The Good. There have been a panoply of "goods," including many of which I've shared here. The first flight (November 15, 2000, N94589, C-152, .5 hours at BKL). There's the obligatory first solo story. There was the sightseeing flight in Las Vegas during AIA 2004. And, of course, the Great Alaska Adventure (tm) with the Dadster. I'd be remiss if I didn't also include the acquisition of Mike Hotel and the flight home over Memorial Day 2006 (posts here, here, and here.
The Bad. Topping the list would be the crash in Lethbridge. No, not the IFR Pilot's crash, but the crash of the gentlemen in the Long-Eze while I was preparing to test fly 78S after our encounter with a rough running engine. Believe you me, you don't ever want to fly over the smoking wreckage of an airplane crash. Oh, and the Pink Slip on my instrument checkride wasn't a particularly high point in my aviation career, either.
The Just (Plane) Weird. So here's a story that I haven't shared with you, my loyal and faithful readers. It was May of 2005, and the IFR Pilot was out for his first Angel Flight. It involved a flight from Carrol County, Ohio to Eagle Creek Airpark in Indianapolis. My passenger was en route home from New York, where she had been receiving treatment for Lyme Disease.
I rendezvoused with the linking pilot on time. The passenger seemed like a nice lady as I help her into 78S. She was not unattractive, perhaps 5'5" or 5'6", thin and lithe, with longish hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. Dressed casually, as you'd expect for someone about to be crammed into a light airplane for the better part of several hours.
Walking was obviously painful for her, and she maintained balance with the use of dual walking sticks. I invited her to take the right front seat, explaining that she would be free to have PIC responsibilities for the satellite radio, but she demurred in favor of the rear seat, saying she'd probably zonk out for the flight. OK, no problem by me.
So, after getting her strapped in and her luggage on board, we blasted off for Eagle Creek. Twasn't a long flight, maybe 2.5 hours or so, and she said nary a word to me, having eschewed the headset in favor of ear plugs. I peeked back occasionally to make sure she was OK, and each time she appeared to be fast asleep.
I politely roused her when we were about 15 minutes from touchdown. She donned her headset and we chatted briefly about her condition, how she contracted it (hiking in the Mountain West), and the various ways in which she fought to reclaim some semblance of normalcy in her day-to-day activities. I tried not to ask too many questions, but rather to let her talk about whatever was on her mind. Just because I'm flying people doesn't mean that I have the right to ask about their personal details. But, I'm a good listener and I think she liked sharing.
We landed without incident, and retired to the FBO. She was to wait for her ride and I was waiting for a top off of 100LL. We talked some more and then her ride arrived. I bid her adieu, and she said she'd be traveling for more follow-up treatment, perhaps I could volunteer to fly her again. I was flattered, after all, this was my first Angel Flight and I really wasn't quite sure how it would turn out. So, I guessed that it went well.
So, I wasn't all that surprised when a few days later, an envelope arrived with a return address in the Indy area. I assumed it was a thank you card, which it was.
What I wasn't prepared for was the letter inside. After expressing her personal thanks for the flight, she then went on to say something like this:
I can't believe I'm writing this, as I know nothing about your personal life. Perhaps you are in a relationship, perhaps not. But I thought you were very handsome and kind. There's quite some distance between us, obviously, yet I wonder if you might be interested in dating me.Gulp. Am I seriously reading this? Have I just been asked out -- by letter -- from a woman living hundreds of miles from me that I have only talked to for maybe an hour? It reminded me of a letter I got from a stalker ex-girlfriend when I was in middle school (but that's a story for another day). Sure, I was flattered, but I was also weirded out.
So, I did the most mature thing I could do: I just ignored the offer and didn't respond.
Don't hate. Maybe you would have done something different, but I didn't. Clearly, I couldn't date her. First, I was already involved. Second, dating a passenger has to violate some sort of Angel Flight ethical code. Third, even if those didn't apply, maybe this was nothing more than a manifestation of some Florence Nightingale syndrome. Thanks, but no thanks, I'd rather not have any part of that.
There you have it, my best Just Plane Weird story. Now, what's the topic for the next group theme post, y'all?