Highlights of today:
1. A dawn discussion with a young South African crop duster. They fly the hell out of their machines. No airport pattern, they head straight for the middle of the runway 30 feet up, kick it high into the air to lose their airspeed, kick it hard over and land. Remarkable flying that I won’t try in Freddy. Twenty flights a day. Fly, load, fly, load…until the conveyer belt loader broke and I had to leave.
2. Flying above the clouds, which is always a highlight.
3. Stopping after my second flight at Neil Armstong Airport in Wapokoneta, Ohio, Neil’s hometown. I met a family that included a grandfather, a father and his two young daughters. They had flown over from elsewhere in Ohio in their Cessna 170. They invited me to join them in the courtesy car so we drove to the museum discussing space and flying and the like. The museum was fun, we practiced landing the shuttle simulator, watched a film on the first lunar landing and poked around at the displays.
4. Most air traffic controllers are male. Every now and then there is a female controller and it is nice to hear a change in tone. But today, there was this amazing voice on the other end of the airwaves. There was something about her voice. I could have listened to it all day as I tried to picture who was behind the voice issuing appropriately strong, instructions and communications to her aviators. When I had the airport in sight and were bidding each other the customary “Good day” or “Good night,” I couldn’t resist telling her that she had a beautiful voice. She responded that I did too, but she was just being polite. I’ll keep a listen out for that one again.
5. The double sunset I saw when the sun set on the cloud layer I was flying above, and then again on the ground as I was descending.
6. Playing my travel bass guitar with a headphone amp and The Black Crowes on my ipod also playing on my headphones through the amp, playing and dancing around in the dark, under the stars as the space station flew overhead.
I should make it home tomorrow! Returning is always a bitter-sweet experience. How I love sitting in Freddy’s cockpit. It’s been a fantastic voyage so far. A few more flights to go!