What an awesome weekend it has been… when you get to spend time with friends and fly the Cirrus, you really can’t ask for more. Saturday morning I woke to a gorgeous Denver Sunrise and knew it was a great day to fly. As I took this photo from my balcony, Rodney Atkins “Take a back road” was streaming from my laptop on Pandora. The combo was pretty epic 😉
Weekend mornings at Centennial Airport hold a lot of potential… there is a feeling of adventure, even if you are just there to have breakfast at Perfect Landing. There are usually a lot of student pilots in the pattern, families showing future pilots the planes on the ramp and people just enjoying the view. This morning, while I was hungry for french toast, there was no time to head to breakfast and hangar talk. I had already booked 315AR from 9:30 to 12:30 so I grabbed the keys and walked out to pre-flight the loveliest of all aircraft on the line. Armed in my coziest fleece, I checked circuit breakers, removed my CAPS pin, ran my hands over the smooth composite aircraft and completed my pre-flight inspection. A quick and easy cold start of the engine meant I was off and running, information Foxtrot.
I decided to make a Southeast departure out of Centennial down to La Junta for a couple hours of VFR cross-country time. Wind calm, blue skies, friendly controllers… this morning was truly a pilot’s dream. This photo sums up the flight to La Junta:
Part of being an IFR pilot includes 50 hours of solo cross country time as pilot in command, so I need a lot of time just flying for the sake of flying. Going to airports out of the Denver area and becoming more astute with my situational awareness, airspace, radio communication, decision making and confidence are all skills that will come with this type of flying. I think I am getting close, my instructor John would be really proud of me if I ever totaled up my log book! I should do that when I am finished writing this entry!
La Junta is an uncontrolled airport, so I listened to the automated weather about 30 miles to the North then at 10 miles out, I made a call on the Unicom channel to alert other air traffic that I would be landing on runway 26, making left turns in the pattern and performing touch and go’s. I was the only one flying at the airport that morning, so I continued to make my calls, practicing my landings, and just enjoying the plane.
This was an incredibly simple flight, no instrument plates, no ILS approaches, no complicated clearances… it was just time to fly the Cirrus. It may sound silly, but I get chills thinking about how much I love the entire process. The feel of the moment the wheels touch down, the sound of the engine as you go full power, flaps back to 50%, the I made my last call out of La Junta and headed Northwest for a smooth landing on 17L at Centennial.
As the sun set over Denver tonight, this was the view of the moon and sunset from my apartment… I am always fascinated by the color gradient where blue is no longer blue and yellow is no longer yellow. Several planes cruised through this view, adding the perfect touch to this scene.
A few hours later, it is now Sunday night, around 9pm and I am wrapped in blankets with my pup sleeping against my leg while I write this entry. I should order the wiener dog sized oxygen mask for the Cirrus… 😉
Just like Saturday’s flight was about simple pleasures and the love of flight, these kinds of back to basics evenings bring an equal amount of joy to my day.
I’ll let Mr. Lindbergh close it out… I’m just in that dreamy kind of mood 😉
Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved. There was science in each curve of an airfoil, in each angle between strut and wire, in the gap of a spark plug or the color of the exhaust flame. There was freedom in the unlimited horizon, on the open fields where one landed. A pilot was surrounded by beauty of earth and sky. He brushed treetops with the birds, leapt valleys and rivers, explored the cloud canyons he had gazed at as a child. Adventure lay in each puff of wind.
I began to feel that I lived on a higher plane than the skeptics of the ground; one that was richer because of its very association with the element of danger they dreaded, because it was freer of the earth to which they were bound. In flying, I tasted a wine of the gods of which they could know nothing. Who valued life more highly, the aviators who spent it on the art they loved, or these misers who doled it out like pennies through their antlike days? I decided that if I could fly for ten years before I was killed in a crash, it would be a worthwhile trade for an ordinary life time.
— Charles A. Lindbergh, ‘The Spirit of St. Louis.