After our adventures, it was nice to walk into the warm familiarity of my mother-in-law's (S) house. I usually spend a lot of time cooking while I'm there-- partly because I'm really into cooking, partly because it's my established role, and partly because it's something to give structure and pass the time. It's been somehow easier to get to know each new sister-in-law (there are two others, now) if I have a spoon or a whisk in my hand. And early on, I started the tradition of providing tasty things to Husband's brothers to win them over. But this trip, I had something even better! A nice new-ish plane and a nice new-ish pilot's license!
So, to break up the days this trip, instead of the usual home improvement project that the brothers undertake for S, we decided to take a few trips out to the airfield. Friday was cloudy in the morning, but by the time we got underway, the clouds had started to lift enough for us to go give it a try. All four of us-- B, J, Husband and I went out to the airport, even though we knew only three of us would fly. I offered to let Husband go, but he thought they would be quite pleased if I took them.
The first challenge at the airport was getting fuel. The line guy had told us that self serve was $.80 less per gallon... which makes a big difference when you're buying 30 gallons or so! But this was our first experience with self serve. We talked about using the self serve when we flew to Bay Bridge-- until we found out that self serve there is $.25 MORE than full service. We managed to get the plane in the right spot, and get the ground placed correctly, and even figured out the trick to getting the fuel flow to start. It was pretty cool!
After fueling up, B, J, and I climbed back in and taxied out for departure. We put in a sort of zig-zag route into the GPS-- just so that we would have some sort of plan to follow... but really, we were just flying east, avoiding the TFR and the Charlie shelves... After takeoff, I extended out a ways to avoid these crazy tall towers (one of them was close to 2000 feet tall!) before turning right back towards our course. That took us right over Old Hickory Lake. This is one of the few times I've ever flown without a plan. Usually, we fly to go somewhere-- even if it's just to go check out another airport, or get lunch at some bad airport cafe. But there's almost always a real purpose to the flight-- even if we had to invent it ourselves. This was different. Though we had picked out an airport where we could land (ostensibly so B and J could switch seats), this was more just flying for the fun of it. So we sort of meandered along at about 1500 feet off the ground. We flew over the neighborhood where J's wife's parents live. And we flew over B & J's old boy scout camp. We went and looked at some sailboats, and B & J had me fly over a certain spot so they could see the "Crab"-- I'm still not sure what it was, but apparently it's some building that is built with all sorts of funny angles. After a little while, we decided to head back to the airport. I couldn't tell at that point if they were enjoying the experience-- they were both very quiet through all of this, but they both later affirmed that they had a great time.
The return to JWN was the most exciting part of the trip! JWN is right on the tip of BNA's airspace... and since we had been flying along the outside of the airspace, I figured we'd continue that arc and then turn back to make a 45 entry to the pattern for landing on 02. This was going reasonably well until a plane took off just as we were cross the extended centerline of the runway. Still shouldn't have been a problem-- if that plane had bothered to make any consistent calls or follow the proper pattern procedures. But no, that plane was an aerobatic plane (we assume, anyway), and it proceeded to make very sudden sharp turns in all directions-- including straight up-- all within 2 miles of the airport! Luckily, B and J were quite good at spotting traffic, and helped me keep tabs on the guy... but it was crazy! Every time I'd get established, he'd all of a sudden turn toward me, or cross my path, or something. The traffic warning was freaking out by this point-- trying to keep up with all the changes. And it was clear that this other plane was a lot faster than mine, too. Thankfully, we finally shook that plane (after calling out our position every 30 seconds or so- we had NO idea if he saw us!). There was another plane in the pattern as well-- that had come from the opposite direction. After a slight moment of panic when I thought we were on a 2 mile 45, but there was no runway in front of me, I readjusted my mental map to the right and entered a left downwind and managed to fly a nice pattern and land.
I was worried B and J might think I was a bad pilot because of all the craziness with the other guy. But I needn't have been-- the first thing they told Husband when he walked up was about this crazy aerobatics guy that was doing loops around our plane! Maybe a little embellishment, but hey, isn't that flying (fish) tales are all about?! :)