I like fly-ins. The anticipation and the excitement of the journey are nearly as tantalizing as the event itself, especially the first fly-in of the season.
The foremost chore on my preparation list is to try on my shorts. We have all learned the hard way that this is not something we should leave to the last minute, especially after a winter’s hibernation. Too many Southern pilots have fallen into despair after realizing their zippers will not zip unless drastic measures are taken. So, if my shorts are too tight or just plain impossible to get into, the diet starts now. Of course, I have admitted defeat a time or two and purchased new ones in a more accommodating size. Whether diet or defeat, the option was available because I checked the status of this situation early.
While comfortable bottoms are essential, the fly-in shirt is the utmost in expressing the individual aviation experience. Before any fly-in event, especially at the start of the season, favorite shirts are removed from storage and inspected for moth holes and excessive wear. If they are beyond the pale, it’s time to go shopping, and the Internet has made finding a loving replacement a much simpler endeavor. Once the fly-in season begins there will be ample opportunity to replenish the fly-in wardrobe for future needs. It’s a win-win situation.
When all wardrobe considerations are met, I begin to consider my hairstyle and color for the event. I try to determine my mood and objective at this particular time. Do I want to look young and sassy, sophisticated and glamorous? Perhaps the event is an extended one, and I should go for the easiest style for a few days of very primitive camping. Like the shorts, this is not something that should be left to the last minute. Bad stuff can happen. Take my word for it. If it does, despair not. The fly-in hat is a very chic wardrobe accessory.
I like catalogs. This is where my female’s personality diverges from my male counterparts to reveal the two faces of Eve. As with most guys, I like aviation catalogs. I like to ponder over them for hours and imagine the things I could purchase for my beloved Lester if my good old American dollars were limitless (and of course if the FAA were a tad more practical about approving those pesky 337s). Perhaps funding and approval restrictions are beneficial, as I fear that Lester would end up looking like a beefed-up, redneck, flying pimpmobile with a lovely glass panel and dual rocket launchers. I’ve always admired tundra tires.
However, unlike my male pilot brethren, I like ladies catalogs, too. You know, clothing, household goods and such stuff. I admit my pilot side is much stronger than my girly side, but every now and again we hide the credit cards and let the girl rule. My favorite is the Eddie Bauer clothing catalog. There abounds an abundance of assurance in this slickly-marketed rag that if I spend my monthly flying budget on this lovely spring outfit (shoes and handbag extra) that my 5-foot-1-1/3 inch self will magically appear tall and willowy with flawless skin and shimmering hair. For a few dollars more, the shoes, a vision in chocolate, feature “”a delicate floral pattern”" and are “”versatile.”" “”Slip them on for a day at work and then enjoy them for dinner out.”" The propaganda mentions nothing about how the vision coordinates with Lester’s interior or functions with tiny Luscombe rudder petals.
I like touch and goes. The joy of a touch and go is that I can land on one main or the other or both. Perhaps I want to land on all three wheels. Perhaps I want to touch on one main then the other in a ritual called the Tennessee Waltz. Maybe I want to land on this spot or that one. Maybe I want to land on this spot with the left main or is it the right? A lady’s prerogative. Maybe I want to challenge myself with a little crosswind practice. Maybe I want to land a little short. Maybe I want to spend the day traveling to as many local airports as possible to do several touch and goes at each because at each location and with each approach the landing is always different, always fresh and new. Maybe I don’t want to actually land but just let the grass tickle the mains, or maybe I want to full stall the exact millisecond the wheels touch and wonder, “”Have I touched yet?”"
Maybe I seek Perfection, a place I’ve yet to find. But in looking for this place I’ve found happiness. I like that.