Standing in front of our hangar, I can see the whole world — or at least my little portion of it. As late afternoon gives way to early evening, it is a good place to be. The March sun is bold, portending the summer yet to come. But instead of wearying heat, her warmth is gentle and caressing. The southerly wind flows across my body awakening genes gone dormant and whispers in her sultry voice that spring has arrived.
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.
I’m not certain how it happened, but aviation-wise the first of the year has become a very busy time for us. This year, annuals, medicals and insurance renewals all fall in the first quarter, and this pilot/owner-operator is rather overwhelmed with paperwork, appointments and the need to juggle the household cash flow to meet all these needs.
Death is a natural process. While hard for some to accept, it is the inevitability that every living thing must face. Death can take many forms. Quick and sudden or long and lingering, for some it is a tragic force to be denied and cursed. For others, it is a blessed, quiet journey into that good night. Whether tragic or blessed, for one to face death, one must first experience life. It is the paradox of all living things.
I’ve experienced and learned a few things since I earned my PPL, especially during the time I’ve owned my Luscombe. One of the most important is that I know that I will continue to learn as long as I continue to fly. The winds are ever changing and each landing is new and unique. Complacency and fatigue are a tailwheel pilot’s worst enemies. I battle the former by practice and approaching each flight with the same attention to detail. I battle the latter by recognizing and accepting my own limitations.
The other day, I was sitting in my dirty truck patiently waiting in the pick-up line at Clayton Elementary School when I heard a rooster crow. Loudly. My first thought was that I had finally lost it. When the rooster crowed again, a tingling of a suspicion emerged. My next thought was, “”This is not good.””
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.