I dream about those stunningly quiet mist filled mornings at the airport where the dew on the grass soaks through the toes of your shoes. The dreams are so real I can smell the 80 octane exhaust on the building breeze and see the sun’s early morning halo in the east.
With all water combined in the “Mitten” State, we are never more than 6 miles from a body of water here. And nowhere in the state can you be more than 85 miles from the shore of one of the great lakes. The number of miles of shoreline in this state is second only to the great state of Alaska.
On this still, warm, summer’s eve, we have abandoned our mashed potatoes to race across that field, hide behind an ancient Walnut tree, and spy on a tiny machine. He has landed on our grass and taxied beneath a huge oak; and the charming little machine is purring sweetly in the cool evening air, swinging its tail and waggling its rudder like a Humming Bird settling itself for the night.
It is there for someone who loves the outdoors and the gurgle of the stream, drumming grouse, the tug of a trout on the line, the smell of a fresh frost on a fall morning, and the quiet fall of snowflakes from a star filled sky.
The nose gear is always properly placed at the rear of the airplane and the view from the cockpit therefore requires “S” turn in order to see ahead. Taildragger pilots all seem to have longer than usual necks I have noticed; probably the result of craning the see over the combing during those “S” turns.
Plans call for the combing to be placed over the tank and top edge of the instrument panel and riveted in place. It would seem prudent to me to put nut plates in this location rather than rivets since I am virtually positive that sooner or later someone, somewhere, is going to need to get to either the fuel tank or the back of the instrument panel for something.
Before I realized it I was burning holes in the sky in airplanes with two engines, a boat load of instrumentation and retractable landing gear! How, I have wondered, did I ever manage to pull life together enough to manage it?
I recall the tower calling me and advising that I had probably just missed the turn toward the airport in the haze, “We show your airplane 8 miles south of the center line for 26 still headed south; how far behind that are you?” I never even saw the airport go by! It was their snarky way of letting me know that I was really not “all that” just yet.
This then is the great aviation renaissance. And everyone but me seems to be involved. So it is that I find myself reading and learning and believing that somewhere, in the not so distant future I will be able to squeeze just one more project into my charmed life, and into my overcrowded hangar.
Some thirty years ago I wandered my way out to the local strip where I had a hangar full of training aircraft, to get my first glimpse at the “new” Stearman on the field. I found it; it was sitting on the grass right in front of my big silver hangar and even from a distance I could see that there was something odd about it.