Flying Journal - Weekend Flying

For many pilots, weekends may be the only time they normally fly. But for over 25 years, I have had jobs that required weekend work. Indeed, when I sold bicycles, sometimes half our week's business came on Saturday alone. Then, when I worked full-time as a flight instructor, the weekends were also filled by "work flying." (Of course I certainly enjoyed much of that work, as well).

But to me, my weekend could be Wednesday and Thursday, or Sunday and Monday or whatever. (While traffic at attractions is usually lower during the week, I also learned that many museums and restaurants are closed on Mondays). To me, the day of the week held little special significance. However, I know of many people who associate the joys of certain activities with specific days, like Monday night Football or their favorite outdoor (or indoor!) activity on a lazy Saturday morning or a rainy Sunday afternoon.

It's only very recently that I have begun to experience any special joy just because the calendar showed it was what our friends in the French Academy have only begrudgingly and belatedly been forced to accept into their "official language" as le weekend!

The weekend when I first realized this had started on Friday afternoon, as Cinda Rodgers and I struggled to complete one last session of practice before HER weekend began with her Private Pilot checkride on Saturday. I pushed her rapidly through the maneuvers in the deepening dusk. For a while we thought we might have been the last pilots to land on the taxiway at Bolivar before the new runway opened the next morning. We finished with a night landing at Springfield Downtown and I signed her logbook.

Saturday dawned with ground fog in Ozarks valleys (and airports). I drove to Bolivar to meet Bolivar chapter member, Roni Burns, for the breakfast buffet and to fly his "semi-ultralight" Beaver (No, not THE DeHavilland Beaver). Since my last "first flight" in a small homebuilt had been a sobering-indeed harrowing-experience, I was not sure I ever wanted to do that again. But this was not a "test-flight." Roni and others had been flying it regularly and it even had a brand new engine (always reassuring-I think?).

Wendall Jones arrived on the new instrument approach, and others drove in. The food was as good as home-cooked and we laughed and carried on. It was a wonderful feeling. I felt like I belonged in a place like that. The fog burned off, and others flew in. Roni and I flew the "Beaver." I think I'll write about that next time, but we got to discussing that it was about the same speed as the gyroplane and it turns out Wendall was organizing an impromptu fly-out to Warsaw for the dedication of the new GA terminal building and the Warsaw Fall Festival.

Long story short: I drove from Bolivar to Ozark, and flew the gyroplane to Springfield Downtown for fuel and to check the weather terminal. I bumped into Cinda preparing to fly over to Regional for her test. I double-checked that I had endorsed her properly for that short solo flight. We discussed the weather and set out on our respective weekend adventures.

I flew to Bolivar, and had lunch while the gyro was topped off again. Then I began one of the most fun afternoons of flying I have ever had. My route from Bolivar to Warsaw took me over unpopulated areas and both Pomme de Terre and Truman Lakes, including the bluffs with gorgeous fall colors along the river and wetlands between the two lakes.

Of course by the time I got to Warsaw, Bob Dickens had already begun his speech (sorry, Bob). But I enjoyed the visiting and cake and punch. Like at Bolivar, I felt welcomed, part of a special culture of aviators and small communities. Gyroplane owner, Phil Horras, and gyro student, Doug Burlison, drove to the event and Doug helped fly the gyro back to Bolivar and then Ozark.

We returned again over the lakes and fall color and ended a perfect flying Saturday (or was it a perfect Saturday flying?) with sunset and a dusk landing at Air Park South. The icing on this lovely day was the message from Cinda that she had passed her test with flying colors. Hooray for our side!
Fly safely, and share the joy!

Earl

[Copyright 2001 - Earl Holmer]

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