VansAirForceForums  
Home > VansAirForceForums

- POSTING RULES
- Donate yearly (please).
- Advertise in here!

- Today's Posts | Insert Pics

  #31  
Old 08-18-2019, 05:25 AM
Scott Chastain's Avatar
Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: KMCE
Posts: 186
Default 5. The Lamb





Near Montrose, Colorado, the son began getting knocked around by some moderate turbulence as he made a descent for landing. He passed the little town of Hotchkiss and entered a left downwind for Runway 23 at North Fork Valley Airport (7V2).



There were 15-knot winds out of the south in Montrose according to the ASOS report there. But as soon as he turned base to final, the son knew he was going to have to switch runways. He could see a windsock pointed like a torpedo down the runway that was blurring by underneath. So he threw in the throttle, raised the flaps, and made a teardrop turn south of the field to make a quick final approach for Runway 5. The airport was built on top of a long ridgeline overlooking a river-laced valley to the west. Soon, he was on the ground and taxiing up to the ramp after flying for just under three hours. His was the only airplane on the tarmac. He got out and looked at the mountain about five miles to the east. There was a large white scar on the side of the mountain that looked like the result of a landslide. The son looked at the scar for awhile as he prepared to wipe down the Dove.

Two men were talking in a large hangar behind him. The bifold doors were open, and he could almost make out what they were saying, but not quite. The wind was strong enough to drown them out. He decided to walk over to a small wooden shack that appeared to be the airport office building.



“Can I help you?” a voice said. There was a short man with a cleanly trimmed mustache and a high-pitched voice. He was walking a parallel path toward the shack, having emerged from the large metal hangar where the son had heard voices.

“Just need to use the restroom for now,” said the son.

The man pointed to a cyclone fence. “Just go out the gate there, and behind the house you’ll find the restrooms. There’s a combo to get back in.”

“Thanks,” said the son. He walked over to the gate and found the punch code combination and memorized it. Then he walked over toward a small white house with an attached awning over the front walkway. There was a garden sprinkler twirling delicately on the grass by the trunk of an enormous cherry tree.



It looked like the airport manager lived there. The son wondered if the short man with the mustache was the occupant. Behind the house, he found the restroom and wondered what it would be like to live on an airport and have people walking behind your house all the time to use the restroom which, strangely enough, was attached and plumbed into the same building behind the master bedroom. After using the restroom, he walked back out to the Dove and began wiping her down.

The short man with the mustache came up and introduced himself. He was Mike Clawson, the airport manager. “Where are you from?” he asked.

The son told him. He told Mike about having lost his father recently, and now he was out flying through America and finding comfort in the skies. Mike said that his own father was a pilot, a mechanic, and that even though he himself did not pursue a career in aviation, once his father passed away, Mike decided to take over where his father left off. He had been living on the airport and managing it ever since.

Mike asked the son if he needed to use a car to get into town. “I can get you some wheels if you need them, and there’s some high speed Wi-Fi in the office over there that you’re welcome to use.”

“Thanks,” said the son, “but I think I’ll put my mountain bike together and ride down. It’s a beautiful day out, and I need to stretch.”

“Okay,” said Mike.

As Mike turned to walk back over to the large hangar, the son asked, “Hey, what is that up there?” He pointed to the white scar that was glowing on the mountain. “It looks like you just had a landslide.”

“That’s the Lamb,” said Mike. “It’s been up there since I can remember.”



Mike went on to explain that in certain conditions, a person could make out the head, the four legs, and the body of a lamb that appeared to be prancing across the steep mountainside. The son had to squint a little to make it work, but he could see it there. The sun was beginning to make it stand out more.

After wiping down the plane, he went into the little shack to check weather and to relax for awhile. It was hot, stuffy, and stagnant in there, so he didn’t stay more than a few minutes. There was no couch to sleep on, either. That much was sure.



After putting his bike together, the son checked the gearing and braking. He met up again with Mike who had the other man with him this time, a tall thin man in his sixties with a square jaw, eyes set deeply in their sockets, and cleanly cut white hair. His name was Jeff, a retired airline pilot who was in the process of moving from Delaware. Mike was helping Jeff load up a big red Chevy pickup and trailer.

“Is there a place where I can pitch a tent?” the son asked Mike. He was wondering if he should stay the night.

Mike told him to use the small patch of grass in front of the office building. He said the grass might be a little wet from watering, but it would be fine for the son to camp out there.

Assured of that, in spite of having a leaky air mattress, the son was rode down the ridge away from the airport and into the small river valley he had seen from the air. It was a warm, breezy day, but beautiful and new and brimming with life. There were hay fields, orchards, wildflowers, butterflies, and honeybees all around him as he rode, and he could see developing thunderstorms in the distance as farmers drove their tractors across their land.





The cherry trees along the road into the town of Paonia were laden and sagging with cherries that were nearing the time of harvest.

__________________
Scott Chastain
RV-8 N898W Descending Dove
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 08-18-2019, 05:26 AM
Scott Chastain's Avatar
Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: KMCE
Posts: 186
Default 5. The Lamb

After a 5-mile ride into Paonia, the son parked his bike by the fence of a restaurant where people were sitting outside and enjoying the day. It was called the Living Farm, claiming to use only ingredients that were locally grown and raised. He sat down and ordered a breakfast burrito.



He explored the town after breakfast, riding up and down the main street, then relaxing in the shade at a local park for part of the afternoon.





There was a creatively designed trailer downtown that somebody welded together from a variety of scrap sources.



After seeing it, the son knew it was time to head back to the airport. There were five uphill miles ahead of him in the afternoon heat, and he wanted to make it back with plenty of time to set up for the night. So he rode. He reached a crest sometime later and saw the Lamb peering down at him from the mountain throne.



When he got back to the airport, he spent the rest of the afternoon disassembling his bike and repacking it, setting up the tent, and preparing for a night that would hopefully offer him more sleep than the night before. The wind seemed to be picking up strength, and there were stronger thunderstorms beginning to develop near the Lamb and west of the airport. Pretty soon, his home for the night was ready.



As the evening approached, Mike Clawson left the airport until well after dark. He said that he had to go spray for the mosquito abatement district, but the son could make himself at home and enjoy the evening to himself. So after Mike left, the son watched the changing scenery as the Lamb took on different appearances with the evolution of twilight.





Then came a blazing sunset the likes of which the son had never seen before. The cherry tree in the front yard of the little white house began straining under the heaving gusts that made its branches erupt with sounds of a pounding surf, a tidal onslaught. From the west, a thunderstorm approached, and the last of the day’s sun pierced through an opening in a fiery display.



There were flashes of lightning and peals of a deep rumbling thunder in the distance as there appeared before him a cloud formation, churning itself from blackness and a blood-like ingestion toward the valley, toward the airport, toward the son himself.



He watched it. He felt the wind pushing him over and pulling at his body in gusts. He heard the crashing of waves in the tree overhead. He felt a stare at his back, so the son turned. He watched as the Lamb disappeared in the red glow to darkness. Then he entered the tent and lay down as the storm howled by.
__________________
Scott Chastain
RV-8 N898W Descending Dove
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 08-18-2019, 05:20 PM
snopercod's Avatar
snopercod snopercod is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 1,834
Default

Scott-- Your photos and stories are absolutely wonderful. Please keep them coming.
__________________
(2019 dues paid)
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 08-19-2019, 01:36 PM
Scott Chastain's Avatar
Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: KMCE
Posts: 186
Default 6. Under the Sun







__________________
Scott Chastain
RV-8 N898W Descending Dove
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 08-19-2019, 01:38 PM
Scott Chastain's Avatar
Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: KMCE
Posts: 186
Default 6. Under the Sun

It howled wind all night. The giant cherry tree in front of Mike’s house, planted there decades earlier by his father, sounded like an ocean hurling waves against unseen cliffs overhead. There came very little sleep for the son, whose air mattress again deflated to a flat piece of plastic within an hour of filling it. He had hoped an adjustment to the inflating nozzle might fix the leak, but those hopes were dashed against the black cliffs of the night.

It was 5:45 AM when he finally rolled over and got dressed. There was still a very strong wind blowing over the tarmac as he struck the tent and packed his gear in the plane. It was cold, too, and he needed to put on a jacket. He was gathering up his bags and preparing to check weather online when a radio call came in over the speaker in the little shack. There was an RV coming in on final from the south, landing on Runway 5.

The son was already topping off his fuel tanks at the pumps when the RV-14A taxied in and shut down. The pilot got out and introduced himself as Bill. He said he finished building the RV a couple of years earlier. He was a slender man with silver hair who moved quickly and with spryness in his steps, who claimed to be 73 years old and loved flying his plane. It made him feel like a kid.

Mike Clawson, the airport manager came out to assist them with the fueling operation. He asked the son of he wanted a fresh cup of coffee. He accepted it gratefully, thankful that he did not have to dump a couple packets of instant coffee into cold water and slosh it around in his thermos like he had the day before.



When the Dove was topped off, two other planes arrived. There came another local pilot in a C-180 who was about to do some surveying nearby.



Then a C-172 pulled up with a lady named Ethyl piloting and her husband riding with her. She told Mike she was giving a visiting family from Germany a ride that morning. As the sun rose higher from behind the Lamb, Mike commented that he hadn’t seen it so busy before on a Wednesday morning, especially with such an unusual strong wind blowing through the area. Some joked that the meeting had been arranged beforehand just to keep him busy.



The son pushed the Dove back a ways and thanked Mike for his hospitality. It was time to go.

“Which way you headed?” asked Mike.

“I think I’ll get over the Rockies today and head east. We’ll see when we get there,” said the son. “To tell the truth, I’m more concerned about this wind and about getting knocked around over the mountains than I am about where to go.”

The son cranked over and back-taxied to the end of Runway 5. He let the engine warm up for a few minutes before doing a thorough runup. Then he taxied out onto the runway, threw in the throttle, and blasted out to the northeast. There was a small amount of turbulence for the first two or three-hundred feet of climb-out, and then there came smoothness and the clean cool purr of the engine all the way up to 11,500 feet where the son leveled off, leaned back for cruise, and enjoyed the scenery.





He felt a force going before him the whole flight that seemed to prepare a path as he went. At Walden (33V), the son took a sharp turn to the east and flew into Nebraska. As he skimmed eastward, he felt a very strong draw to a little airport near the town of Loup City, Nebraska (0F4). That was when he found a problem with one of his navigation devices.

He tried entering the waypoint into his Garmin GPSMap 396, but the device did not recognize the airport. His Foreflight-iPad system, used in conjunction with a Stratus II ADS-B device, was working flawlessly. But he quickly discovered that the recent purchase he made with Garmin to update his North America navigation database left half of the United States blank, completely devoid of airspace, obstacles, and terrain north of his position and including all of the East Coast. Having updated the device many times before without problems, he never the noticed the void until now. So he would have to depend on paper charts and the iPad until he could find a way to update the Garmin. For now, he would have to wait.

After 464 nautical miles and 2.7 hours of flight time, he landed at Loup City and felt ridiculous wearing a jacket. It was in the upper nineties outside and the air was a steamy wet blast when he opened the canopy to get out. He was the only bird on the field.





He took off his jacket and stuffed it into his clothing satchel in the back of the plane. Then he walked over to the terminal building. Nobody was around.



There was a 24-hour punch-code access lock on the pilot’s lounge, but the door was open so he went inside. There was air conditioning, a table with chairs and magazines scattered about, a restroom, and a couch to sleep on. He was thankful for not having to set up a tent. It was July 3, 2019, the third day. And the place felt like home.



__________________
Scott Chastain
RV-8 N898W Descending Dove
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 08-19-2019, 01:39 PM
Scott Chastain's Avatar
Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: KMCE
Posts: 186
Default 6. Under the Sun

After using the restroom and squaring himself somewhat with lounge area, he went back outside to wipe down the Dove and gather his gear for the day. There was a blazing hot sun beating down on the empty white slab of concrete where he was parked. It felt like two suns, one beating up from the tarmac and the other cutting hot patches on the tops of his shoulders, feet and head. By the time the son walked back into the pilot’s lounge, his shirt was sopping with sweat.

He drank as much water as he could handle, then relaxed with the air conditioning running hard and cold with a box fan helping to push the air around the room. It smelled somewhat of insecticide and decomposing grass in the pilot’s lounge, but it felt heavenly compared to the blast furnace outside the door.

A couple of hours later, a white-haired man in his seventies or eighties came walking in. He wore a tee-shirt that had marks of sweat soaking through it.

“That your eight out there?” he said. The son told him it was. He introduced himself, and the older man told the son his name was Larry. He had come out to the airport to change the batteries in his golf cart, the one he used to ramble up and down the flightline. He asked the son where he was from.

“Merced, California.”

“You headin’ to OSH?”

“Probably not,” said the son. “My dad and I went back in 2008 and it was phenomenal. It didn’t rain a drop the whole week we were there, we stayed with my cousin just a few miles away, and it was just such a great experience, I’d hate to tarnish the memory by going again and trying to step into the same river.” The son paused for a moment, then added, “You see, my dad died last December and this is the first long trip I’ve taken without him being here.”

Larry offered heartfelt condolences and then turned to use the restroom. When he came back out, he told about building seven RVs, and three of them were in the hangar right behind the pilot’s lounge.

“You need a ride into town?” asked Larry. “I’d be happy to take you.”

“Sure, that’d be great.”

“Give me about ten minutes.” Then he walked out and headed to his hangar.



The son walked over to Larry’s hangar and came through the back door where there was a shop.



He found Larry relaxing in a lounge chair by the open door of his hangar.



“I needed a beer,” said Larry. “You want one?” The son told him that water was enough for now, thanks anyway.

Larry showed the son the planes he had decided to keep and enjoy for his own use.





Larry told the son about being a retired farmer who grew up in Loup City where he raised mostly corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. He said he also used to own a local hardware store in town, but now he just loved to come out to the airport and either fly or just loaf around.

“There’s a jeep out there in front of the big green hangar,” said Larry. “I think the keys are in it. Nobody ever uses that thing, so you’re welcome to it. Not sure if the gas gauge works.”

“I appreciate that,” said the son.

“You gonna stay the night here?” Larry said. The son told him he would, and then Larry nodded and proceeded to close up his hangar. The son thanked him again, turned, and walked back to the pilot’s lounge. Soon enough, he was on the road for the 1.5-mile drive over hot pavement into Loup City, Nebraska.





Soon enough he was there. He parked the Jeep just off the corner from downtown and got out. Then the son proceeded to walk the streets. The first building he came across was the courthouse where some construction work was underway. There was a Veterans Memorial Walk in front of the courthouse that the son took before he broke off into the surrounding neighborhoods.



__________________
Scott Chastain
RV-8 N898W Descending Dove
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 08-19-2019, 01:40 PM
Scott Chastain's Avatar
Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: KMCE
Posts: 186
Default 6. Under the Sun

The were signs downtown that read, “Loup City: The Polish Capital of Nebraska.” The son walked through the town and heard people getting warmed up for the 4th of July. There were firecrackers and whistling fireworks sounding off sporadically as he moved down the vacant streets of the town.















On the way back to the airport, he pulled the Jeep over into a park on the banks of the Middle Loup River. He got out and walked alone through empty camping sites to the banks of a dried-out flood bar where he inadvertently and stealthily came upon a beaver feasting on vegetation near the water. After a few minutes, it waded in and swam off.





He watched as the glow of twilight washed over the Nebraska countryside. He felt an inner peace that for the last two nights had escaped him for lack of sleep.



Then the son got back into the white Jeep and drove to the airport and let that inner peace work its way through his body as he prepared to make a night of it on the couch. He brushed his teeth, shut off the lights, and lay down with his sleeping bag over the top of his body. As soon as his head was on the pillow, he drifted off into a deep sleep.
__________________
Scott Chastain
RV-8 N898W Descending Dove
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 08-20-2019, 01:46 PM
Scott Chastain's Avatar
Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: KMCE
Posts: 186
Default 7. Works of Fire







__________________
Scott Chastain
RV-8 N898W Descending Dove
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 08-20-2019, 01:47 PM
Scott Chastain's Avatar
Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: KMCE
Posts: 186
Default 7. Works of Fire

The son finally received a decent night of sleep in Loup City. He awoke at 6:00 AM to his alarm and got up to dress. The air conditioning was still running and the steady drone of the compressor pushed him to packing his things for departure. When he stepped outside, a hot blast of humidity met him in a stiff wind that inflated the wind sock full and erect. There was a thick overcast with a black burbling texture overhead, and to the north, he could see the squall line of an approaching thunderstorm where the blackness became a wall of downpour that appeared to be moving quickly. He knew that he had to get out of there if he expected to escape the squall, so he wasted no time with his pre-flight after packing his bags and fueling.

After taking off, he climbed out to the west where he could see the sun breaking through and lighting up the Nebraska countryside. When he reached the breach in the overcast, he pulled up and cranked hard to the starboard in a wide spiraling climb-out until he cleared the top layers. He set a course southward away from the squall, and the overcast continued pushing him higher and ever higher until he was able to level out for cruise at 13,500 feet.



He fought a strong headwind the entire flight southward and did not begin to clear the weather below for almost two hours after flying between Garden City and Dodge City, Kansas. The son broke out over a plain of crop circles that stretched out like a game board until it faded many miles away into a white void of vapor.



He made an aggressive descent where, after 2.3 hours in the air, the son touched down at the Hutchinson County Airport in Borger, Texas (BGD).



A large, portly man with a squarish head, bulbous nose, and white hair came out to the plane while the son was tabulating numbers in the cockpit. He complimented the son on the Dove and introduced himself. His name was Coy, the lineman on duty at the time.



Coy was very enthusiastic, friendly, and welcoming. He told the son there was no fuel available because there were parts on order for the fuel truck and there was nothing he could do until they got the truck fixed.

“That’s no problem,” said the son. “I’ve got plenty of fuel for now.” He said he wanted to get the plane covered up and come inside for awhile to relax and check weather.

“Great!” said Coy. “And welcome to Borger, Texas!”

The first thing the son noticed about the FBO was that there were no access code doors and that the pilot’s lounge was essentially a small airline terminal adjoining the office. The Texas heat had not really begun to set in that morning, but the thought of setting up the tent again wasn’t very appealing at the time. Meanwhile, Coy offered the son some watermelon and related a few personal stories of his life---about how he used to be a federal prison guard, a truck driver, an employee at the local Phillips 66 refinery before a massive explosion blew a few buildings apart and killed some people. Coy said that becoming a pilot was impossible for him because of health issues, but he still loved aviation and flying nevertheless.

About 30 minutes later, the son was airborne again and heading east-southeast out of Borger.



Coy seemed disappointed that he was leaving, but the son had no choice. He was called powerfully to go as he was checking weather and scrolling through maps. In forty minutes of flight time, the son was landing in Mangum, Oklahoma (2K4). It was the birthplace and early childhood home of his father.

On final approach to Runway 17, the son could see two men standing at the south end of the airport by the open doors of a large hangar. They were standing in the blinding sun and the heat of the day without seeming to notice, and the son taxied the Dove over to a tie-down in front of the FBO building and shut down. It was hot, humid, and windy with the same south wind he had been fighting in the air all morning.



“That’s quite a plane you got there,” said one of the men. “What is that, a homebuilt?”

“Yes,” said the son, “it’s an RV-8.”

“You built it?”

“Yeah, my dad and I spent about ten years putting it together.”

The one asking him about the Dove was a large man in his seventies wearing a bright red Oklahoma University polo shirt that wasn’t tucked in. His gut made the shirt tail hang out a few inches away from his shorts. He had wide, arching shoulders and sagging chest muscles, and his face was smiling but hard-set and determined, with proud lines etched into his eye sockets like gullies washed into a desert by decades of hard-falling rain. The son introduced himself and the man shook his hand. “Bob Travis,” he said.



“This here’s my friend, John.” The son shook the other man’s hand, a much younger man in his fifties with close-cropped and peppered hair and a goatee. He said that he worked over at Altus Air Force Base a few miles away as a civilian contractor there.

“I hope you don’t need any fuel,” said Bob, “because there isn’t any. There hasn’t been any for a long time.” The son told him that, no, he had plenty of fuel to get by.

“Where you from?” Bob asked.

The son told him. He told him about wanting to visit Mangum because that was where his father had been born and raised during the Great Depression.

“Well, I’ve been here my whole life, too!” said Bob excitedly. “Bred, born, and raised.” He went on to tell the son about being involved in education for 40 years, working for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, owning and operating a local septic tank service, and being the proud owner of the large hangar there and the C-182 Super Eagle. Bob continued the conversation by telling the son to move Descending Dove in front of his hangar because, according to him, the whole town was coming over to the airport after dark to blow off all their fireworks.

“Wouldn’t want any strays landing on that pretty plane of yours,” said Bob.

So the son taxied the Dove in front of the hangar. In his father’s hometown, the son was glad to see his own name lettered boldly above the door frame. It was as if the father had willed it that way.



The son parked the Dove and walked over to the FBO building. Bob told him that he could use the courtesy car and was more than welcome to spend the night there.



__________________
Scott Chastain
RV-8 N898W Descending Dove
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 08-20-2019, 01:48 PM
Scott Chastain's Avatar
Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: KMCE
Posts: 186
Default 7. Works of Fire

At first glance, the FBO building not only looked perfect for the son’s purposes, but it had the standard 24-hour access keypad that was so welcome for any pilot needing shelter in a pinch or just seeking a place to relax and unwind.



But further inspection revealed problems and real disappointment. To begin with, it was clear the building had not been used in many years. There was a massive fissure in the foundation that ran the length of the building, splitting the tile and spilling into the building an infestation of ants and other subterranean critters which, having been trapped by a separate infestation of spiders, lay mummified with the fecal matter of those spiders about the entire perimeter of the building. The larger problem, however, was that the air conditioning did not work. It was already 95-degrees in there and it was getting hotter. So it became clear that, in its abandoned state, the son would himself abandon the idea of spending the night in the FBO. A mud dauber buzzing around inside the building and bouncing off the glass of the windows reinforced the fact that he would have to find another place to sleep.

Meanwhile, he decided to try out the courtesy car. He found a permanently installed trickle charger plugged in under the hood. It was a Ford Taurus. It started, but the engine had no idle. It died as soon as he took his foot off the gas.



The son decided to take it anyway which meant having to quickly teach himself how to throw the transmission into neutral at intersections, keeping his foot on the gas, and revving up the engine before putting it back into drive. The car lurched forward and chirped rubber, but it managed to stay alive and running. Being the 4th of July, there were very few people in town anyway, so driving the hobbled vehicle was not that difficult for the son. Eventually, he parked and got out. He wanted to feel his father’s footsteps. So he began walking through town.








Meanwhile, the hot wind from the south continued to blow and the son found the streets of Mangum devoid of people and downtown businesses shut down for the nation’s celebration of independence.







__________________
Scott Chastain
RV-8 N898W Descending Dove
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:50 PM.


The VAFForums come to you courtesy Delta Romeo, LLC. By viewing and participating in them you agree to build your plane using standardized methods and practices and to fly it safely and in accordance with the laws governing the country you are located in.