Annoying the neighbor

Well after a year of playing calendar bingo I was finally able to give a friend from church a ride in the RV-4 today.   It took quite a lot of negotiating but we finally did it.  I met up with Dave today at Caleveras Airport.  He snapped a few pictures of the plane.  Quite a few in fact.  I patiently waited through all this as the air got hotter and thinner because Dave is a good guy and he’d probably walk through (okay, maybe very near) fire for me.  Dave is a fire captain by day and night and on days off he poses as a humble photographer.  You can see some of his work here at Dave’s Zenfolio Site

This photo just gives me chills.  I can’t insert it directly so you’ll just have to visit his site to see this killer photo.

I digress.  So after Dave finished taking the pictures we shoehorned ourselves into my tiny plane.  We fired up and taxied out.  I played the song I always play for my passengers, a very emotion and uplifting symphonic piece.  I hope that when people hear that song they will think of flying.  I won’t give it away, it’s a small treasure for those who have flown with me.

The ground run was a little long with the heat and thin air and heavy boys in the plane but she finally  broke ground and chewed her way into the air.  I performed a brief control check after we were airborne to make sure the tail wouldn’t try to tuck on me but all seemed well.  Dave enjoyed the split second of negative G’s we experienced during this check.

We took a quick run around Pardee Resevoir so Dave could take a few more pictures.  Then we headed toward his house.  We finally found it and made a few circles around his house.  He called them on his cell phone and out they came, jumping and waving just like my kids do when they see me fly over my own house.  Always does my heart good to see kids waving to airplanes.  I always wave back via wing waggle.

Then I took Dave down what I call the Death Star Trench.  It’s the spillway for New Melones Lake.  It’s plenty big enough to get a bigger plane through so my little bird had room to spare.  I kept it right off my nose so Dave couldn’t see around my big head.  At least, not until I made my last turn to enter the trench.  All he knew is we were low over the water and flying toward a BIG hill.  I turned into the trench at 160 MPH and Dave stopped praying and seemed pretty pleased with the outcome.  We screamed through the trench and then did a 3 G pull up to the right when we exited.

We took a quick diversion so I could show him the trickiest strip I have landed at to date.  Unfortunately fuel was burning and my CG was moving aft so it was time to head back to Caleveras.  Made a picture perfect approach, was greeted by Kathy on Unicom, and made a fair to middlin’ landing.  No screeching sound from the tires and no screeching from the back seat.  We are down and safe.  Our wives will not be consoling each other at our funerals.  Life is sweet.  God is good.

Dave was the perfect passenger in that he not only took a zillion (what I expect to be) great pictures of the plane, not only PAID for my fuel (LOVED that part,) AND paid for breakfast.  Ah, a perfect day.  Dave drove me  into town and we had breakfast. Afterward we went back up to the aiport, chewed the fat with the locals, and then I strapped my plane back on.  I asked the locals if they would have any problem with me doing a fly-by after I take off.  Their only condition was that I fly no higher than 5 feet off the runway.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be able to see it from the FBO.  Heh.  I like these people.

I taxied to 13 and took off.  The air was hotter and thinner now but the plane leapt off the ground like it’s feet were on fire.  I held the plane low so Dave could (you guessed it) take more pictures.  I pulled up off the end of the runway and turned toward downwind.   I flew a normal pattern making normal calls and got my plane into position for the fly by.  When I turned final something didn’t look right on the runway.  At first I thought it was a vulture sitting on the runway.  But when it didn’t move I thought maybe it was a carcass that the vultures would be visiting soon.  As I got closer, it slowly started to resemble… Dave!  In the middle of the runway.  Right on the centerline.  So as I’m heading towards Dave at 160 MPH I started to think:

Hmmm… let’s see now.  They told me that I had to get down to no more than 5 feet off the runway.

Yep.  I remember that.  Now, if I also remember correctly, Dave is over 5 feet tall.  Yes I’m pretty sure this is true.

(Still going about 160 MPH, straight at Dave)

So now, uh, hmmm, that means I’ll take roughly 1 foot off the top of Dave’s body.  Oh boy, I bet Jean wouldn’t like that.

(162 MPH)

Well now, if I were to pull to the right a little bit, I might just miss Dave.

Yep.

“Caleveras traffic, one sierra victor is going around.”  Heh, that means fly by to you non-aviators.

So that’s what I did.  I got as close to Dave as I dared while staying above the centerline but then pulled to the right to go around him.  I was probably a little more tha 5 feet above the runway.  Probably 20 feet or so.  Believe it or not, I’m not a risk taker.  And the thought process above took place in a split second.  I can only guess at what Dave was thinking when I screamed past him.

Kathy came back on Unicom and thanked me for the fly by.  I thanked her for her hospitality, wagged my wings and then enjoyed a hot, bumpy flight back to Oakdale.

All kidding aside it was truly a blessing to have Dave fly with me today.  I know he has a passion for flying that he keeps buried on account of his family.  This is one of many noble traits.  It was a pleasure to be able to allow him to enjoy this passtime that God has blessed me with.  I cannot wait to see the photos he took, I’m sure they will be excellent.

Oh, and the title — what’s that all about.  Dave knows.  Maybe he’ll tell you.  But in case any FAA types are reading this, we’re just going to keep quiet about it.  Enough said.

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