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  #71  
Old 08-27-2019, 11:45 AM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default 12. Open Doors

The son met up with a train of preschool children being escorted through an intersection by their teachers and a pair of crossing guards. Some of the children were wearing cow costumes in honor of Cow Appreciation Day. Crossing the intersection with the children, the son continued walking back through the freeway construction zone and toward the Oak Hill Cemetery. Through the corroded bars of steel surrounding the cemetery, the son caught sight of the white Sonoma parked inside.



After walking through the gate, he found a nearby sarcophagus bearing an epitaph with dates that reversed the lifespan of the occupant. At the Resurrection, thought the son, the timelessness of rebirth and life everlasting would indeed reverse everything chronological through countless ages and altogether put a stop to the ticking of time.



The son drove back to the Shelby County Airport, bidding farewell to Birmingham to his left.



After handing the keys back to Judy later that afternoon, the son topped off the Dove, then taxied out for departure. Weather to the north looked good, and he made a right turnout after taking off from Runway 34, climbing out over the cumulus and leveling off in the cool smooth air at 13,500 feet. There was plenty of convective activity to the east, but over Tennessee and beyond, nothing factored into his northerly course.





The son began a descent into Lebanon, Kentucky (6I2), but as he neared the airport and listened to the AWOS report there, the remarks section mentioned that they were having a large radio-controlled aircraft convention on the field, and there were taxiing instructions to avoid all of the vendor tents set up on the field.

The son quickly diverted to the northwest and extended his descent for another 24 miles. On the downwind leg, he looked to the starboard and caught sight of some black buildings that were so large and imposing that they made the entire countryside appear like some kind of surreal toy town. Then he made a military base-to-final for Runway 21, arriving at Bardstown, Kentucky (BRY) after another 1.8 hours of flying for the day.





The son taxied up to the pumps to top off. There was a little 4-year-old girl riding around by the FBO on a tiny bike with training wheels. Behind her, an equally tiny Yorkshire Terrier trotted along. The father watched them doing circles on the ramp as he stood near the open hangar door of the FBO, Bluegrass Aviation. When the son parked Descending Dove and walked inside, he noticed an access code keypad. The little girl and her father were somewhere behind the big hangar as he entered the building.





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RV-8 N898W Descending Dove

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  #72  
Old 08-27-2019, 11:47 AM
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Default 12. Open Doors

In the back area of the FBO was a kitchen area where a young student pilot was studying for his written exam. The son walked back out into the lobby and found the little girl's father there. He was a somewhat portly man in his early thirties wearing shorts and a blue short-sleeved work shirt. The son introduced himself. The young man's name was Cory.

"Do you have after-hours access to the FBO?" asked the son.

Behind the counter, Cory appeared puzzled. "What do you mean?" he said.

"There's a keypad outside the door. If somebody lands and needs to get in here, can they?"

"Oh," said Cory as if stricken by sudden revelation, "no, that thing doesn't work anymore. I think there was some issue with the Wi-Fi or something and it doesn't work."

The son thought about that statement for a moment. "I see," he said. "Well," he continued, "is there a place where I can pitch a tent around here?"

Cory appeared caught off-guard and a little confused. The son was looking through the glass as he watched the little girl heading across the tarmac toward the pumps with her Yorkshire.

"We have a really nice state park nearby, and there's another park just outside of town," suggested Cory.

"No, I mean right here on the field," said the son.

Cory shook his head, but it was a head-shake filled more with uncertainty or ambivalence than it was of negation. "No," he said, "but I can give you a courtesy car for the night and you can camp in the state park." He paused for a moment. "It's a really nice state park!" he said with sudden emphasis.

The son changed the subject. "Hey, what are all those big black buildings I saw over there when I came in?"

"Rickhouses."

"What?"

"Rickhouses. They use them stack up barrels of bourbon to let them cure."

"Oh, that's right!" said the son with realization. "That famous Kentucky bourbon."

Cory nodded. "There's thousands of rickhouses around here. They collapse all the time. In fact, one just collapsed a few days ago. There's bourbon flowing into the Ohio River right now."

The son looked outside at the Dove and considered his options. He thanked Cory and walked out to the tarmac. He could see the little girl playing with her dog near another large hangar south of the pumps. It was very hot and humid outside, and the son could feel the onset of perspiration as soon as he began venturing toward the plane. He thought about taking Cory up on his offer to use a courtesy car, but the thought of spending another night outside in the heat disappointed him. As he wiped down the Dove and felt his shirt soaking through with sweat, that thought became even more bothersome.

"Father," he said, "please send me somebody so I won't have to sleep in a tent tonight." Then he finished wiping down and inserted the cowl plugs, replaced the canopy cover, and walked back over to the FBO to cool off. Inside, Cory was standing there in the lobby.

"There's another option for you if you're interested," he said.

"Oh? What's that?"

"If you don't mind sleeping in a homeless shelter, it's air-conditioned and you'll have a bed for the night. They even feed you."

"Are you serious?" the son asked.

Cory told the son that he was. He told him that a lady involved in the local homeless ministry was on her way over. That was her son in the other room studying for his private pilot written exam. She would be there in a few minutes if he wanted to see about staying the night in the homeless shelter.

"Sure," said the son. "That sounds great."

A short time later, a woman in her forties with close-cropped, peppered hair stepped in. Her name was Dee. As the son was having a conversation in the kitchen with the young student pilot, Cory explained the situation to Dee and asked about the arrangements. Then the son walked back out into the lobby and introduced himself.

"Cory tells me you want to stay the night at our homeless shelter," said Dee, shaking the son's hand.

"Sure, if you don't mind," said the son.

"We have to do background checks on all of our tenants, so can I have your driver's license? Oh, and I need to ask you a few questions . . . don't take it personally, but I have to ask them: Are you in any way a fugitive running from the law? Are there any police out looking for you?"

The son handed Dee his driver's license and shook his head. Dee told him that she had to get him registered quickly, so if he had any belongings to take with him, he should get them ready. Cory handed the son a set of keys for the courtesy car.

"It's parked around back," said Cory. "The black Malibu."

"Thanks," said the son. He took the keys and walked back out to the Dove to get his flight bag which also contained toiletries for the night. He pulled back the canopy cover and slid open the canopy. "Thank you, Father," he said. "Thank you so much!"

Cory was closing up the big hangar where the Carbon Cub and Cirrus were parked. Dee stood outside the FBO waiting, and when the son walked up with his flight bag, she turned and pulled on the door handle to get back inside. The door was locked and Cory walked over. Dee reached up and punched a few numbers into the keypad. She opened the door.

The son looked at Cory. Cory did not look back at him. They all walked inside. "You'll be staying tonight with Justin," said Dee. "He's a really, really nice guy. Right now, he's the only other person besides yourself who's registered." She told the son to follow her into town in the courtesy car. They needed to get started right away because people were already there waiting for the homeless to arrive.

"Okay," said the son. He walked out to the Chevy Malibu and popped open the trunk and put his flight bag inside. Dee was driving a little blue car that looked toy-like, almost like something that had been made so adults could have something to play with. The son followed Dee off the airport and into Bardstown, driving down a main thoroughfare until they came to a round-about and turned into the downtown area where brick buildings lined the street and American flags angled out from the old flat brown faces of shops and parlors. They turned right onto a side street and parked across from a military history museum. They were at the First Presbyterian Church, the staging and registration area for the shelter.

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RV-8 N898W Descending Dove

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  #73  
Old 08-27-2019, 11:48 AM
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Default 12. Open Doors

The son got out and opened the car trunk. Dee took him inside where they met a host of volunteers and a few people who needed assistance. One man, Greg, said he fell off his bike and scraped up his arm. He needed someone to bandage him. Dee looked up and listened intently to his story about the accident. Justin, the son's bunkmate, sat at a table with an unlit cigarette dangling from his lips.



After checking in the son, one of the volunteers pointed him over to a jug of lemonade on the far table. There was a short period of mingling and socializing as Dee introduced the son to the group, explaining that he was from California and had just flown in to Bardstown that evening and needed a place to stay. After fifteen minutes, the registration process was complete and another volunteer told the son to gather his bags for a ride to the shelter.

"I might see you tomorrow," said Dee. "I'll be going to the airport with my son who's finishing off his solo cross country requirement."

"Thank you for helping me, Dee. It means a lot."

"You're welcome. Have a good night."

The son was taken to the homeless shelter which was only a few blocks away in the basement of the old Baptist Church. A volunteer escorted him down the steps to the shelter where they entered and were greeted by another group of volunteers who were setting up.



The son was introduced and asked to set his bag on any one of the six beds that were arranged along the back wall. Dinner was about to be served. He was shown the bathroom where he could clean up. Justin, the son's bunkmate, prepared his own bed as volunteers began serving dinner. There was Connie, the female supervisor for night, and Dwayne, her male counterpart; Denise and Dean, a happy couple who spoke lovingly of their affinity for Bardstown and their association with the Baptist Church there; their sons, Corey and Cole who were in high school and enjoying their summer vacation; Bonnie, a sweet lady who helped with the cooking that night by preparing ham and eggs, hash browns, two pies for dessert, and iced tea. Dwayne enjoyed talking about the Gospel, his walk of faith, Kentucky history, and critters of the wild including some of the South's hornets, bees, and Japanese beetles. At one point, he took the son outside to show him how birds known as Chimney Swifts dove into the old chimneys nearby as the sun went down.



At dinner, Corey, a high school sophomore, wanted to know how his macaroni and cheese dish turned out. Everyone was very complimentary of it. After dinner, Cole had everyone line up for a group photo, and everyone obliged.



After all the dishes were put away and the tables wiped off, the volunteers headed home, leaving only Dwayne and Connie with Justin and the son. The door to the shelter was locked, and everyone prepared for bed. Connie told the men goodnight and disappeared to the women's quarters in front of the kitchen. Dwayne went to sleep while the son checked TAFs in the area for the following day.



Justin and Dwayne were both already snoring heavily by the time the son walked over to his bed. He was very thankful for the cool, air-conditioned shelter and for the hot meal that was served him. He looked over at the beds along the back wall and saw them sitting there white and empty and ready for others who would certainly be seeking their comfort in the days to come. For himself, and for the moment, there came only one other thought as he turned off the light and tiptoed toward a corner mattress.



"Thank you, Father," said the son.

And he lay down and closed his eyes in the cool darkness of rest---rest that held the promise of another day beyond the hinges of a locked basement door.
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RV-8 N898W Descending Dove

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  #74  
Old 08-28-2019, 02:20 PM
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Default 13. Waiting







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  #75  
Old 08-28-2019, 02:22 PM
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Default 13. Waiting

At six o'clock the next morning, Justin's alarm and the son's went off at exactly the same moment on their cell phones. Both reached over and turned them off. The son could hear movement in the shelter as Justin and Dwayne got up and dressed. When the son smelled a pot of coffee brewing, he got up too and went through the kitchen to use the restroom. Dwayne was warming up a batch of Jimmy Dean sausage and egg sandwiches and he offered one to the son when he came out. The son drank his coffee in gulps. He felt rested and alive and refreshed, and the early breakfast with real coffee he thought a very special treat.

"Thank you, Dwayne," said the son.

"Sure," he said. "Help yourself to more if you want it. We have plenty."

Soon, Connie came out of the women's quarters, and the four of them were having breakfast together.

"So what are your plans for the day?" Connie asked.

The son considered. "Well, I'd like to explore Bardstown a little before I head back over to the airport. After that, all bets are off."

"Where are you headed to next?" said Dwayne.

"Right now, I have no idea," the son replied. "When I get back over to the airport and check weather, I might get an answer. But now?" The son pursed his lips and shook his head.

After breakfast, the son wished his hosts well and thanked them for their invitation to stay at the shelter. Justin, who owned a red Dodge Charger from the 1970's, went out to warm up the engine and have a cigarette. Then the son received hugs from Connie and Dwayne, picked up his bags, and walked out of the basement and up into the stickiness of a Kentucky morning. Justin dropped him off at the Presbyterian Church where the courtesy car was still parked. Like everything else outdoors, it was covered with a warm condensation. The son dropped his flight bag into the trunk and closed the lid. Then he began walking.

Right across from the Impala was a military museum. The son's footsteps through Bardstown began there and worked through the downtown area, then in the direction of the airport.







The city of Bardstown sported itself on a slogan that justified the many rickhouses in the area, and in the air that morning the son could smell the fermentation of bourbon mash, the sugary-sweet drippings of the dew all around him.







There was a great deal of building improvements being made in Bardstown, and the son could feel the vibration of life and commerce, like a plucked chord on a finely tuned harp, resounding about him. At the St. Joseph Cathedral and school, a new parking area was being prepared, and much of the beautiful brickwork was getting a major facelift.







A tree-cutting crew was in the process of removing limbs by crane in front of an old stone house that would otherwise have remained hidden under the darkness and shade of the century-old hardwood. Workers looked up and waited for a limb to swing their way.

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RV-8 N898W Descending Dove

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  #76  
Old 08-28-2019, 02:24 PM
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Default 13. Waiting

The son took a turn to the south down a quiet, traffic-free road where a sign directed him to the Barton Distillery, originally built in 1792. The road led to the back of the distillery where deliveries were made. However, a guard shack forced him to turn back toward town where he walked in the dappled sunlight past homes that seemed to be just waking up.







Behind the Bardstown visitor's center, the son found a quaint veterans memorial awash in the hot morning sun.





The son switched back through a nearby neighborhood to reach the courtesy car.



He climbed into the Impala, started it up, and began driving the outskirts. His first stop was near a Civil War museum where the son found a mysterious lone cross tucked away in a forested niche, marking a nameless but obviously loved and cared-for soul awaiting resurrection in the blazing promise of a new day.





He drove past the Old Kentucky Home State Park that Corey, the FBO owner, had mentioned the previous day.



Eventually, the son stopped outside of town at the Heaven Hill Distillery. He got out to get a closer look at some of the rickhouses there. Inside, thousands upon thousands of barrels sat waiting---waiting for time and age and temperance to do their work. And just as the world waited patiently to take the first sips of the bourbon that lay beyond the white mildewed walls, so, too, did the son feel a resurrection within his own aging body---a smooth, sudden, and long-anticipated flash of flavor in his soul that transformed the bland whiff of his own death to a life that would never end. Like the sarcophagi in Israel, the bourbon tombs sat waiting.

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  #77  
Old 08-28-2019, 02:26 PM
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Default 13. Waiting

The son turned from the rickhouses and got back into the Impala. He drove back to the airport, parked the courtesy car, and got out. It was time to depart Bardstown.



As he began checking weather in the pilots lounge, a cardinal landed on the edge of a window sill just outside. In frustrated bursts of wing-flutter and pecking at the glass, the bird seemed to be expressing a strong desire to come inside. It flew away and returned for a repeat performance every five or ten minutes. Corey called the cardinal, Our Little Friend. It had been pecking at the windows for months.



Soon, the son was packing up the Dove and beginning a pre-flight inspection. Dee showed up at the airport with her husband. They both came out to see their son arrive from his first solo cross-country, including a first solo landing at a towered airport. He touched down in a C-172 and taxied over to the pumps. Dee recorded the entire taxi sequence by the Dove.



After thanking Dee for providing such generous accommodations the night before, the son boarded and strapped in. He waited for Dee and her husband to congratulate their young pilot, watching from the Dove's open canopy before cranking over, taxiing out to Runway 21, and taking off. Bardstown and the iconic Barton Distillery disappeared behind him.





The son quickly realized the late start that morning would probably curtail his flight. It did. Thunderstorm activity was growing rapidly all around him.







Hoping to hurdle a few cells to the southwest, he climbed all the way to 14,500 feet but quickly realized it was no use. In only twenty minutes of flight, the son could see a massive wall of convection developing further on---a wall from which even high-flying airlines would have to divert. After only a 176-mile flight, he was being squeezed down to the ground by bad weather. So he found a large hole and spiraled through the columns where an airport waited below.



The son taxied up to the pumps and shut down. He was at the Carroll County Airport (HZD), southeast of McKenzie, Tennessee. Somebody walked out of the FBO building and approached the Dove as he was tabulating numbers. It was the airport manager.

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  #78  
Old 08-28-2019, 02:31 PM
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Default 13. Waiting

He was a large man in his fifties with a full head of hair, wearing glasses and a dark tee-shirt that was sweat-soaked around the neck. The man approached as if he had been sitting in the FBO waiting for the son to show up. He said something in such a thick southern accent that the son did not understand him.

"I'm sorry," said the son, "what was that?"

"I say you build this yissaylf?"

"Yes sir," the son replied.

"You got the fool haul keeyut?" said the man.

"The what?"

"The keeyut with all the hauls. The fool haul keeyut."

"Oh!" the son said, a little embarrassed by his own inability to decipher English from the Tennessee drawl. "The pre-punched kit, no. I had to drill all the holes in the ribs and bulkheads. I guess they make the kits now so you can just Cleco it all together on saw horses and go to town!"

His name was Tommy. The two shook hands. Tommy told the son that he, too, was an RV-8 builder but the project was not yet completed. He needed an engine, and there was still a lot of finishing work to do. As the son topped off the Dove's fuel tanks, Tommy told him about being the airport manager there at Carroll County for 32 years. He also used to be a CFII and a former Designated Pilot Examiner. Now he was enjoying a simpler life as just the airport manager and working on his RV-8 project whenever time allowed.

"Would you like to see it?"

"Sure," said the son, "I always enjoy admiring other builders' projects!"

Tommy asked the son what his plans were, and the son pointed to the sky. He told him that he wasn't too confident about flying for much of the day with the weather the way it was. So Tommy asked the son if he wanted to put the Dove in his hangar.

"Is there a place to sleep inside the FBO?" the son asked. Tommy told him there was. So the son climbed back in, cranked over, and taxied down to Tommy's hangar and pushed her inside. "Thank you, sir!" said the son.



"Come on upstairs," said Tommy. He led the son to the back of the hangar and up a staircase which opened up into a shop. One room held the completed wings and the completed canopy. Back downstairs in another room was Tommy's RV-8 fuselage. "Still need to fit the weeyunscreen," said Tommy. "Just gotta get around ta doin? 'er."



Back at the FBO, Tommy showed the son the pilot lounge and a shower stall, the kitchen and pantry, and the conference room. The restrooms were in the main hallway. The son thanked him for his help, then he sat down to relax in the cool of the conference room where he looked again at the weather and read for a time. Tommy went about his business running the airport as the skies began to threaten rain.



A crop duster landed and parked his Ag Cat next to a semi trailer filled with chemicals. His brother showed up later by car. Matt, a young curly-headed pilot with a swagger to his walk, was a little ruffled by not being able to spray with the weather coming in. He was going to have to wait for the storm to blow through. Mack, his brother who assisted on the ground with hopper fills, decided to wait out the storm with him. Tommy came out of his office and sat down with the two in the lobby. They talked for about 30 minutes. Then, from the conference room, the son noticed that it had suddenly become quiet out there. He got up and found out why.



The short nap Tommy and Matt were taking ended with a bang. A squall line passed over the airport and brought with it a healthy dose of lighting and thunder. The son watched from the conference room.



At about 4:00 PM, Tommy gave the son a set of keys to a Ford minivan parked outside and invited him to go into town for something to eat. He handed the son a detailed, hand-drawn map that Tommy had sketched especially for him.

"This heeyur's a Mexican food place, there's a Mack-Donald's over heeyur, or you can go to the all-you-can eat buffet at the Old Western Steak House." The son thanked Tommy and headed outside where it was still raining. He was very hungry.



The son drove from the airport into McKenzie and decided to have dinner at the steak house. He ate a full dinner with a medium-rare steak, plenty of vegetables, strawberry shortcake for dessert and some ice cream to top it off. A light rain was still falling outside when he left. He drove into the center of town and parked the van. Then he got out and started walking.

Beyond a small gazebo that squatted in the town square, one of several veterans memorials could be seen. The son started exploring McKenzie there.







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RV-8 N898W Descending Dove

Last edited by Scott Chastain : 10-08-2020 at 07:27 PM.
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  #79  
Old 08-28-2019, 02:32 PM
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Default 13. Waiting

A bomber crash near McKenzie during WWII was memorialized on a plane-shaped slab of granite. On the reverse side were the engraved names of those who perished during the larger global conflicts of the Twentieth Century.




The markers of veterans whose eternal rest had come, who awaited resurrection after serving America through the most grueling conflicts in world history, paved the walkways of the park. The son's eyes swept over the names of the departed as he moved toward the street.



Then the son took in the sights of McKenzie as a light drizzle covered the pavement, the buildings, the walks, with a veil of moisture.









Near the center of McKenzie rested an old train depot. The concrete ramp, where countless people once stood and paced and hugged and smiled and laughed with the clatter of rail travel, lay cracked and buckled and shattered, it seemed, by the weight of impatience, by waiting itself.





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Old 08-28-2019, 02:33 PM
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Default 13. Waiting







After driving back to the airport and parking the minivan, the son got out and entered the FBO where he found it empty. Tommy had gone home for the evening, and the crop dusting crew had tied down the plane and deferred their work to the following day.





The son walked back outside and wandered behind the perimeter fence to the checkered water tower at the top of a small rise.



There, he turned to face the flightline and saw the long dark dissipation of overcast that stretched out beyond a distant tree line.



As he walked back to the FBO, a Tennessee State Trooper approached, landed, and shut down his chopper near the fuel pumps.



The pilot towed the plane back into the large hangar adjacent to the FBO, closed the door, and departed. The son had the airport to himself for the rest of the night.

After the sun went down, he walked to one end of the runway. A wind sock glowed brightly under spotlights as if performing a solo act on a blackened stage, and the convergence of direction a mile away sent a thrill of heightened anticipation through the son's body. He was thankful for the dying day. It was nearly over now. But tomorrow must come.



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