Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Part Three: Two Men, a Plane, and the Legend of Harvey

I Hate Ohio (no offense)
        However, if you take offense, then you clearly have a distorted image of Ohio. As we climbed out of Missouri and headed toward Ohio, I couldn't help but think things could only improve from here. Boy, was I was wrong. 
         We plodded along in the Might Cherokee and got passed along from center to center, listening to the big airliners above us doing their elephants on parade thing across the imaginary highways of the sky. I dutifully minded the GPS system and occasionally took the controls, fulfilling my duties as "domestic relief pilot". The weather was beautiful, and were not bothered by any nasty clouds. It seems the duty midwest thunder storm was on leave that day. 
         One of the interesting things I noticed about Ohio is that it's flat. Like pretty darn flat. Eventually, we had the airport and all that was Sidney in sight. Steven put the Mighty Cherokee into a the local pattern, announced our arrival, and made a pretty acceptable landing. As some of my naval aviator friends would say, it actually looked "shit hot" as far as general aviation goes. You can damn well bet it was the best looking Cherokee landing Sidney has seen to date. 
         I have to admit, it was one of he most quaint little airports I had ever seen. I expected to see an old man push a J-3 Cub out of the hangar and depart into the golden sunset. It was that good. I kicked the over wing door open to let the warm summer air into the cockpit, thus alleviating the stench of sweaty man and Capri Sun. The sweet smell of fresh cut grass immediately filled the cockpit, and I actually let my hard feelings toward Ohio go away for a minute. A minute. That was about how long it was before the we had to YIELD to a non-airport related, giant piece of farming equipment on the ramp. Don't believe me? Check this crap out. 

          Now, Steven, being no dummy, and also having a penchant for airport loaner cars, planned each facet of our flight to include being able to use the airports car for wayward pilots. After we shut down, tied down, and grabbed our gear, we headed to the FBO office. After taking care of getting our aircraft fuel situation covered, we asked about the car. Sure the guy says, take the car, it's right out there. He inquired as to when we were shoving off. We said we'd like to be headed out around 8 or so. Well, that was no good. You see Harvey, he has to use the car to check the runways for any debris (FOD) etc in the morning. We can't make a move until Harvey checks it out. And he can only use the car to do that. 
          I could have understood all of this if the car was, say, bright yellow with flashing lights on it. Sure, maybe it had a radio in it or some sort of measuring equipment. I could understand that. But that's not the case. It was a beat up old police cruiser, devoid of any type of special airport equipment. In the end, it was a car to use for free, so we went ahead and thanked him kindly and wandered into town. 
         Downtown Sidney was kind of neat. I  looked a lot like one of those fifties posters with the hold cars out in front of a diner or something. On the way toward the hotel we went under what I knew, from my years as the child of a rail fan father, to be a viaduct of the C&O railroad. When we finally wheeled into the hotel my prayers were answered. There was a Sonic in the parking lot. Now this may not seem to be a big deal to those of you near one, but the closest one to me, still, is two states away. I do love me some hot dogs and tots. 
          We parked the car and checked into the fabulous hotel. It was a hotel that would prepare anyone for a  career of flying and staying hotels bid out by the airline. We headed out into the fast failing sunlight towards the palace of tots that was built in the parking lot; Sonic. So we're standing there trying to read the menu in the dark, and then it occurred to us, they may be closed. I mean, it was after all a light up menu, and it was pretty much dark at this point, and it wasn't lit. So we did what anyone would,  we stared at it. Here are two men that can operate a piece of machinery to haul us home, but we could only just stare at a menu board. It was really the only thing for us to do. Clearly. 
           The story has a pretty happy ending though. The staff remembered to turn the sing on. You would have thought they were expecting the Presidential  Medal of Freedom for doing so though. Holy cow. We lugged our food back to the hotel and chowed it down over a few episodes of whatever Ohio type TV was on. I didn't really pay attention as I was tired. 
                                                Steven after the menu lit up. 
              Speaking of tired. We got up at the butt crack of dawn, packed our gear, and headed down for the free breakfast. Half he reason Steven picked the darn room was that it came withe free breakfast It was actually pretty good considering it was free. Everything tastes better when it's free. So after we ate, we knew it was coming up on Harvey time. Now by this point, we had cursed his name, his family, and his religion for causing us to have to leave so early. We had quite the mental image of him built up and were actually anxious to see him. 
                                                                          "The" car. 
                We headed across the flatness and made our way back to the airport in a reasonable amount of time, arriving before the requested time. Upon our arrival, however, there was no one there. This afforded me the chance to snoop around and see the old Air Force T-33 they had on static display there. As time ground on, the gentleman we had spoken to the previous night showed up. As it turns out, Harvey wasn't coming in after all. That's right folks. Not. Coming. In. Me, I was, well we shall say, not impressed. My hatred for Ohio returned, and Harvey, wherever you are, I'm sure you're a nice guy, but I never want to run into you. Ever. 
                 So, after the gnashing of teeth, some final checks were made, final pees were had, and we cranked up the Mighty Cherokee and pointed her east. It was a happy departure. Let's face it. Ohio is all frabbed up. 
                                                             Sidney's ramp area. Pretty neat really. 
              Departure was smooth and we cruised into the sun, slowly clawing our way toward Maine, one click of the DME at a time. The Mighty Cherokee was a great plane, but this particular model had a design flaw. The version I flew had nice high back seats in it. This little sucker had low back seats that were original to it. Not fun going across the good ol' USA. As is evidenced by me sitting here typing this, clearly I survived. 
              The rest of the trip actually flew by rather quickly. We made a quick stop in the Finger Lakes region of New York to get some fuel. After that we headed straight to Eastern Slopes Regional Airport in Fryeburg. It was a beautiful day for flying and it was a laid back flight. We managed to aviate, navigate, and communicate all within the law, with no near misses on top of that. 
             It really was a great trip and it afforded Steven and I chance to do and see a lot of things. I am forever appreciative of his parents for shipping me out there, and even more so to Steve for having me along for the ride. It was a great adventure I won't soon forget. 


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