Monday, September 27, 2004

Joyrides and checkrides

Another busy, beautiful fall weekend. Saturday I took a vanload of CAP cadets to the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, ( a living museum of very old airplanes in upstate New York. They have an airshow every weekend from midsummer though the fall, and also offer "barnstorming" rides in their 1929 New Standard D-25 biplane.

We left early so the kids could sign up for the rides, offered in the morning before the airshow. 15 miles into the trip, our old Chevy van threw a belt, and I spent over an hour finding a replacement and fitting it to the maze of pulleys; thankfully, a trucker was pulled over nearby and loaned us some tools and a hand. So we got to Rhinebeck, but a little too late to sign up for a morning ride. But we found that afternoon rides were available after the show, so we signed up a planeload (4 seats, plus the pilot) and watched the great, campy airshow. (Pilots clip falling sheets of toilet paper with their wings; a befuddled farmer "accidentally" takes off in the Piper Cub; and an "escaped convict" is chased by the Keystone Cops, silent movie style.) Great fun. Plus some amazing historic aircraft, including the oldest flying plane in the country - a 1909 Bleriot, which still makes short hops. It's odd to see the computer-printed FAA airworthiness certificate, taped in the varnished wood cockpit of the 95-year-old plane.

After the show, the kids headed to the gate for their rides. The barnstorming pilot remembered us; we go to the Aerodrome every year, and last year we gave him a squadron patch. So he was very friendly - all the folks at Rhinebeck are - and gave the cadets a great ride, including some extra wingovers above the Hudson River. Lots of big smiles when they landed, pics in the album.

Sunday I got up early again to go flying. It was time for my annual CAP checkride; we have to re-test every year to maintain proficiency. Another new pilot in the squadron needed his initial checkride, so the two of us flew south to meet the check pilot. It was great flying weather, and we both spent the day getting thoroughly tested and checked out. I signed out a 182 (a slightly larger plane) for my flight and flew stalls, steep turns, a spiraling emergency descent, and a few instrument approaches. Hard work but a good confidence-builder. And now we have another qualified pilot to keep our squadron's plane busy, a good thing.