Fisher's Greatest Adventures
"Part Five - OOPS!"
by Clayton Fisher
Susan and I are acutely aware that there are brave men and women fighting, bleeding and dying in hellish places so that we can be free to fly around the country for no particular reason but to have ďfunĒ. We know that simple gratitude is not enough, but itís all we have to give at this particular stage of our lives. So we will exercise our freedom, and I will write these trivial stories, and hope and pray for the safe return of as many of them as God sees fit to send.
I recently got a logbook endorsement with Troy Hedges, CFI, to fly my Chinook Plus 2 into Class D airspace. (Troy is now the FBO at the Woodward, Okla. Airport.) As a Sport Pilot with a radio, I can do that. As a Sport Pilot who suffers from spasms of frugality, I probably wonít buy a transponder. I wonít be able to fly into Class B or C circles, but thatís OK because I would really be uncomfortable mixing it up with 747ís and their like.
There are three small towered airports within 60 miles of our home that have nice inexpensive restaurants, and itís pretty neat to be able to fly in for a meal. Sometimes my wife will fly in with me, sometimes not. She is with me on this day, a fact I will later regret. (just kidding sweety) Let me explain.
She and I are flying into Norman, Okla. Westheimer field early one morning for breakfast. I announce my approach to the tower but get no response. I realize that they donít open until 8:00. I switch to my Class G mindset and begin communicating with an outbound aircraft who is taxiing to hold short for runway 35. I tell him I plan to land on 35 but to go ahead and take off, and Iíll kill some time on a long straight in final. He declines, offering that he needs to run up and to come on in. So I do. Herein lies my OOPS tale.
As I set up my approach, I am aware of an area behind the start of the runway with yellow chevron all stacked up one on top of the other. (the displaced threshold) Iíll swear, that area looked twice as long as my patch at home.
I got to thinking (sometimes that gets me into trouble), that if I landed on them purdy yeller lines, I could get the heck out of the way of the holding aircraft, faun chin at the bit wantin loose. (probably all in my mind). Then I can wump a right turn into the first taxiway, without having to back taxi, and me and the little women are on our way to Ozzies and 2 eggs over easy Ė sausage Ė hash browns Ė toast with butter Ė even bisquits with gravy, if I think I can hold it. All for $5.00 or so (well maybe I digress). My wife is completely unaware of the excuse she and the FAA are going to have to chew me out.
Somewhere, back in the folds and recesses of my antique old memory lay the knowledge and good judgement that I should have pulled up, clicked on, and downloaded into my throttle, stick, and rudders pedals, but Alas, eh?
A few days later, when got a call from the FAA, I found out that somebody had complained. I was told that even too this was a minor thing, and that no fines or letter would come of it, but that they did have to respond to the complaint. They would visit me in a few days to do so. I told him I did understand and to come on down Ė we could put the coffee pot on and discuss stuff. The visit to my house, however, never occurred. Fate intervened.
Fast-forward a few days.
ďHey Marty, what do you think about flying cross country into the vast, untouched wilderness of eastern Okla. Lake country tomorrow?Ē
(sometimes my imagination takes over)
ďWe can check out some fishing holes, camping spots, maybe a golf course or two Ė enjoy a nice calm flying day Ė maybe find a place to chow down before the return trip in the evening.ď
We agreed to meet up at Westheimer the next morning, then boogie 100 miles east to Fountainhead runway on Lake Eufaula and into whatever adventure might come our way.
I landed first and taxied up beside a couple of corporate jets and
Itís interesting that these small, light aircraft always seem to draw a bigger crowd than do the more expensive factory jobs. It must be the mystery of low slow flight in simple stick and rudder; 500 lb. Contraption titillates the imagination in a way more traditional aircraft just canít. Even though most pilots will but the factory jobs, I have a suspicion they would rather build themselves a Chinook.
About that time Marty Fint taxied up in his shiny red Chinook and took his turn with the lookers. Then a fellow walked toward me, friendly Ė smiling with a nametag swinging back and forth across his chest. He introduced himself as being with the FAA and ďWhat a coincidence he caught me hereĒ. His friend (the fellow who called the other day) was on his way out to discuss the rules for displaced thresholds, and that while we were all here nice and convenient like, we may as well do a RAMP CHECK!
ďAw geezeĒ I thought, but donít panic man, Iím ready ainít I? Havenít I been bragging about being ready? Just stay calm and answer the questions. I have my paperwork donít I?
A few more lookersí show up to watch a couple of ultralighters get what they deserve for having too much fun. (again probably all in my mind).
I have my Sport Pilot license? Yep. My driversí license? Yep. Airworthiness? Yep. Registration? Yep. Annual statement? Yep. Log book? Yep. (Sport Pilots have to have them in the plane)
ďAw geeze, he ainít gonna like this.Ē
He really looks her over good, and he quits smiling. I fidget as I explain that I donít keep 2 or 3 separate logs like Iím supposed to, but I have been told and do believe that it is legal. He nods in agreement, but he still ainít smiling.
About my logbook. Itís not neat, except for the CFI endorsements in the back. (Them guys are always neat, ainít they? I bet they could always keep their colors in the lines plum back to kindergarten).
Included is all info about hours, maintenance, for 2 aircraft, phone numbers, extraneous info about passengers, weather conditions and anything else I think might need someday. It ainít neat, but itís all there.
Well, then the fellow tells me about a cross country he once flew in a J3 Cub, and heís smiling again. I tell him about my plans to fly to Alaska some summer. All of a sudden weíre just two pilots swapping stories, and I know I passed my ramp check, so did Marty.
Ainít no change in the weather
Ainít no change in me
I ainít hiding from nobody
Nobodyís hiding from me
Aw, thatís the way itís supposed to be.
Song: Call Me The Breeze
By: Lynyrd Skynyrd
Well if that wasnít enough adventure for one day, Marty and I took off east, bound into the cool, June morning air. But that was only the beginning. Weíll get Martyís ďRest of the StoryĒ later.
Clayton Fisher Story