Monday, July 21, 2008

My Tri-Pacer

Shortly after we got married, A decided that I needed to get serious about flying. I had been taking lessons for a short time, but was unable to use our current airplane (a Cessna 175) because we had to do a top-overhaul on it (but that's another story). He didn't want to break in the new cylinders with a "student pilot" on his baby, so he bought me my own plane for my birthday (it wasn't exactly what I wanted, but it was pretty cool anyway...).

He found this Tri-Pacer that was in pretty good condition, flying-wise, but was pretty hideous on the outside. I called it "Gawd-Awful Blue." I started learning to fly that plane and I loved it.

The day I did my solo, A was confident in my abilities, but I wasn't quite convinced. After we had done some dual, he had me drop him off at the local sky-dive office (where he worked part-time flying their 182) so he could talk to the owner. He told me to take the plane back to the tie-down, but if I wanted to, I "could take the long way around." I knew he meant that I could take her up by myself, but I told him I was just going to go park the plane. Well, while I was taxiing over to parking, I decided that I would like to try it by myself. So I headed the other direction. A saw me taxi the other way and called me on the radio and asked me if I was going to go back up. I told him "yes" and took off. I have never been so scared or so exhilerated in all my life! Inside, I was shaking like a leaf. A told me later that I never sounded nervous on the radio, that I made all my calls well (radio work had always been a fear of mine - I didn't want to get it wrong). I did my touch-n-go's and then taxied to parking when I was done. I could barely stand when I got out, my legs were shaking so bad. But, OH WHAT A FEELING! A did the instructor thing, by cutting the back out of my shirt to commemorate my first solo. I wish I could find a picture of it.

A few weeks later, we decided to do my solo cross country. We needed to ferry A's airplane (the 175) up to Idaho to the mechanic for more engine work, and it was my job to fly my plane up there to meet him and bring him back home. I took off before A, but because his plane could always beat mine up, he quickly passed me. For most of the way, we were in radio contact, but I was pretty much by myself. We took off from the Tooele Valley Airport, heading north. Well, about half-way across the Great Salt Lake, I had an urgent biological need. I decided that I was closer to our destination than to Tooele, so I continued on. By the time I was within 10 minutes of our destination, Aaron was already on the ground, starting the dis-assembling of his airplane, and I REALLY REALLY REALLY HAD TO GO (really really bad). I got to do an interesting approach/landing (we'd gone over slips already and I was a master at them at this point) and as soon as the plane was stopped, I jumped out the door and ran for it. (For anyone who knows the interior of the Tri-Pacer, you will know that there is only one door and it's on the right side of the plane, and I would have been sitting on the left) I think I jumped right from the left seat to the ground. LOL - Good Memories :)

The return flight to Tooele gave A the opportunity to go over Class B airspace with me, as we would pass by Salt Lake International on our way home.

While the Cessna was still in Idaho, it was time for the Olympics (gives you a little reference as to when all this went down). Because the Olympics happened post-9-11, they were restricting all flights around Salt Lake unless you had a REALLY good reason to fly. We didn't, so we took the time to paint the Tri-Pacer and make her pretty. We did a variation on a factory original paint job, tweaking it a bit here and there. Here are the before/after pictures:


Anonymous said...

WOW! I'm soooo jealous of you being able to do that!! Bf say's it's much more affordable to fly privately over in the States...

Over here in the UK, you'd probably be looking at a minimum of $40K to buy a 2nd hand small aeroplane, and lessons cost loads too :(

Tripacerchick said...

It is a fair bit cheaper here. We went with the "buying" of my plane because we couldn't afford to rent one. Believe it or not, it was cheaper in the long run.

Cherokee Dad said...

I'm very impressed that you solo'd and flew the cross country. You are so courageous. The new paint job looks great and I like that you went with the classic Piper paint scheme. Great job!