Sunday, September 05, 2010

It's A Funny Old Game....

Yes indeed, flying is a funny old game. From the characters you meet, to the stories we share and the experiences you enjoy from flying both in the air and in the hanger, it's certainly a unique world.

Recently I found a new A&P for "Nippy". My "Wooden Wonder" had been abused at the hands of the French and no more was I willing to stand for over the odds pricing they had demanded, for both the maintenance AND their supposed parking fee (for leaving "Nippy" out in the snow and ice on the tarmac on THEIR property. But I digress.

Our new A&P is situated on the lovely island of Texel, the southernmost, and indeed the westernmost, of the Frisian Islands, and home to my favourite FISO's, Ed and his son, who provide a fantastic service.

The plan today was to visit the hanger and try to get "Nippy" out and take her to Texel, where Michael could open up her guts and have a poke around prior to signing off on her new annual. As this is the funny old world of flying though, I was not 100% certain if I could get into the hanger. You see, I was told about a month or two ago about two vacant spots in the Pionier Hanger at Lelystad. I contacted them and was told I could have one...."No Problem" I was told in that inimitable Dutch accent. M and I moved the plane over last Wednesday, only to be told by Friday, "Yah, Sorry, but der ish no more room". So, no room at the inn for "Nippy".

But fear not, because this funny old world of flying had another surprise up her sleeve. I got an email from an acquaintance who had recently sold his plane and who had three months left on his hangar rental. So, problem solved. "Nippy" will have a place to tuck up for the Winter afterall.

As I was getting the cockpit ready, I started a conversation with someone I knew who had bought a 50% share of a plane with someone else. His story was an eye-opener. This funny old world, which most of the pilot fraternity believe is filled with honest, trustworthy and honourable people, is seemingly filled with charlatans, chancers and cons. His story about how a plane he'd bought, spent money on and then was cheated out of made me realise both how naive I was to think, nay BELIEVE, that the pilot community would not screw over another, and how trusting I had been thus far. But I will try and not let his negative experience influence my normal level of cynicism.

It wasn't long though before "Nippy" and I were slipping those surly bonds of Earth and "Nippy" was doing her best to imitate a home-sick angel. I had neglected to update the GPS before I left home, and I think that was the reason it decided not to work. But fear's a simple little jaunt, undertaken many times before, so I levelled off at 1200ft, heading 330 magnetic and kept a listen on Amsterdam Info for any traffic that might be coming my way, or even coming up my jacksy. But I DID remember to bring the camera, so I tried to take a few photo's and vid's while I was in the air. It's much harder to do it one handed though when you're bouncing around in the air :-)

After landing, I taxied over towards the "apron" on Texel. Boy was it busy today. Some oligarchs had flown in on a Beech 200 King Air, and there was the usual gaggle of Dutch day trippers and German vacationers. After the previous debacle I had experienced when I tried to taxy over to Micheal's hanger when the dropzone was active, I called up Ed and asked him if I could have him marshal me over there. He replied that if I made a move for it, I should be OK. But, in this funny old world, the Cessna Caravans has just emptied their bellies of those adrenaline junkies and they were already touching down left, right and centre. I stayed put on the apron and then was given the go ahead to taxy to Michaels and asked to shut down the engine ASAP. This is were it went a little Tango Uniform.

I thought Ed meant to shut down as soon as I was on the concrete taxiway that leads into his hanger. This made sense to me so as to avoid chopping off the adrenaline junkies arms as they walked back, or worse, landed into my spinning propeller when they came in to land. But alas he meant to taxy all the way up to the hanger and shut off ASAP. So as I climbed out of the cockpit after shutting down I was welcomed by the blonde fire eating dragon called Martina who works for Paracentrum Texel. She was adamant that she didn't care if I chopped off arms and legs, but that I was "on her dropzone and to get off quickly". Fair enough....."chop away"....sorry, "chocks away".

The last thing this funny old world threw at me today was the sad sad sight of the C177 sitting in Michaels hanger after somebody twanged her after a poorly judged landing attempt on the island a few weeks ago. I had the joy of flying G-BAJE, a really gorgeous airplane, when M and I held this years annual "Flying BBQ Extravaganza". I got checked out on her and was taught the many peculiarities of the all-flying tailplane and wrote about the difficulties of handling the round-out during the flare.

Depending on who you talk to, the pilot who was a low time PPL, and experienced problems during the flare, over correcting so much that he either hit the tail first and then bounced hard on the nose gear, or he hit the nose gear first, but with such force that he managed to twist, bend and warp the nose wheel, oleo strut, engine mount, firewall, stringers and the prop. The damage is quite extensive, but not blatantly so. But enough that it may be a total loss. So sadly I may be that I never get a chance to fly her again. :-(

"Nippy" will be in Michaels capable hands for a few weeks and then we'll see what this funny old world has in store for us both then.

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