose if I could accurate convey what I feel I'd be miles ahead but I can only really show you.  So here are a few pictures that make me smile.

This one is special because it shows Little Airplane as a Sun 'n' Fun 2011 Survivor.  

On the way home from SNF11.  Loved the light on the hills.

Flying the first love.  

Love the light.  Love the subject more.

She's got a few injuries left here, but she's surveying her kingdom.

Hanging out while Aaron Tippin flies the Super 18.  It was a tough job.

A sweet gentleman gave me a 4-leaf clover for good luck in the spot landing contest.  Apparently I had already won with Little Airplane by then but it was cute :)

View from a nap

I think it's full!

Feels like living!

First solo in a Pietenpol.  A tremendous privilege!


Show her the pancake, let her get the scent, then proceed to nearest pancake breakfast.  Works every time.

On to the next great adventure.

Who, ME???

A girl can dream.

I feel like the luckiest person in the world every time I look out and see this.

IFR, Cub style.

My chariot awaits.

Which one, which one?  I can't choose!

Fueled up and off to find adventure.