Tag Archives: wind

How Absolutes Beat Bad Air

Cessna 172 instrument panel enables holding absolute headings and altitudes

Heading north, morning sun streaming in from the right, smooth air at 8,500 feet—what’s not to like?

Last Friday I flew to Sandpoint, Idaho in the panhandle north of Coeur d’Alene. MAF asked me to retrieve two pilots who ferried a Kodiak 100 to the Quest factory for adding a new option. My craft, a more modest Cessna 172, performed well in the smooth, cool morning air. Fitted with a 180 horsepower engine mod, it lifted me and full fuel tanks quickly to 8,500 feet. I had an easy schedule, so I anticipated a great day wandering north.

Fifty minutes out of Nampa, I crossed the Hell’s Canyon west of Monument Peak and He-Devil Mountain. Billed as North America’s deepest, its gorge plummets 7,993 feet down to the Snake river. Most of the area remains inaccessible by road, but I got a prime seat.

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Patterns

airliner engine

Hundreds of rivets connected the gray inlet ring to the white engine cowling in purposeful pattern

I first noticed it riding the airline back to Cleveland. A big turbo-fan engine hung beneath the wing just outside my window. Around its front, a single row of rivets connected the inlet ring to the rest of the engine cowling. Hundreds of of them set in precise formation.Their pattern revealed disciplined purpose, like a single beat keeping time. Other patterns in complex harmonies, reveal themselves only from unique perspectives. Like flying, for example.

Day One

I came to Wooster, Ohio, again. Met Don, again. Met the pert Pacer, again. High winds calmed, as they would again after the next hard blow. I flew the Pacer to Holmes County airport, again. Practiced takeoffs and landings, again. Refueled, again. Don flew back to Wooster, repeating a pattern every airplane owner knows—a first and last flight. 

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Promises, Plans, and Pride

Airport terminal before dawn

Airport terminals before dawn provide only a short transition to the crowds

PROMISE

It was time to fulfill the second half of my promise. I successfully delivered the Bonanza to Vicksburg, MS. Next was an airline flight to Cleveland, OH to pick up a Piper Pacer and fly it back to Nampa, ID.

In predawn dark, five of us wrapped in private, half-awake thoughts loaded into the hotel airport shuttle. Our world extended only as far as headlights reached. A mobile world, winding on dark, tree lined roads and empty freeway ramps. The terminal entered our small orb with a wash of light. Welcome as the next journey step, but a disagreeable intruder none the less.

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