Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cause Tig(g)ers Are Wonderful Things

I'm writing this post in ice blue, because that's the color my fingers turned while pre-flighting Bravo Alpha a week ago Wednesday. Greg and I wanted to fly to Northeast Philadelphia to pick up the Tiger, so agreed on an early start in the hopes that we'd be able to fit in an afternoon at the office. As we lugged out the engine pre-heater, I marvelled that I had continued my flight training with Rich given my first below-freezing, 5:30 a.m. lesson in January. It's definitely a testament to how much I love flying, because early mornings and cold weather really are not "my thing."

After the engine had been warming for some time, we climbed in so Greg could start the plane. Or, I should say, attempt to start the plane. It was frustrating, as she kept sounding like the propeller was going to catch, only to wind down again. Eventually, we gave up and Bob, President of our Flying Club and White Knight, came and started Romeo for us. It was close to 10:30 when we eventually took off into a strong headwind and watched the familiar Maryland scenery crawl by.

In my defense, I amused myself for at least twenty minutes - mostly trying to convince my camera that if my eye could see Baltimore (above), it should be able to pick it out in a photograph - before complaining to Greg that I was bored. As I recall, he was his usual sympathetic self.

When we got closer to Philadelphia, the light on the water made for some good photography. It was amazing how different the same body of water, featured above and below, looked depending on how the angle of the sun was hitting the water.

Although my brown gloves are almost hidden, I also persuaded Greg to participate in a double victory sign photograph. As you can tell, he was most pleased to be in my staged shot.

Our route of flight took us over the Susquehanna river, and I reminisced over my student days when the number of bridges and dams to the left and right of my course were eagerly counted to check my bearings. Most of the time, I even counted right.

The sun reflecting on the water as we passed by Delaware was awesome. There is something about intensely cold mornings that definitely make the sun seem to shine all the brighter.

I took this next picture as a shout-out to my Godson, Carlos. This is the air field Rich, Gillian, Eddie and I flew too in the hopes of seeing Juan play a polo game one afternoon this past summer. As it turned out, the rain had other plans for us, but we ended up practicing our polo skills in a large cage, getting our plane hand propped by the Flying Farmer, and it was a memorable day all the same.

Coming into the Northeast Philadelphia airport, Greg concentrated on the instructions he was received from the Tower, while I snapped pictures of Philadelphia.

I definitely had the easier job.

Once on the ground, we met with the mechanic who had worked on the Tiger. I walked down to say hello to the Tiger, but then decided to get Romeo going again before there was any chance that the engine would cool down to the point of giving me trouble. I haven't had a ton of solo experience at Towered airports, so it was good practice. All went smoothly, and I hugged the Class Bravo airspace around Philadelphia for a while after take-off, before turning to a more direct course for home.

The winds were not exactly a headwind, but still my progress was retarded. There was also an occasional bump of turbulence, and a few up and down drafts to keep me on my toes, but I couldn't resist pulling out my camera for the above quarry. I was flying low to stay under a Bravo shelf, and the water is always such a crazy color of blue in the quarries.

When I got back to Gaithersburg, I went for a quick lunch with Bob, before returning to help Gashaw and John remove the battery from Bravo Alpha so it could be recharged overnight. I called someone at the office and told them that I was unlikely to make it in until late afternoon as I had to stay and help fix the plane I broke. Her response was (somewhat) amusing, "I just hope you didn't break it in the air."

Greg arrived at Gaithersburg about 45 minutes later, as he had stayed to talk with the mechanic in greater detail and personally inspect the work done on the Tiger. As we were leaving the airport, it was very nice to see her sitting back where she belongs.


At December 1, 2008 at 6:35 PM , Blogger Greg said...

You really shouldn't feel bad about your progress being "retarded." Now count the bridges with me... one, two....


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