Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

And Speaking Of Power


When a Hornet taxis by your home airport


It wasn't until that moment that I realized what the Hornet driver already knew: Not only are his wings shorter than they look, but the airplane sits so high that, even if the space between the Cessna and me hadn't been tight (which it wasn't), his wings would have gone right over the top of us.

He could have gone through a space half that size. And he made my little airplane appear positively tiny. Model airplane size, by comparison. He towered over us and I couldn't help but grin. And I tried to get at my phone. This was definitely a YouTube moment.

As he came abeam, I had the canopy open. He looked over for a second and, without missing a beat, pointed an emphatic, Nomex-gloved finger at us. He then gave us an enthusiastic thumbs-up, as if saying, "Hey, man. Cool airplane!" I immediately returned the gesture, then he was rolling past the hold-short line, cleared to go. One aviator briefly connected with another.

I'll never tire of the majesty of something like a Hornet taking off. Especially when I'm in close proximity to it. Even though I was strapped into a noisy, running airplane with a David Clark headset cuddling my ears, when the Hornet's throttle went up and he went into burner, it was as if I were standing on the side of the runway bareheaded.

The noise was deliciously overpowering. For a brief instant, it engulfed us in a ball of acoustic pressure and you could clearly feel the noise vibrating in your chest. I loved it!

Then, he was gone. I mean, really gone! In seconds, he was two blue-white cones of flame scrambling uphill as if gravity didn't exist. And, I was proud of the young man at the controls for doing what he was doing for our country.

At the same time, I was just a little irritated because I knew that at that very moment, there were hands reaching for telephones in houses around the airport to file noise complaints. That never fails to make me mad.

Every single time we have a military jet visiting, all of us who live near the airport know for a fact that their departure will bring out the worst in some of those who live around us.

Rather than being awed at their powerful military aircraft and thinking, "There goes another young man who's wearing the uniform of his country and protecting us," they think, "Who does that guy think he is, making all of that noise in my backyard? We should shut the airport down."

And, don't kid yourself: There has been a petition circulating for years aimed at shutting down the airport. The fact that this particular airport has been there since 1942, is home to close to a hundred corporate jets, and brings millions and millions of dollars into the community is neither here nor there. Complainers will always complain. They see that as their role in life, when they should be saying, "Thank you."

To the unidentified Marine in the Hornet at the Scottsdale, Ariz., airport (KSDL): You made my day. And, I salute you and thank you for your service. Semper fi and good luck.



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