Saturday, December 31, 2005

 

The Year of the Yellowbird - 2005

2005 was a busy year for the Yellowbird. It saw a number of new milestones, new friends made (and lost) and the fulfillment of a goal that was part of my justification for owning an airplane.

First, the statistics. We flew a total of 168 hours, well above my budget of 100 hours per year. January and December were the leanest months, both seeing few than five hours due to the winter weather, and September was the busiest with nearly 32 hours. New personal records were set for altitude (12,000 feet MSL) and groundspeed (187 mph). Fourteen new airports were explored, and 213 takeoffs and landings were made. A little over 1,500 gallons of 100LL avgas were consumed, and you don't want to know how much that cost.

We seemed to spend a lot of time at the vetYellowbird was an expensive girl in other respects. Her annual airworthiness inspection was relatively painless, but a thorough engine examination during a routine oil change revealed leaks in her muffler, and the rigors of instrument training showed that her attitude indicator and transponder were no longer up to the task. All three were replaced, and she's a happier and healthier bird for it, but it wasn't cheap.

Yellowbird and one of her siblings at LancasterTwenty new friends were carried aloft, including my father, who is the only family member to date to have ridden in the Yellowbird. She also met up with some old friends and many members of her extended family at for our first Cardinal Flyers flyin. Sadly, one of Yellowbird's new friends, Good Buddy Pete, was fatally injured in a tragic accident in July. He is still dearly missed.

In June we started flight training toward the instrument rating, and passed the checkride in December. The frequent training flights were the reason for exceeding our hourly flying budget for the year, and included 63 hours flown in simulated instrument conditions and 13 flown in actual. The pursuit and completion of the instrument rating were among my reasons for buying Yellowbird nearly two years ago.

The completion of the instrument rating was a major milestone for the year, and I hope to be able to make use of it for many years to come. It came at a considerable cost in time, effort, and resources expended, and the valuable training and experience gained should be worth the expense. Yet, for all that was put into the preparations, I suspect that the memory of my checkride will soon fade into the general blur that has encompassed the prior six months of training lessons.

Dad at the controlsThe memories that will remain for years are the ones of the special moments that Yellowbird and I shared with friends and with each other: the look on Good Buddy Pete's face as I gave him the controls and let him steer Yellowbird down the shore of the Quabbin Reservoir, the time shared with my father as we flew up and down the Hudson River on a perfectly smooth late spring evening, the sight of a distant summer thunderstorm lighting up the night sky on the return from a dinner trip to Jaffery with a friend, and our first flight of the year on a bitterly cold day in January when we forgot, for a short time, the frustrations and disappointments of life and found peace in the delicate balance of thrust, drag, lift, and weight that make up the miracle of flight.

Comments:

Posted by Blogger Capt. Wilko at 8:58 PM, January 10, 2006  

Hey Scottie,
That's a great picture of your dad. I'd seen it before but don't believe I posted. I love it because it display complete contentment and I'm sure there's a little pride in there too that his son's a pilot and owns his own plane. It had to be a very special moment indeed to take him up. So, when do I get a ride? Hanscom's pretty close to you! :)


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