Taxiing to take off from Jerry Pond on a cold autumn evening (Photo by Tony Cesare)
The temperature is not extremely cold this first day of November, at least not like it will be in the coming months, but after our bodies acclimated to the nice Maine summers thirty-eight degrees Fahrenheit seems quite cool and with the sun setting it’s not going to get any warmer.
Float plane operations are pretty much done or winding down by this time of year but I have been trying to accomplish as much flying as possible all season and I’m just now catching up on all my prior commitments. With this setting sun I’m running out of daylight, and as mentioned earlier, it’s pretty cold this evening but I promised the young fella sitting behind me that he’d get a ride in my floatplane–and today he will, although it will be a relatively quick flight.
Although young for formal lessons, my passenger Luc was not too young to learn to fly and did an excellent job as student/passenger previously in my Super Cub when it was on wheels, and I wanted him to experience water flying–the pinnacle of flying in my opinion. There is something special about the combination of water and flight that just cannot be described, it has to be experienced. It brings out a sense of adventure and freedom that is even more powerful than other types of flight which already highlight these feelings to a great extent–water flying just magnifies it significantly.
This evening, as the plane floats slowly away from the shore atop the mirror-like surface, I can look back and see his parents standing on the shoreline with two of their younger children watching us expectantly, and probably a bit nervously wondering why we aren’t done and safely home yet! I can’t blame them really, it would take some serious thought on my part to let my young son or daughter fly with anyone other than myself. I say ‘myself’ not because I’m anything special…I just know how I fly and for me to let them go with a pilot of unknown talent probably would not happen. In this case I’m not an unknown, Luc’s parents are my cousins and they know I’ve been flying for over thirty years and will do everything I possibly can to make this a safe and enjoyable flight. Nonetheless, any apprehension felt by any parents at this point would be well deserved.
My airplane is capable of taking off in extremely short distances and I would normally taxi to the other end of the pond but not all the way down to the other end as I’m doing now. However, due to my precious cargo sitting two feet behind me I play it safe and use every foot available in this small pond on the edge of town and given the slow speed at which we are taxiing it takes a bit of time. Luc and I are not really concerned with how long it takes other than I have to be back home before the approaching darkness, but I’m confident that as slowly as the time passes the shoreline anxiety is growing.
I feel at home in this cockpit, like I’ve been wearing it for decades. I grew up in this very same airplane as a child and can’t help think of the irony of looking back over my shoulder and seeing this young, eager face peering out the window with anticipation just as I was doing over nearly forty years ago. Same plane, same area, same circumstances–just a new young soul intertwined in the history of my green Super Cub. The ability to do this gives me such a warm feeling inside and I have to remind myself that I’m not doing this totally for altruistic reasons. Truth be known, I get more out of this than anyone can possibly know…it’s humbling really.
*Luc enjoyed his sunset ride and we both agreed his orientation flights in the Cub will not be complete until he fly’s with me on skis–so you haven’t heard the last of Luc!