Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Flying










Flying is not for everybody, but it may be for you.  You won't know until you try it.  

     My first plane ride was in this beautiful 1929 New Standard, base at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, which is about 50 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. That was about 25 years ago.  
This plane launched my flying hobby, which has provided many years of adventures.
 I learned to fly when I was single and had few responsibilities, which certainly helped.  It was much cheaper back then, too.  The Piper Tomahawks I rented cost only $35/hour, and that included fuel.  When I see the $100+ hourly cost  posted on local airports today, I cringe.  Another disadvantage new pilots have is far fewer airports than when I learned to fly.


A friend found a bargain 1972 Grumman Traveler, so we jointly bought it.  Both the airplane and the friendship are thriving, 20 years later.. 
Above: Our plane parked in front of Kutstown (Pennsylvania) Diner.  I would fly in once a week for breakfast, and to keep my skills sharp.
  
At Right: On approach to Kutstown runway.
One of the more challenging runways in the area, it was short and uneven, with a deep quarry and high rock pile at one end, a road, telephone poles and houses at the other.  Approach speed was critical, especially in a fast landing plane like a Grumman. 
Grummans are intolerant of wrong approach speeds.  A few MPH (80 and above) fast and you'll float the whole length of the runway.  Too slow and you get behind the power curve and close to the relatively high stall speed of 57 MPH.  Gusty or variable winds, along with the effects of the quarry, tightened the margin for error even more. The Grumman, along with runways like Kutstown, are great for keeping skill sharp.  
   Sadly, Kutstown closed last year, denying future pilots of a wonderful experience. 





Flying provides a perspective on the world that is priceless.  You simply can't buy experiences like the sheer terror joy of a well executed approach and landing at someplace like Kutstown.  As a bonus, you could treat yourself to a great Pennsylvania Dutch style breakfast.  Then return to your home airport 50 miles away, hop in your car and get to work on time.
  Along the way, treat your self to some fantastic views!  Above:  A view out of the cockpit.  Altitude:  1,200 feet.  Airspeed: 110MPH.  Worries:  None  :o)






Seemingly impossible day trips become possible. At Left:   Lake Placid, NY.  By car from PA?  Impossible.  By Grumman?  Just a couple of hours






 At Right:  Chicago, and the former Miegs Field. Another great airport new pilots will never know.
   Chicago is about 6 hours away. Not exactly a day trip, but an easy weekend trip.   On this trip, I wasn't stopping to Chicago, however. I was on my way home from a friends wedding in Appleton, Wisconsin.   Chicago merely provided some memorable views on a very memorable trip.






 While I miss flying as frequently as I used to, I've got enough experiences to last a lifetime.

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