I did my initial flight training at an uncontrolled airfield outside of the Austin city limits. It was very relaxing to go out after work once a week and fly in a random direction to Palacios, San Angelo, Waco, College Station or wherever I could get to and back in about three hours. There’s a lot of empty space in Texas, and the eastern part is very flat. Clear nights were a great time to fly.
After some life changes, I moved up to the Pacific Northwe’t. This doesn’t look like rural Austin, Toto. The airspace is a lot busier here.
I soon came to the realization that to fly more than two months a year, and to bone up on my precise, staccato radio lingo, I ought to get an instrument rating. Thus began a lot more training at Boeing field. After spending an hour under the hood folowing-the-needles, which is the most boring thing in flying, I’d finally have an occasional opportunity to look outside and land.
When I was just shooting approaches, I’d have my buddy Doug come along. Aside from the fun of two dudes flying, both of us could log the time. Our reward was landing for the proverbial $100 basket of clam chips at Bremerton:
After finishing the rating, my radio work, timing and scanning were great, but flying patterns and awareness without 1950s navigation technology was really sloppy. Like this awkward left downwind to Hoquiam. Sure, there’s nothing to run into around here, but, dang, I could at least pretend to fly a rectangle.
The next step was a commercial rating, a potpourri of “learnings for make benefit of smooth maneuvers.” In many ways, it’s a lot more fun because you get to fly faster airplanes with retractible gear, learn practical maneuvers like chandelles, and hone your smoothness. Among the requirements is a “long cross country trip at least 250nm from start.” I did two of these, one east to Kalispell, and one south to Ashland, Oregon. As a bonus, I got to land at Portland’s airport:
So when that was all done, I got snookered into airplane ownership. Well, actually co-ownership, which only slows the hemorrhaging of money. After getting comfortable in the new plane (from which all of these pictures were taken), I scheduled a long, cross-country trip to general aviation mecca, Oshkosh, WI. Only since I didn’t want to land three-at-a-time sans radio at Oshkosh, I’d stop in the Chicago area, and hang out with my in-laws as we made the trek up there.