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It’s taken more than 12 months for us to believe our dear old Bessy is really gone. Tantalizing Harvard flights with friends in Ontario and the UK kept our beloved ‘Warbirder’dream a-simmer.
Reno 2006 changed all that. Mingling with our magnificent friends primping their Harvards, Mustangs, and Sea Furies for the ‘Big Show’ brought the realization that after 36 years of magic we’d morphed into a nice old couple, that used to be… Sigh. So now what?
So many options! Our top druther is a nice comfy classic cabin biplane with a round engine, with someone else to look after it and push around. Maybe a vintage wood and rag homebuilt, simple ultra-light, or sporty Christen Eagle? Quite a ponder.
Fact is, we two ex big shot Copaguys, just want to potter about to Chilliwack for pie, Oliver for wine, Fish & Chips at North Pender, and the annual pilgrimage to Arlington, for the fabulous EAA NW fly-in.
After perusing numerous Canadian Plane Trades, it slowly dawned the answer was to rent, share, or borrow, a regular COPA type airplane, like a Cherokee or Skyhawk. After all, I’m checked out in ‘em, across mountains and oceans yet.
We have friends with these planes! Even got 23 hours in Larks & Darters, touted then as 172/180 fly-alikes. Ta Da!
FLY IT AGAIN SAM…
No prob. We’d rent one, and get up to speed. To keep it simple we hied off to an airport away from complex traffic, with plenty of airspace close by and plenty of regular planes sitting about.
Our AME friend Jack said there was such a place on the other end of his hangar at Langley. Way to go!
“Hi. I’m Tony, and I’d like to rent a 172 for a few hours.”
“Hi. I’m Luke, and what do you know about Skyhawks?”
”Er, they got a high wing, four seats, I got a book, and I flew ‘em once.”
Slight pause, “When?”
Longer pause, “Er, about 1969, it’s all in my log book.”
Luke took the log. I winced as a bunch of pictures, old licenses and self paced study sheets fell out. The spine had burst, and now held together by a green rubber band and silver duct tape. It required delicate handling.
The last entry was squished at the extreme bottom of the very last page, which had been otherwise used to tot up accumulated hours on miscellaneous flying machines eons ago, when I was a dashing young hero pilot.
“There’s no totals?”
Shoot, I forgot that, there being no space left. He photo copied the mess, my license, medical and all, and laugh loud at my red rubber stamped radio license. Amid a mumble of sorries and promises to have totals for next time, I bought a snappy new book which to my dismay had a totally different column set-up to my grand old RCAF log.
Sigh, I felt like the old man o’ the mountain.
Been a long time since I was in a classroom for real, but there was a short four-page test, which went OK, though my interpretation was occasionally somewhat ancient.
The walk around was straightforward, except that the 172’s built in steps to check the fuel don’t work for a portly old gentleman. Where am I to stow a stepladder?
A passing hailstorm had deposited snowy ice on the upper surfaces, which Luke brushed away enthusiastically, eventually bringing out the sophisticated SkyQuest de-icing system, a big plastic bottle with a pump. A first for me.
Eventually we fired up and away. I couldn’t find anything! The panel was differed from the one I’d practiced with, and 36 years behind a ‘Big Iron’ single pilot panel made everything seem dainty, with some stuff out of sight on the passenger side.
I was surprised how much power there seemed on climb out, and how comfy the initial attitude was.
I tried a few forced approaches to the east, but after the virtually ‘right down there now’ procedure in the Harvard all those years, I was astounded how far the 172 would glide when trimmed right.
I’d expected to plummet from the sky at the power chop, so for a while, had a peculiar ‘soaring’ feel, the glide angle appearing so very flat at first.
Years of tight circuits left me unprepared for the lazy fly around circuit I found needed to set up a stable approach. The final circuits after dark were fascinating, it being many years since I’d flown at night.
My last touch down was perfect-ish, and I was chuffed as we taxied in. Clearly more coaching was in order. Anyway, I can’t have the airplane till Luke says so.
Years of flying with my right, and throttling with my left, led to some clumsiness when handling things like throttle, carb heat, mixture and flaps. Embarrassing at the time, but simply a matter of practice.
However, there’s been an unusual Big Snow here since, and so a quick follow up wasn’t possible. Stay tuned!
DELTA REMEMBERS THEM
The Remembrance Day ceremonies at Delta provide great comfort and meaning to those who attend. Whilst the Lodestar Park service is in progress, eight of our pilots fly over the 10 or more Cenotaphs in the Vancouver area, in memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.
RAAC’s Rob Prior led the Delta Flight and The Flag Service hosted by Terry Wilshire of DAPCOM. Retired Arial firefighter, Adrian Cooper profoundly recited the historic poem, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ which expressed movingly the horror and futility of war. After the service, about 120 folk gathered in the Old Coffee Shop for The Mary’s traditional hot thick Delta Soup.
Ponder seriously whom you might nominate for a COPA Award. Read the regulatory stuff else where in this month’s COPA Flight and make comment!
Fly Safe. And a Happy New Year to All!
Tony Swain is a retired COPA director and has been a COPA member for more than 20 years. He and his wife Mary continue to be active participants in personal aviation.