I know what you're thinking. The Stearman guy is getting a pretty good deal. In this day and age it's almost impossible to find a venue where a person can experience, first hand, the joy of flying the delightful feather-light all-metal Luscombe Silvair---leave those clodhopper boots at home, Chris the Stearman Guy, ballet slippers are what you need in the '47 8A. Kudos to Brother Baker for making it happen! Except it didn't. But I'm getting ahead of myself. . .
The outfit that Brother Barbeau works for is adding another airplane to it's stable: A Cirrus SR22T, with all the bells and whistles. Thursday evening Gary called and said the airplane was scheduled to arrive Friday. Did I want to ride out to the airport Friday afternoon and check it out? When I told him about Brother Baker's planned Stearman outing and the fact that I was invited to ride along, he said: "Swapping time in a Luscombe for time in a Stearman. Way to go Joe! Think you'll get a ride too?" I said: "I don't think I'm part of the deal. I'll be there for moral support and to take pictures; but I'm going to hit the ATM in the morning, just in case."
Brother Baker and I departed Jellystone Air Park at 0730 Friday morning---a pair of old school airline pilots in a non-FMS/GPS 1947 Luscombe 8A. Today's junior birdmen (Airbus pilots and New Age "Any traffic in the Area" Embry-Riddle alumni) may be wondering how we could ever find our way. Rest assured we had a plan---and a couple of sectional charts provided, free of charge, by the states of South Carolina and Georgia. The plan: Follow the power lines that run southwest from Jellystone Air Park to Triple Tree Aerodrome, just south of Woodruff, South Carolina, then track a westerly course, passing a little south of Clemson, South Carolina and a little north of Toccoa, Georgia, to Mountain Field which is located a few miles southeast of Cleveland, Georgia. Precision navigation at it's best! How does that old saying go? "Measure it with a micrometre, cut it with an ax."
Approaching Triple Tree Brother Baker noticed he had a message on his iPhone. It was from Chris the Stearman Guy. Call me. Not the message you want to see when you're almost half way to your first ride in a Stearman. . . I told Joe I would fly while he typed. A few minutes later, another message. Joe held the screen so I could read. It's really blowing here at the house. Winds are forecast to be gusting to twenty knots. It was Chris' way of saying: "Sorry guys, it's not going to happen today."
I've never flown a Stearman. I don't know how it handles in a gusty crosswind---but I have flown Brother Barbeau's Hatz biplane. I completely understood where Chris the Stearman Guy was coming from. So did Joe. It was time to redirect---but simply returning to Jellystone Air Park seemed like an incredible waste of a nice morning. When Brother Baker asked if there was anyplace special I'd like to go, I said: "How about Eddie's place?"
If this is your first visit to Jellystone Air Park, Eddie is our good friend Eddie Price, Director of Operations and Chief Pilot at Pond Branch Airfield---fifteen hundred feet of slightly undulating turf (Brother Baker's locution) in the heart of the Sandland near Leesville, South Carolina---conveniently located on the CAE VOR 272 degree radial at 17.5 DME.
Thirty-five minutes after receiving the North Georgia weather report we were on the ground at Pond Branch Airfield. . .
The scene on Taxiway Alpha. . . Yours truly with Brothers Price and Baker at the Center of the Universe (Eddie's locution.)
|Photo by Joe Baker|
Eddie Price, Director of Operations and Chief Pilot at Pond Branch Airfield, with his 1950 Cessna 140A.
|Photo by Eddie Price|
Runway 29 departure from the Center of the Universe. . .
Later in the day. . .
Remember that phone call from Brother Barbeau?
2016 Cirrus SR22T.
Looks inviting. . .
Comes with an automated flight attendant safety briefing.
Brother Barbeau said: "Just sit there and don't touch anything!"