Friday, October 13, 2006

Flying's always on my mind

Back when I was flying, both airplanes and gyros, my favorite time for flying was late in the day , evening time really ,but before dark. Most pilots prefer early morning for flying for many reasons. One of them being the air is usually still in the early hours. But for me, a flight after the day was done just made everything all right and recharged my batteries. No matter what kind of day I had had, all was refreshed and better after a flight, even a brief flight. Flying as therapy, I guess!

But there was one gyro flight that I made in late in the day that had me a little uptight when it came to the landing. It was during the filming of a movie that I was flying my gyro in. The scene called for me to fly over a drive-in movie theater . The director asked me to take off very late in the day and fly to the filming site which I did. I proceded to circle the theater while the crew filmed the gyro from the ground.

It seemed to take them a long time to finish filming and to finally signal me that I was free to fly back to our staging area which was several miles distant. Oh Boy! by then it was almost dark and that meant the landing would be a challenge because the runway was not lighted nor did the gyro have a landing light.

I had asked before I left that they endeavor to keep the runway clear for my return because there was no one else flying that day and I knew it would be near dark when I returned. " Sure, no problem , we will do that ", they said. But when I arrived back at the strip there were several pilots taxing their fixed wing ultralight aircraft around on the runway. The pilots seemed totally oblivious to the fact that they were occupying the space where I needed to land . By the time it got through to them that I urgently needed to land and they had cleared the strip it was nearly full dark.

OK gal, I said to myself, you have got yourself a problem here. You will be darn lucky to find the ground , it's so dark. But I couldn't stay up there all night, so I had to put the flight on the ground and soon!

On final approach I could see where the lighter color of the sky met the darker color of the ground. I knew that the grass alongside the runway was about three feet tall. So when I descended to the point where it was all dark I knew I had to be about 3 feet above the runway.

I leveled the gyro, and pulled the throttle back to idle and just let the gyro gently descend in a level attitude. It did feel good when the wheels touched down and I knew I was firmly and safely on the ground . By then it was really pitch dark . I could have kissed the ground I was so happy to have put the gyro on the ground when I couldn't even see the ground. But I was a super-duper gyro pilot and I was getting paid big money to fly for the movie so I restrained myself and didn't kiss the ground! You can be sure that I didn't let myself get in a bind like that again.

That little adrenalin rush from the night time landing didn't make me dislike flying during the late evening peaceful time of day but I never cut it that close again.

There is something so wonderful and serene late in the day during that time after dinner and before full dark when the sky is a dark blue and the world is quiet. It's a time to reflect and rejoice that all is well in my world and I am thankful for it all.

Till next time.
Marion Springer