Thursday, August 10, 2006

An RV ride for another first-timer

Although to me, it seemed like his second time. That's because I also gave a ride to his twin brother last month! I was off work yesterday and itching for an excuse to fly; lucky me to find that he was off too. The weather down south around Cincy was forecast to be mildly yucky, with periodic bouts of 4 miles visibility and ceilings down to roughly 3000'. A look at the radar returns echoed (get it?) that prognosis. Odd as it sounds, it was just the weather I was looking for! I've been hoping to find some non-threatening yet not appealing weather near-by in order to try out the weather reporting functions of the new Anywhere Map. The last time I flew with it, the weather was severe clear for hundreds of miles around Ohio. Everything appeared to be working, though, with the moving map moving and the weather system showing clear reports for all of the surrounding airports. The only problem I had that day was that the little stylus used for prodding the Anywhere Map PDA into life fell out of its slot on the top of the PDA, probably as a direct result of the airplane being briefly upside down. That happens a lot in RVs, you know. Hours of searching through the cockpit failed to find the little bugger, so I've been forced to try to use the tip of my finger for interacting with the PDA, which is a situation rife with possibilities for eliciting creative and colorful swear words. Who knew I had such fat fingers?

Local Columbus weather was pretty good yesterday and the still winds offered me a golden opportunity to give the passenger a nice, smooth ride. Take-off was a non-event, with what little wind there was favoring the runway that allows a low pass over our neighborhood so he could get a good look at his house. He pointed out how well his and his twin brother's in-ground pools stand out, a fact with which I was intimately familiar after having flown over them after many hot & sweaty flights, dreaming of a nice, cool dip in the deep blue water, kept clean and sparkly in its benign captivity.

It was soon after takeoff that I realized that a couple of things weren't quite right with the Anywhere Map (hereafter referred to as 'AM'): the screen was darker than usual and barely perceptible in the bright cockpit, and the GPS hadn't scored a connection with the AM software. Oh, bother. The screen brightness issue was easily resolved by re-seating the power plug (the PDA reduces screen brightness when it senses that it is running on the internal battery to preserve battery capacity), but the GPS belligerently refused to connect. As we got closer to Cincy, I could see the low scuddy weather I was expecting, but since the GPS wasn't working I was unable to see it depicted on the PDA. Since there was no real destination in mind, although we had planned on a stop at Clermont Co. to visit Sporty's, I made a quick 180 and headed back towards the blue skies up north.

As long as we were headed back up towards the north, I decided to head into Grimes-Urbana and pick up a slice of black raspberry pie for the wife. I thought the B-25 that was parked there last weekend might still be sitting there, too, and that might be a cool thing for the passenger to see. Our course took us directly towards Springfield, which is an airport I try to give a wide berth due to the presence of my old Ohio National Guard unit. They fly F-16s now, and they fly them a lot. I had no sooner mentioned that to the passenger when a pair of 16s flew right over us, albeit a couple of thousand feet higher than we were. The B-25 was, in fact, still at Urbana, and I was able to procure the single remaining slice of raspberry pie. The landing was a bit off - it was one of those landings where I hold the plane in the flare just a second too long and we arrive tail wheel first. It's not a horrible way to land, but it does cause a wee bit of bouncing when the mains are slapped down onto the runway.

The landing back at Bolton, however, was a greaser. As with his twin brother, the passenger had a great time and couldn't wait until his next 24 hour shift at the firehouse since "now he'd have something to talk about!"

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