Springfield Chapter Missouri Pilots Association

May 2003

Flying Journal - Bits & Pieces

In contrast to the "un-flying" of the last half of March, April was full of flying, almost 15 hours for the logbook. In March and April I completed five Flight Reviews and two instrument checks. I introduced the joys of open-cockpit flying in the gyroplane to more citizens of the Buffalo area. On the last flight of that day, at about 600 feet AGL on an extended dogleg base to the airport, my passenger and I both distinctly detected the pungent spring aroma of skunk. I occasionally smell earthbound odors in the air, but never that high and that distinctly.

There was some really beautiful flying this April; things greened more from day to day. My last flight of the month, I especially enjoyed the low-level scenery as my student practiced instructing ground reference maneuvers-you remember, s-turns and turns around a point. The FAA says to fly them 600-1000 feet AGL, so while we are down there, we WILL enjoy the scenery.

Of course spring inevitably brings with it convective activity. That's always a topic I discuss with pilots on flight reviews. Remember? The three factors necessary for a thunderstorm to form-moisture, lift, and unstable air? My encounter of the hail kind in the Aztec was of course one example of the hazards of unstable air.

Under careful control, with stability and constant monitoring, within "the envelope" for a particular aircraft, we all enjoy colliding with air molecules at 150 or 200 or 600 miles per hour. But 200 mile per hour winds, uncontrolled and unstable, can tear most of our material goods, as well as our bodies, to bits and pieces, even grind a swath of destruction for over an hour from Pierce City to Battlefield!

I'm sure most of us found bits and pieces of building materials in our yards after the devastating "multiple warhead" tornado attack. So sad, so intimate in a way, to see pieces of other Ozarkers' bank statements and old collections of magazines. Why do we keep old magazines from the1980s and earlier? Why DO I? I suppose it's also upsetting because it was so close. It could have been any of us. We are all still in the target zone.

As I walked the yard almost reverently picking up these tokens of human suffering, I also wondered what it was like to find bits and pieces of shuttle debris. In fact, the same forces tore apart the Columbia as Pierce City-fast moving air and loss of stability.

Funny how the old magazines really got to me. I found a clipping from a 1988 Wall Street Journal article, a page from a 1980 physician's magazine of some sort, and an ad for a fancy beef cow auction from1984. Hmm, I used to know a doctor who raised cattle. But what really got to me was to imagine some of MY old magazines or old bicycle parts being blown around the country. And I remembered an old relative-we all have one or more-a real packrat, with old material goods piled up so you have to walk through aisles between piles of junk to move through the house.

Why do we hang on to such stuff? I did get rid of SOME junk when we moved last summer. I don't do New Year's Resolutions, but I'll make a Summer Resolution for this year-fly more, and get rid of even more old stuff so-- 1). No loved one will have to go through the dusty stuff after I'm gone, and 2). I'll get rid of it myself before some tornado blows it all away. Ashes to ashes and all that.

So what do you say let's all remember the people and relationships that are more important than material things? And let's safely and proficiently share some of those intangibles like the joy of flying!


[Copyright 2003 - Earl Holmer]