Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The heaviest load in aviation is flying someone else’s airplane
Early in my flying career, when I was just out of college, I met my first hard-core trusting soul. At the time, I had barely started in my first (and last) real job and was instructing aerobatics in Citabrias on the weekends. I was a newbie to life, newbie to aerobatics, newbie to magazines and just barely out of newbie status to aviation in general. Our first meeting went something like this:
I had driven onto the Homestead, Fla., airport in search of a T-6 I had seen advertised (I had delusions of warbird grandeur). I parked in front of a hangar marked "Fly For Fun…Aerobatics," and asked the first person I saw, "Do you know of a T-6 for sale on the field?"
His answer was, "No, but I have this Jungmeister for sale."
I had been eyeing the cute little biplane as I walked up and couldn't keep myself from asking, "This is great! Can I sit in it?"
"Sure," he said and introduced himself as Bill Thomas.
I let down the little side door and weeviled my way down into the made-just-for-me-sized cockpit. I sat there for several minutes, clearly drooling down my shirt, while we talked about the instructing I had been doing, when he said, "Wanna fly it?"
My brain heard the words but initially couldn't comprehend the meaning. Then it caught up. "Really? I can fly it?"
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