Saturday, July 19, 2008

You Can Go Back - Part 2

This is a regular blog post. Looking for show notes or show audio? You can find it in the other posts.

I wrote some time ago about stopping by the Water Street Coffee Joint in October and finding it essentially as it was in 1993 as I studied for the LSAT. I had a similar, but more intimate experience yesterday.

I had heard that the 1983 Cessna 152 II, N94891 (in which I did a lot of my early pre-solo and solo primary training in 2001), had moved from Willow Run Airport (KYIP) to Ann Arbor Municipal Airport (KARB), but had not seen her on the field except for a fleeting glimpse in 2003 or so. So, when I arrived early for Paul Stambaugh’s hangar party yesterday, I asked around to see if anyone knew where I might find her. Turns out that she’s around, well-maintained, and working for Solo Aviation, located at the terminal building.

The gentlemen at Solo were kind enough to actually hand me the keys and tell me that I could go and see her. How cool are they? I went down to Bravo row, opened the padlock, rolled back the doors, and there she was! Boy, does she look good. They've been taking right proper care of her. “Hi, girl! Remember me?”

“Hey, Tup! You lose a little weight? What brings you back to this neck of the woods?” she said.

“Paul’s party. And it was a great excuse to come look for you,” I told her.

“And who are the little ones?”

I introduced the kids to 891. Cole was gestating the last time I flew 891. Ella wasn't even in the plans.

The kids are used to C-172s or bigger airplanes, and Cole’s first remark was “Hey! There’s no back seat!” True enough. This is a bare-essentials no-nonsense pilotmaker. She’s IFR certified, but only has VOR navigation and ILS capability. I never flew her under the hood, but a lot of my acquaintances built hood time in her, plugging along at 90 KIAS.

For me, she went charging down runway 5L at Willow Run, rotated, and carried me around the pattern for my first solo and several subsequent flights. A wonderful trainer and one of my all-time favorite aircraft.

Cole and Ella were very deferential – even a little reverent – when I told them that 891 was the first airplane that I had ever soloed. They really treated her with respect and even stood still over in the corner while I got into the left seat and reminisced a little. Then Cole ran over and played line marshal and cleared me to take off – No doubt to scout the Hun lines and report back to this site of the trenches or maybe to look for wildfires or something like that.

I love this airplane and am delighted to see that she’s still on the line and making pilots out of pedestrians. I need to get over to Ann Arbor again soon and take her up. It’d be fun.

Good to see you, 891. I’m still out here trying to make you proud!

(Don’t tell her about the F-16 thing. I think she’d take it the right way, but there’s no use rocking the boat.)

See 891 and the astonishingly friendly and helpful people at Solo Aviation in the terminal building at Ann Arbor Municipal Airport. (Seriously, how cool are you guys? I really, really appreciated that. I'll be talking you up to anyone who will listen.)

Solo Aviation, Inc.
801 Airport Drive
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
Phone: 734-994-6651
Fax: 734-994-6671

1 comment:

Tom said...

You can't start them flying too young!