Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back to the 'Burg

The past two years, as a member of my firm's hiring committee, I have driven to the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia to recruit second year law students for our summer internship program. This year, the interviews were scheduled for the Friday before my much-anticipated week vacation in Montreal. A solid three hour drive, even with decent traffic, it had the makings for a long pre-vacation day.

I thought about flying, but I'm currently only allowed to fly a few of our club's planes, and they were all booked. However, I whined loudly to Rich, who finagled getting permission to telecommute for the day, and we reserved the Piper Cherokee.

And just like that, a dreaded day became an exciting day.

Although it was an early start, it was a gorgeous morning for a flight. I got to the airport before Rich and Eddie to pre-flight the plane, and took careful note of the gaping hole where the plane's GPS unit is usually located. Thinking it might be like my car's CD player (with a removable front panel) I casually asked Rich after he arrived where I might find the GPS unit to put it back in.

Rich just laughed and said something about it having been removed in anticipation of an upgrade. I freaked. I had flight planned to go through "the corridor" (i.e., a narrow 4-mile strip of airspace between two restricted zones that gets navigation-savvy pilots -- and those using GPS -- straight line from Gaithersburg out to the Coast) and reminded Rich of this fact. He reminded me, in turn, that real pilots don't need GPS. So, with charts in hand, we took off only a half hour late and headed East through the corridor.

It wasn't long before we could see the water, and turned South towards Williamsburg. With the sun streaming in through the windows, it was the kind of day where you wish you could just keep flying forever. Eddie seemed a bit lonely without Gillian in the backseat to snuggle with, but he still sat up nicely for his photograph.

Williamsburg sits tucked between the York and James Rivers, which make for easy landmarks; however, I wasn't able to get my bearings on the College or the Law School from the air. As we closed in on the airport, we tried to get the FBO to call us a taxi, but they weren't able to receive us clearly. Around the same time, another pilot announced he was inbound for Williamsburg and intended to make a with-the-wind landing. We quickly announced (again) that we were already in position for an opposite-the-wind landing, but we weren't confident he heard us. So, Rich flew while I scanned. (Two pilots are better than one.) I finally spotted him, he answered our call, and we touched down shortly before 9 a.m.

We quickly tied down the plane, got the FBO to call us a cab, and I fell through the door of the interview room in time for interview #3. I had already given the other Venable attorney a heads-up that I was running (flying?) late, though, so all was well. It's amazing how much slack people cut you when you're a pilot. I suppose "plane trouble" just sounds so much cooler than "car trouble."

After my interviews were done around 5, we made a quick detour to Colonial Williamsburg so I could pick up a Caithness for my parent's 40th wedding anniversary present, and then headed to the airport. With the setting sun, the flight home was even more breathtaking than the one down. Rich indulged me, only somewhat grudgingly, as I repeatedly requested that he take the controls so that I could take pictures and a few quick videos.

I joked that my Mum always asks who is flying the plane while I'm taking photographs, just before I took this one:

In case you haven't guessed, Rich is wondering the same thing. :-)

Although Rich could navigate in his sleep, we weren't keen to attempt the corridor at night, and so didn't dawdle on our way home. Fortunately, even a straight line path takes you over one gorgeous body of water to the next.

I plan to start a "wall o' flying" in my condo with my favorite pictures enlarged and framed, but it is going to be hard to decide which one to use from this flight.

As we tied down the plane that night, it was with that comfortable smile that comes at the end of a really good day. In fact, I can't remember my last "working day" that I've enjoyed more...


At September 10, 2008 at 7:43 AM , Blogger Greg said...

Sweet. Flying makes everything better, eh?

At September 10, 2008 at 1:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait till the end of September when I get to go flying too! The sun on the water pictures are so beautiful....just make sure somebody's got hands on the yoke :)

At September 10, 2008 at 3:41 PM , Blogger Jude said...

Hi Amy,

What great joy to read about your adventures en avion and the pics of the countryside are magnificent.
It all sounds like great fun and one can't help but smile along with you guys.
Salut, Judy


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