Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Shut Up And Fly

There’s no excuse to stay on the ground

Recently, I flew to Spruce Creek (7FL6), a few minutes south of KSGJ, to do my biannual CFI renewal. An FAA-designated examiner and good friend suggested I fly with him instead of doing the Jeppesen online renewal that I do every two years. We met for breakfast at a great little restaurant where the social scene focuses on aviation, discussed some of the new rules for CFIs, filled out paperwork and talked for a long time about aviation. After coffee, we went flying in my V-tail, and I was home by lunchtime. It was a lot more fun than sitting in front of a computer, and a ridiculously logical reason to fly.

The next day, I flew a friend to KTPF, Peter O'Knight Airport, in Tampa, to pick up a pair of "rescue" dogs. Everyone who knows me knows I love animals, so when a friend called, I jumped at the chance to pick up the lovely Harry and Abby, and fly them back to KSGJ where foster homes awaited them. Saved by the Bonanza!

One little glitch that I did have was I had to file a NASA reporting form when I got home. Coming out of the Tampa Class B, I busted my altitude and climbed to 5,000 feet MSL, when I was only supposed to be at 3,000 feet. It was an honest mistake. I got distracted when Harry tried to get into a fight with sweet Abby. I would never fly a strange dog alone without them being in a crate, but Krista is a dog expert and quickly got things in order. It was the dogs' first airplane ride, after all.

There are so many reasons to use your airplane or rent one. Several years ago, I had an Africa Grey parrot born with cataracts. The University of Florida in Gainesville has a fantastic veterinary school, and they were able to operate on her and remove one of the cataracts. How did I transport the bird to KGNV? You guessed it—by Baron. She even had a car seat, so she could look out the window. I've flown my dogs to specialists in other towns, and if I had kids, I'd be flying them around to appointments, sporting events and anything else they needed—at least until they were old enough to fly themselves. My kids would have keys to my airplane long before they had keys to my car.

All interesting people have hobbies that can become great reasons to fly. It could be photography (what better way to take pictures than from the air?), sports (fly to a sporting event—I fly to horse shows!), stamp collecting (there must be conventions?), spelunking, cave diving, car racing, surfing, skiing (some airplanes come with special modifications for skis), rock climbing and more. Your airplane can take you, your supplies and your friends, who can share the cost of fuel and expenses.

My favorite hobby centers on horses. Last week, I jumped in the V-tail and flew to Fort Myers (KFMY), about 228 nm from KSGJ, to check on a horse I have for sale. One of my friends breeds racehorses. Sometimes, she has to go to a track to see one of her young horses, and I fly her there. This is a win-win for me. I get to spend time with my friend, be around horses, and she picks up the fuel. We once flew to the Breeder's Cup horse race at Churchill Downs and often go to Wellington near Palm Beach. Wellington is horse show central during the winter circuit. When we land at KPBI, we may be the smallest thing on the ramp, but we're also definitely the cutest. The Gulfstream IV pilots always check out our classic V-tail.


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