Monday, July 2, 2012

I found America this past weekend.

Some folks in Natchitoches, Louisiana invited me to an EAA (Experimental Aviation Association) fly-in, dinner and shooting get-together at the local range--and they asked me to bring some books to sell and sign.

Let's think about this for a minute. Airplanes (I'm an EAA and AOPA member), guns, Louisiana cooking and the opportunity to make new friends.

I'm in.

I loaded up the Cessna after lunch on Friday, waited until the heat of the day was peaking, made sure headwinds would be at their strongest and departed. (Pilots understand how conditions rarely favor you on outbound legs of trips.)

ATC had me on a departure route west of Fort Worth. I'm always amazed--and dismayed--at how big Cowtown has become.

To the immediate west of my heading was the Fort Worth Joint Naval Air Station. Us local pilots have learned to keep a wary eye out for the Navy jocks. They have a difficult time reading "2,500" on their altimeters--which is the minimum altitude they are required to fly on inbound approach from the north.

Remember: They have parachutes and we don't.

It's always a relief to be clear of ANY class bravo airspace, and even though DFW is home and I know it like I know all the weeds in my backyard, it's always good to have it behind you.

It was 102F when I cranked up and took off. This was to be a VFR trip, so I'd filed for 7500'. Naturally, there was a cloud layer at 7500' and just as naturally, there was one at 5500' so I had a choice: fly at 3500' msl and sweat and get bounced around, or climb above it all.

Took me no time at all to decide, and I snapped this picture as I was clearing 9000' msl. At altitude, the outside air temperature (OAT) was actually in the low 40's. Nice calm and cool skies from that point on eastward.

Looking down at Tyler, Texas--one of my favorite east Texas towns.

It was hot, humid and hazy down below, but that is Toledo Bend Reservoir--the largest enclosed body of water in Texas and it sits on the border between us and Louisiana. Long, big lake.

They have a fantastic airport at Natchitoches (KIER) with first-class people operating it. Here, I've got the bird unloaded and tucked in for the weekend.

Saturday morning, my host, Ben Rushing, asks me if I want to see Louisiana as seen from one of the coolest bi-planes in the universe--a Hiperbipe. He even foolishly let me fly it. Said he needed to get his heart rate up a bit for the day.

View from the front office of the Hiperbipe.

Cheated Death once again and brought a heavier-than-air flying machine safely to the ground.

Here is a beautiful Taylorcraft that showed up for the fly-in. Flying doesn't get much more fun than in these fabric airplanes.

Then there was the Stearman. When you combine the old low and slow fabric birds with bi-planes, you get the classic Stearman. Of course, that big radial engine up front stays constantly thirsty.

After the birds had all come in Saturday morning, there was fellowship and hangar flying and food. A huge swamp cooler had been set up in the hangar along with a lot of long tables.

Some of my Louisiana gun buddies and readers had driven over for the festivities and we had some great conversations. Other attendees sitting at our big long table chimed in. Between us all, we solved the issue of Obamacare--just get rid of Obama and every son of a bitch that voted for it.

We fixed all gun control problems--toss out every son of a bitch that doesn't understand the Second Amendment or who doesn't like it.

Illegal immigration was solved rather easily--pistols began appearing and we admired each other's hardware. I saw some really NICE purse pistols from the ladies. Of course, this also solved the petty crime problems.

Imagine that, a bunch of good southerners gathered together and in less than half an hour, we'd solved 90% of our nation's ills just like that.

How long does it take those dumb asses in Washington, and then they still don't get it right? In fact, they make it worse.

Maybe they need to start attending more fly-ins and book-signings and shooting range events.

At the shooting range in Natchitoches, any remaining problems that we faced in America were dispatched in fine fashion and with a variety of calibers and firearms. We had some poker targets, but we were all too old to see the cards printed on them and had to keep moving closer just to tell the Ace of Spades from the Ten of Clubs.

At least, that was my excuse. Must've left my reading glasses back at the airport. . .

As with all good things, after all the books had been sold and signed and addresses and e-mails and phone numbers exchanged, it was time to head back to the airport to load up the plane and return back home.

On most trips, I look forward to getting back home. On this trip, I wanted to stay.

I'd rediscovered America.

America is in our small towns. The fruits of freedom are often found in large scale in the big cities like Dallas and New York and Los Angeles, but the engine that drives America, the backbone that keeps us free and safe, the morals and values that MAKE us America. . . they're found in ample abundance in Small Town, USA.

Maybe we should reverse how we elect representatives and give more weight (ie more seats in the House) to the rural areas, and less for the urban areas.

More country folks up in Washington, and we'd have these problems licked.

It was something to think about as I flew into the sunset.


Old NFO said...

Glad it went well, and yeah, 'simple' answers are usually the best ones! That Hyperbipe looks 'strangely' like a D-17 Beech :-)

An Ordinary American said...

NFO--You know? You and me and so many of the others. . . we're just old broken down veterans, but we "get it."

It doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, complicated is bad. I give you Obamacare as (yet more) proof.

And that Hiperbipe? That girl has a Lycoming IO-360 under the cowling and will flat scoot. Lots of fun, LOTS.


Unknown said...

NFO, that hiperbipe does have the D-17 stagger wing configuration. It's much smaller, (2 place), less plush interior (doesn't have the stuffed sofa sized back seat), but flies great with plenty of performance and nice manners. It's been a joy to own and fly (with a few moments of fright interspersed.) She's a nice bird.

Unknown said...

Oh, and, JD, I won't allow you to claim that all of the pleasure of the trip was yours. We had a wonderful time. Looking forward to the next one.

Murphy's Law said...

Looked like a great time. Color me jealous. But glad that it went so well for you all.

Don F said...

Next time you're having a bad day, read this post again.

Thanks for your words.


An Ordinary American said...

Ben--Trust me, I had a huge time. You remember me telling you on Saturday late afternoon that "I might just have to stay."

I'd already checked the availability of my room at the Best Western--it was available, and for the same price.

If Larry had been around and offered the other courtesy car. . .

My wife can't wait to come out in October.

Murph--Your Michigan trip inspired me to take pictures and really LOOK at what I was seeing and the significance of it.

I'm happy you like your bird. Our girls, you know they're the same age. Mine was born the same year as my wife, and she'll tell that even SHE isn't quite certain who I love more--her or the airplane.

Don--It was a good time, and I'll be moving this post into my "personal favorites" column on the right for the simple reason you offered: I know I'm going to have bad days, and re-reading this post will keep me in balance with what is right.


Kim said...

I love when you post like this. Brings a warm smile!! Glad for the good day!