Sunday, September 13, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
13 Sep 2009 N21481 5G0 (Le Roy, NY) - DSV (Dansville, NY) - 5G0 1.1 762.7

On the second Sunday of every summer month, EAA Chapter 486 at the Oswego County Airport hosts one heck of a fly-in breakfast.  From the mandatory pancakes to homemade doughnuts prepared on site, it's quite an operation.  For one reason or the other, we were unable to attend any breakfasts this year.  September 13 was the last one of 2009; the herald of season's end.

The glorious blue skies over Rochester belied the IFR (instrument) conditions prevailing over Oswego that morning as Kristy, The Bear, and I made ready to depart from Le Roy for breakfast.  We settled for a quick trip to Dansville for breakfast at the family restaurant within walking distance of the airport.

En route to Dansville, the mountain obscuration forecast for points south appeared as a thick ivory blanket on the horizon between us and The Keystone State.  A thick tendril of fog spilled from the higher terrain, twisting and creeping along the Genesee River valley (above).  We diverted south of Letchworth State Park to view the spectacle before alighting at Dansville for breakfast.  Under glorious blue skies, we flew VFR into Dansville as another aircraft on the radio announced an instrument approach to our original destination at Oswego County.

The striking image of ground fog meandering through the Genesee Valley remained fixed in my mind's eye for the remainder of the day.  Why?  What was so "striking" about it?  I contemplated the comparatively binary perspective of people on the ground, either entrained within the cold mist or living and breathing beyond the next hill, unaware of its existence.  As I flitted through the air a half mile above the terrain, I could simultaneously experience both points of view and see the grand design of it all.

Despite a cool morning, brilliant sunshine warmed the cockpit interior.  The Bear's eyelids fluttered as her delight in flying gave way to the seductive influences of warm sunshine and the smooth vibration of the engine.

Then I understood.  Our early morning flight was not about breakfast or staying proficient or circulating oil for the sake of engine longevity.  It was about the simple pleasures of flying: a unique perspective, the grand beauty of nature, and even the trace smile of a contentedly dozing toddler.  As an avocation under attack from seemingly all quarters, we sometimes forget about the simple pleasures that make it all worthwhile.

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