W o r d s F r o m A u s t i n
Weather From: austin (austin at uniserve.com) I can't see but half a mile from where I sit now. Monsoon rains have dropped vis to point 5 and ceiling to about as high as I can throw a beer bottle.The monsoon doesn't begin to start....it arrives.... I come home from the hangar glad that the RV is under cover and dry. Hangar doors bang loudly in their tracks and sound timpani and base reverberating through all the bays within.Nobody comes out to the field on days like this....nobody to come by and visit.No worries about water in the tanks, or wind to do havoc as she did blowing the tree over in my back yard...for the second time.Amazingly, I hear a Beaver on floats rumble by, red beacon glowing slow turns about fuselage.I see only a couple of turns of the beacon and he is gone, but not silent, into the murk.I knew two guys who flew like that once upon a time.One was so keen to get a job flying the coast that he flew in weather that began to frighten him more and more each time he set foot on the step to climb aboard.The demands to make the flights so overcame his love of flying that he quit altogether lest he never see another Spring.Such was the fear of living in the shadow of being killed.The other fellow simply was killed.He would fly anytime anywhere, and I can't remember what the urgency was to go, but he went anyway and flew into Cumulo Granite........it was no contest.The ELT was thrown clear out of the aircraft and did not go off, but strangely, worked just fine on the bench when later recovered. Sometimes the Gods of Flight give you a break though..I once stood down for a couple of days in the Oregon hills waiting out the weather, eager to get home, and having seen everything and talked to everybody in the small logging town, decided to fly a weather check. It was raining and overcast and I got lower and lower and followed the lights of the cars below when I became aware that fuel was low as it was and I could barely see the wingtips, and did a 180 and landed back where the highway led me to my starting point...My turnaround was appropriately named the town of " Drain"...I never did something like that again...Only four days ago I was flying over rolling hills with golden trees as far as I could see.Warm in the cockpit and CAVU.6,000 feet on the altimeter, but only 1,000 above ground, now today, down at sea level, my nose has stopped bleeding and hands not so chapped and cracked as they were.How wonderful it is to get a window seat in a jet and watch how we climb up through the dark and rainswept morning to clear skies and rising sun above the deck of solid Q....If only we had gyros, oxygen, IFR capability in every sense, that would be fantastic, but would I get down just as well ?I had a friend who had to get back to homebase in poor weather while flying his 150.The only saving grace he had was he could see the ocean and the mouth of the river leading home.He knew how long he had to fly upriver and made a call to the tower, who cleared him straight in.When he arrived over the riverbend, he saw a red beacon he thought to be on the field, but was actually a low flying helicopter who did not see or hear him...When he landed, the tower was still calling him thinking he was still airborne, but he was on the tarmac and they still could not see him. Talk about miracles.I have been waiting around for word to go pick up a Cub and fly it from the Great Lakes to the West Coast.Nordo, basic Cub..no this, no that, no nothing,... except romance. Today I got word they won't insure me not because of skill level or lack thereof, but because of my age.And yet, the same company insures my RV and me, and I have more tail wheel time than trike.On a day like this, I don't mind being alone and cold and roving about the hangar, listening to the doors bang.At least it is not airplane metal getting slammed.In one hangar bay, fitted out like a house away from home, lies a new workbench holding a new tail group of an RV7.What a dream these new kits are !......makes you want to order another, just to enjoy the improvements and the cleanliness and newness of all the kit offers.I look at my hands still bearing cuts and dirt of Proseal, MEK, dirt from the bowels of a tired and beat up Metro.Inside this beast, I saw a message writ large by a structures guy of long ago...upon moving a batt of insulation to see where I had drilled into the fuselage was this missive....." They don't pay you enough to work on this pig ".At least that gave me a good laugh and appreciate how nice it is to work on a new kit....no comparison.I am currently awaiting a nice high pressure cell which will allow me and friends to resume flying together in company.......still, clear air and dramatic winter skies make some of the best flying ever....Now if only I could operate a video cam while holding the RV level, I could capture some of the most memorable skyscapes I have ever seen while flying the Cascades, and keeping an eye out for THOR and his lightening bolt spear, or any other Norse Gods who dwell up here.Believe it or not, the best landing I have made and one that sticks with me still is one I made in the RV when the sky was black and the wind was ripping across the runway and my approach was bobbing like a cork on the sea.I did not use flap as it was too hard to engage, my having sawed it down too short.The runway looked crooked and I held in rudder and right wing down against the gale, held her off until I had to line up the paint strips with the same way I was going, rounded out and settled as if an instructor was doing the flying........I was too thrilled to be amazed at what I had just done... The low, dark ceiling was lit from beneath by a sinking winter sun and the whole scene was such that if you saw a painting of it, you would say that was not a real portrayal of a land/seascape...but I have seen it... And in that dark mass of roiling sea off the end of that runway, Orca, the killer whale, calls and whistles for her pod to rejoin her, and I rejoin my ground bound friends in the hangar/ coffee debrief room. Austin.