Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nine years (and one month) later

Plane: Cub, 65 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Scattered clouds, 81 degrees, wind 260 degrees at 8 knots

When it comes to the overarching purpose behind this blog - flying - this past year has clearly been underwhelming. But life - and, alas, flying - is nothing if not a constant struggle to find and maintain equilibrium between opposing forces. So it's in that vein that this past year has also been overwhelmingly joyful and momentous on a personal level with the birth of our first child.

Prior Years: 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016

So what did the past year thirteen months entail?
  • As is often the case, a bunch of travel - mostly for work, but also a few vacations with Gina (to Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and the Dominican Republic)
  • Getting to go flying with a coworker in Germany on the aforementioned trip last summer
  • Work has generally been quite fulfilling as I've taken on some new projects with more responsibilities, interacting with more customers and partners all over the world
  • Flying up to meet the in-laws for lunch (and to tell them we were pregnant)
  • Our only - but large - real flying trip, when we flew the 172 to Boston and back to meet our first nephew last Labor Day weekend
  • A very belated but welcomed first flight in pilot and blogger friend Chris' beautiful Warrior late last summer
  • Still managing to squeeze in one Young Eagles flight; it's always rewarding to be able to take kids up in a small airplane for the first time
Given my extreme lack of currency that I only recently remedied, this is the first year I've truly missed my annual birthday flight. And with an infant at home, it's also the first time I've ever flown it solo. However, I'll be damned if I completely break the tradition, so getting up in the Cub one month late this evening absolutely kept it alive in my book.

You couldn't have scripted much better weather

Door wide open, enjoying the lush scenery in every direction

The winds decided to get gusty (to 15-16 knots) just as I arrived at Stewart around 6 pm. So I ended up hanging around on the ground for a little while until they calmed back down. In an unusual move for the 65 hp Cub, it did not want to start this evening. However, after probably ten minutes of hand-propping and cycling through a combination of settings, it finally fired up without a care in the world. These old engines certainly have minds of their own at times.

With a still-decent wind blowing almost directly down the runway, my takeoff roll was short and I was quickly climbing westward. Between the light plane and good headwind aloft, I was at pattern altitude (800 feet AGL) before I was even able to turn crosswind on all but one takeoff. I threw in one short field takeoff for fun good practice and was airborne in less than the distance between one set of runway cones.

I know it sounds improbably full of horse manure, but my landings were darn near perfect every time around the pattern. Honestly. Other than the one time I made a simulated engine-out and bounced slightly, every touchdown was a true three-point greaser. Maybe the headwind helped but my stick and rudder skills in the roundout and flare were on point tonight.

Turning towards Caesar Creek Lake

After four takeoffs and landings, I flew north of the airport and passed over a friends' house. Unlike most times I pass over, I saw someone outside, so I circled around and heartily waved the wings before I flew away. Texting them later to ask if they saw me they said yes, their daughter saw the airplane and ran inside to get them to come out and wave. It's the small things... :)

The shadows were getting longer as the sun was getting lower

More lush greenery along the Little Miami River

Before what seemed like very long, it was time to get back to the airport as my reserved block of time was almost up. I'd been flying just about an hour as I entered the pattern for the final time. Keeping with the prior performance, the wheels softly touched down on the green grass; a short rollout and taxi later, I was pushing the plane back into the hangar.

If I didn't have to work for a living, this would be the perfect life

Tradition-keeping and flying practice aside, tonight was a very nice and much-needed mental reprieve. Work has been kind of insane and, while we're lucky that Mariella's truly a very calm and easy baby as babies go, any parent who doesn't admit to needing a little "me time" on occasion is probably lying. Getting up in the sky solo is perhaps still the only way for me to cut everything out and completely focus on something I love for an hour or two.

I did of course rush right home afterwards to see the adorable little girl waiting for her daddy.

Mariella Margaret is already looking skyward, it seems

Next up is getting current in the 172 so we can take this future aviatrix on her first flight. While I do plan on introducing her to the venerable Piper Cub when she's ready, I'd prefer we start out in the safety of a car seat. This new father certainly wants to protect his precious little girl!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Total Time: 373.9 hours


  1. Nice post and great photos! I'm glad you finally got some time to fly and invest a little in yourself. It's important!

    When The Bear was born, I was very uncertain about my future with aviation. Would I still have time to fly? Would it be selfish of me to take that time? Obviously, ten years on, you know how it worked out. I was fortunate that my wife insisted that I continue pursuing my love of flight.

    I'm surprised to make the highlight reel, considering that it included things like flying in Germany and your longest cross country trip to date. Cool!

    1. Indeed. And I've got a similarly awesome wife - Gina's been telling me I really need to go fly for some time now.

      Now I just need to find a job that affords me the opportunity to buy my own plane and we'll be able to do a lot more aviating... :)

  2. That Chris...he's a rock star!

    Steve, great to see you get some fly time. I get the me time and the mental reprieve. Somehow doing that pilot stuff just lets everything else fade, at least while we're in the air.

    1. It really is the best way I can eliminate all the other distractions and just focus on something, that's for sure.

      Glad to see both you and Chris have been doing so much flying yourselves. While I've been woefully remiss on the blog reading/commenting I have still noted all the stick time!

  3. Thanks, Gary. Now I have a Smash Mouth song stuck in my head.

  4. Congratulations belatedly!!��
    Beautiful baby....beautiful name!