Today, I turned 43.
I find it ironic that shortly after our successful Airport Appreciation Day at Pickens County Airport in Jasper, Ga., a local “”professional”" pilot found the ear of the managing editor of the Pickens “”Progress,”" our local source of news, gossip and general hearsay. The resulting article contained more than 2,200 words, a lengthy piece for our newspaper, and in one fell swoop all the hard work of several dedicated aviation enthusiasts was undone.
It’s hard to believe another year has rolled around since Pickens County’s first Airport Appreciation Day. We were more prepared this year, having laid a lot of the groundwork last year. We knew our target audience. While we invite everyone to fly in, the public of Jasper, Pickens County and the surrounding areas are those we hope to attract.
I’m not one to whine. Well maybe I am, but this year has been challenging for us, to say the least. Several of our family members have decided that the Pearly Gates hold more appeal than this rat race on Earth. They packed up and left in about two week intervals, so I can honestly say that my meals for about six weeks were garnered from hospital vending machines or generous Southern spreads laid out in the back rooms of funeral homes.
The ground below hosted a thousand shades of green, and the previous day’s rain had washed away Atlanta’s yellow peril from the sky, leaving the air fresh and clear. The day was a welcome gift and I chose to ignore the responsibilities and obligations that clawed away at my time. Climb out was smooth and satisfaction fell over me like a comforting blanket as my world came into glorious view.
Winter’s end found me suffering from a very Victorian condition — a maudlin mood. Had I lived in that grand age, my condition would have been more grandiose, more pronounced, more eloquent, with tomes of Edgar Allen Poe and pots of tea lying about to help sustain me. Instead, the only indication of my condition was that I wore the same sweats for n’er a week, and the only person to notice was Keely.
We were a flight of three as we departed JZP and headed to the southeast. The day was clear, with wispy cirrus clouds gracefully painting a winter blue sky. Hotlanta was a schemer’s promise shining to our south and Stone Mountain was a timeless beacon of days long past and a future not yet seen. It was our group’s intent to meet some folks at the Spitfire Deli at Winder and enjoy a day of flying, socializing and just plain fun.
One of the nice things about being a grandmother and a pilot is that I can say what I want in print without being unduly flamed. Southern gentlemen have a hard time chastising their mothers and grandmothers, so I plan to take advantage of that regional trait and verbally attack the noun “”mission”" as it is utilized in aviation circles, especially newsgroups, where I find its use kind of annoying.
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.