As has become custom with my flying club (Club Cherokee), the Thurdsay nearest the longest day of the year was once again time for the annual Thursday Flyers trip to East Gull Lake airport.Â Since I’m bumping up on accruing the maximum vacation I can bank and I haven’t been flying as much as I’d like, I decided to leave work a little early and participate in this year’s trip.Â I have gone a couple of times in the past and really enjoyed it.
I took the whole afternoon off.Â I wasn’t current to carry passengers and needed to get a couple of take-offs and landings in if I hoped to actually pilot on the trip.Â So I got to the airport around 3:00 where I found a couple members already there.Â Although it was a bit warm on the ground, I decided I should go ahead and take the plane out for a couple of times around the pattern.
They had already started some construction at the airport, and the winds were moving around enough that I got a little excitement during my practice.Â I even got some additional excitement when suddenly the pattern got a little busy, tower changed the landing runways, and another aircraft entering the airport didn’t quite follow their directions.Â But it’s always nice to know that I can handle improvising with the tower controllers when something like that happens.
Finally it was time to head back in.Â By the time I got back to the hangar, all the other aircraft were out and much of the gang had arrived.Â It turned out that the aircraft I was using wasn’t going on the trip…so I turned around and moved it to the back of the line.Â After finding another plane and a partner, it was decided that I’d fly out, and he’d fly back.
We couldn’t have asked for a nicer night for flying.Â The wind already seemed to be waning and the air was much smoother than it can be during the summer days.Â The trip up went fairly quickly.Â Although we were the first to taxi out, we were in the Warrior, so we weren’t the first to arrive! (However we weren’t the last!)Â And although the approach can be tricky and it had been quite a while since I’d done a soft field landing, things went really smoothly. (And thank goodness, because everyone already there was watching!).
We shuttled over to Cragun’s for a nice dinner and chance to all visit with one another.Â We had a new member along and it was great to meet him as well as catch up on some pilot stories from many of the other members.Â Then it was time to head back to the strip and get ready to make the trip home.Â This time it was my buddy’s turn to fly, so I got to look around.Â We were off the ground well before sunset, but it seemed just after a front was passing through.Â Off to one side we saw a great rainbow, and to the other, well…it’s views like this that make it all seem worthwhile: