Category Archives: Flying

Outlawry and the metaphysics of Quality – Zen, Persig et al

tabby thinking it over 2

Tabby:  So what does all this airplane talk have to do with the metaphysics of  quality?

Me:  Giving ourselves quality in life comes in a lot of forms, but each trail we take leading there relies on our personal determination to define what we believe is quality.  Although it’s remotely possible some larger social or governmental entity will offer the opportunities, it’s no priority with them.  They’re concerned with something they define as ‘the greater good’.  Keeping people on the sidewalks, off the grass.  If a person sees the need to walk on the grass, to lie on it, to find the quality in it, he’s going to have to find a way to get there without going to jail.  You have to find awareness of the grass, and you can’t be aware of it until you’ve experienced it.

Tabby:  But at least they’re keeping the dogs from crapping on the grass..

Me:  That’s right.  And if you’re planning to crap on it you’d destroy the quality you hoped to find there.  But if you allow the fact someone in control is afraid you’ll crap on the grass to keep you off it so’s to make sure you don’t you’ve lost a chunk of life you’ll never recover.  A piece of the quality of living gone because someone else might have violated it if they’d gone there.

Tabby:  People can’t see the damned grass anyway, right?  They walk right past it without seeing anything.

Me:  Mostly they don’t see it because they‘re somewhere else.  They‘re thinking about something they think is in the future, where they‘re having lunch, or something someone said an hour ago.  They’re walking past that grass and have a vague intellectual awareness the grass is there, but that’s only half of where quality lives.  The flash of instant ‘seeing’ it before the mind has time to intellectually define what it’s seeing is where quality hides.  And because they don’t experience the quality of the grass they have no respect for it.  They’re minds assign it no value.  They take a rhetorical crap on the grass without ever knowing they’ve done it.

Tabby:  So that’s why the people posting the signs want to keep them off the grass?  So they won’t take a rhetorical crap on it as they go by?

Me:  No.  The people posting the signs think they’re doing it to protect the grass for the ‘greater good’ of all those people and dogs going by who won’t see it.  Sign posters couldn’t care less about what people experience as they go by.  They think it’s the separation between the people and dogs, and the grass that’s important.

Tabby:  I’m glad they do it, anyway.  I hate eating grass after a dog’s peed or crapped on it. 

Me:  But you can’t taste it until you get past the signs.

Old Jules

The importance of being insignificant

N90172a

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

President Jimmy Carter was scheduled to visit Fort Hood.  The First Cavalry Division [my old unit in Korea] was to stage massive war games and tank maneuvers and culminate the affair with a chemical substitute for a battlefield tactical nuclear weapon.  Because the President was going to be there, FAA closed down the airspace over Fort Hood for civilian air traffic.

Pissed my old buddy Phil Washburn  

Afterlife of One Hero – Sex, Violence and Crazy Love

  and me off something awful.  We were taxpaying citizens.  Who the hell did they think they were telling people they couldn’t fly around not bothering anyone watching how our tax dollars were being spent?

So when the day arrived we gassed up the old Cessna …. 100+ F on the runway, and began the long climb outside the forbidden airspace.  Burned up a lot of avgas and an hour getting up to 8000-9000 MSL.  Clear day though, and the temperature became comfortable somewhere above 5000′.

We circled at the edge of the airspace boundary watching the specks of gathered tanks and massed troops a few miles to the north waiting for the show to start.  Suddenly, hundreds of roostertails of dust obscured miles of landscape as the tanks charged forward.  Then the sky below us filled with helicopters.  Wow!  Wowowowowow!

I gradually eased us north until we were almost over the action, but still far enough south so’s we weren’t trying to see straight down, kept circling.  Powered back enough to hold the altitude, savor the cool, and watch what a major wartime battle must be like viewed from the air.

Finally, toward the north beyond all the tanks the substitute battlefield nuke sent up a heluva pile of smoke and fire into the sky, rising rising rising until we were looking up at the top.  It kept rising.

Turn off the lights.  The party’s over.  The roostertails behind the tanks had all faded, everyone down there was taking a break, having a drink of orange KoolAid or something, we reckoned.  The helicopters were headed away where ever helicopters go when the shooting stops.

Time for us to get-the-hell-out-of-Dodge before the high sheriff and POLice come gunning for us.

I pointed us back toward the Killeen airport and as we neared the edge of forbidden territory I shut down the engine, pulled up the nose to stop the propeller windmilling.  The old Cessna had a 20:1 glide ratio, so we were a long while circling over the airport just listing to the whisper of the wind over the surfaces of the plane.

I’d intended to push the nose down to re-start the engine when I got on final approach, but I’d never landed dead-stick and figured this was as good a time as any to do it.  Got the numbers and came to a dead stop 50 feet beyond them, restarted the engine and taxied over to the FBO under the admiring stares of everyone who never landed an airplane dead stick on a public air strip. 

Naturally we did a lot of bragging at the FBO, and a lot of people were shaking their heads in various attitudes of disapproval, horror, and awe.

Hell of a fine day to be an outlaw.   I recommend it.

Old Jules

On Civil Disobedience

N90172a

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

In 1983, after I’d been parking my old Cessna 140 at the Georgetown, Texas airport for several years I was suddenly the focus of a lot of questions from other pilots.

Gene [the fixed base operator] says you don’t have a pilots license.”  Boiled down, that was the question.  “He says he’s going to turn you in to the FAA.” 

I could see this might cause a problem.  I’d logged 500 hours pilot-in-command in my old 1947 Cessna, but I’d never been signed off for solo flight by a flight instructor.  I’d flown from Texas to Savanna, Georgia and back sleeping under the wing, carried passengers, chased cows, but I had never jumped through the hoops required by the FAA to become a licensed pilot.

Now someone had ratted me out.  No  way Gene could have found out about this unless someone dropped the dime on me, and anyone who told him did it knowing he was a sniveling rat who’d turn in his mother for a burned out license tag light just for the feel good.

Whew.  Going legal was never part of my program.  It was a complication and it would lead to other complications of legalities I’d been ignoring.  Getting annual inspections on my plane every year, for instance.

A guy named Tom Dixon, whom I’d done some scary flying things with had recently gotten his instructor ticket, so I got him to sign me off for solo flight, went through the various navigation requirements, hood time, studied the FAA manuals, took the written test.

I’ve told on another blog entry here somewhere about the FAA Flight Examiner in Austin who gave me my check ride.  About what he said when he examined my logbook.

But in the end I was a legal private pilot. 

As nearly as I could tell it didn’t make an iota of difference.

If I had to live my life over I suppose one of the few things I’d change would be learning to fly at an earlier age and never going legal.

Old Jules

The underlying fundamental truths

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

If you’re like me, you are probably asking yourself why Johnson grass, crabgrass, beggars lice, goatheads, thistles and, say, salt cedar, thrive through the most difficult of times while all the stuff you deliberately planted requires care, nurturing by various means, irrigating.  You’re probably wondering why skunks can overwinter with rabies, throwing off the virus to all their kinfolk, while almost everything else dies within days of manifesting symptoms. 

Yeah, you’re probably wondering also why the skunks in Homeland Security run you about as you’d figure,  and the entrepreneurs in the private US penal systems are wallowing around in profits without ever getting their lives dirtied by contact with inmates.  Wondering why faceless ghosts in places such as the NSA would, not only wish to know the intimate details of your life, but actually be able execute a plan to do it.

You’re probably wondering why classy, wonderful aircraft with glide ratios and whirling propellers are rotting in hangars and on airstrip tiedowns while unnatural aluminum monsters incapable of manned flight zoom around carrying people places they didn’t need to go.  Why the only damned propellers anyone cares around are horizontal wings beating the air to death and crawling over the carcass.

Well friends and neighbors, if I had more time I’d explain it to you.  Because it’s one, or part of one of the fundamental truths of the Universe.

Unfortunately, this has gotten a bit long and there’s no point in me doing it right now.  It’s a proven fact that people don’t read long blog posts and that they click somewhere else the moment anything gets fundamental, or truthful.  Or if there are no pictures of naked dancing girls, celebrities, politicians, or tsunamis.

And hells bells, part of one of the basic truths of the Universe is that I can’t upload a damned thing.  So you’ll have to figure it out for yourselves.

Old Jules

Taking Off Downwind

If it hadn’t been for an old friend who was a pilot telling me I could fly an airplane as cheaply as I could spend an hour on the range practicing with a large-bore pistol every week, I’d probably never have thought of doing it.  But something about the idea grabbed me.

I went out to the Killeen, Texas airport and took a few lessons to find out whether flying was one of the adventures I wanted to give myself this lifetime.  Turned out there was no question in the question.

But being a man of ideas, not much time passed before I decided I could buy an old aircraft and save a lot of the cost of renting one while I learned.  A 1947 Cessna was sitting on the strip with a for sale sign on it, that one at the top of the post, so I bought it.

But finding an instructor to teach me to fly a taildragger cut down a lot of my options.  I ended up with a guy named John Rynertson, who introduced himself by saying he was one of the best pilots around.  He owned a Cessna 120, and John taught me enough to get me started.

But we had a falling out, him not soloing me in a timely manner, me thinking he wasn’t doing so because he wanted to maximize the trainer fees.  One day we landed, me thinking this was the day of the solo, and he sneered I wasn’t ready yet.  We were standing by the airplane, so I climbed inside, started the engine and taxied down to the end of the runway, gave myself my first solo flight, illegal.

John and I didn’t have much truck with one another after that.  I flew that old Cessna without having a ticket allowing me to do it, while he flew his C120 up one day and pulled the wings off it in a snap-roll, killing himself exactly the way a man ought to do if he’s going to pull the wings off a Cessna.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d taken off downwind for the first time.  I couldn’t find another instructor, and I was relocating to another town at the time, where nobody knew me.  So for several years I flew that Cessna, 500+ hours flying time, as though I was entirely legal.  Flew out to New Mexico, over to Savanna, Georgia, sleeping under the wing along the way, with no license to pilot an aircraft.

But eventually word got around the Georgetown Municipal Airport and someone cautioned me the FBO was going to rat me out to the FAA.  I decided it was time to complete my training.  Found an old outlaw pilot to sign me off and made an appointment with the FAA examiner in Austin.

When he looked at my log and saw I had 500 hours he shook his head a longish time.  “I’ve been checking out pilots for thirty years.  Before you the one with the most flying hours I’d ever seen was a guy with 100 hours, and he almost killed me during the check ride.  Couldn’t fly an airplane.”

I grinned at him.  “You care to watch me take it around the patch a few times before we do the check ride?  I’ll get the numbers every time around and turn off by the first taxi way.”

We did the check ride and I flew back to Georgetown legal, for the first time.

Almost felt as though I’d lost something.

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old JulesMistakes and Regret? 

Old Jules, what mistakes have you made and regretted?

Previous post about the flying phase: Misplaced Worries

 

I’d Sure Like to Have Me One of Them Drones

Morning readers.  I’m obliged you came by for a read.

I’ve been studying on that picture of the pretty little airplane those whatchallit, Iraning people found in the sky and captured.  I’m fairly impressed and would sure like to have me one, even though I haven’t figured out exactly how it works.

 

That airplane doesn’t have much in the way of control surfaces and weight-and-balance might be tricky.  Not as much rudder on it as a person might wish.

I’m wondering if a person might lure one down with an orange jump suit, Helicopters and Orange Jump Suits.  If those things are flying around some silly-assed place like whatchallit, Irang, where there’s nothing to see but a bunch of Persians, seems to me they’re bound to be flying around here where there’s really good stuff.

Anyway, they can’t be that hard to catch.  A man with a CB radio might be able to snag one, I’m thinking, if the orange jump suit didn’t do the trick.

I’ll have to study on it after I’ve got it to decide whether it’s best to put a harness underneath of the hang-glider variety, or mount a saddle on top.  I don’t like the idea of riding it bareback the way Slim Pickens rode that bomb.  Until a person got the feel for it, that thing might just buck some.

Besides, I’m used to more rudder than that and I’ve never flown anything without a tail section.  Likely I’d want to fly it around treetop level a while so I didn’t have too far to fall at first.

If I’m good maybe old Santy will bring me one.

Old Jules

 

Sunday Morning Flies

I don’t recall ever seeing such an abundance of flies in Texas.  I first noticed it a week-or-so in Kerrville in a restaurant.  Flies were buzzing around the place in such profusion the customers were waving forks and dinner rolls in the air trying to drive them off.

Then I began seeing them here, hanging around the windows and door, waiting for things to happen in their favor.  I usually think of fly problems in a context of fly-breeding sources, so I checked the chicken roosts, figuring I’d allowed the droppings to build up enough to allow fly eggs to hatch and go through their development cycle.  Not so.

But up at Gale and Kay’s house a few days ago I saw they were similarly blessed.  Plenty of flies to go around.  Enough for most usual purposes.

Yesterday, or the day before they began finding their way into the cabin.  They weren’t docile enough to allow chasing and swatting as an option, and I’m not all that big about having flies walking over my face while I try to sleep, type, or meditate.  The military surplus mosquito net head-cover I’ve had for thirty years or more works as well as anything I know of to keep that from happening.

I’m a person who tends to believe most things are indicators of other things, but I haven’t a clue what this is an indicator of.  Probably someone somewhere would say it means we’re going to have a hard winter, or some other unusual kind of winter.  Usually Texas has a few flies and they’re worse in the fall season, but on its worst day this part of Texas usually can’t compare to a normal fly-day in the high desert country.  Desert flies converge on perspiration and any other water from miles around.

Swatting Flies in the Last Century

But this year Texas can brag it has something to compete with New Mexico.  Rich folks from Houston and Dallas won’t need to go to Ruidoso, Eagle Nest and Taos to have as many flies as they hanker to have crawling around on them.

Old Jules