Since Keely has become a permanent part of our family, our flying habits have changed. Where our cross countries used to be literally across the country, they are now limited to forays into neighboring states. Even those are limited to special occasions. Most of our flying is now done within 50 to 100 miles of our home airport. This keeps Keely’s interest from waning and allows us the freedom to fly even if we’re no longer testing our navigational skills in lands far away.
Just because our flying is closer to home doesn’t mean we’re sitting on our aviation laurels. During the school week, I will often drop Keely off in the morning and head to the airport if it’s a particularly fine day. This is “”me”" time. I can fly aimlessly around in a 50-mile circle and pick out land formations or other items of interest in peace and solitude. Or I might use the time to practice my maneuvers. Steep turns, stalls of various types and slow flight, especially when done well, stir my blood and put a keen sense of satisfaction down in my aviator’s soul.
Then typically it’s back to the airport for some landings. I prefer to three-point, so I make myself practice wheel landings. I try to land on “”my”" spot and then try to aim for spots at various locations on the field. These skills are helpful when flying to larger aviation events where several aircraft are landing on the same surface at the same time. If the wind picks up, I use the time to practice my crosswind landings without the added pressure of a 6-year-old critic who literally keeps score using a system of checks and Xs on a pad she keeps in the side pocket of the airplane just for this purpose.
On most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the Old Man is home and the schedule is based on what needs to be done where. If the weather is tolerable and either airplane needs maintenance, it’s done on Friday or Saturday or sometimes both. Saturdays are great “”fly somewhere”" days, and Sunday afternoons are good socializing days either at the hangar, the line shack or elsewhere.
In good weather, I see to it that the Old Man gets his “”me”" time. I’ll keep Keely at the hangar while he takes off in Lucy to see if his mountains are where he last left them. We’ll take our chairs where the view is good and watch him do touch and goes when he returns. Some landings are on the pavement. Some are in the grass. Some are three-point because he prefers wheel-landings and wants to stay proficient. Some are soft and barely make a whisper. Some squeak and some bounce. Regardless of what he does, when he leaps from Lucy after those flights, there are fewer worry lines on his face and the sparkle has returned to his eyes.
It’s not the grand adventure we thought we would be having during this point in our lives, but on the other hand, not many families use the need to complete two BFRs as an excuse for a fly-in picnic on the observation deck at Tom B. David Field at Calhoun, Ga.