Shameful. Six months between stories. My excuses are a move to Singapore and demands of explosive business growth in the most burgeoning region in the world.
I travel alone over 200 days a year. During one harrowing 12-day period last month, I spent each of twelve consecutive nights in a different city – ranging from Nashville TN to Dunedin, New Zealand, and two nights on trans-oceanic flights on B777s and A380s, surrounded by strangers.
I crave time in our little Cessna 152, flying with Carlo.
It was already drizzling when we took off. It wasn’t quite a thunderstorm – no vicious lightning or thunder. Nor was it the long, dreary monsoon downpour that recalls limping piano lessons, restless childhood hours trapped indoors, the summer vacation wasting away.
No, this was a summer cloudburst, that ones that had us running into the streets as children, shivering deliciously under gushing downspouts before the sun sent temperatures soaring into the mid-30s again.
Huge raindrops smacked the windshield as we lifted off the grass. Carlo, flying from the right seat, started an instrument climb. The sun streamed through shafts of rain. We orbited over the field. Cloudbursts quickly move on. It is best to stay in one spot and wait them out. I set navcom 1 to the ILS at Clark, as a precaution.
Carlo flew a perfect orbit. You can see below his VSI perfectly horizontal. Level at 900 feet, our entry altitude at Woodland Airfield.
The rain shafts moved on. Visibility jumped to a bazillion kilometers and the air sparkled. We jolted through some turbulence. I thought of microbursts and shear and mountain waves across the top of Mt Arayat, three kilometers away.
Time for an approach. The smoke plumes from ground fires streamed in different directions, hugging the rice fields flat. I pointed to one plume, on the horizon. Horizontal.
The Angeles City Flying Club weather station is on top of Hangar 1. I looked up our website on my BlackBerry, and sure enough, the wind was 25 knots, gusting to 28. Crosswind, though all three of our windsocks pointed in three different directions.
The maximum demonstrated crosswind on a Cessna 152 is 12 knots.
I told Carlo he still had the airplane. I wasn’t about to embarrass myself.
Carlo flew a magnificent approach. He crabbed 15 degrees into the wind throughout the pattern, then canted the airplane into a sideslip on short final.
As he flared, you can clearly hear my mumble in the cockpit video – “Sh*t, he’s going to grease it on.”
Of course he wanted to do it again. There was a group of R/C flyers sheltering from the gale, in the lee of Hangar 3. They were gawking at us. A Cessna 152 isn’t much larger than a radio-controlled airplane.
Carlo did three approaches. All greasers. The wind shifted on the last short final, and he got a freebie headwind. He nailed that, too.
I suggested he might quit while he was ahead. Our faces were sore from laughing and grinning non-stop. Did I mention I love flying with Carlo?
As they pushed the airplane into Hangar 3, I took a photo of the windsock. The wind had shredded it completely.
Later, Mike taught Carlo to walk bowlegged. Because he had BIG brass ones.
I tried to take credit for all the landings. “I used my autopilot to fly coupled approaches to our CAT III ILS at Woodland Airpark. I use every resource, and I was totally in command.” Nobody believed me.
Posted from Venice, Italy
May 26, 2014