Sunday, May 22, 2016

Eight years later

Plane: Cub, 65 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 68 degrees, wind 010 degrees at 9 knots

As I started my flight training in 2008, I was just about to embark on my first trip to Germany. I was on my way to Düsseldorf for drupa, the biggest printing trade show in the world. I often call it the Olympics of printing, as historically it's been held every four years. Most of you know I work for Kodak in inkjet printing (I was in R&D at the time) and that was the reason for the trip.

Eight years later, I'm once again packing my bags in preparation for drupa; it begins next week. My career has certainly progressed and my involvement in many things has increased. Long hours and significant travel - nearly all related to the trade show - are much of the reason I simply haven't had much time to fly thus far in 2016.

I've certainly flown plenty this year, just on American Airlines. The statistics have continued to skew in favor of the airlines since my last flight. As of this evening my total hours / miles this year are 2.4 / 114 PIC and 161.8 / 59,884 as a ticketed passenger. Quite the dichotomy.

Prior Years: 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

So, while the pilot portion of my life was unquestionably somewhat lacking over the past year, life itself was again full of many memorable experiences:
  • Gina and I took a bucket list of a vacation last summer, spending five incredible weeks in Australia, New Zealand, and Bora Bora
  • Tons of other travel - 15 states and 8 countries (first visits to Australia, Belgium, China, French Polynesia, Luxembourg, and New Zealand)
  • I got to fly on the Wright B Flyer!
  • Taking a few coworkers up for the first time on a beautiful fall evening
  • Bringing my friend and ringer (Chris' term!) up Cubbin' for some great aerial camerawork
  • Going hang gliding for the first time in New Zealand
  • We even managed one overnight flying trip to Kalamazoo for a weekend of WMU football
Unfortunately, albeit for only the second time in these eight years, the weather on my actual birthday was not flyable. Showers and low ceilings moved in mid-afternoon and by the time I was able to leave work there was clearly no Cubbin' to be had. Gina and I hit up a couple great local breweries for birthday drinks and made plans to squeeze the flight in over the weekend.

Looking out over the farmland east of the airport just after takeoff

Today's weather was perfect, save for gusty winds from the north most of the day. I mowed, went for a run, and took care of some other trip preparations until the wind calmed down in the evening. We climbed into the Cub a little past 7:30 pm, got a prop from (owner) Cub, and were soon sailing through the extremely clear, blue sky.

Still plenty thankful to have a wife who enjoys the front seat of a Cub! :)

There's something about taking off with zero plans in a Cub that both a) perfectly clears one's mind and b) just feels right. Originally I was thinking about flying around downtown but it's still mid-May and, while quite comfy on the ground, it was honestly a tad chilly with the door open (as it should be - it's a Cub, people). So instead I just sort of flew around the lake and enjoyed the view of both the boats on the water and the extremely green foliage passing 1,000 feet below.

The new marina at Caesar Creek Lake is up and running

Over the lake and heading back towards the airport

We re-entered the pattern maybe 20 minutes later behind the other Cub. Having flown so little this year, I absolutely wanted to get in my three takeoffs and landings to extend my currency another 90 days. With a strong but steady direct crosswind I managed a solid landing on the first try. I thought it was worse at first but eventually I realized the giant lawn roller was sitting next to the tractor for a reason - the field's rather bumpy at the moment!

The next two laps around the pattern were not significantly different. Not my best takeoffs or landings, but more than serviceable given the crosswind and my personal rustiness. I taxied back to the hangar and we pushed the venerable J-3 inside as the sun decided to touch the horizon.

The sun was setting by the time we'd pushed the Cub back in the hangar

I certainly realize this blog (along with many other things on my to-do list) has fallen victim to my relatively insane schedule this year. Like it or not, there are things I need to do and things I want to do. Flying has taken a little bit of a back seat although I have every intention of jumping right back in as soon as possible. In fact, we're really hoping to take at least a couple trips before the summer's over. Here's hoping things calm down a bit after drupa.

Until then, safe flying everyone!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.8 hours
Total Time: 349.9 hours