Sunday, February 13, 2005

Winging Our Way Through Winter

Freezing Windex
Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.

winged winter sunset
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Montage Mountain
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
We planned to go flying today rather than yesterday because of the weather -- yesterday it was a bit snowy and overcast, and today was bright and sunny. We had a late start this morning to make up for a late night, but we couldn't miss out on a fab lunch with David's mother at an Italian place that filled us up probably more than it should have (as is the case EVERY week -- food lovers, we are!)... David had the idea we'd fly to Reading for hot wings, but Colarusso's took care of our appetites for the next, oh, three days.

I did make a point, however, to AVOID beverages as best I could so as not to repeat my bladder-bleating of last Sunday at 1,500 feet above the Hudson River. If you were in Manhattan a week ago on the west side, looked up and saw a little blue plane with yellow wings flying over, you might have seen me hanging out near the window, trying desperately not to look at the water or think of water or dams or reservoirs or otherwise imagine water flowing...

Anyway, today's flight was much different. For one thing, it was colder. A LOT colder. It was bright and warm during the day, but the temperature plummeted like a stone on our way to Cherry Ridge. I tried to clean the plane's windscreen, but only managed the starboard side before the Windex started to ice up on the port side. (I sit on the starboard side, but that had nothing to do with it, honest, photographic needs notwithstanding.) B-R-R-R-RRRRR....

Thankfully, the Tri-pacer is always toasty, so it wasn't long before I warmed up and started filming our take-off. Since it was getting dark and we had a Cherry Ridge Pilots' Association meeting at 7pm, we didn't fly very far. I managed to get some decent sunset shots once the sun peeked out from behind the clouds again, and got lost in my thoughts listening to my iPod and peering at the treetops as we skimmed the high points of the Wyoming Valley. It struck me, looking at the trees bare of leaves and exposing the snow-covered ground, how much it resembled a sort of stubble...

We tried to catch the skydivers at Skyhaven in Tunkhannock, but we missed the last dive by a few minutes. There was some cloud cover by then, so I don't know how well the shots would've turned out, but maybe if we make a practice of heading over there on sunny days, I can make videos of the skydivers and sell them the clips!

The other thing I'd like for us to do sometime is set up some air-to-air photos of our plane and other planes, not just for our ourselves but to make some money. Apparently, the going rate for such photography is in the neighbourhood of $500-$700 or more, although I don't know if that's for the session or a set number of photos, and because the outfit is using a helicopter to shoot from. At any rate, it could be lucrative, and there is definitely a demand for it. The conditions have to be optimal, and I'd need a raft of equipment with me, so it's probably not something I'd do until later, once I get my equipment upgraded... it's ex$pensive... I was looking at the Nikon D70 yesterday, and it's over a grand...

We did a touch-and-go* at Scranton Wilkes-Barre Airport, and I took some shots of Montage Mountain nearby. David nudged me to shoot the snowtubing chutes, but by then we were nearing the top of the mountain, so I didn't get any. Next time!

I attended my second Cherry Ridge Pilots' Association meeting tonight after we put the plane back in the hangar. The first time I attended, in November, I had to suppress some chuckling at the reading of the minutes from the last meeting. The main item on the agenda was the purchase of a windsock. There's even a Windsock Committee. Apparently, there's a lot more to windsocks than draping material at the top of a pole to show which way the wind blows.

Cherry Ridge Airport is in a rural township, and the pilots who have hangars there are a mix of New Yorkers weekending in Pennsylvania and hobby pilots, along with enough commercial activity to keep a little airport cafe humming, too. Since the weekenders are the least likely to attend meetings, the ones who do attend tend to skew older... retirees, bless'em... David is definitely one of the spring chickens in the group, but everyone is very friendly and I am highly entertained by the blend of East Coast accents and local dialects** floating around the room. It's a real treat for my linguistic fascinations.

To read more about our little plane, a 1954 Piper Tri-Pacer, read David's post in Multiply:
Fielding Airlines, Flight 001

* Touch-and-go: pilots do them to practice landings.
** Yes, there is a Scranton accent as well, which I have been studying and using to poke fun at David... I'll post about it another day.