Sunday, September 18, 2005

Final Stearman Flights

Before Dave sold his gorgeous Stearman, we spent some time flying it in the early part of September.

It's hard to believe that my boring ol' Spam Can once lived in this same hangar.

Continental-powered with wooden prop elegance.

Taildraggers spend every moment on the ground pointed skyward, perpetually longing for flight.

Shortly after take-off.  With that helmet on, the whole "wind in the hair" feeling really just isn't there.

The Lake Michigan shoreline from the Stearman.

We flew low over the corn maze at Carpenter's Dairy Farm in Bangor, MI.

The shadow of Dave's Stearman observed while on final approach to South Haven's runway 14.  I would like to cite my photographic prowess as cause for getting the shadow directly on that lighter-colored tree, but it was just dumb luck (especially with digital camera shutter lag).  Pretty nifty, though.

I literally hung off the side of the Stearman to take this photo of its shadow over South Haven's runway 14 (though I did not hang off so far as to create any undesired right yaw).

With the disappearance of the Stearman from South Haven, it was the end of an era.  But, oh, what a magnificent era it was!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Take Your Coworkers to the Airport Day, 2005

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total 
Sep 2005
N21481 LWA (South Haven, MI) - local flight 3.5 370.9

During the summers of 2004 and 2005, Dave and I hosted multiple "Take Your Coworkers to the Airport" days at the South Haven Area Regional Airport. Just as the name implies, we invited several of our coworkers out to the airport for an afternoon of cooking out, camaraderie and airplane rides. Some came with prior aviation experience. But for most, these cookouts served as a first exposure to general aviation and the joy of flight. And while I take great pleasure in flying for my own purposes, sharing the experience with others is one of my favorite parts of holding a pilot certificate.

This was our last cookout at South Haven and a bittersweet one at that. Most of the attendees, including me and Dave, were preparing to scatter from Kalamazoo to new homes and jobs all around the country. I flew rides for nine people that afternoon for a total of seven hops adding up to 3.5 hours on the Hobbs. Dave and I were usually busy flying rides during these parties, but many of our guests came with their own cameras and captured some of the sights from these cookouts. The photographs on this page were taken by Dan P. and Gary E. Thanks, guys!

Here I am getting my youngest passenger of the day settled into the back seat of Warrior 481... looks like she's ready to go!

We always had a lot of food at these parties.

"Woof! Are all these people here just to see me?"

Stacey gets a ride in Warrior 481.

With Brent listening intently, Stacey tells a story. Hopefully, the story didn't involve the word "harrowing" in connection with her recent flight with me.

Dave takes a break from flying the Stearman to eat while Jack wonders why someone he just met is pointing a camera at him.

Well fed at last, Dave is ready to give more rides in the Stearman.

Kelvin is ready for his close-up and his first ride in a WWII vintage biplane.

Intercoms in open cockpit biplanes can be pretty noisy. It helps that passengers in the front cockpit can keep visual contact with their pilot in the rear cockpit via a mirror mounted under the top wing.

Stacey and Dave preparing to depart in the Stearman (yup, Stacey double-dipped on rides).

Stacey gets the last Stearman ride of the day, a spectacular ending to both a wonderful day of flying and an era in our lives.