Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunburnt and Smoky

Yesterday, I learned again that being small is an asset in the airplane world - that being able to easily twist inside the baggage door of a 172 helps immensely in getting the back seat back in place.

(In order to remove the seats in a Cessna 172, first undo all the bolts on the back seat and seatbelt anchor, and slide the front seats as far forward as they go. Then turn the back seat 180 degrees and slide it out the pilot door. Remove the seat stops, then slide the seats off the back end of the rails and remove them. To put the seats back in, first put the back seat in, and move it back several inches (or tip it so its legs are facing forward, and is several inches shorter). Then install the front seats, before bolting down the back seat and back seat belt anchor.)

Today, I got a call from Flying Buddy, and headed out to the airport with his planes. His engine had a leaky air intake where the tube ran through the oil pan - bad stuff - so he'd just gotten it repaired, and needed a helping hand to put the bottom of the oil pan back on the engine Again, an extra pair of hands that are quite small was highly useful, and he was willing to pay in flight time. It was a hot day, with puffy cloud streets topping thermals as we baked on the tarmac. I got a very rare thing for Alaska - sunburn on my forearms. Things don't go back together as smoothly as they come apart, and it stretched til six in the afternoon before we knocked off the plane for the day and decided to fly into town to get food. Merrill Transient at the base of the tower does not have tiedown ropes, so bring your own!

We had a good meal at Peggy's, stopped to see my airplane on the way back (she's gotten a lot dustier with a winter of being parked near high-traffic 5th avenue instead of over by the ski strip). Then we flew back toward home base - but it was too nice to turn in so quickly, so we flew on to Eklutna Lake, looking for bears. The smell of burning woods greeted us at the valley's mouth, and got thicker before the smoke dropped away below us. The fire was at the back of the valley, past Bold Airstrip - and at bold Airstrip, two trucks were carefully towing a fuselage away.

We came back out, noting that usually it's not nearly such an exciting day, and practiced a few landings before putting plane to bed chatting and stretching our legs and chasing the dog. Then one of us yawned, and we realized the sun was setting, and it was 11:30. Time to get home and to bed!

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