W o r d s F r o m A u s t i n
RVs and thoughts of Mustangs
When we talk about flying, we don't really know if the listener is a high
time military man, an older fellow with lots of bush time..no IFR, or who
paid for his flight hours, but when the job is done and the time in service
is over and those of us who can't turn our backs on flying airplanes find
ourselves pulled to flying something again, we who are fortunate enough to
find the RVs, get another chance to relive the glory days of great flying.
I hungered dearly to fly a P51, and finally, late in the day, met a
great man who actually owned and flew one for 7 years..
He told me that if I had any stick time in an RV that he could check me out
in a P51 in 1 hour...
This says a lot about many things...the RV is hot and a good teacher, and we
are very often better than we think in the way we handle something way
beyond a Cessna...and I do not wish to bad mouth a Cessna because flying is
flying and I have had some good times in a Cessna....
Indeed, when I was only 16, the lowly Cessna 140 was a dream ship to
me, and allowed me to show myself what I was good at...since girls were far
more scary and no less magnetic.
I sensed an awareness of skill and survivorhood..if there is such a
word ...in the fact that a couple of new pilots were killed and I was not,
and that dark clouds and rain and wind were like the granite walls of the
Rockies in that they were there to threaten me, but if I was brave, but not
stupid, I could meet the test and come out feeling like I had won the
"corrida" ...the bull fight.
My poor old ex- Airforce instructor, the same one who would pummel
me with a rolled up newspaper for sloppy turns, was turned to tears for the
task of writing to a mother in far off Holland to say why her dear boy was
dead and how and why.....teaching himself aerobatics...at 17....
I had instructors who came out of Korea...drank some...tough as
nails, and yet kindfully benevolent in the knowing that his peach faced
student would not likely face guns and death in the skies.....God Bless
America...do you really have any inkling of how lucky you are ??
When I would test myself, as a young mutthead, instead of street
racing, I would take off in the morning mist, on a very short rough grass
strip...windshield fogged and sensing when to pull back, would rise up off
the turf and the windshield would clear and I would climb to 10,000 to see
if I would need oxygen, shut the engine down and listen to the wind as a
glider pilot would....see the whole of the map below and see if a dive could
restart me.....No, it would not..and I had to revert to electric start and
modern technology......but still, I knew I could glide to a field if I had
I was but 17..........
I was a pilot, but a long way from a lover....girls were still
more a fear than a mere airplane or a V12...or a double row radial..........
I used to stand in the smoke of a radial starting up in the twilight
and watch the peacock blue of the flames from the pipes....bask in the smoke
of the bottom cylinders and think I was in heaven........
I wonder today what visceral pleasure and joy a young teen can seek
out today ?
I would stand by the gas pumps and see in the early darkness, the red and
green of the wingtip lights of some pilot coming home late.....the drumming
of the metal skins as he taxied was my kind of music.....I would be there
one day....and I was.....
I have friends who would not think of putting in any night time
lights, and I don't know why...
Flying at night where I live extends another hidden treat that must be seen
to be appreciated...
The city at night carves bright white highways beyond to the darkness which
we recognize as rush hour routes that normally hold no fun or beauty for us,
and a few blocks away, we see emerald colored lights of backyard swimming
pools, and Christmas lights, and out over the inky black water....ships at
anchor casting yellow beams from the cabins out to the dark.
A ship is a white dot leaving a phosphorescent wake behind, which
shows up surprisingly well in the night, and we wonder where is he bound ?
The heater in the RV keeps us in warm comfort with no worry about the
deadly cold and black water outside the canopy........the city is ablaze..it
goes on and on and red tail lights form a string as on a Christmas tree far
off into the nothingness.....
Only because I know the lay of the land, can I steer toward the
field way off in the dark...only a faint white beacon on the tower is what I
The blaze of lights from the city...as bright as the Ginza at
midnight, play a soft , white light on the cloudbase and we wonder how could
a cloud be white at night ?...this is why....
5 clicks on the mike and a double string of pearls blinks awake amid the
ink.....this is home strip, welcoming me come land and come home....nothing
else stirs or moves about this old WW2 airfield this hour...just me, the RV,
and at this point, a quiet exhaust note....slipping down to where the lights
meet my ears and the tires chirp....
How many instances are you totally alone with machine and elements and
no human voice and eerie quiet when the prop stops ?
What have we just done ? alone in the dark sky..faith in wind and
wings...snapshots in our mind's eye of what real beauty is and our place in
the ether of it all ?
What a faithful and wondrous companion and steed your airplane is, to
lift you above the metropolis and traffic and road noise to see light and
beauty in comfort and total happiness and deliver you back to land where
ghosts of time, fliers and airplanes lurk just off there in the mist and you
know, in heartfelt satisfaction that they accept you and you belong among
There are many faces and names out there....names no longer spoken...faces
Sometimes, being alone is not so bad....we sometimes speak more easily that
way...to our soul, and all the others who touched us in some way....
My very best wishes to all,.... would that I could fly with you....