My friend Bruce, who I play music with, promised to take me up for a spin in his plane, so today, with perfect blue skies and light winds, we made it happen.
I met him at his hangar where he keeps his 300 horsepower experimental tw0-seater sport plane at Northampton airport.
The plane gleamed showroom new, its fiberglass fuselage and wings bright white. Compared to the wrecks of planes that are tied up near the runway, out in the elements, Bruce’s plane looked great, though it was built out of a kit a decade earlier–it took six years to complete!
Bruce carefully went through the detailed list of his pre-flight inspection, and then he hooked a motorized device to the plane’s front wheel and rolled it out of the hangar into the sun.
He positioned a little cushion on one of the wings and motioned for me to climb in, and I noted the DO NOT STEP sign and made sure to avoid stepping on the flap. Soon we were revving up the engine with the brake on, following the items on his checklist and testing guages, knobs and fuel levels. Then it was time to line up and take off.
The powerful engine quickly got us airborne after we were only on the runway less than a minute. Our cruising altitude would be about 3000 feet, and below us the towers of UMass quickly fell away to the vast Quabbin reservoir. My job was to keep a continual visual out the windows above me to search for any other planes..but on this gorgeous day, there were none to be seen.
Our excursion took us up to Mt Snow and then we circled back and in no time at all we were above my South Deerfield house. After a few minutes we lined up to the number 14 on the runway and Bruce made a nice easy touch down.