Summer Flying

Hanging out at the airport can be the best thing to do on a summer day. There’s a veil of indifference at the gate that does not let any ‘to do’ lists in, cancels all the phone or e- mails and lets one mozy through a day of fun. The characters abound, each hanger having some sort of project in progress that their owners are glad to discuss.

Nicole Vandelaar, a friend from the Santa Rosa 99s and whirly girl, had organized a fly in for several chapters to the 29er Diner at the Petaluma Airport. My job was to stake out a table and defend it from all the other fly in folks. This was a big responsibility since the wx was great and the sky was full of hungry people. We didn’t know how many would show up so I set up a reservation for 8 and hoped for the best. Thank goodness Pat Pittelkow came to keep me company. As it was only 3 others joined us for a relaxing yick yak of flying stories and fun. These are the truly special moments, caught between the business of life, where you can relax without any agenda or deadline.

After lunch I was cruising the ramp and came upon my friend Patrick who wanted to exercise his Stearman. This isn’t any ordinary bi-plane. It’s a gorgeous sky cruiser with an engine on steroids. Patrick is known for his aerobatics which I’ve always envied. It was my lucky day because he was ready to launch and had a seat for me. We took off and immediately descended to just 50’ over the Petaluma River; dusting the tops of pickle weed, boaters and meandering water ways. This was really what the romance of flight is all about. To have the warm wind in your face and a smile on your heart is a flight of a life time.

Early in my flying career I had done a lot of aerobatics with hopes of getting an upside down flying machine. The trouble is that you don’t go anywhere. So those plans were shelved. But oh how I love whirling around in the sky! Patrick put the plane through all the tricks and maneuvers a stomach can take, and I still couldn’t get enough. We’re talking about the most fun you can have in a little patch of the blue! He is a great pilot and loves to share his enthusiasm with others.

Back on the ground there was a beer tasting going on, followed by the spontaneous BBQ. What a day! Who said Saturdays were for chores? Great friends, great fun, great flying…

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