Last night was a picture-perfect night for flying. It was warm, cloudless, no breeze...like I said: perfect.
I went out to the airport just before sundown, figuring I'd get up, fly around the area for a bit until full dark, then shoot some night landings to keep my skills up. Unfortunately for me, my pre-flight check of the aircraft showed me that the birds had been busy over the last two weeks; busy building a nest under my engine cowling back by the firewall and air intake. Damn birds! And damn me, for not buying a set of cowl plugs to prevent that from happening. I got as much of the straw and sticks out as I could without removing the whole cowling (a big, big hassle) and I scratched the flight and went back out there this morning with my shop-vac to get the rest. I did eventually get it all out--and a better collection of tinder and kindling you'll never find when you actually want to build a fire---and the proper plugs are on order, with a couple of bath towels standing in for them until they arrive. If nothing else, this underscores the necessity for doing a good pre-flight check. That was an engine fire just waiting to happen.
So since I was out there this morning, I took the plane up just for some work in the pattern. It was an especially good day since the winds were uncharacteristically out of the east, so runway 8 was in use instead of the normal 26.
(For no-pilots, these are opposite ends of the same runway, the numbers derived from their compass headings. Runway 8 is an east-pointing runway, taking off on a compass heading of 080, and it's opposite end is the 260-degree radial.)
So the Ground Control directed my to the west end of Runway 8, as the winds favored that runway for take-offs and landings. As I taxied over there, however, I happened to look to the east, and who should be touching down on the 26 end but a C-5 Galaxy! Whoa! This is why we always stop at the "hold short" lines and ask for clearance before crossing an active runway.
Here he is, going past me on the active runway. He's big, folks. No worries though, because I'm only turning onto the parallel taxiway. Still, a plane that big and fast gets your attention though, especially when it comes from the other direction.
And here he is again, going back into the Air Force side of the field on their taxiway. He probably used more fuel just reversing his thrusters to stop that plane than I'll burn all day.
So I flew around the pattern for an hour, logging another eight practice landings. Kinda cool though, because I almost never get to use Runway 8, so the practice is appreciated. So eight landings, and only two "dinosaur" landings in the bunch. (That's where I touch down hard enough to topple over the small plastic dinosaur on the dash board.)
And here's the base gate guardian, an F-86 Sabre jet that used to be stationed here.
Here it is in close-up, photographed at the airshow a couple of years back.
I still think I need this jet. And compared to that C-5, it's pretty darned fuel-efficient and easy to maintain.