Saturday, July 30, 2005

Saturday Bath

Soaped up
Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
I went out for the mail this morning, and chatted with my neighbor Bill, and took a look at my overgrown yard. I decided the best thing to do was head to the airport and go flying. (It's remarkable, how often that course of action suggests itself.)

I took my rags and buckets with me, so that I could wash the plane. I haven't done it yet this summer, and 02P was looking a bit grungy; oil streaks on the belly, dust from the hangar, and the everpresent bug splats. (You'd think that with a plane this slow, the bugs would have plenty of warning, but no...)

Kellachows field
Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
I went for a spin around the area first, as I planned to visit farmer Kellachow's grass strip to see what was going on; one of the model airplane guys had told me that the skydivers were back for a visit. They used to jump there all the time, but have moved their operations up to Sky Haven in Tunkhannock, where they have access to a bigger jump plane. I headed over there, and circled the field while the current batch of skydivers touched down. But the model airplane guys had gone home, so I climbed back up to the clear air and south to Lake Wallenpaupack.

Busy lake
Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.

Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
The lake was clogged with boats - the most I have ever seen there. It must have been a nice day for boating, but challenging to get up any speed with the crowded conditions! I quickly got bored with flying up and down the lake, trying to tag boats with my shadow, so I decided to go upstairs to cool off and play with the clouds. There was about 4/8 coverage, a nicely broken deck of small cumulus clouds at around 8,000 feet, and I climbed just above them. I weaved in and out of the spires and turrets, trying to snap pictures, until my camera battery died.

After touching down back at Cherry Ridge, I got out the washing gear and hooked up my garden hose. Starting at the tail, I scrubbed the grime and oil off; when I came to the wings, I had to go and find a stepladder. It took me almost two hours all told, with a beverage-break at the cafe in the middle; the day was getting warmer. 02P is a small plane, one of the smallest - but there's lot to wash! Even with the stepladder, I can only reach halfway across the wing, so I had to work my way around both sides. The worst was the last, lying on my back on the wet ramp and scrubbing the oil-streaked belly fabric.

Having gotten the plane all spic and span, I noticed my reflection in the cafe window, and saw where all of the dirt had gone - onto my person. Luckily the airport was lightly attended, so only a few saw the spectacle: unshaven, hair mussed (with the typical lateral headset-dent), wet and grimy. But still, I figured the best way to dry off the plane was to blow-dry it with a short flight, so I flew down to Mount Pocono and back. Two cadets of mine are the line guys there, a pair of brothers, and they told me that I was about the only traffic today; too bad, MPO is a great airport. But the board there has been having trouble keeping an FBO, and without a good fixed-base operator, pilots tend to go elsewhere.