Sunday, October 18, 2009

Flying Fun

The weight shift model I learned on...

The Fighter Plane version I played with a lot...

Many years ago, in a land far, far away, I used to fly these things (the pictures are not of me or my aircraft btw).

It was on the western fringes of Edmonton, AB and since I had no money, I would trade shop help for flying time. I actually got to the point where I was teaching people how to fly them.

It was a time filled with joy, wonder, wind in the face, bugs in the teeth, and occasional events which turned my bowels to water. Such is flying.

I was telling my kids the other day about how, when I was still learning in the weight shift models (top photo), I happened upon a duck.

He was flying along ahead of me, and slowly, slowly, I was gaining on him. Understand that the early weight shift models were very under-powered (a 15 hp Yamaha engine as I recall). It took forever to get airborne, and I suspect it was only the curvature of the earth that caused it to leave the runway. The great fear among us pilots was experiencing bird strikes from the rear - a very real possibility.

Anyway, you steered it by (surprise!) shifting your weight left, right, forward or back. This shifting behaviour mainly resulted in you plummeting from the skies, shrieking.

So there I was, approaching the duck, like I was passing him slowly on the highway. As I gradually pulled along side, his look was priceless. He couldn't quite figure out what this big thing was, and he was a little upset that it was passing him. Typical guy in traffic really. He kept glancing over at me as if to say "Hey! This is my turf up here you inelegant oaf! Buzz off!"

So I moved over and chewed him up with my propeller.

I didn't really do that - I was a Sky Warrior at that point, guiding my Sopwith Camel towards my home aerodrome. I saluted him chivalrously and slowly pulled away.

In another posting I'll tell you how we used to race snow mobiles in winter in these things, and how we regularly bombed rabbits and coyotes with water balloons. Yes, that unique fur coat with the fur collar? See how the fur is standing straight up? That's from me.

I can also expand on the time I was flying and part of the wooden propeller fell off, prompting a quick response, successful emergency landing, and change of undies.

Until then...

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