Yesterday I met Danny, an old friend and colleague from the Virginia Society for Technology in Education, in Richmond to go flying in his plane. We headed to "The Farm" in Gloucester County where he keeps his plane along with 4 other small plane enthusiasts. Danny regaled me regarding how humidity makes it difficult for these planes to lift off, on how we would have to hop over power lines several times following fields before we gained enough altitude, on how unreliable two cycle engines are and how everyone in the group has had emergency landings! Suffice it to say that I was having doubts about this adventure especially when I saw EXPERIMENTAL
in large letters printed on the wing strut!

But, my faith in Danny prevailed and we took off (easily gaining altitude without hopping power lines) and headed to our destination; the Virginia Diner for lunch.

The Farm lies parallel to the York River about 5 miles west of the bridge at Yorktown. We headed south cruising at 2000 feet at 65 mph over the College of William and Mary and Jamestown on our way to Wakefield. What a sensation it is to be in a small plane with the cool breeze wafting around you looking straight down at rivers, towns, farms, ships, amusement parks and even a nuclear power plant.

We circled a farm belonging to one of Danny's friends, landed and called the Diner to come and pick us up for lunch!

As you might have guessed by now, Danny's plane is a small two seater make by RANS that he actually put together from a kit! Very impressive!! It has a 65 horsepower engine made in Switzerland mounted astern with a three blade propeller. It is designated an EXPERIMENTAL craft. One would think the aviation powers to be could have come up with a more reassuring name for this category of aircraft!

It is a pretty impressive flying machine and Danny has all of the gadgets; radio, intercom, gps, and a flying teddy bear (forgot to ask). These experimental craft even have a rocket propelled parachute that will lower the plane to the ground safely should the need arise. Danny and his buddies climb to 6000-7000 feet to cross the Chesapeake Bay; that way they can glide (7 to 1 ratio) to safety on the other side if need be. They travel far and wide as well, having taken several trips to Florida. I wonder if pilots name their planes like sailors their boats? Are planes female like sailboats? Does one say, "she flew like a charm today"?

After lunch, we headed north, flew over the Yorktown bridge and out across Mobjack Bay. We skimmed over the barrier islands and inlets at about 80 feet off the ground; what a rush! It was so cool to see this area from the air since I have sailed on Mobjack Bay and through the "Hole in the Wall" at Gwynn's Island.

We followed the swath of the May tornado that hit Gloucester County (destroying the middle school and many houses) back to The Farm where Bubba was waiting for us in the hangar. In the picture below, you can see the runway beginning as a green strip in the field, crossing the dirt road and continuing into the far field parallel to the road.

After listening to Bubba and Danny jawbone for awhile, it is clear Danny and his friends have a great time at The Farm working on their planes, sharing their expertise and flying in their EXPERIMENTAL craft together!

Thanks for a great time today Danny! Most of the time, I write about more mundane stuff in this blog, mainly as a way of documenting things Gretchen and I do. However, I believe what we did today can truly be classified as an adventure! It was also great to see you again!


BTW It seems to me that if you can fly that EXPERIMENTAL plane to Florida, you and Jamie could fly it easily to Lynchburg!

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1 comment:

  1. Way cool Dad, I bet Mom was a nervous wreck until you landed