Category Archives: Flying

A Bittersweet Anniversary

Have you ever had a feeling, a tickling at the base of your brain, a twinge in the gut that means that there’s something that you’re supposed to realize, to remember, to be aware of, but for the life of you it’s just slipping away in the fog of confusion and stress? The knowledge that you’re sure there’s something that you should be having an “A-HA!” moment about, but instead your brain is just spinning like a kitten chasing its tail?

What am I forgetting? A birthday? A meeting? Some sort of deadline?

Not necessarily a “sense of impending doom,” but rather a void, a memory that got forgotten before it could be remembered?

Something about the date. April 4th. Oh-four, oh-four.

Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky…

No, that’s not it, but we’re on the right track. I know that’s today, but this is more personal.

Finally…

On my desk I have a digital picture frame that scrolls through a couple thousand favorite pictures every day. I miss about 90% of them because I’m busy, but it’s okay because they’ll roll back around in a few hours. But I happened to look up at this one.

Ah. Yes. Four-four.

But that didn’t seem to be all of it. So I looked up the file.

April 4th. 2009. Ten years ago today.

I had been out on the tarmac alone, tying down the aircraft and finishing up the routines following the flight. But I wanted to just be doing a happy dance and had no one to share it with. Some poor stranger wandered by and I grabbed him and asked if he could take the picture for me. He was gracious enough to accommodate me.

That paper? That the FAA certificate that says that I had passed my check ride. I was now officially a pilot.

That was one of the best days of my life, a memory that no one will ever take from me. Not on a par with the birth of my kids or my wedding day, but as far as personal accomplishments go, it’s up there with graduation days, finishing marathons, arriving in Europe or Asia for the first time…

Why is it bittersweet? Because things changed, and no matter how much I want to be in the left seat “up there going somewhere,” the fact is that I was only an active pilot for a little over thirty months after this picture was taken. It’s been over 7 1/2 years since I’ve flown, and barring another drastic change for the better, it’s unlikely to happen again soon. Despite the fact that I spend an inordinate amount of time hanging around planes on the weekends with my CAF gig.

So, thanks, subconscious! There’s no doubt that’s an important one and I guess I’m glad that it didn’t go by unnoticed and unheralded – but maybe I could have passed on this one.

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Filed under Flying, Paul, Photography

YAK-52 (Completed)

(AAARGHH!!! – Hit the stupid “Publish” button by mistake! Here’s the whole thing. Sorry. Oops)

Airshow season has started and pretty much everything we have at the CAF SoCal is off for the first few weekend shows, except of course for those undergoing maintenance and restoration. This leads to a bunch of empty hangars, which makes it a good time to be cleaning them. However, today when I got in, there was a strange plane there.

It’s a YAK-52, a Russian trainer. Not quite a “warbird” since it’s less than twenty years old, but it still must be fun to fly.

It’s got that nice, big Russian rotary engine up front.

So, what’s it doing in our hangar temporarily? Shelter from the storm, as it were.

It’s been windy as all get out for the last couple of days and this aircraft’s a taildragger, so it can be tricky to land in nasty winds. Like, yesterday, when it came into Camarillo.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The tips of those three propeller blades? They’re not supposed to end that way. Really, really not supposed to end that way.

A gust must have caught the plane, raised the tail, lowered the nose, and the spinning blades hit the runway.

It’s said that any landing’s a good one if you can walk away from it, but the great ones are where you can use the aircraft afterwards. This aircraft will fly again, but it will require some work to that engine and all new props.

 

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

YAK-52

Airshow season has started and pretty much everything we have at the CAF SoCal is off for the first few weekend shows, except of course for those undergoing maintenance and restoration. This leads to a bunch of empty hangars, which makes it a good time to be cleaning them. However, today when I got in, there was a strange plane there.

It’s a YAK-52, a Russian trainer. Not quite a “warbird” since it’s less than twenty years old, but it still must be fun to fly.

So, what’s it doing in our hangar temporarily? Shelter from the storm, as it were.

 

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Ford Tri-Motor

We got some unusual stuff flying about CMA and on the CAF SoCal ramp today, even by our standards.

Our PBJ (B-25) is done with it’s annual inspection and was back flying training missions. We had a Vietnam era Huey helicopter come in and take three groups of riders out.

I didn’t get to go on either aircraft – I have an audit starting Monday and had no time for flying today, which is a sad, sad commentary on the state of the world.

But I did come out of my padded room long enough at one point to see the EAA’s Ford Tri-Motor up and taking riders. You just don’t see one of those every day!

 

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Sweet Beech 18

Look what was sitting out on the ramp today!

This Beech 18 is in perfect condition, must be a real joy to fly.

Seats six comfortably plus the pilot and co-pilot and with a range of 1,200 miles at 160 mph, this was the pre-eminent “businessman special” following WWII.

You can pick up one in really nice condition like this for under $200K, and I’m sure the maintenance and upkeep is far less than a LearJet!

Plus, this one you can fly yourself with just a taildragger endorsement and a multi-engine rating. I would assume you would also want an IFR rating and probably some unusual attitude training for safety purposes, but that’s still a hell of a lot less money than a type rating in a LearJet or a Citation X.

A boy can dream…

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Wings Over Camarillo Saturday 2018

It’s been a long, long day. A pretty good day, a good airshow – but a long day, with another to start early tomorrow.

Here are a few quick pictures from today.

(click to get the full sized image that you can scan through in detail to your heart’s content)

Right outside my “office” there was a Warthog and a Hornet – and a bunch of our planes – and a P-38 Lightning and a P-40 and a Corsair (yes, it was in “Black Sheep Squadron”) and…

When I’m busy doing the work, it’s important to stop for a minute every now and then and remember, ‘WOW!!

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Panorama, Photography

Wings Over Camarillo Preview

The air show is tomorrow and Sunday. I was out at the hangar tonight getting my financial ducks in a row (I am the Finance Officer for the CAF SoCal Wing, need to get cash boxes and paperwork ready for our various revenue points such as our PX booth [T-shirts, hats, toys, etc], our Beer Garden [margaritas, sodas, water, and snacks as well], our membership booth, and our ride sales) and took the time (I could I not!) to watch a few of the planes coming in and doing their practice routines.

Allow me to share!

(Click on image to enlarge to full size)

Our ramp has some sweet aircraft on it! Not only are our warbirds there, but there’s a P-38 Lightning, a Corsair, and a Warthog!!

Then the F-18’s started coming in and practicing. (Having two F-18s taking off in formation on full afterburners is an ASTONISHING thing to experience, even if it does leave you saying “What??!!” a lot for the next couple of hours!)

That sunset!! And then our Zero taxied in.

It would have been sweet to have the good camera (I didn’t, I went to the hangar straight from work) but this doesn’t suck!

I hope to see some of you this weekend out in Camarillo. For the rest of you, watch for pictures here and on my other social media.

For the really, really good photos (to be taken by pros who aren’t simultaneously running around like lunatics trying to be the finance guy) you can follow the CAF SoCal feeds on FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Panorama, Photography, Video