Flying in summer can be a bit exhausting – at least in a plane as small as a Cessna 150. The thermals really bounce you around. Tuesday I had calm winds forecast at least, so I headed out to Kenora to meet up with Timothy Gwyn, who writes science fiction about female pilots, and runs the Ice Patrol website, that connects with local pilots flying over some of the local lakes to report when the ice melts off the lakes in the spring and is clear for fishermen and boaters.
The weather is the weather, and when I got to Kenora, the tower gave me the wind at 9G17, almost straight across the runway. I’ve bailed on landings before when the wind was more than I thought I could handle, but that was a lot of hours of crosswind practice ago, and my limits have definitely shifted. I had just finished a day of practicing in 12G24, 40 degrees off the runway, so I was feeling pretty confident, and handled the landing like a pro. I hate that there’s never anyone in the plane with me or watching from the ground when I rock an awesome landing in challenging conditions. There’s always someone watching when I make a shitty one. Life’s not fair.
Anyway, I found the Walsten Air hangar and parked the old lady around the corner while Timothy Gwyn admired her snazzy new paint job, which, for pink, is pretty professional looking. When people hear it got painted pink, everyone always thinks “oh god, it’s going to be aweful….” but then they see it, and they say, hey, that actually looks pretty sharp.
Timothy Gwyn had promised me a tour of the King Air he flies, and despite being pressed for time, he did not disappoint. It was more than a tour, it was a whole ground school lesson, going into how a PT-6 turbo-prop engine is built kind of backwards from most turbine engines, and how the design affects the aerodynamics and performance of the plane. The last time I got to tour a big plane, I got to sit in the left seat and all, but I certainly didn’t get the detailed explanation of the whole instrument panel, from left to right. When you look at the instrument panel of one of those big planes, it looks so unbelievably complicated that how I ever keep all that straight. And yet, I know enough already that within the twenty minutes or so Timothy had to skim over it, the mystery was stripped away, and suddenly it wasn’t near so complicated. Just little machines spitting out information.
It really is a nice aeroplane, the King air. I can see why pilots talk about it the way they do. And it was good to get out on a longer cross country again, and navigating in areas where there are fewer roads and man-made landmarks to navigate by. Need that to get ready for my 300 nautical mile trip, requirement for my commercial licence.