Saturday, April 18, 2009

Warsaw? That's in Poland, right?

I've mentioned before how the internet has been the vehicle through which I have met many new and interesting people. You may have heard of a new(ish) internet-based social networking phenomenon called Twitter. People that haven't used it (and many that have) profess to not understand what it's used for, editorial cartoonists and stand-up comics mock it, and millions of people are addicted to it. Wikipedia (I have to assume that you already know what that is or we'll be here all night) yet again fulfills its apparent raison d'etre of using a whole lot of words to deliver absolutely no meaningful definition:

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users' updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length which are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to them (known as followers). Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow anybody to access them. Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications.

Yeah, and the Sun is a big burning orb of gas, but why should I care? The definition of what Twitter is is technically correct, but most people will not read that and have any inkling at all what function it provides. Unfortunately, there's no single correct answer to that question. It's similar to a hammer. Sure, you can drive nails with it. But is that to say that using it to crack walnuts is somehow wrong? Of course not!

At the end of the day, Twitter is what you make of it. To me, Twitter is a way to share my incredibly witty and insightful observations of life to an audience that could not care less about them. You know, kind of like a blog but with the added benefit of a 140 character limit that at least precludes my normal long windedness. The thing is, though, that every now and then someone will inexplicably find something I say to be at least minimally interesting and select my Twitter name to 'follow', presumably under the mistaken assumption that I will someday deliver yet another interesting thought. They then show up in a list of people that follow me, and I will usually go take a look at their tweets and see if I am interested in the types of things they say. Tweets can be replied to, and through time there emerges a list of fellow Twitterers that you begin to have conversations with. Through twitter, I have met people like @ou_flyer, @GirlsWithWings, and @AirPigz.

Which (after much ado) brings us to the topic of Warsaw. @AirPigz, whose real name is Martt, maintains what he calls a Blogizine at It's an apt term describing a web site that is part blog, part magazine. In furtherance of the magazine aspect of, Martt had invited me to fly to Warsaw, Indiana in order to make a short video about Papa Golf and RV airplanes in general. I pushed that idea onto the stack of destinations waiting for a day that would provide the good flying conditions and bright light that would provide just what was needed for making a good video. As you can see from the Weather-out-the-Window&trade forecast for this morning, we had a strong indication that today might be that day. The worst weather of the day was forecast to be a scattered layer of clouds at 7,000' later in the afternoon. So, with that benign prognostication working in our favor, Co-pilot Rick and I decided to make the trip. Well, to be perfectly honest, I never got a chance to fully explain to Rick why we were going. Like me, for him it was enough just to know that we were going to go flying somewhere - the destination is usually only a secondary concern for either of us. We agreed to an 0830 departure which according my detailed and analytical flight planning equated to a 1000 arrival in Warsaw.

The one in Indiana, not the one in Poland.

We almost made it one time, too. Two things that I had failed to enter into my equations were the headwinds we found lurking in the azure morning sky at our cruising altitude of 6,500' and the fact that I have not yet reinstalled the wheel pants that I removed for the annual inspection. My story is that I'm still monitoring the right brake caliper for fluid leakage, but it's at least equally true that I'm just too darn lazy. With those factors working against us, we ended up with GPS-reported speeds across the ground ranging from the high 120's to the low 130's. That added a few minutes to the flight and made us a few minutes late on our arrival, but those are simply trivialities. No, the real cost came about because I had failed in yet one more aspect of my flight preparation: getting my caffeine fix via low-volume, bladder-friendly espresso instead of accident-waiting-to-happen coffee. Some lessons just need to be learned, re-learned, and re-re-learned, I guess.

As we landed and taxied around the fairly good-sized airport looking high and low for the terminal building (the location most likely to have a restroom), I had ample time to rue my dereliction of my duty to caffeinate wisely. After what had to have been at least two hours (as measured in Eastern Full Bladder Time, which is about 30 seconds in clock time) we eventually caught sight of a small sign pointing in the direction of the terminal and proceeded down the correct taxiway. As we pulled into the ramp in front of the terminal building we were met by two video cameras pointing our way, so we were fairly sure we had found Martt. We just weren't sure which one was him. That was all quickly sorted out (20 minutes EFBT) with introductions and, after a quick potty break, we got down to business.

If there's anything I like more than being the center of attention, it's Papa being the center of attention. Martt and his fellow videographer Tim paid ample (and appropriate, even if it's me that's saying it) attention to Papa. Once they had their fill of him, it was my turn. Martt did a very professional interview with me, allowing me to stammer my way through the story of how and where I found the airplane, some of the benefits and challenges of owning and maintaining an RV, and some of the unique operational aspects of flying with such a low aspect ratio wing. It was kind of fun - I've never done anything like that before. As usual, I probably talked too much and too fast, but surely not nearly as badly as I would have had I been fueled by espresso. So there is that, anyway.

The next step was obvious: Martt and I saddled up for a ride. Martt has been surrounded by airplanes for his entire life as you can see in this very touching tribute to his recently deceased father. Still, there's just something about an RV that is incomparable to any other airplane. Don't believe me? Well, look at this RV grin and tell me that this man has not just returned from a unique experience.

With the flying done (at least for awhile), our thoughts turned to lunch. Well, at least everyone else's did. I wasn't particularly hungry yet, but I figured I could still have something small to munch on. We went into Warsaw to eat at Mad Anthony's, an Indiana-based chain of micro-brewery restaurants. Good old Mad Anthony had a couple of very intriguing menus, but with a flight home still in the offing, I was only able to seriously consider ordering from one of them:

There were at least a dozen things on each menu that I wanted to try, but neither spicy, heavy food nor alcoholic drinks were deemed to be conducive to a safe and/or comfortable flight home. Even with that, I took a little stroll on the wild side. All pilots know the "8 hours from bottle to throttle rule," and years ago I instituted my own rule regarding beer batter onion rings ("2 hours from rings to wings"), but nothing has prepared me for making a decision on this menu item:

Bavarian Pretzels
Two jumbo soft baked pretzels served with pale ale mustard and jalapeño beer cheese – perfect with one of our handcrafted ales or lagers!

Ok, I'm pretty clear on that last part about the handcrafted ales or lagers. Those are right out, no question about it. But pale ale mustard? Jalapeño beer cheese? Who knows! Having failed to come up with a nicely rhyming rule, I threw caution to the wind and had a pretzel dipped in the beer cheese. In my defense, I was clever enough to at least make sure that I avoided the jalapeños.

After a quick but fruitless stop at Wal-Mart to pick up some of the local brew that I found particularly appealing (they were out of it) , we made our way back to the airport to head home. As far as the War Bird beer goes, I have a new potential destination on my list of places to fly. I'm going to see of the War Bird brewery offers tours.

Ok, that was quick. It's amazing that I still sometimes manage to underestimate just how much the Google Oracle knows:

Warbird Brewing Co. tours:

Granted, that's just a virtual tour, but I'm still going to fly to Indiana and bring back some non-virtual beer.

The wind had picked up a bit and we were starting to see some clouds in the sky as we climbed out of Warsaw and set course to Bolton Field. Those are the conditions that point to a bumpy ride home, and that can only mean one thing: it's Rick's turn to fly. It's amazing how it always seems to work out that way, isn't it? With nothing to do but look out the window and fiddle with the radio, I whiled away the miles, well, looking out the window and fiddling with the radio. It is thusly that we found ourselves tuned into Bolton tower while still 35 miles out, and it is thusly that we heard a kerfuffle going on between the tower and another airplane. More accurately, we could only hear one side of the story, but it wasn't pretty. There were questions regarding whether or not it was possible that something had fallen off of the airplane, and more concerning questions (to us - we were heading straight at the place at 168 knots, after all) related to whether or not the airplane in question was still on the runway. As it turns out, the answer was "No."

Plane Lands Off Runway At Bolton Field

Saturday, April 18, 2009 1:54 PM
Updated: Saturday, April 18, 2009 2:39 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Investigators were called to Bolton Field on Saturday afternoon after a small airplane experienced a problem with its landing gear, causing it to land off the edge of the runway.

The landing occurred shortly after 2 p.m.

David Whitaker, vice president of business development and communications for the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, said the pilot was the only person on board the aircraft, 10TV News reported.

The pilot was not injured during the landing, Whitaker said.

Whitaker described the plane as a general aviation recreational aircraft, 10TV News reported.

Whitaker also said that the airfield would follow protocol and close to commercial traffic until an investigation was completed.

And to think that Rick and I had just been commenting on the idea that we could pack so much into a day and still be home before 3:00. That clearly wasn't going to be the case. In fact, the best that the tower could tell me was that the runway was closed and that they had no idea when it would re-open. As luck would have it, I had just programmed the tower phone number into my cell phone on Friday, so at least I would be able to call them for updates from wherever we ended up landing. They didn't seem keen on that idea when I confirmed the phone number with them, but that was probably because they were still in the throes of their incident response activities.

Rick and I figured we had two choices: Darby Dan or Madison Co. I decided on MadCo, figuring that they'd have better magazines than Darby Dan which really hasn't got much more than a hangar. For some reason, I never even thought of the grass strip at Columbus Southwest. Probably because with it being only 2.5 miles from my house, it wasn't nearly inconvenient enough. That's water under the bridge, though. We landed at MadCo. After a couple hours of relatively entertaining conversations with some of the MadCo denizens, another stranded Bolton-based pilot, and completely uninformative calls to the tower, I decided that we couldn't be sure that the runway was going to be returned to service at all. I made arrangements for a temporary home for Papa with the always helpful folks in the airport office and called home to have the Co-owner make the half hour drive to come pick us up. Regular readers of The Chronicles have probably already seen this coming: with my inherent sense of ironic timing, I called the tower again when the co-owner was about five minutes from arriving to give us a ride home.

The runway was open.

She pulled into the parking lot two minutes later.

All told, we spent almost three hours waiting at MadCo, but I figure that's just part of flying. We pride ourselves on being able to respond to ever-changing situations and solve unexpected problems. And after all, there are certainly worse places to spend a few idle hours than at a county airport on a fine spring day!

1 comment:

  1. Dave, being a "non" flight-type person, I still had a great time shooting PAPA, you and Rick yesterday. Please ask Rick to get my good side next time!
    Tim the camera man