Over the course of my career, I spent a lot of time in small aircraft. From what most people consider small, the “Puddle Jumpers” that comprised the commercial airlines in Idaho to truly small craft that were part of our corporate fleet. We had two…that’s what made our fleet, an AeroCommander 690A and a Sirius. When you travel to lots of little locations in back of beyond towns, it’s necessary to have your own aircraft. Our pilot was outstanding, we didn’t always get where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go…but when we went, we got there safely.
Since I left, there hasn’t been much opportunity to fly, most of our miles are ground bound, so when the offer to fly today came up, I jumped at it. Literally, I was kind of napping, I hopped out of bed and threw on my flip flops, grabbed my sunglasses and a bottle of water and was out. We are in Dodge City, Kansas, home of the famous Boot Hill and not much else, except our friends, the Shirleys. Brian needed to pick up an airplane from a nearby town and bring it down to his own hangar, I got to be the co-pilot.
We drove up to Montezuma and picked up the plane, a little two-seater with not a lot of excess room. Right on the dash there was a notice…”Passenger Notice: This plan is experimental in nature and does not comply with Federal Aviation Safety Requirements.” Well if that doesn’t instill confidence, I just don’t know what does.
It was obvious Brian was very comfortable flying, we had an uneventful trip back to Dodge City. Of course, I’m a bit of a klutz, it doesn’t really matter what I’m doing, I can always manage to get myself all fouled up. Flying little two-seaters requires you to go in through the window, kind of like getting in a race car, me, I’m trying not to lean too hard on the fiberglass, yet get myself inside without falling down. Finally in my seat, it took me a minute to locate all the seatbelt pieces and get strapped in, I put on my headphones, so we had communications, and as I’m adjusting the microphone, I knock the whole thing off, together with my sunglasses, because, of course, I’ve put it on backwards the first time. When climbing out after landing, it’s the same process in reverse, only this time, I’m trying to step off the wing without sliding off. The non-slip patch doesn’t extend the whole wing, so it was a bit tricky to get situated. I think I managed to do that part without being seen though. I’ve never been mistaken for being graceful, hmmm, I wonder why.