Originally published February 11, 2015
While tooling down the road in GrandpaLyle’s Ark, I thought of Bill Reyer, a dear friend who lives in New York, and how much I thought he would enjoy being on the road like I was.
It wasn’t long after that that we talked and I shared these thoughts with him. We rambled on and, as our conversations always do since we’re both pilots, the subject inevitably drifted to stories about flying, some factual, some fanciful, most somewhere in between.
One of Bill’s favorites is recorded in Flight of Passage, the memoir of two New Jersey teens that bought a Piper Cub and flew it from New Jersey to California nearly fifty years ago.
Like those boys, Bill owns a Piper Cub. (For the enthusiasts among you, it’s actually a perfectly restored Super Cub.) And like old guys do, we fantasized what a wonderful trip that would be. The devil in me couldn’t resist taunting him, “You have a Cub, Bill. Instead of being the youngest to make that trip, why not be the oldest?”
Then the brainstorm. For one week every year Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, WI, becomes the busiest airport in the world. EAA AirVenture, known to everyone simply as Oshkosh, is the SuperBowl of general aviation – everything flying other than airlines and military would be there. Hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts visit the show every year. A few hundred actually fly in for the festivities and park their planes on the airport grounds.
GrandpaLyle to Bill: Why not fly your Cub to Oshkosh. That’s almost as cool as flying coast to coast – maybe cooler.
Bill: Harumph. Harumph. What about weather? Where will we stay? Will we have enough fuel? Etc., etc., etc.
G: Oh, c’mon. The hard part is flying into and out of Oshkosh. And I’ll be right there with you for that part. (I’ve flown into the show before.)
B: Well, maybe if you came to New York and rode with me?
G: (Momentary pause.) You’re on!
G: I’ll fly to New York and together we’ll fly your Cub to Oshkosh. What could be cooler than that? After the show you drop me off in Chicago then fly home solo. No more talk, it’s a done deal.
B: (Unintelligible grumbling, but I knew I had him.)
Wait a minute. Who had who? What have I done? Although Bill flies regularly, I haven’t been at the controls for years. Everyone says it’s like riding a bicycle – it comes right back to you.
But it’s not a bicycle. And I haven’t ridden a bicycle in more than fifty years. And bicycles don’t have to meet a piece of pavement the size of a postage stamp while moving over the ground at sixty miles per hour. Harumph yourself, GrandpaLyle.