Saturday, August 20, 2005

The right side of the fence

Seven RV's from around central Ohio used Bolton as their meeting point this morning. They needed a spot to go through the group formation preflight briefing before going over to the fly-in/air show at Lancaster, the airport southeast of Columbus and the former home of Papa Golf. I had been planning on flying to Newark to be there by 9:00 to meet up with these guys for breakfast, so having them land at Bolton made that even easier. Amongst those scheduled to arrive was 'Dogg,' the guy that gave me my first-ever RV ride. They were scheduled to arrive at Bolton at 9:00, so there was no point in going to Newark any earlier than that.

The weather was kinda cruddy with only 1.5 miles visibility. I heard them call the tower over my scanner and heard the tower tell them it was IFR. There was a pause while they ingested that, and eventually someone got around to asking for what's called a 'special VFR' clearance. With a special, all you need is 1 mile visibility and remain clear of clouds to legally land VFR. Larger airports won't usually do it, but a smaller airport like Bolton will usually allow it. If I remember correctly, the tower can only approve a request for it, not offer it.

They taxied in and we chatted a bit. I mostly stay out of the way on these things since they need to get their briefing done, and that is a very serious and formal affair. There's no room for distractions or side conversations.


They finished their briefing and were getting ready to head off to the airshow, so Rick and I saddled up for a quick ride to Urbana for breakfast. It was already getting pretty hot and bumpy, so I'm glad I had decided to get some flying in early since it will only get worse this afternoon. I had a crappy landing at Urbana after flaring too high and holding it off too long which resulted in a huge bounce when it finally dropped to the runway, all dutifully recorded on video tape by Rick. After breakfast we stood around the RV talking across the fence to some guys that were interested in homebuilts. They're always impressed when I tell them that the plane cruises at 155 knots on 150 hp, they always tell me how good looking it is. Ahh, music to my ears.

Next stop was Madison Co. for gas. Rick taped another abominable landing there. As long as we were there, I took the opportunity to remove the Tampico For Sale sign from the bulletin board. The winds really started picking up while we were there, so I had a fun takeoff to look forward to as well with a 10 - 12 knot crosswind. It ended up not being horrible, but not being particularly good either.

Back at Bolton, the winds were 9 knots directly down the runway. Most days, having a direct headwind usually makes the landing a bit easier, and today was one those days. It was a very nice and smooth wheel landing, having little to no bounce.

Rick didn't tape that one.

Driving home, I got to thinking about how many fences I had been on the right side of today. I've always been big on being on the right side of the fence, or in other words, being a 'doer' rather than a 'watcher.' I was on the right side of the fence when a group of RVs flew into Bolton this morning, an event rare enough that it prompted a "Cool" from the control tower. I was on the right side of the fence at Urbana, while talking to all of the folks that came over to see the RV. I was even on the right side of the fence at Madison Co. buying gas and petting the airport dog Roscoe.

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