Monday, April 7, 2008

Stealin' Grace

Last week I did something I haven't done in a loooong time... I cut out of work early and went flying just for the heck of it! The Washington area had had a string of grey, gloomy days (and that seems to have the effect of turning normally sane people into "Eyeores"). My crazy project at work was finally coming to an end, but my schedule hadn't filled back up with other stuff. Oh- and inexplicably, it was a beautiful blue sky day.

So after staring at my computer for a while after lunch-- without actually getting much done at all, I just shut it down (I discovered the next day that I didn't even click send on the email I was writing!) and left the office. I was torn between a nice indulgent mid-afternoon nap and a peaceful jaunt through the skies. I decided to do both! A quick 40 minute nap had me refreshed and ready for the flight. So I headed for the airport.

It was nice to be out there again. I took my time with the preflight. I'm a little embarassed to admit it, but I always greet our plane when I arrive. I love to see "the Dog" sitting out there on the ramp, with it's cute stubby nose. I whisper a little hello and give it a pat on the wing as I walk up, and feel like I'm greeting a dear old friend. (Does anyone else admit to such foolishness! Husband makes terrific fun of me for it!)

I decided to head somewhere familar- just to shake the rust off. It didn't matter much where I flew-- but I know that to enjoy the flight, I need a destination. So I picked Luray. It's a nice little airport, out in the country. It's only about 45 minutes away, the perfect length for a quick mid-week pick-me-up.

On the way out, there was a ton of traffic! Every time I glanced at the fish finder, there were more planes headed my way. Without Husband there to help me spot the planes, I felt a little out of sorts. But I eventually made it through the fray and headed on out. As soon as I got out from the Bravo, I went ahead and crossed over the ridge to the long skinny valley that Luray is in. It was comforting to fly somewhere that I could basically find by feel. The airport is about halfway down the valley between the last two of the long ridges that make up the geography of the area.

I landed without incident and taxied to the small ramp. Once on the ramp, I braked, but didn't shut off the engine. Instead, I turned the plane so that I could look out over the nearby farms. I opened the window and breathed in the cool late afternoon air. Ah. That was more like it! After a few deep refreshing breaths, I ran through my checklists and made my calls to back taxi to the end of the runway.

Taking off (of course I did a soft-field!), I felt much more relaxed and in control. While the flight down had been a bit stressful with all the traffic sightings, the flight back was exactly what I wanted: peaceful and full of grace. I felt alive again. Just me and the flocks of birds around me. I landed back at JYO feeling rested and happy. I found I was smiling again for the first time in ages. Too bad you can't bottle that feeling... Well, no, I take that back. Then we might take it for granted, and flying is way too amazing to take for granted!

Oh-- and of course, I thanked the plane as I said goodnight, stopping to lean my forehead against the strut for just a second.


flyaway said...

what an excellent way to end the day.
we've tried a couple of times to make it to luray and haven't yet. it's either been weather or breakdowns that have prevented it. from the chart it does look pretty close to the ridge beside it. i've been meaning to try it in FSX (flight sim) just to see what the approach looks like but haven't gotten to that yet either.

Head in the Clouds said...

It's kind of a strange approach-- one runway is right traffic, but not the one that you would think-- it's for a big tower or something. So you always fly next to the ridge, no matter what runway. Messes me up every time! It's a reasonably long runway- over 3000'. Somehow, though, it seems more challenging than most of the runways landed on that are that length. I've heard you can get a lift over to the caverns, but we haven't done that yet. Someday...