Saturday, May 26, 2007

It's A Small World, After All

I hadn't really planned on flying today. The weather was just ok, not rising in quality to anything near the level required to be tagged as a "mandatory fly" day. Between that and a couple of other reasons arising from recent events, I really hadn't the appetite for it that I usually have. Still, the dog was looking to get out of the house for awhile and I did have a few chores I could take care of over at the hangar, so off we went.

Airport time, much like I imagine dog time to be, is quite elastic. I think it was last summer, but with airport time being all bendy like it is it may not have been, but in any case, I got a new hangar neighbor. We chatted a bit last year as we each took turns sniffing each other's planes (ok, I promise to stop with the dog metaphors now) and exchanged names. For some reason, Guy's name itched at my memory. I am absolutely horrible with names and faces (as we'll see later), but for some reason I was sure I had heard that name before. His card told me that he did some photography work, so I assumed he was someone that I had either met or heard of back when one of my put-myself-though-college jobs was at a custom photo lab. What with me being somewhat of a reticent fellow (no, really!), I never pried about it when we chatted at the airport, so I've had nearly a year (in airport time) to think about it.

Well, hangar tasks complete and nothing but an empty afternoon ahead of me, I came across the idea of hopping over to MadCo for some gasoline. I thought it would be nice to have company, so I invited Guy along. Few can resist the lure of a ride in PapaGolf, and Guy was not one of the exceptions. We had a nice trip over to MadCo, during which Guy got some stick time in an airplane a bit more responsive that his Cherokee. We entered the pattern behind a touch & go Skyhawk whose tail number rang a bell: it was one of the COFA 172's that I had flown back when I was a club member. Names, not so good. Tail numbers of planes I've flown: much better. I remembered this one specifically as it was the airplane that lost a rudder spring one time long ago on one of my few cross countries. I had a very sore and tired leg by the time we got back!

As we were left base to final on 27, the winds being 260 or so at 11, Guy said something about having just come off a NetJets rotation. It hit me like Newton's apple: that was all it took for me to remember that I had seen his name many, many times in the crew member listing on the reservation forms for the Gulfstream V fleet back when I worked at NetJets!

I read a lot of the reservations since they were part of the flight scheduling system that I was responsible for, and also because they often offered a very amusing view into the foibles of the Rich & Famous. I always thought I could write a book about things like Jerry Seinfeld's oyster egg salad or Tiger Woods and his routine order of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, large fries, and strawberry shake. Tiger's McDonalds was pretty amusing to me: it sounds like the simplest, easiest, most unpretentious order you could have, but unless there was a McDonalds nearby the airport it would be hard for the pilots to get, and it would probably be cold & nasty by time Tiger could get around to eating it. I remember seeing reservation notes about things like ordering a bottle of champagne to be loaded into Bobby Rahal's Citation V after he won a race. It was really fascinating.

Anyway, as we turned final and Guy was just beginning to assess what he had seen of my piloting skills in the previous 15 minutes in order to calculate the odds of surviving the landing, just as any other pilot-passenger would do, I let fly with a jubilant "That's IT!!" I can't say for sure whether the shouted non sequitur shifted the calculated odds towards the negative to any appreciable degree, but I imagine it gave him a moments pause as he considered the implications to his personal well-being of my apparently having remembered something about how to land an airplane at nearly the last possible moment. Now that is a good time to pull off a solid 7 of a landing! A solid 10 would have been nicer, but over the narrower runway at MadCo I flared about an inch too low. That's not a terrible thing, and it really only manifests itself as a bit more squish in the tires and a fairly chirpy arrival, so all in all it worked out ok.

We parked behind the COFA plane in the gas queue and chatted a bit more about NetJets. The pilot of the COFA plane tossed off a "Hi Dave" as he walked by, which caught me a bit off guard. Being bad with names and faces, I drew a complete blank. Normally I just fake it, but this time I broke down and asked. "I'm Jim, we worked together at NetJets," he replied to my query. Now that is just freaky. Aviation, which has done more to make our world smaller than any other technology or industry, is somewhat ironically a pretty small world itself.

We had a tail wind on the way back, so I got to show off a 170+ knot ground speed on the GPS, and actually had a fairly decent landing too. It was a 7.5 or so, but had the potential to be worse. Papa was in a friendly mood today and didn't take advantage of the opportunity to embarrass me with the Tourettes-inducing cycle of monstrous bounces that I was just asking for by carrying a few too many MPH into the flare. I retrieved Hogarth from the hangar and headed home, while Guy no doubt started thinking about how he could sell that Cherokee and pick himself up a nice, friendly RV, just as any pilot would.


  1. Dave, First off, really loved your write on formation flying. It should be requires reading for all prospective formation flyers. When I see your RV-6 and I immediately think "Paul Good". Used to visit Paul at Mad River and talk Rv's and flying. If you ever need an excuse to fly a short trip stop in at New Carlisle. Just a short hop from Mad River on the east edge of Dayton's class C outer ring. Currently trying deaperately to get my RV-8 in the air, help a friend get his RV-4 in the air as well an take care of business as best I can. Anyway its nice to see that Paul....I mean, you are in the area and providing some intersting reading.
    Val K.

  2. I'm thinking of visiting Mad River soon, maybe even for the annual fly-in. I've never met Paul, but I'd sure like to. I emailed him last year to try to arrange a visit, but he was spending the summer in Alaska. I don't know if he does that every year or not.

    I'll drop you an email next time I'm going to be in your neighborhood.

  3. Just be sure that the paws aren't scratchin' the fleas when you land.....that way the'll they'll be in the proper postition for touchdown.

    Always enjoy your ramble :^).

    Rick at the Buffalo Farm