“Good day ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to CloudSide Classic Airlines inaugural Flight #1. In preparation for departure, please ensure that your seat belt is fastened and your tray table and seat back are in their full upright and locked position. Any items weighing on your mind may be placed either below your seat or in the overhead compartment above. All cellular telephones and other portable electronic devices (except the one you’re reading on), must be stowed for departure.”
“Folks, we’ve been cleared for takeoff, so please remain seated until we’ve turned off the “Fasten Seat Belt” sign. We expect a smooth flight today, so sit back, relax and enjoy your flight”.
From my earliest memories, automobiles and airplanes have been inexorably intertwined. Like many of you, I have memories as a child of racing cars on the floor, or swooping model airplanes thru the sky. From the time I could ride a tricycle I’d be on my dad’s lap in the car, “driving” to the local drive-thru dairy. I spent hours as a boy sitting in our 1964 Corvair, practicing my shifting and clutch coordination, waiting for the years when I could finally do it on my own. Southern California was hotbed of automotive obsession and an incubator for car crazed youth, including yours truly.
Aviation also coursed through my veins, as both my father and father-in-law served in the Air Force in World War II, my father-in-law piloting B-26’s across Europe and living to tell the tale. We moved to Long Beach, CA. in 1963, just one mile from the Long Beach airport. Southern California at that time was the epicenter of the greatest collection of aeronautical companies in the world, with Douglas, Lockheed, Rockwell, Northrup, North American Aviation, Convair and more having a presence. From my backyard I could watch the planes take off and land at the airport, and frequently heard the thundering of the DC-8’s as they were completed and tested.
At ten years old, my Dad took my sister and me to the airport and rented a Cessna for my first flight. Wow! The freedom and sensation of flying grabbed me and never let me go. The only question was how it would express itself.
As I turned 30, my stable consisted of the Audi 4000S, two Datsun Roadsters and the Porsche 914. The flying itch had grown stronger, and I finally decided to scratch that itch and enroll in flight school. Ground school breezed by, but as I began building flight hours toward my license, I realized that flying costs were adding up pretty quickly. For training, you normally used small two seat Cessna 150/152’s as they were the least expensive to rent. Now, a 152 has about the same room as the front seat of a VW Beetle – meaning enough to sit in but not spacious. On a hot day with two people aboard, a 152 also has the climb performance of a partially deflated balloon heading lazily into the sky. Maybe there was another option…
In running the numbers, I realized that a larger, more comfortable plane could be purchased and leased back to the flying school. Doing so meant that they would be paying for use of the plane, and my flying costs would go down dramatically. I preferred a low wing aircraft like a Piper versus a high wing like the Cessna, but that’s just personal preference, like preferring an Accord over a Camry. A better equipped plane able to fly IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) would also command a higher rental rate and attract more experienced pilots. After researching all the various options, I decided on a Piper Archer.
An Archer is a low wing, single engine, four place aircraft made by Piper Aircraft. If you ask the average five year old to draw a picture of an airplane, they’ll draw something that looks like an Archer. I searched the entire Southern California area for a plane, but ended up finding one at a tiny, soon to be closed airport right in my backyard (so to speak) in Huntington Beach. Real estate prices were skyrocketing in the 80’s, and land was much more valuable for homes & townhomes than a small, rundown airport.
The Archer was a 1977 PA28-181 model with a Lycoming air-cooled, horizontally opposed, pushrod four cylinder engine. So far so good, just like a VW Beetle, right? Right, just the same – except this four cylinder is 360 cubic inches – bigger than a Chevy small block with only half the cylinders. In fact, if we take all four cylinders of that VW 1500 cc engine, they’ll fit just fine in one cylinder of the Lycoming. Propellers on aircraft can only turn so fast before the tips go supersonic, lose efficiency and make incredible amounts of noise, so the Lycoming makes its 180 horsepower at a reasonable 2,700 rpm.
Compared to a car, the Archer looks large with a wingspan of 35’ 6” and a length of 24’. For the same reason that 250 pound Ostriches can’t fly, planes must be light, with N3204Q (my Archer) weighing in at about 1,505 pounds empty and 2,550 pounds fully loaded with fuel, passengers and luggage. That ends up being a few pounds less than the best selling Ford F150…
The Archer had good performance with a cruising speed of 120 knots or 138 miles per hour. It burned a little over 9 gallons of fuel per hour, which translates to about 15 miles per gallon in normal use. You’ll note that I’m hedging on the figures, as each airplane is slightly different as is each pilot’s technique. Small aircraft like the Archer typically have one large carburetor, not fuel injection, so the pilot is responsible for leaning the fuel/air mixture based on altitude & temperature.
Speaking of fuel injection, let’s talk about how cutting edge most small airplane technology was back then. In a word – it wasn’t, as reliability is valued far above the latest technological fad. Where possible, small aircraft like to use redundant, stone-age simple systems. If the engine stops on your car, you pull over to the side of the road and call it an “inconvenience”. If the same thing happens in an airplane, we call it an “emergency”.
An example of this emphasis on reliability is an airplane’s use of two magnetos for two separate ignition systems to two spark plugs per cylinder. A magneto is like a combination alternator & distributor. It generates its own electricity to fire the spark plugs, so no battery power is actually required to keep the engine running. We’ll see that this can be pretty valuable at times…
So the Archer was purchased and leased back to the Long Beach Flying Club. After earning my private pilot’s license, I added an Instrument Rating to allow for flight in poor visibility – important when flying in the frequently hazy LA or foggy SF bay areas. Getting my Instrument Rating was one of the most stimulating and personally rewarding things that I’ve done. I found that when I was flying I would filter out all of the extraneous stuff in my mind and concentrate on the task at hand, working to perfect it (not that I ever did) and to do it better than I did the time before.
They say that a smart pilot views his pilot’s license simply as a license to learn. The focus and challenge in that learning was invigorating and pushed me to grow as a pilot and a person.
At the time, I worked for ADP (Automatic Data Processing) as a Consultant and had an office next to the Long Beach Airport where I also kept the plane. My division’s headquarters however, was in San Ramon, CA, east of the San Francisco Bay area, and I traveled frequently between Long Beach and the Bay area for work. I convinced the company to pay for me to fly my plane between the two areas instead of taking expensive last minute commercial flights. Even though a commercial jet is about four times faster than the Archer, my actual time door to door was virtually the same due to all the parking, lines, waiting, flying to a more distant airport, etc.
With the Archer, I could park 75 feet from the plane, fly to Livermore Airport and then walk 100 feet to a rental car. A short 12 mile drive brought me to the office, thereby avoiding all the traffic and mess of the SF Bay area. This is just slightly different than today’s typical commercial flight experience…
On one trip, I was flying at 9,500 feet headed up to Livermore when a red light caught my attention on the panel – alternator failure! I was still 90 minutes away, so I cut all electrical power and flew merrily on. Remember that magneto discussion above? The plane didn’t care whether the alternator worked or not – it just flew. About 20 minutes before Livermore I turned everything back on so I could use the radios and navigation. I landed and parked the plane at the FBO (Fixed Base Operator) for repairs. A couple of days later, my business was done as were the repairs. I turned in my rental car, hopped in the plane and flew home – no muss, no fuss.
Proven redundant systems meant that I didn’t have to find a place to land and be stuck somewhere – an “inconvenience” didn’t turn into an “emergency”. And that’s a little different from my Audi A6 experience in the middle of the prairie in nowheresville Nebraska.
The instrument panel was well equipped for the time, which made this a favorite among the IFR certified pilots at the club for training and long cross country flights. In addition to normal radios and such, this had a LORAN receiver, a precursor to today’s GPS (but based on ground stations).
Archers are still made today, but advances in flat screen technology have dramatically changed the panel, kind of like comparing the dash of a 1977 Dodge D-200 to a new RAM 2500. The rest of the interior has also been upgraded with leather and other niceties not available 40 years ago.
The interior of an Archer was a good place to be. Private aircraft in the 70’s & 80’s weren’t broughamtastic luxury liners, but they weren’t penalty boxes either. I might equate them to the Porsche 914 from last week – functional but not cheap. Every pound of brougham in a plane is one less pound of payload that can be carried, so pilots need to choose wisely. Seats in the Archer were comfortable and sat relatively high, versus a low slung sports car stance. This gave good room for both front and rear passengers, and legroom in back was good even for adults. The baggage compartment had a separate door for loading on the right side, and like a station wagon or SUV you could reach over the back seat and access things while flying.
The Archer had a fuel capacity of 50 gallons, of which 48 were usable, resulting in a range of about 550 nautical miles, or about 630 statute (regular) miles. Realistically, the Archer would fly for as long as you’d want to sit in one place without stretching. Because you didn’t have to follow roads, that 630 miles of range might be the same as 800 miles in a car. And you never had to be frustrated by being stuck behind that slow moving motorhome ahead.
Trips to friends that would have previously been long and tedious drives became short adventures. Seeing friends in Chico, CA went from nine hour drives to three hour flights – and I didn’t have to plan the trip to avoid LA’s infamous traffic. Trips to friends in Sedona, AZ also went from eight hours to three hours – easily doable for a quick weekend trip. The freedom afforded by the Archer was liberating, and being in control of my own flight intoxicating.
On long trips east, I would normally make Farmington, NM a mid-day fuel stop. I’ve written before that naturally aspirated engines, whether in a car or airplane, lose about 3% of their power for every 1,000 foot increase in altitude (re: Vanagon climbing at 11,320 feet). Another factor for airplanes is that as the air temperature increases, it becomes less dense and the wings generate less lift. On a hot day at altitude, a plane needs more runway to take off and, in some cases, may not be able to leave the ground at all. For this reason, density altitude and runway length must always be checked before takeoff. Farmington is at 5,506 feet already, and throw in a hot afternoon and a fully loaded Archer, and the takeoff roll was very, very long.
I eventually got off the ground, but I think that the gain in altitude was due more to the earth curving away from the plane then any actual climb performance.
My daughter, now 31, began her flying adventures when she was less than nine months old. On long trips, the Archer was perfect for two adults, one child, one car seat, and all the luggage, playpens and strollers necessary for a three week adventure. That trip took us from California to see family in Denver, Kansas, Nebraska, the Quad Cities, Chicago, Minneapolis, then back across the northern states to tour Yellowstone National Park. From there it was an overnight in St George, UT then home. This is the kind of trip that wouldn’t have been possible in a car or by commercial air, and I still cherish those memories from 30 years ago.
Owning an airplane also gives you the opportunity to enjoy some rather pricey meals if you’d like. In the 80’s these were called “the $100 hamburger” – $5.00 for the hamburger, $95 to get there and back. I remember taking my Dad from Long Beach to Santa Barbara for lunch or going to dinner at a terrific Chinese restaurant in Big Bear Lake. I had to fly a minimum number of hours and at certain times to remain current for my licenses, so why not kill two birds with one stone?
When returning from Big Bear, we would time it to see the fireworks that Disneyland shoots off every night. I didn’t fly directly over Disneyland at those times of course (slightly embarrassing to get shot down by fireworks), but flying five miles away could be spectacular.
As for expenses, fixed costs such as insurance and tie down space can be pricey, so the more hours the plane flew the better those costs could be amortized. The Archer flew 60-100 hours a month for the flying club. Planes used for rental purposes also required an inspection by a certified A&P (Airframe and Powerplant) mechanic each 100 hours, and each 100 hour inspection would cost somewhere between $500 to $1,000 depending on what was found. The Archer’s Lycoming engine was rated for 2,000 hours between overhauls, with overhauls costing about $12,000 (late 80’s).
You’ve heard the saying that a boat is a hole in the water where you pour money? The same thing is true for an airplane but it’s a bigger hole. In my case, the income from the flight school was slightly cash flow positive including all the expenses. I wasn’t getting rich from the Archer, but I wasn’t going broke, and in aviation that’s a pretty big win.
As I’ve shared in other COAL’s, by 1992 I had decided to move to Denver and had sold the Datsun Roadsters to avoid subjecting them to the weather. Although I could take the Archer’s business model to Denver, I was skeptical that it would fly nearly as many hours. That meant that the nice positive cash flow would turn negative while I also needed cash to start a new business. I sadly placed the Archer for sale in Trade-A-Plane, a national newspaper for aviation. A buyer in Portland was found, and a pilot flew down on a commercial airline to fly it back. By this time the plane had years of use, could use new paint and had a runout engine that needed overhaul. With all that, I sold the plane for $29,500 – $500 less than I paid for it years before in better condition. Yes, the Archer appreciated nicely, and I benefited from that appreciation.
For many children, flying is a fantasy explored right behind that of driving a big person’s car. Flying became a passion for me and allowed me to focus on becoming better each and every flight. I made thousands of memories and it gave me a sense of personal satisfaction. I don’t regret selling the Archer, as starting businesses and raising children became a much greater priority. But I did get to push myself and make memories that I’ll never forget.
“Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of your flight crew, I’d like thank you for flying CloudSide Classic Airlines. You are now free to stand up and walk about the cabin. We hope that you’ll fly CloudSide Classic wherever your travels take you. Thank you, and we hope to see you again on your next journey”.
I loved every second of this. My father flew thousands of hours in small planes and had ownership shares in several, including a Piper Twin Comanche that was built maybe 1969 or so. I still recall the plane’s number – 8614Yankee. I have always found Piper planes to be a little more elegantly styled than some others, sort of how the late 80s Accord was more beautiful than the contemporary Camry.
I got my private license in the late 80s (yes, Cessna 150s) but stopped there. I came to the same realization that you did – to get any real use out of the license a guy needed to have that instrument rating. Unlike you I did not regularly have to travel out of state, so the business case was not very good. When I was offered a 29 Ford Model A by a relative who wanted to sell, I had to make a decision and I picked cars over planes. I still carry that license in my wallet, but know that I would need more than the legal minimum of a fresh medical and a few touch and go landings to be safe.
Your description of flight characteristics in hot weather is spot on. On the flip side, there is nothing like how a plane wants to leap into the sky on clear, cold day.
Thanks 04Quebec, you have a good day now. 🙂
I certainly understand that choice between flying and a 29 Model A. Both require time and focus, and it’s tough to do both. In my case, it was a new business and family, but I also realize that I didn’t take on any major car projects during that time – they were either before or after.
As the Rolling Stones said, “You can’t always get what you want….”
Excellent, Ed. I’ve wanted to fly and have often thought it was a career I could have enjoyed. Talk about needing to be engaged with both machine and environment…
You brought back a lot of memories, Ed – thanks for the POAL! I’ve been non-current for close to 20 years now, but still have my ⅞-scale Nieuport 11 project and will decide whether to finish and fly it or move it along over the next few years.
I never pursued an instrument rating, and only had to turn around once due to weather (after flying from LZU to AHN for a $100 plate of pancakes at Shoney’s).
Some of the best memories involved taking kids up for their first flight as part of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) Young Eagles program. I think I did around 40 such flights. Also enjoyed flying my wife and two sons down to Milledgeville, GA to visit my Dad, who would meet us at the airport. Normally a two-hour drive, it took a mere 45 minutes in the air (part of which involved flying under the Class B airspace around ATL – I’d always request flight following). But as you mentioned, preflight and such made the total time elapsed about the same as driving.
I learned in a friend’s Cessna 172, and bought a ¼ share when he formed a flying club. Other than the cost of my share of the annual inspection and a few repairs needed during my part-ownership, my outlay was not horribly expensive. My owner friend always said, “I never got into aviation to save money.”
I’ll end my comment by reproducing the Passenger Briefing we wrote up for the airplane:
Welcome aboard Princess Airlines flight 0069 departing Lawrenceville en route, with any luck at all, to Athens, Georgia. Please make sure your seatbelt is on and that your seat is securely fastened to the fuselage.
At this time, any personal items should be stowed securely in the trunk of your car, since there is no overhead compartment or space beneath your seat, to speak of. Please turn off all portable electronic devices, and keep them off until we have landed safely, or for the duration of the flight, whichever comes first.
Smoking is not permitted inside the cabin; smoking outside the cabin should be reported to the captain immediately. There is no beverage service during the flight, however, heavy drinking prior to takeoff is encouraged. In-flight entertainment will consist of watching the pilot’s desperate struggle to control the plane.
We’ll be flying at an altitude of 5500 (maybe 7500) feet today, in theory; but, should the plane’s altitude drop precipitously, please check to ensure that the pilot is awake and in an upright position. Also, lavatories are located at either end of the flight.
As we prepare for takeoff, please take this opportunity to locate the exit nearest you and, if you have any sense at all, avail yourself of it before it’s too late.
In a moment, the pilot will begin handing out the release forms in preparation for takeoff. Be assured that in all his time aloft, Capt. Steve has never lost a passenger; however, your results may vary.
Now sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.
That is a great announcement! I wasn’t as creative as you back then 😅
This is an amazing and insightful article. It took some flights as a passenger when I was a kid and loved it. There’s a glider club about 3 minutes from my place and I took some flights in my thirties, only to discover I had developed acrophobia at some point. Things I did as a kid, including roller coasters, balconies, glass elevators and ski lifts now bother me. Flying little planes is out of the question now. So the closest I get to flying is YouTube and excellent articles such as this.
Wow, that’s great, and quite out of left field! Extremely interesting to find out more about the economics of such a situation too.
My youngest’s first flight at the controls (take off and level flight from Flying Cloud to Crystal Lake in MN) was also in a Piper Archer, but I think perhaps slightly newer. He was 10 at the time, sadly no repeat flight camp this year due to Covid. Maybe next year.
Good for him! But are you sure that you want to get him hooked on this expensive of a hobby? 😎
Aviation is in my blood too. My uncle Joe was a career 707 flight engineer, and when I was a teenager he took me to work with him and I got to ride in the cockpit. I sat in the by then defunct navigators seat behind the captain. (navigators were replaced by electronics by then). He also owned a Cessna 172 that he would let me take the controls of over the Florida everglades. Planes I have been on: 707, 727, 757, 767, DC-8, DC-10, MD-11, L-1011, A-300, Q400 and I’m sure i’m missing some.
Well stated – a pilot license is a license to keep learning. Those that have crashed early in their piloting careers never heeded that advice. In combination with apparent substance abuse, a certain retired baseball pitcher would still be with his family and us today. RIP Doc Halladay.
So true about learning versus egos. If you want to see hubris and stupidity, check out the story of Pinnacle Airlines 3701 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinnacle_Airlines_Flight_3701
Stupidity can be fatal…
Thanks for the reference on 3701. I don’t recall ever seeing that one on Mayday on TV (Air Crash Investigations).
I used to work in aerospace, and have several acquaintances who flew privately. One graduated to airline captain, another flies ultralights. Another chap realized that absent regular flying, it was too dangerous to go up every so often, so gave it up. Another friend is taking it up as a retirement activity.
Each pilot has their story.
Congratulations on sharing this great story and your accomplishments.
Sweet Memories of Cherokee Archer, c. 1978
Thanks for this look into the realities of flying. I was always very interested in flying, and had a subscription to Flying magazine for some 15-20 years, and read it cover to cover. It really gave me a good feel for what is involved, and I decided not to pursue it as I came to realize that the only way to be a safe plot is to be a fairly active one, and that would have come at the expense of other activities that were important.
But in another reality….
That, and motorcycle riding.
“the only way to be a safe plot is to be a fairly active one”..very true, and too many aviation accidents are due to those who don’t understand that.
About that whole “other reality” thing…
I had a friend at ADP who also flew and decided to get his ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) and fly professionally. He gave up his $48,000 salary (good money for a 30 year old in the 80’s) to fly for a regional airline (where everyone has to start) for $26,300. I looked long and hard at that, but with a mortgage, wife and child that just didn’t make sense, as it would have been over a 50% reduction for me. Ten years later he was making good money, but you really have to want to do it.
Today, it’s something like $85,000-$100,000 to get enough training for your ATP, and that’s a lot of debt to begin a low paying aviation career. It really weeds out those who aren’t passionate about what they do.
I grew up in Central Florida, which I felt was a hotbed of aviation. Attended many air shows with my dad, built a lot of model planes and our house was right along the flight path to Orlando int’l so I loved seeing all the different commercial planes and their liveries.
We were about 35 miles out from the airport and it was the point where they’d decelerate. I can still here that unique big whoosh sound.
Anything with wheels I’m onboard with!
I did a double take when I saw that pic of you as a blond haired kid with his toys – spitting image of my currently 4 year old lad! Even some of the models look similar…
Great story and interesting to see that it worked economically for you.
As you say, you cannot price the wonderful memories, personal growth, or freedom that the Piper gave you….
Great story, I never turn down ride when I can get one. Love flying but I realized early on that I was not disciplined enough for flying myself. I make a good right seat passenger who will gladly split the costs of a ride to enjoy the sights and get one of those $100 burgers.
An Archer II was the first aircraft I got checked out in after passing my checkride in a Piper Tomahawk (aka “Traumahawk”). What a wonderful plane to fly after all those hours in well worn training aircraft! I’m just now doing the paperwork to register the Sonex experimental aircraft kit I’m just completing. What a project and learning experience that has been!
Good for you! The Archer really is a good “do it all” aircraft. And good luck with your build!
Reading this made me think back to that period, spanning a few years on either side of 1960 it seems, when widespread personal plane ownership seemed like the next logical step. Given the average level of driving skill and vehicle maintenance in the US, it’s probably a good thing that never happened.
The last person I knew who used a small plane the way you did in your Long Beach days had his lifestyle come to a screeching halt when he had a relatively minor heart attack and his license was immediately yanked — with, I gather, no avenue for reinstatement, regardless of how complete his recovery. At the time, he and I served together on a nonprofit board. After the heart attack, he would do grueling all-day, and occasionally all-night, drives to get to our board meetings (which moved around the eastern half of the country). I wondered why, and then I realized why — he was not comfortable being in an airplane unless he was flying it.
Excellent write up Ed, thank you for that. Although I’ve spent my adult life in aviation I’ve never been a pilot (instead as an AME – a Canadian A&P) and it’s great to hear an overall positive experience. Any positive cash flow in aviation is unusual!
What a terrific telling!
I’ve known a few private pilots. Some of them were, please excuse me, down-to-earth types I’d’ve happily ridden with. I hadn’t heard that characterisation of a pilot’s licence as a licence to learn, but in retrospect I think that’s how those types viewed it.
Then there were others who thought they were hot ѕhit ‘cuz they could fly. It might just be time’s archival compression, but years later it seems to me they all also fancied themselves the perfected version of Mario Andretti and Stirling Moss and all the rest of the best auto racers. My high school engineering physics teacher was such a one, and I’d’ve never got in a plane with him at the stick (or a car with him at the wheel, for the matter of that). I always thought it wasn’t a matter of if they’d have a big crackup, it was a matter of when—and whether it would be up in the air or down on the ground.
A bit of trivia: in Canadian English, your tray table and seat back translates as “your table tray and chairback”.
Pretty sure you invented a new word today – I’d’ve. Loving it!
Not really a word, though; it’s just a double contraction. I’ve long been using them—I’d’ve, we’d’ve, they’d’ve, he’d’ve, she’d’ve, wouldn’t’ve, couldn’t’ve, shouldn’t’ve, can’t’ve, occasionally won’t’ve.
I don’t think I set out to do it deliberately; I guess it probably sprang forth from my keyboard as an adverse reaction to seeing the pukeworthy likes of “should of”, “could of”, “couldn’t of”, and otherwise like that.
Well dang… and I thought the double contraction was another nugget of Canadian English! I like it too, by the way.
Well, given that I’m in Canada and speaking English…I guess a case could be made! :·)
I saw one of those just yesterday. It was a “must of”.
I still sometimes cringe when I hear “I’ve got” in sentences where “I have” would do perfectly fine. “I have to get dinner” is smoother, than the clunky “I’ve got to get dinner.” “I’ve got a book in my hands,” is much better written or said as, “I have a book in my hands.”
I don think this idiom will go away any time, ever. It’s been around too long.
I will leave you with an all time favourite of mine, “I ain’t got none.”
I’ve got (they’ve got, we’ve got, she’s got…) is interesting. It’s casually used interchangeably with I have, I think particularly in the US where there’s the got/gotten matter. Gotten isn’t quite regarded as a despiccable nonword in England and elsewhere in the Anglosphere, but almost (forgotten isn’t nearly so disreputable, go figure). The English, on the other hand, are much more comfortable than Americans in using I’ve in its possessive sense (“I’ve two cars”, “I’ve an appointment”), where Americans would say “I’ve got two cars” and “I’ve got an appointment” (or “I have two cars” and “I have an appointment”). Americans almost always only ever use I’ve by itself in denoting past action (“I’ve owned twenty cars in my life”, “I’ve missed three appointments in a row”).
To your example: “I have to get dinner” and “I’ve got to get dinner” denote the same thing, but the connotation can differ, with the got signifying urgency of one kind or another. This can be a useful distinction in print, where tone of voice is absent.
I’ll see your I ain’t got none and raise you Mick Jagger’s Well, nothin’ I do don’t seem to work. Multiple-negation is fun. The rule against it in English is arbitrary; No phone, no pool, no pets; I ain’t got no cigarettes” is just as comprehensible and unambiguous as No phone, no pool, no pets; I have no cigarettes. In other languages it’s tolerated or even required; double-negation is built into French, for example, as well as several major variants of English. And even where it’s not generally regarded as “correct” it can be put to effective rhetorical use: Taxes and bills and day jobs and responsibility and aches and pains are all a drag, but one nice thing about being a grownup is that if you want to eat cookies for breakfast, can’t nobody stop you!
There are numerous other utterly arbitrary rules that declare what’s correct and what’s not with no basis in comprehensibility. Get into the car and get in the car are regarded as equivalent: both are considered correct, and they mean the same thing. But only get out of the car is in “standard” English considered a correct way of referring to an exit from a vehicle; get out the car is considered correct in that sense in AAVE, but in “standard” English it’s considered wrong unless one means to remove the vehicle from the garage.
Me, I (see what I did there?) consider arbitrary rules less legitimate and less worthy of rigid compliance than those rules that actually affect comprehensibility. Aside from fun flourishes like my can’t-nobody-stop-you saying about cookies for breakfast, I think it’s important to question and break rules that exist only to mark out favoured in-groups from disfavoured out-groups.
Plus, that way I get to save my outrage and scorn for where it’s merited (“could of”, “nukular”, saying “OG” when original is meant, etc) instead of wasting it on examples of language’s ongoing evolution (it happened because reasons…) and great regional diversity (The car needs washed…).
In another timeline I’m a linguist of some kind. I can tell you exactly when that timeline split off and diverged—but only with respect to itself; I can’t comment on it with respect to this present timeline, which I am every day more convinced happened when a squirrel or something got into one of those particle colliders while it was running and shunted us into »gestures at everything« this. Anyway, that Daniel-is-a-linguist timeline diverged one day when I walked into the Linguistics Department office at the university where I was an undergrad and saw a poster for a lecture entitled “Four Centuries of the Umlaut”. Instead of eeking and running as I did, I might should’ve (there I go again!) gone to the lecture; in retrospect it sounds like an interesting topic.
True Daniel on the different types of pilots. The good ones aren’t like Tom Cruise in “Top Gun”, but more like Capt. Sully Sullenberger in “Miracle On The Hudson”. There are a couple of excellent YouTube videos with Capt. Sullenberger. Well worth seeing!
Great story, Ed. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I considered learning to fly, but not being rich, I decided it was cheaper to teach myself how to fly in Microsoft’s “Flight Simulator 2004, a Century of Flight”.
What was fun here was getting through all the lessons, ground school (it was all ground school if you will) and then getting my Private Pilot’s License, albeit in the virtual sense. The steep turn on the virtual check ride was a real bear! The instructor was none too forgiving!
Then I went up for real, in the Stearman pictured below. Since the owner, although a commercial pilot, was not an instructor, I had to fly from the front hole (equivalent of the right seat in a Cessna 172). For this hour-long flight, I had about 35 to 40 minutes or so of stick time. It was quite a thrill.
A few months later, after more hours on my simulator, I went back to Zero-Whiskey-Three (Harford County Airport in Maryland) and went up with a REAL instructor, in a Cessna 172, the plane with which I had the most simulator time. The instructor was blown away. He basically just sat back and enjoyed the flight.
I only made three mistakes that day.
1) It was a beautiful day and I was staring at my instruments to keep the plane at the correct attitude, altitude, and airspeed. Seeing this, my instructor told me to put the plane into a standard 20-degree bank left turn using the attitude indicator. Then he said, “now look out the windscreen… see how the dash and the horizon look the same as that little ball? It’s a nice day! Look out the window!”
2) On approach to my first real landing ever, we were crabbing a bit due to a slight crosswind. I made the approach just fine, lined up perfectly. I knew I’d need a little right rudder to straighten it up before setting down on the mains. I didn’t kick the rudder pedal hard enough and he had to intervene.
3) Upon landing, I just pushed the yoke forward (let it return to neutral position) to set the front wheel down. He pulled the yoke back and said hold it here and let the wheel come down on its own.
Post flight he asked about No. 3, wondering why. I told him that in the simulator, if I didn’t do that, the plane would just float back off the runway. He said, you don’t want to be driving a tricycle at 70 MPH. He was actually kind of amazed (keep in mind that other than the Stearman, and unlike the Stearman, this was my first log-able hour) I knew what to do with the traffic pattern, the approach, the throttle, etc. He didn’t have to intervene on the takeoff (I did that by myself) and in the air, when I asked about the engine out procedure, he took the controls and sort of demonstrated that to me; otherwise I had the controls the whole time. In a post flight compliment, he addressed No. 1 and said, I’d be a natural at instruments, saying most students aren’t even comfortable with them after several hours behind the yoke. Since I have no feedback sitting at a desk when flying, I told him that I REALLY have to rely on “the big six”. I chalked No. 2 up to the fact my rudder pedals on my computer are much easier to push than a real rudder, with cables, against the wind…
Alas, realizing that this was going to be WAY too expensive for my budget, and then what was I supposed to do with a pilot’s license once I got it, I decided to not pursue it any further. I have been up a few times with various friends with planes, always enjoying a little yoke time, albeit from the right seat and unable to log the hours.
And in the case of the $100 burger? I had a really great one at the Chester County, PA airport, but in this case, I bought my friend dinner for letting me fly his plane. 😊
While I never had the desire to pursue a pilot’s license myself, I’ve often wished that I know someone (preferably a responsible some) who did… just so I could experience flying in a small plane to an interesting destination.
Owning a plane the way you did makes remarkable sense, and it sound like you made the best of your years with the Archer.
I think I enjoyed this CloudSide Classic more than I’ve enjoyed most of my actual plane rides!
Your story reminds me when I was a kid and used to ride my bike to watch airplanes at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie MN. One thing I distinctly remember is just how squirrelly and how much throttle jockeying I saw on the smaller plans during takeoff and landing. Do you recall if your plane used or was required to use Safety Wire? Google says it’s used as a Positive Locking Device for fasteners in place of Lock Washers, Jam Nuts or Thread-Locking Fluid. It sure looks cool but I would always put my money on a Nylon Insert Lock Nut or Lock Fluid everytime.
I’m certainly not an expert, but safety wire has been extensively used in aviation. With safety wire, you can visually confirm that everything is still in place and torqued correctly – something that you can’t visually tell with lock washers, nylon nuts or lock fluid.
It may be different today, but those “redundant, stone age simple” solutions were previously preferred.
100 dollar hamburger had a different meaning at Turkey Point in the 80s… 5 dollars for the burger, 95 for the bag of blow you’d find under the lettuce… All brought down by a plant manager asking for his change lol
Great story, and an interesting idea to fund your hobby and its practical advantages.
One of my first jobs was running the admin for a flying club, and I was always envious of those who turned up able to afford to learn to fly or hire the aircraft.
And some people even get paid to do this…..