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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Buzzing the plant


An airplane story because a friend reminded me of this one.

Long ago, of course, I worked for the president of a manufacturing company. It was a small, family owned plant and we employees worked as much for the family as for the company. Fred, the maintenance man, took care of the owner’s house, too, as I recall.

Jack, the president was a pilot, and always on the lookout for a plane to buy. I remember something about a French aerobatic plane coming in, about the time I left. During the time I was there Jack bought a bi-plane. I never flew in that plane, but I was the spotter one Sunday afternoon when he and the Red Baron, who also owned a bi-plane, challenged each other to a fight. I was engaged to be on the ground and see who hit whom with a roll of toilet paper.

But, this is about Jack and his wife flying the plane to the big fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Before he left for that trip from Northeastern Ohio, Jack wanted to practice spotting omni’s and flying through air traffic. So, one afternoon he took me along in the Cessna for the shake down.

We left from the little airport near the plant and flew all the way to Oberlin to locate the omni. I can no longer find any reference to these flying clues to confirm what I saw. They were obelisks, like the George Washington monument, not quite as large. In some way they provided visual reference for pilots of small planes.

Jack turned the little plane back east, and set out to test himself flying through Cleveland air traffic. He was nervous, and I figured I was along to prevent his losing confidence. No visible fear. Soon he was in Cleveland air space; the tower picked him up and asked him his business. Jack and the tower talked radio language for a bit, and the plane banked left.

Watching down, soon I said, ‘Wow, look at that. We’re over Lake Erie!”

“I don’t like this,” from the pilot’s seat. I looked over. No, he did not like it. “It’s only water,” I told him. “Keep saying that,” from my left, so I did. It was lovely water, and I explained the white caps and the breaker wall and a freighter I saw, until the controller released him and we were on the way back to the hanger.

“Say, want to buzz the plant before we land?” Why not, so Jack flew in low over the buildings and back up over the trees. The employees streamed out of the buildings, filling the parking lot. I waved. We were gone.

“Weren't you frightened,” Jack inquired. No, because I kept my eye on the altimeter, and it never went below 600 feet. Jack convulsed with laughter, and finally gasped that altimeters read the feet above sea level. So? So, the plant was 550 feet above sea level.

Jack and his wife left for Oshkosh in the bi-plane. It took three days. His wife bailed at the end of the first day and took a commercial flight the rest of the way up. And then back.

Oh, yes. The FAA cited him for buzzing the plant.



22 comments:

  1. Hari Om
    Oh I'd pay for a ride like that!! Woohoooooooo YAM xx

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  2. You are one brave woman! I went up only once with a crazy pilot.... he came out of the clouds upside down.... Never went flying with him again! Say... that little red bi-plane is a beauty!

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  3. A bit much when you can't buzz your own factory...

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  4. That brought back a memory... I flew over Chicago in the 1980s with an old pilot boyfriend. He did an excellent job. When we landed, I saw that he was drenched with sweat. I didn't even realize that he was nervous.

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  5. Naughty Jack for not setting the altimeter, and naughty you for spraying all those cannabis plants over at your ranch. This explains why women can't park cars - 50 feet = 500 feet equals 8 inches = 5 inches, or roughly that.

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  6. That would be a fun ride. I've enjoyed ALL the small plane flights I've ever taken. I'm not sure of the count but it is too low of a number (single digit I think). Private planes and flying is so expensive.

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  7. By golly, Joanne, you've led an interesting life!

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  8. not related to this story but a good memory.On two occasions while at joanne's home we heard the Goodyear blimp going into or out of Akron..At a fast pace, one in the house grabbed the Goodyear Flag(Joanne's Dad worked for Goodyear) ran outside with the flag and raised it on the flagpole..When the blimp went over it dipped while over the house..A thrill for me..

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  9. Great story! Sometimes not knowing what COULD happen helps us seem brave when it's more like ignorance is bliss. Uh, not saying you are ignorant, Joanne. From what I've read of your blog that is far, far from the truth!

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  10. I have to admire you for not being afraid and talking him through this experience! I think the wife was wise to bail down the line and fly commercial!

    betty

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  11. You really are brave. I flew in a small propeller plane from Oahu to the Big Island some 30 years ago and was scared silly.

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  12. Buzzing the plant? What fun! I've only ever flown four times, two of those coming home from where I'd flown to, and in big planes, never a dinky little cessna. I'm a little envious.

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  13. I'd have been on the ground cheering you on...firmly on the ground.
    Jane x

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  14. I just love the stories people tell, so much fun hearing memories.

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  15. my brother, who is also a pilot, owned part interest in a small plane and I have gone up with him several times for a little joy ride but not to actually go anywhere. Small planes are fun I think. Don't know how I'd like a bi-plane though. The crop duster here flies low and he swoops low over our house often when he is spraying the field across the road.

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  16. There's one of those omni things in a wheat field just outside of Pendleton, Oregon. I, too, had forgotten all about them until you mentioned it.

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