This months Flyin
Foxtrot has been quite busy these past weeks mostly just hopping rides with my friends. We flew out to the beach a few times just looking for Rays and Right Whales. We saw one Ray and no whales. I flew her solo a couple of times just cause there was no one around Dunn when I decided to go. One time Bill Furnholm and I were cruising north along the west bank of the Indian River and we saw Ben and the Baby Ace cruising just ahead of us. We contacted him on the radio and we switched to an air to air frequency to communicate. He agreed to maintain his heading and altitude and we flew up along side for a while. It was a neat scene from the Citabria to see Ben in the open cockpit plane with his leather helmet and old style goggles and his white scarf flipping around.
On Feb. 17th at the Valkaria airport there was a fly – in. It was a beautiful Saturday morning with temps hovering around 40 deg and a little wind blowing out of the northwest. So, my child bride Loretta, agreed to provide the companionship in the back seat of the Citabria for the journey south along the Indian River to the fly – in. The cool temperature and the wind out of the northwest made our takeoff run on 33 pretty short. I estimate the run was around 300 feet. We opted for an altitude high enough to go direct and not have to talk to anyone. (Practicing for when they implement user fees) After leaving the pattern we flew east to get above the class “D” at Space Coast Regional and when we reached 2000’ we aimed south towards X59 and continued to climb to 2,700’ so we could breeze by Patrick AFB and Melbourne International. Once past the “D” airspace of MLB we made our radio calls and rapidly descended to pattern altitude and entered downwind for 32. We heard Jerry call in from his Tripacer and then Steve called from Lily Luscombe right behind us. The landing was nice but as we were rolling out my right foot got caught during a little steering correction to the right and we made an embarrassing swerve to the right. Not serious but it didn’t look good I’m sure. We landed short and rec’d several directions to parking. They all differed. Someone said on the radio “bring it over here.” I’d have been happy to do that but I didn’t know where “here” was and I wasn’t sure he was talking to me anyway because he didn’t use my tail number or aircraft description. I saw a guy sitting over at the intersection of rways 32/27 in a pickup truck and I thought maybe that was who was talking, then someone said you can back taxi on 32. ??? I didn’t understand that either, as I had landed short enough to turn off on rway 27 and it looked as though they were parking planes on the south side of that runway anyway. Like a dummy I parked way over on the south side of that runway and saw them escorting Jerry’s Tripacer and Lily Luscombe up the shoulder of 32 to a taxiway to the prime parking areas. Loretta and I hiked in from where we were.
We ran into some old friends almost as soon as we walked in. Gene McCoy, who we haven’t seen for a couple of years walked up to us with a big grin on his face. He said that he had our picture Christmas card on his refrigerator. The picture is of Loretta and me beside the Citabria. Gene said “it doesn’t get any better than that for a man, a good airplane and a good woman.” Made the good woman and me feel good! The airplane probably felt good too!
Gotta think of a nice name for the plane, after all we all know who Steve is talking about when he mentions Lily. Let’s see, my tail number ends in foxtrot and that’s a nice dance step. If I give her any female name other than Loretta she’ll think it is an old girlfriend. Maybe Dunn Belle, nope, sounds too much like dumbbell doesn’t it? Ahh, I know “fancy” as in fancy footwork. Foxtrot and fancy footwork kind of go together and after all she is a tail dragger and that can take fancy footwork eh? From now on N7602F is Fancy!
Sorry about getting off the subject of the Valkaria trip. We made the rounds after eating the pancakes they cooked up for the breakfast. We saw some very nice and some very interesting aircraft. The most interesting was a beautiful tri wing replica built by a man from Rockledge. Another was a Delta Dyke. There were a few RVs, a Hatz, a gyrocopter, Stearman, and a Pietenpol built by Jim Daron of the EAA chapter there. There were some very interesting RC Models flying over on the West side of the field too.
At about one pm we saw Steve and Ben getting ready to fly Lily back to Dunn so Loretta said she was ready to head home too. I looked around for Jerry to see if he was ready to go but I couldn’t find him. Never thought to call him on his cell. Loretta settled herself in the back seat and started crocheting and I climbed into the front and hit the switches on Fancy and she started purring right off. We got a golf cart escort out to runway 32 and checked Fancy’s vital signs then asked her to show her stuff aimed down runway 32. We did the little dance and broke the surly bonds. Again we climbed high enough to make a bee line for Dunn without talking to anyone. We did listen though! The trip back was even more pleasant than the trip down was and we watched MLB, Patrick, Merritt Island, and Space Coast airports slip by on both sides. The water in the river was clear and you could see the bottom all the way up to Titusville. There were a lot of boats using the channel up and down the river. Out on the ocean we could see the casino ships just about dead in the water while the games of chance were being played. The VAB, the Skid Strip, and the Shuttle Landing facility were very visible. Out there on the launch pad was the shuttle readying for launch next month. A glorious flight and a glorious day it was.
Once past TICO we started down hill for Dunn Airpark and we were making up for the slow climb out from Valkaria. Airspeed was in the yellow as we were descending for the pattern. Just as we were about to turn downwind the jump plane announced that the jumpers were in the air. We decided to wait till the parachutists and the jump plane was on the ground to get in the pattern. They make Fancy nervous! Once they were on the ground we entered down wind for 22. AWOS was calling it 260 at 11. Fancy loves the grass runways best. We landed and taxied in and put her in her room where she stays. A glorious day and a glorious flight!