A Dream Realized

Dreams Do Come True
Dreams Do Come True

I walked outside this morning after the first good night’s sleep in years, and watched birds flit around the trees, singing on a beautiful sunny morning. My eye fell on the small dogwood tree in the front yard, where a colorful litle fabric airplane is hanging, its wind spinner turning in the breeze, and I started to cry.

You see, that little airplane has come a long, long way. Many many years ago, on the day I passed my private pilot check ride as a 17-year old high school senior, I flew from Gainesville to Cedar Key for my first flying adventure. Edna (the grizzled old crazy taxi lady) gave me a harrowing ride in her battered station wagon from the airport to the downtown Cedar Key area by the docks. While there I saw a little fabric plane sold by a local artist in a shop, and thought to myself “one day, when I have my own house on an airport and my own little seaplane, I will hang that little airplane in the yard and remember this day.” I knew the day that little airplane would commemorate would be a long time coming, and already I was worried how I would afford to continue flying.

For years I carried that little airplane with me in a box of precious things, and would take it out to look at it. There were some long dark years when I didn’t get to fly, and my whole world seemed awful, and I couldn’t even stand to look at the sky. That little airplane stayed hidden in a dark closet corner, buried, like I buried my memories of flight. And yet still I carried it with me everywhere I moved.

A few days ago, as I was looking through items stored away that I had not yet unpacked, I found the box with that little airplane, its colors still bright despite the long passage of the years. I hung it from a little tree in my yard, on the path to the hangar, and now every time I look out my office window, or step out the front door to go flying, it is there to remind me that sometimes dreams do come true.

Lake Hickory Seaplane Flight

Seabee & Searey
Seabee & Serey

Been quite some time since I posted here. Today I flew a formation flight over to Lake Hickory with my airpark neighbor ET to check out a location for a seaplane fly-in this October. He has the most beautifully maintained Seabee I have ever seen (on the left). My little Searey is on the right.

High Flight

High Flight

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

A famous work that conveys the double-edged sword of the love of flight is the poem “High Flight” by aviator poet John Gillepsie. He wrote the now famous poem a few months before he died at the age of 19 following a midair collision between his Spitfire and a training aircraft. The collision occurred at a low altitude of 1400’, and the pilots were unable to exit their aircraft before impact. Both were killed.

2011 Soaring Season Begins

2011-02-26 Flight Path
2011-02-26 Flight Path

I’ve been working on my sailplane to get in back in shape…last weekend I didn’t fly it, instead I spend 12+ hours cleaning, polishing and waxing everything except the bottoms of the wings. Today I wired up my new flight recorder and PNA. I thought about finishing waxing the wings, but I just couldn’t… with cloud streets like I saw today, I just HAD to fly. It was AWESOME! there was incredible lift, averaging about 4kts, but going up to 10+kts! I downloaded my flight from my flight recorder,so you can see there was good lift today… I made up above 5000′, and actually above the cloud bases at one point.


Hangliding Accident


I was seriously injured in a hanglider accident on May 9th. I was airlifted to a trauma center and was hospitalized for almost two weeks. I am now out of the hospital and will be recovering at home for the next couple of months. I’m told it will be a long road (2-3 years to full recovery) as I have shattered both my arms with nerve damage. They are pinned together with dozens of titanium plates and screws. It will takes 3-12 months to learn if the left arm will be usable. I can move my right hand a little bit, though, and can get a little done on the computer with Dragon Dictate voice software.

First Flight of Spring Soaring Season 2010

Video of Today’s Flight In My Sailplane: 2 1/2 minute video of a flight today in my sailplane… assembled from short clips I shot from my iPhone in flight…. neat view of space mountain about 35 seconds into the video… apologies for the dorky audio… I had no idea how much I talk to myself when flying, lol.

Resisting the Dark Side!

I couldn’t help but wonder if I love soaring so much because it’s the first thing I tried after my long hiatus from flying. Temptation won out, and I got checked out to fly power again in a little Katana.

Katana Panel
Katana Panel
She’s a fun little ship, but as I flew around the airport I kept feeling like something was missing. I kept feeling like I had too much time on my hands… No hunting for thermals, no constantly thinking “where can I glide to now” in the back of my head… No constant adjustments of speed and pitch to surf the sky as smoothly as I could. Just looking at the engine gauges and thinking “everything is green. Been another X minutes, used another 1/2 gallon of fuel.” Hmph.

Don’t get me wrong… I love being in the sky, but slipping into the cockpit of this little beauty didn’t feel like slipping into my real skin like my little Grob. I’ll probably hop over to the dark side of power planes every now and then, but ultimately my heart wants to soar