Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Birdmen of America...LAUNCH!

Today seemed like a good day to drag my metal friend out of his nice, warm house.

Clouds were low, as were the temperatures, and the winds were not what I'd have ordered up, but what the's not like you get good if you only fly on perfect days. So ignoring the looks from the hangar guy who obviously thought me a bit mad, I taxied out and took off down the centerline of runway 26. For some reason, a song came to mind at that moment so I sang loudly as the plane lifted off: "There's a star man, waiting in the sky..."
Apologies to David Bowie...I can't carry a tune in a suitcase, but I was having fun and my finger was off the radio button (this time) so I sang and flew along, making up new words to replace the ones that I couldn't remember, which was actually most of them.


The ice monsters are lurking up in these clouds at these temperatures, but so long as I stay down here below them, they can't get me.

Plenty of ice on the Shenandoah river below, though.

Heading up the river towards the Potomac.
"There's a star man waiting in the sky. He told us not to blow it, or he'll poke us in the eye..." (checks again to make sure finger is off radio button.)

Here's where the two rivers come together at Harpers Ferry. That's the Shenandoah on the right, entering the Potomac.

Going up the Potomac , I come to Shepherdstown. The little road on the right (north) side of the river is the one that I love to run on in the summer. Got to get back to working on that. I've been slacking.

By this time, the darn clouds were really starting to push me down. So I went back.

I got back to the airport and set up for my first touch-and-go. Despite the tricky eleven-knot wind, I greased it in nicely, and then nearly skidded off the runway before I figured out that my prosthetic foot was on the left-side brake. Dumbass! Power to full, carb heat off, flaps up, and try that again. And get it right this time!

As I go around again, I hear a taxi request for C-5B Heavy, one of the Air Force Lockeed C-5 Galaxy cargo haulers based at this airport. I can see two of them on their side of the field with their nav lights on now, and since I don't want to get caught up in their games, I call this landing for a full stop. I ace it in on the centerline nice as pie and roll off onto my taxiway. Another Cessna that's right behind me decides to go it one more time and he executes a touch-and-go.

As I shut down, the first C-5 gets back taxi clearance and starts lumbering down the runway. Now the other Cessna has to wait, because these guys get priority.
The first C-5 back-taxis, and suddenly there's a problem. He's got something wrong with one of his brakes. (Idiot with his foot on it, I wonder? It's been known to happen.) Now he's stuck, and so is the Cessna that wanted to come in and land. The Cessna just has to go circle somewhere and wait until the Galaxy crew either fixes the problem or calls for a tow back to their ramp.

25 minutes later...

Glad I quit when I did. One more take-off and I'd have been in the air another half hour. And Defense Secretary Gates would have been getting a bill for the extra flight time.

I'm happy.


  1. Loved the pics showing Harpers Ferry! Isn't flying just the best?!? Sometime you'll have to take me up - my first plane ride was as a kid in a Cessna :)

  2. Anonymous6:20 PM

    Thanks for sharing the pictures and your thoughts and song.

  3. Wasn't that first photo actually a C141?

  4. Learned that "Lagniappe" means (paraphrasing now)something extra, unexpected. Is that right?

    Also, is that a C141 in the first heavy airplane shots? I did notice the C5, but the other looks alot like a lizard

  5. HC, it's a C-5. Same plane in both photos and the video. It just doesn't look as big from that distance.

    Gator Girl, well it'll happen if'n you evah git up this way.

    Oh, and HC, Lagniappe also means: "Best damn German Shepherd you could ever get to know." You should have been here a few months ago when he was still around.

  6. Sorry, that's a 141, check the number of wheels. I've flown in both and I know the difference, my late husband flew the lizards

  7. Saw Lagniappe's photos and read the accounts of him and the cats. Sorry for you loss. Good luck w/Murphy

  8. HC, Sorry, but speaking as the photographer, I'm here to tell ya that all three shots are the same aircraft.

    Oh, and Murphy will be flying with me soon enough. Stay tuned.

  9. I concede. Enlarged it does look like a 5

  10. Any day is a good day (if it's safe) to go flying :-) Glad you got a break. And yeah, C-5s break... and tie up the entire airport... sigh...

  11. Wonderful view of a part of the world I know little about. And those planes...I'd park my hind end at that runway all day if I could just watch those big craft scream out...

    Cannot wait for the First Murphy Flight.

  12. I got 2 weeks of vacation comin' up after June 1st! :)