One of the things I’ve been wanting to do as a private pilot is land the Cherokee on a grass strip, just like my grandfather and father did all the time. My path to becoming a pilot was different than the rest of my family members’ in that I learned to fly at a towered airfield with a really long hunk of concrete that we called the runway. My dad and grandfather learned on grass strips that were basically mowed sections of grass alongside a farmer’s field and as best as I can remember, they never talked on the radio. I know neither even had radios in their homebuilt airplanes.
This weekend, the Recreational Aviation Foundation worked in conjunction with their owners of the Boonville Airport, located in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, to host the annual pig roast at this small airport. Located about 30 miles from home, this is the airport’s way of reaching out to the community to let folks know what goes on at and around these two strips of mowed grass in the woods. I like community involvement like this.
Lsat year Earl and I drove up and had a lot of fun with our fellow pilots and friends. This year I decided it was time to fly the Cherokee up there and land there myself. Since I had only simulated soft-field take-offs and landings on a hard surface, I asked our friend Russ, who is a flight instructor, to go up with me and shoot some landings and take-offs from the grass strip so I could ramp up my comfort level and get in and out of there safely. Mother Nature decided that she had better plans, and Russ and I scratched three planned flights last week due to weather. On Friday I decided that I was going to break out of my comfort zone and figure it out on my own, sort of the next step in confidence building and playing around with the airplane.
Getting in and out of Boonville Airport on Saturday morning turned out to be an very enjoyable adventure. I brought the airplane down onto the grass strip with ease. Russ encouraged me on the radio a little bit and my fellow pilots from the flight club were alongside the runway watching my first landing on grass. All turned out very well and I felt great. When it was time to go, my short-field take off went equally as well and I decided to go play around with the airplane in the local practice area before heading back to home base, where I had another beautiful landing on the familiar hunk of concrete. It was like a butterfly setting down ever so gently on a hot tin roof.
Every time I fly I discover something new about myself, something new about flying the airplane and something new about flight in general. I never tire of it and I often find myself daydreaming about the next time I can go flying.
I’ve started working on the next step of my piloting career and have started studying for my instrument rating. I hope to be flying in the clouds before the end of 2016.
Life is full of adventure and I intend on not missing a minute of it.