Monday, August 8, 2016

Digital Community

Virtuality

Perhaps the only invention more effective at shrinking the world than the airplane is the Internet. Through blogging, I've made many friends in the aviation community that I would have not encountered otherwise. I've been fortunate to meet some of these terrific people in real life; enabled, of course, by our common passion for flight.

These real life meet-ups have included fellow bloggers Gary, Jeff, SteveVictoria (along with Turbo the Flying Dog) and frequent reader Ed. I first encountered Jeff on the Piper Owner Society forums where I was active during my early years of Warrior ownership. When we met in person for the first time over lunch near Richmond, VA, it was like greeting an old friend from high school. Since meeting Gary, I now "hear" his distinctive vocal timbre and cadence whenever I read his blog posts. After a lunch together in Frederick, MD, Victoria became my aviation insurance agent. Despite the fact that we all live in different places, Steve, Jeff, Victoria, and I all trace our roots back to southeastern Michigan. Whereas Victoria and I share a common home town (though we did not live there concurrently), Steve, Jeff, and I all spent a period of our lives in Kalamazoo. We share many things in common, but it was aviation - and the Internet - that brought us together and sparked our friendships.

The first time Steve and I met in person, he surprised me with a supply of Bells' Oberon that he airlifted directly into the Williamson-Sodus Airport by Cessna. At the time, this favorite brew from Kalamazoo was unavailable in New York and I appreciated not only his thoughtfulness, but his clever use of an airplane as a beer delivery vehicle. Though business travel brought Steve back to Rochester several times since, a visit in August 2016 finally coincided with good weather and sufficient time to capitalize on it.

Guest Photographer

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hours) Total Time (hours)
8 Aug 2016 N21481 SDC (Sodus, NY) - DSV (Dansville, NY) - SDC 1.7 1576.0

Though Steve was already very familiar with my airplane from years of reading this blog, it was his first time actually laying eyes on it in all its Spam-canny glory.

Photo by Steve

Photo by Steve

Steve has a great eye for photography and he put it to work as we prepared to fly.


Aloft, I flew Steve over the Lake Ontario shore to share one of my favorite local sightseeing destinations with him: Chimney Bluffs. Though Steve had flown to Sodus previously, Chimney Bluffs is the kind of unique ground feature that is easily missed by those unaware of its existence.

Sodus Bay, photo by Steve


The Bluffs were practically glowing in the late evening sunlight.



I passed control to Steve and pointed him toward the north end of Canandaigua Lake.


Steve flew us southward along the middle of Canandaigua Lake and followed the valley westward on a scenic run to Dansville for dinner.



On the downwind portion of the traffic pattern at Dansville, we found ourselves wingtip to wingtip with another Cherokee flying a much wider pattern than we were, which is quite a trick considering the nearby high terrain. It's always a little awkward when you're already established in the pattern, making all your radio calls, and another aircraft arrives, maneuvering in a way suggesting that its pilot neither saw nor heard you. Despite the fact that he was close enough for us to read his tail number, my "do you have the Warrior on downwind?" query over the radio was met with befuddlement. He obliged us by extending his downwind while we turned in to land.

Photo by Steve

From the Dansville airport, the best dining option within a short walk is a local truck stop. It is not the fanciest of dining destinations, but their fare is more than adequate. Over dinner (which was actually breakfast in my case), Steve and I talked about flying, travel, and the vagaries of corporate life.

The flight home was conducted well after dark. We passed through some unexpected updrafts in the dark, causing me to recall my recent unpleasant nighttime experience with aggressively rising air.

We both picked up the rotating beacon at Sodus from several miles out, but it seemed that we were only seeing the green light. Once on the ground, we were baffled to see obvious diametrically opposed green and white lights on the beacon. Considering that we both saw this, I think it officially counts as a mass hallucination.

It was a beautiful night for flying and I was glad to be able to share it with an old friend from my digital community. The good friends that I have made through this blog have been one of the best, and most unexpected, benefits of sharing my thoughts and experiences with the world.