General Yeager got in the front seat of the taildragger. M was checking him out in that particular plane. A few of us gathered to see General Chuck Yeager fly. We never get tired of it.
He took off and went to check out the wild horses at Yeager Springs.
I rode my bike around the ranch, checking out the deer, geese and goslings. I’ve never seen so many – probably about 8-9 groups with about 10-20 goslings. My goodness. CUTE!
I came back just as Gen Yeager was doing his last landing. Smooth. He taxied in and M got out of the back seat feigning getting sick. Laughing, he was so thrilled that General Yeager still had it – had the right stuff – great take-offs and landings, great flying skills.
The next day, we were going to go ballooning. But only one balloon was ready. It was a short flight as the wind had changed directions blowing the balloon toward the rocky hills.
As the day progressed, it became more and more unseasonably cold and windy and eventually it snowed, hailed, rained and blew a gail.
Fortunately, the next day, there was a window, so we flew home in the 185. I got some stick time which was fun.
The next weekend didn’t start out much better – the Sierras were socked in – so we drove to Reno and got picked up in the 185. The next morning, Gen Yeager flew the taildragger again with M. Spectacular.
A couple days later, we got a ride in a helicopter back to Reno. Not just any old ride – I got a lesson in flying helicopters.
My instructor was all of 24 with 5000 hours in it. Wow. He talked through the start, the lift off as I followed on the controls. Once he was set on a course-ish, he gave me the controls. Or control. I had the stick. Then I gave it back so I could fix the peddles and the seat.
Got the controls back. The collective, he kept control of.
It was on autopilot to a degree. So I had to use the trim to allow a turn or change of heading.
There was a gauge that showed me if I hadn’t put enough rudder in or too much. Very sensitive – or I wasn’t far off, as the correction was oh so minute.
As we got closer and the Reno Tower told us to hurry on up to get ahead of the big airliner taxiing, I handed off the controls to the instructor.
He talked through the landing. He said: There’s the left rudder.
Huh? I didn’t feel any touch down so….huh?
Instructor: And the right. And we’ll shut her down.
Wow. Most helis you sort of feel them settle. Or I guess I do but most of my heli flying is out to gravel bars on rivers to fish for salmon.
I watched as he shut the helicopter down. This was a two-engine, 4 passenger one.
My favorite helicopter story is when Gen Yeager and I were in Sydney, Australia. It was our last full day – we were leaving the next day.
We were coming back in our friend’s helicopter – an italian one. Our friend’s wife asked if I’d like a tour of Sydney Harbor.
So we went out to the north side of the harbor, around their house, all over. As we were heading back, D asked Gen Yeager, Would you like to fly it?
D: I want to go back to the left and fly over my daughter’s house so…
Gen Yeager: OK – and turned left. But I mean really turned left.
D, a good helicopter pilot, started talking to himself but we could hear him: Oh, well. That’s quite a bank. Yes, quite a turn. I wouldn’t do that steep a turn but it is Chuck Yeager so I guess we’re okay….
It was hilarious.
We did a low fly by and waved at her. And continued on to the heliport.
A beautiful flight.