Saturday, July 08, 2006

Crossfire's Fly-in

Do you remember when the Mazda Miata first came on the market? Do you remember the almost concurrent creation of Miata Clubs, and the way they couldn't pass each other on the road without honking, flashing their headlights, and/or waving at each other? I remember that phenomenon every time I go to an RV-ish fly-in. I call them "RV-ish" because the RV community is so open and sharing that merely having a glimmer of an interest in having an RV is enough to get you through the door. If FBOs and CFIs were as receptive as this, there would be no talk of a pilot shortage.

Today's fly-in was at a privately owned airport, with a generous 2,600' of grass runway. It's located just north of Malvern, OH. As I was planning the flight last night, I realized that this airport isn't in the database of either of my GPSs, so I'd have to just get as close as I could and hunt for it. Grass runways can be notoriously hard to find, at least in the part of the state where I live where they blend in with the surrounding flat pastures and farm fields. I was able to get pretty close using an intersection named MINER that is in my GPS - it got me to within one mile, which is comfortably close. I also planned on not being the first one there, figuring it would be easier to pick out the runway if there were other planes already there.

The ride out was smooth at 5,500' resulting in long periods of nearly hands-off flying. Egg entertains herself by listening to cell phone ring tones through the intercom and watching the scenery go by. She's getting pretty good at finding her way around the GPS, so I think I will start delegating navigational duties to her.

The airport turned out to be extremely easy to find. As we crossed MINER, it was the only open field in sight.

The runway is surrounded by trees and hills, and reportedly the best approach is to sneak inside the hill by making a tight base leg, but I ended up fast and high on base and had to slip it all the way down final. Even with that I didn't get the tires planted until about a third of the way down the runway. The grass helps a bit in getting slowed down, though, and I got good breaking action since the runway was so smooth. So smooth, in fact, that if I didn't have to clean grass off of the tailwheel and lots of flung up crud off of the bottom of the wing I wouldn't have believed I hadn't landed on pavement. What an awesome runway - I have to get one of those someday!

We were relatively early, so we got premiere parking:

You want to look your best when people come to look at your plane, and Rick has a real beauty. I saw this one come on the market and didn't think it would take long to sell - I think Rick bought it the first day, so apparently we have similar tastes:

Eventually there were 20+ airplanes there, so I had a nice walkabout taking pictures:

Anticipating a hot bumpy ride home, Egg and I were ready to head back right after lunch. I grabbed this shot as we had turned back to the east:

It was a bit hot and bumpy at 4,500 and with the puffy clouds we had at 5,000, we would have had to go up to 8,500 to find smoother, cooler air. It wasn't quite that bad, though, so we stayed down in the haze. The scenery is better, although sometimes I like the look of having the clouds below me too. It's sure neat to just be able to decide which I want on a whim!

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