Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Furey Fly-in

I don't do fly-ins that much anymore. Truth be told, using this year as a reference I don't even do much flying at all anymore! Between the periods of inclement weather and an ever-growing collection of competing demands and distractions, I just haven't done much more than proficiency flights for most of the year. Having been blessed with a few wonderful days of eminently flyable weather, though, I made sure that I had everything arranged to attend the Furey Fly-in. This one in particular is one I hate to miss; it's held at John Furey's private airstrip out east near Canton, OH and is my clear favorite.

There are some things to note in the chart above. First, just to the west of the airport (the circle with the 'R' in it) there is a waypoint named MINER. That's important because it is the nearest navigatable spot to the airport that I'd be trying to find. Just to the east of the airport, there is a blue teepee with the number 1549 next to it.

You can't tell from the teepee-shaped rune, but there is a big hill there with a very unfriendly (to airplanes) tower on top of it.  The 1549 indicates its height in feet. The hill is right in line with the runway. Inconvenient, that. It necessitates a somewhat non-standard approach in which the pilot kind of slides around the side of the hill to get lined up with the runway. One wants to get down onto the runway as close to the end of it as possible to leave plenty of distance to get stopped before the end, keeping in mind that tires don't have nearly the braking action on grass that they do on pavement. Let's just say that it's a somewhat more complicated operation than landing on 5,000+ feet of smooth, 75' wide pavement at Bolton.

I would be taking Sailor Jack with me on this trip. Jack is considering building an RV-12, and the only thing stopping him is that he is equally passionate about sailing as he is about flying. Yeah, so? Why can't he just do both? Sad as it is to say, the reason is that sometimes in life you simply have to choose one. He's torn between getting himself a nice sailboat and building an airplane. Until he decides, though, I'm doing my utmost to score another player on our team, and what better argument could I make than taking him along out to Furey's and letting him soak in some of the true RV experience? To really seal the deal, I'd let him fly us out there and save the bumpier return leg for myself. Uncharacteristically generous, you might say, and you'd be right!

There were no balloons crowding up against the edge of the airport like there had been the previous evening so the departure was non-eventful. I got us turned onto course and climbed up past 2,000' before handing the reins to Jack. He hasn't flown in twenty years or so, but it really doesn't show. While he held a steady heading and altitude, I did a little sight seeing.

The MINER waypoint is only a mile or two from Furey Field, so the GPS was able to get us well and truly into the correct neighborhood, but when it comes to grass fields, that's not always enough. They can be real buggers to find. Looking out the windshield, we had two candidates for the airport - both we open areas surrounded by trees. Odds were pretty good that one of them was the field we were looking for. I noticed a bright orange spot on one of them, and mistaking it for a windsock, declared that field to the one we wanted.

Then the windsock started moving. Now I don't mean it was moving around as the wind shifted. No, I mean it was moving.  As we approached the field, I could see that not only was it not a windsock, it was also not alone. There were two or three of them, and they were buzzing around in circles and cavorting up and down the runway. I was finally able to discern that they were powered parachutes. I called on the radio a couple of times to see if I could get them to move away from the runway, but no joy. All I could do was orbit the field and hope they'd eventually notice us. After only a couple of times around the field, someone below took pity on my dwindling fuel budget and told us it was okay to land. The parachutists (that's probably not what they're called, but I'm at a loss as to what the correct term might be) were aware that we'd be landing and would stay clear of the runway.

That left only one big problem: making the approach around the side of the hill, getting the plane onto the runway close enough to the approach end to leave room to stop, and making a smooth enough landing to not be embarrassing.  It was a few moments of very intense concentration and to be perfectly honest I can't remember most of it. My general feeling is that it went pretty well. My starkest memory is maneuvering the plane to get it lined up with the runway and thinking air speed, air speed, air speed! Being down low like that, struggling with a little tailwind/crosswind that threatened to tempt me into over-banking to get lined up with the runway, seemed like the perfect recipe for a stall-spin wreck. The most critical function in a situation like that is to be very careful not to exceed the stalling angle-of-attack. I don't have an angle-of-attack gauge, though, so I had to rely on its idiot-savant cousin, the airspeed indicator.  As I'm sitting here writing this, it seems the case that the airspeed indicator was sufficient to the task.

The remainder of the day was spent socializing and watching other pilots make their landings.

Some didn't land - they just made low passes:

That thing was FAST!

There was plenty of food and flying talk to be found. You can always tell by the hands that they're talking flying, although sometimes those motions can also be about food. He was either describing his landing around the hill or sharing some of the finer points on how to make toast.

I didn't get an accurate count of planes that landed, but it was close to two dozen at least.

The takeoff to leave was, thankfully, back towards the hill. It's slightly uphill going that way, but by mid-afternoon there was a nice breeze from that direction to help get some air across the wings. The flight back to Bolton was a lot smoother than I had expected it to be. As I was pushing the plane back into the hangar, Jack busied himself with digging something out of the saddle bags of his motorcycle.

Hey, a couple of beers!  I think he's got this flying thing pretty well figured out.

Hazards to aerial navigation

It's completely unfair and almost entirely unwarranted, but ever since I almost busted my private pilot check ride by getting too close to a hot air balloon I have referred to them as hazards to aerial navigation. What can I say? I just hold a grudge, I guess. They're slow, expensive, and offend my delicate sensitivities with their innate and irreconcilable uselessness. For crying out loud, those guys hanging helplessly underneath the balloon in a wicker basket even have the temerity to refer to themselves as pilots! Pilots!!! When the only thing they have any control over whatsoever is the expulsion of hot air!

No, the irony of making that last statement after bloviating about balloons, the beautiful flowers of the sky, does not escape me. Expulsion of hot air indeed!

So what brought on this diatribe, you ask? Well, after busting my hump after work yesterday to get the lawn mowed, having failed to do so on Thursday, I thought I'd reward myself with a little flying. I arranged to have ab initio co-pilot trainee John ride along, the plan being to teach him how to act as my autopilot and voice-activated GPS destination enterer.  If I remember correctly, John has only ever been in an airplane three times in his life, and all three have been with me. Without any other basis of comparison, I think the poor guy is convinced that the only way to land an airplane is to bounce it down the runway like it's on a trampoline. He's also a self-admitted addict of the Discovery and History channels, or any other channel that has shows about airplanes. I love flying with people that, like me, have been fascinated with airplanes for as long as they can remember.

The weather was great for it, too.  The very light winds and clear blue sky would practically guarantee a smooth ride, and that would be beneficial for John's first experience with controlling the airplane. I had planned out a round robin flight that would give him good experience in plugging in a waypoint in the GPS and flying to it. I was a little over optimistic on the issue of how much evening light we get these days, though. I planned six different airports; we made it to three.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. For awhile I thought we might be thwarted from even getting off of the ground. As we were driving out to the hangar, it was hard to miss the fact that the sky just to the east of the runway was cluttered with the aforementioned hazards.

I wasn't sure that we'd even be able to take off. Thankfully, the wind, such as it was, was blowing them away from the airport.

The flight went off without a hitch. I made the takeoff and did the initial stage of our climb to 3,500', handing control over to John at the 2,500' level. He finished the climb and picked up the GPS course, then proceeded to fly us directly to the first airport on our list. He took to it like a fish to water. Of course, with it being his first time he had to concentrate pretty hard on not fixating on any one thing, but that's normal. It takes awhile to develop a good scan of the instruments, the GPS, and the situation outside the windshield. The temptation is to stare at the altimeter, or the GPS, or at whatever it is that you're trying to manage at any given moment. The trick is to internalize the fact that these things all change relatively slowly, and that you have plenty of time to take glances at other stuff to make sure all is well in those realms too. You can read a bit more on the topic of instrument scans here.  While we weren't flying instruments, the concept is the same: you have to split your time and attention between a number of different things, and it takes awhile to learn how to do that.

It was starting to get late when we finally arrived at Circleville (KCYO), our only real destination of the flight. Papa needed gas, and Circleville is the cheapest within easy range. While I pumped the gas, John chatted with a student pilot that had found herself stranded at KCYO while on her long cross country. I didn't catch her entire story, but I think something had gone wrong with her navigation radio and she was afraid that she wouldn't be able to find her way back to West Virginia without it. I wish we had had more time to chat with her, but we were in a bit of a race with the sun. We had to be back to Bolton by sunset, and it was starting to look like it might be a near thing.

I had John fly us back while I fiddled with the camera. Here he is enjoying the coolest sunset of his life (as far as I'm concerned, but I confess to being quite biased).

You can't see it very well in the picture, but those sunglasses are awesome. I'm going to have to try to find some for myself. They have little reading glass type lenses embedded in the lower part of the sunglass lenses, almost like bifocals. That would be extraordinarily useful for me, Capt. Presbyopia.

The balloons were gone by the time we got back to Bolton and there was very little traffic to deal with. It was an easy approach and it culminated in what to John was a normal landing.

In other words, I bounced it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Fall Preview

It's been an odd year weather-wise, and this August has followed that trend. I can usually count on a break from mowing in August as it gets hot and dry, conditions unfavorable to grass and in turn welcomed by those that need to mow it. Not this year. We're still mowing at least once a week. It needs it now, in fact. Mowing was one of my three choices for what to do after work today, the others being work on the RV-12 or go flying. I picked flying.  I don't feel guilty about it at all. Here it is almost Labor Day and I have hardly flown all year. It's depressing.

Tonight I invited Co-pilot Egg to ride along on a short hop around the neighborhood. We didn't get a particularly early start; it was 7:23 when we called Bolton ground for taxi clearance.

No reply.

I never know what to do when that happens. They could be busy on another frequency or on the phone. How long should I wait before trying again? I have to balance between a reasonable wait versus being a pest and getting snapped at. After waiting what I considered to be a suitably long time, I tried again. No reply. It was 7:25 by this time and the tower is scheduled to close at 7:30. They're usually very precise about the timing, so I wasn't comfortable with just heading out on my own.

Then the rotating beacon came on. That can mean either that we are under IFR conditions, it's night, or the tower is closed. Two out of three of those were absolutely out of the question. Still, it wasn't yet 7:30. And I recently had occasion to ask them why it was on in the middle of a sunny afternoon. I just couldn't chance it.

What to do, what to do.  I pulled over onto a ramp off of the main taxiway and waited. At precisely 7:30-ish (close enough to an indicated 7:30 to be within the bounds of believability should I be accused to leaving too early) I headed for the runway. A Cessna 172 was just departing on runway 22 for touch & goes, but the wind sock seemed to indicate that runway 4 would be preferred. A Cherokee coming down the ILS to runway 4 tacitly agreed. I figured I'd taxi to runway 4 and wait until the Cessna was somewhere on downwind before departing on 4. At the end of the runway, the 172 was turning base and the Cherokee was still three or four miles out. The 172 made a full stop and was off on taxiway Alpha 3 while the Piper was still a couple of miles out. Off we went!

We climbed up to 5,000 and headed for downtown Columbus. Egg flew for a little while, but soon reported that her nutritious meal of Kraft Cheese & Macaroni wasn't sitting too well. I figured we'd better head back before anything untoward of a gastrointestinal nature occurred. An explosive decompression, in the vernacular.

Descending from 5,000 down to pattern altitude over Bolton, there was a 172 coming in from the southwest repeatedly calling the tower. I guess I could have told him the tower was closed, but it was a rental from Bolton - the dude ought to know when the tower closes. A Cherokee on left downwind clued him in. The 172 acknowledged that  the tower was closed and reported that he'd enter a right base for runway 4. That's not kosher, really. It's left traffic when the tower is closed.


We overflew the Cherokee on downwind a couple of thousand feet above and made a lazy left turn in a fast descent to fall in line behind it on left base. We were set up for a good landing.  Didn't get one.  Bounced it. Luckily not hard enough to jar loose the Cheese & Macroni, though, so there is that.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sailing on Lake Fiasco

I alluded to the challenges encountered in acquiring a simple little sailboat in my last post. Here's the whole sordid story.

It started yesterday when the seller of the boat called me and changed our scheduled 4:00 meeting time to 11:50. She thought (rightly!) that we ought to meet at the BMV in order to get the registration of the trailer transferred over to me. The BMV is typically much more complicated to deal with than the Ohio Division of Watercraft. The latter have been nothing but pleasantly helpful in my past dealings with them, and small boats are very easy to buy and sell because there is no title to them. The BMV, though. Shudder!

Meeting a total stranger at the BMV was pretty much what you'd expect.  Is that her? Or how about that one? It didn't help that she was late (I later found out that she had gone back home because she had forgotten to bring the life preservers that she wanted to give me), giving me plenty of time to approach women that weren't the woman I was looking for. They were all probably left wondering how anyone could expect such an incredibly lame pick-up line like "are you the lady that's selling me her boat?" to ever work.

The non-commercial trailer registration process in Ohio is completely messed up. If you don't have a slip of paper providing an officially recorded weight, you have to pay the fee for a 3,000 lb. trailer. That fee is a hefty $43. If I had a weight slip to prove that my under 500 lb. trailer was officially certified to be under 500 lbs, with said certification being provided by an official called a "weight master," the fee would be $16. So why didn't I get the trailer weighed by a weight master? Two reasons: it had expired plates on it and thus couldn't be taken on the road, and because weight masters are only located at the weigh stations on the freeways way out in the boonies. Besides the impracticality of driving out to a weigh station, ask yourself this: have you ever seen one of those open?

The $43 was cash or check only. I had $33 on me. Luckily I was standing right next to a woman that I had just handed a few hundred dollars to. I hit her up for a $10 loan.

After work, I went to pick up the boat. Task one was, of course, to put the new plate on. Naturally the seller had dropped by earlier to retrieve the old expired plate. Sentimental value, I suppose. I can't figure out any other reason for her wanting it. Nor can I fathom why she took the nuts and bolts that were holding it on, leaving me with no way to attach the new one. The way I figure it is she just bought them from me for $10, she just doesn't know it yet.

The drive home was stressful. Not only was I towing an unknown trailer for the first time, I was towing it with a trailer hitch that had yet to be tested in action. And the masts were bouncing around in a most disconcerting way, looking every bit like they were going to fly off and impale someone. If that wasn't stressful enough, I felt that I had to limit my highway speed to the posted speed limit. At rush hour. Talk about stress! I don't know how you slow drivers handle it! You know who passed me while I was crawling along?


With the trailer licensed and the boat safely in the hangar, all that was left to do was to get the boat itself registered. I knew it was going to be tricky. I based that supposition on the fact that the seller had gone out of her way to gather up the entire paperwork history of the boat, including the letters she had exchanged with the Division of Watercraft explaining that a 12 number Hull Identification Number (HIN) simply was not available. She had provided pencil drawings of the factory identity plate in response to their request for a pencil tracing, to which they replied "Thanks, but no thanks." Well, they couched it in more formal language, but that was the gist of it.

She apparently had eventually worn them down because there was the registration card, resplendent with its four digit HIN. Unique in Ohio, that.  I decided that it would be prudent to take a picture of the identity plate with me rather than try to re-convince them that four digit HINs were all the craze these days. Oh, and I brought cash, too. There wouldn't be anyone there to sell license plate bolts to.

It actually ended up being relatively painless, at least from a process point-of-view. They made copies of this, that, and the other, banged around in the computer files, ruffled through the paper files, and eventually decided that they could register the boat for me. Where they managed to scare up the requisite twelve digits from, I do not know and I do not care.

It cost $38. A power boat would have only been $33. Why the $5 difference? Sailboats pay a $5 "conservation fee." Which I suppose is to offset the additional damage they do to the eco-system by harnessing the wind rather than burning pollution-laden fossil fuels. It seems completely backwards, doesn't it?

With everything registered and paid for (I see a lot of bumper stickers and T-shirts these days that say "Freedom Isn't Free"; I think I can see their point), there was nothing keeping me from making my maiden voyage this afternoon. I rushed home from work and got ready to go.  In my haste, I somehow managed to lose the key to the airport gate, but it was eventually found. I couldn't find my good life jacket and the waterproof box attached to it that I use to hold the boat registration card and my car key, but it was eventually found hiding in the trunk of the Miata. I had left it there on the day that I went to look at The Boat That Leaked. I was finally ready to go!

As I was driving out to the lake, my most fervent desire was that there wouldn't be anyone else out there. Knowing that the probability of fiasco was somewhere on the order of 90%, I thought it would be nice to not have any witnesses. And, given that I had not practiced backing up with the trailer, I thought it would be nice to be able to back down the boat ramp without having to deal with the pressure of people waiting for me to get out of the way. When I pulled into the boat ramp lot, I was greeted with exactly what I had hoped for: absolute solitude.

I got busy rigging the boat. That went pretty well considering that I had just practiced it the night before. I was just about ready to try backing the boat down the boat ramp when two pickup trucks pulled in.


The first truck contained a shaved-headed man carrying a six pack and a woman with a purple mohawk hair cut. The second truck was driving by a guy that looked like he could have been cast as lead for any biker movie ever made.

Beer guy: "Hey! I thought that was chew!"

Biker guy: "Yup. It's me!"

Mohawk girl: "When'd jew get out?"

Oh, great. Yeah, yeah, I know. He paid his debt to society and all that. But still.... great.

I went about my business, albeit quite a bit self-consciously.  All was going well, though. I was having no trouble at all backing down the ramp. Until, that is, I heard a tremendous "THWACK!" and leaves fell through the open sun roof. The mast had brushed against an overhanging tree branch. Everything seemed okay, though, so I backed the trailer on down into the water. The rear end of the boat floated off of the trailer, so I stopped and got out. I floated the boat the rest of the way off of the trailer and started looking for something to tie it to so I could move the car up to the parking lot. There was nothing to be found.

Great. No help from the witnesses - I think they were comparing the relative merits of probation vs. house arrest.

I ended up pulling the boat around to the other side of the pier and yanking it up onto the bank. I didn't want to have to do that - that side of the pier was filthy with yucky green algae and floating trash, and it smelled horrible. There was no choice, though.

I went and parked the car ("How long was you in fer this time," I heard as I walked by the happily disinterested witnesses) and went back to retrieve the boat. I thought I'd go ahead and get my life jacket on and put my car key in the water proof box before putting the boat in the water. As I was trying to snap the buckle on the life jacket, I heard "PLOP," and looked down just in time to see my car key sinking below the algae.

Great. Just great.

If you think I was reluctant to pull the boat through that crud, how do you think I felt about reaching down into it to fish around looking for my car key?

Once I found it and rinsed everything off on the other side of the pier, it was time to launch the boat and finally do some sailing! I carefully climbed aboard and pushed away from the pier. And....

Just sat there. I had launched into absolutely no wind at all. Not even a light breeze. Completely dead air.

I suddenly missed my kayak.

I wobbled the rudder back and forth in an attempt to propel myself out away from the inlet, hoping that there would be some breeze further out on the lake. With no wind to fill the sail, there was nothing to hold the boom out. I had to push it out to keep it from flopping over on me. I tried moving to the other side of the boat, but it just followed me. The boat tips towards whichever side I sit on, so the boom just falls over to that side. There still wasn't even the whisper of a rumor of a breeze.

We were moving, though. I don't know if it was the current or if the boat was simply just falling forwards into the ever-increasing depth of my despair and frustration, but we were moving forward. Very, very slowly, but forward none the less.

Captain Bligh made better time in his lifeboat.

An interminable eon later as I approached the far bank of the lake, I was becoming concerned that I wouldn't be able to get back. I turned around and got the boat pointed back towards where I had launched. Very, very slowly we made our way back. As I finally approached the pier, I saw a small eye bolt that I had missed before. I'd be able to tie the boat to it while I got the sail down and readied myself for debarkation. I finally got close enough to tie the bow line to the eye bolt and busied myself with dropping the sail. Once I had it down, I looked up to see that a breeze had finally kicked up while I wasn't paying attention and pushed the boat away from the pier. The line I had loosely tied to the eye bolt had come loose. The witnesses, having finally finished their impromptu reunion with biker guy, were sitting there fishing. And, I have to say, looking quite amused.

I wasn't about to raise the sail again, so I had to ignominiously wobble the rudder back and forth in an attempt to push the boat back up to the pier. Once I managed to do that, I wasted no time at all getting out of the damned thing. I dragged it back around to the other side of the pier and beached it while I went to get the car.  Backing down the ramp went fine again, and it wasn't very hard to get the boat back onto the trailer. I pulled the trailer out of the water until the mast was just shy of the overhanging tree branch and got out to bring the mast down. All that was left to do was pull the trailer the rest of the way up the ramp and over to the parking area so I could get everything taken apart and put away. Then I'd just need to strap the boat down and the whole fiasco would finally be over. That's when I heard a combination of "WHUUMP!!" and "CLANG!!"

The boat had fallen off of the trailer. It was at this point that I decided that I needed to take a picture.


I swear, I was sorely tempted to just leave it there.

I decided instead to just busy myself with getting the sail and the other various pieces-parts put away. Once I had calmed down a little, I'd deal with getting the boat back onto the trailer. It's not actually all that heavy and I was able to get it back up there without having to resort to asking for a hand from the witnesses, so there is that. A small shining victory.

The boat's back in the hangar now and I'm looking forward to trying again on a day with a wee bit more wind and a lot less fiasco.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


To the untrained eye it may seem like I haven't been flying much. Those with a more discerning eye for this kind of thing will realize that the truth is, well, I haven't been flying much. Lately it's been short hops in the local area when the afternoon heat abates and I don't have a competing interest getting in the way. Last night was such a night; beautiful beyond description, although the broad brush stroke picture would be blue skies, light winds, and tolerable heat. The flying was for the most part unremarkable, although I hurry to add that being unremarkable should not be confused with being unenjoyable. Nothing could be further from the truth. Well, nothing but a New York Times editorial, but that's beside the point. It was a fun, relaxing flight, and it culminated in what had to be the closest that I've ever gotten to a perfect three-point landing.

If I could land like that every time, Chuck Yeager would be reading books about me.

The latest distraction has been the selling of stuff on Craig's List to fund the purchase of a small sailboat. I realized that it was mid-July and I had not yet had the kayaks on the water. That prompted me to sell one of them and start looking for a small, simple, affordable sailboat that I could launch, sail, and recover by myself. It had to be small enough to store in the corner of the hanger where I'm not storing or building an airplane. That constraint ruled out roughly 99% of the international fleet. I had the search narrowed down to a Force 5 or a Zuma. Both were somewhat beyond the budget that I has set for myself, although I did find one Force 5 in my price range. It was, unfortunately, a bit of a fixer-upper. Okay, I'll be blunt: it leaked.

 I kept up the search and finally came across a boat that I had never heard of. It's a British import called a Topper. It was in good condition, it was on a trailer (essential for being able to launch and retrieve by myself), and it was in my budget. The only downside was the name, but being as I know very few Brits, it's unlikely that I will have to endure taunts of being a floating tosser.

Feeling secure in the knowledge that few Americans know that expression (well, until now, anyway), I picked it up tonight.

It fits perfectly in the hangar.

The secret to which is that the mast is in two parts.  It's simple to rig, taking no more than ten minutes. The parts are simple, which is important should replacements be necessary - coming from England, they would not be cheap.

It has a clever kick-up rudder design.

Unlike the Force 5, it has a halyard for raising and lowering the sail. It seems like a good idea to be able to drop the sail if it gets super windy or whatever.

It also has a clever way of holding the mast. It just locks in there. That removes the need for stays (cables that hold the mast in place and take awhile to set up every time you want to rig the boat) so it's super easy for one person to step the mast.

Nothing is ever completely easy, of course. There's been quite a bit of preparation and negotiating to slog through, and I still need to get it registered. Hopefully, though, I'll get her on the water soon.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Back in the air post-Oshkosh

Nothing makes me want to fly like seeing thousands of other people doing it. We got up at 0130 local for our drive back on Saturday, the net result of which being that we got home at a reasonable time but I was far too tired to consider flying. This morning dawned bright and clear and that could only mean one thing: I had to get the mowing done. After that, though, I could finally get back into the air. As always, I need some form of justification to make the fuel cost worthwhile, no matter how thin of an excuse it is. Today it was that I needed to fill the tanks over at MadCo. And, as long as I was going on such a short flight, to introduce Cabot to his Mutt Muffs.

We grabbed his harness, the muffs, and a camera. I also still had four cases of oil in the car that needed to be delivered to the hangar. All in all, it was looking like a wonderful confluence of reasons to go to the airport. As is often the case, Cabot was ready and willing with no more than the rattle of his leash to tell him we were heading somewhere.

Once at the hangar, I put him in his harness and lifted him into the plane. He isn't particularly fond of being picked up, but with the harness it's just like picking up a brief case. Grab him by the "handle" and up he goes. I strapped him in, gave him a treat, and let him sit there while I pulled the plane out and did the preflight. Once we were just about ready to go, I put on the Mutt Muffs (No, not on myself. On him, silly) for the first time. I gave him another treat in hopes that he will equate having those things on his head with getting dog treats. I climbed aboard and brought down the canopy. I started the engine and we sat there for a few minutes while he got comfortable. I had the harness belted in tight enough that he really couldn't move around much. Once he was happily situated, I called the tower for taxi clearance.

At the end of the runway I did my normal last-chance-to-back-out run-up of the engine, and Cabot seemed fine with it. I tried to get a picture of him but my preflight inspection hadn't gone far enough; someone had left the camera on and the battery was dead. No problem - I'd just make do with the camera in my cell phone.

I couldn't pay much attention to him during the takeoff, but once we were climbing away from the airport I was able to look to see how he was doing. He was just looking out the window, more than likely thinking that the animals below looked just like chew toys.

I was surprised to see that he hadn't knocked the Mutt Muffs off. Good boy! He does, however, have a somewhat awkwardly shaped head and the muffs have an annoying tendency to slide off the back. 

It's only a few minutes over to MadCo and he was calm the entire way. In fact, the whole thing was kind of anticlimactic. I thought for sure that he would need attention and comforting, but he was calm as could be. Calmer, as it turns out, than a lot of humans who have flown with me.

We landed for gas and Cabot experienced his first of my style of landing. It was a surprisingly good landing considering that I haven't flown for a couple of weeks, but the air was very calm and that usually helps. Still, it was one of those very rare landings where it is so smooth that you can feel the wheels start to spin as they scuff on the runway. How nice to make a good first impression!

We re-arranged his muffs while we were on the ground and got him turned around the other way so he'd be more comfortable. The takeoff was a little less sprightly now that we had another 120 pounds worth of fuel on board, but none of that mattered to Cabot. He was having a great time!

He snuggled up against me and enjoyed our ride back to Bolton where, against all odds, I made another landing as good as the first one.