Friday, August 3, 2012

Marcy's Travel Blog -Grass Runways And Tree Tops! Oh, My!

A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation I couldn't refuse! My son Steven had been working on his airplane, and having it worked on. Now that the airplane was again  air worthy, he wanted me to go flying with him! Yes!

Some of you remember a few past flights he and I took. I was excited to get in his flying machine again and take to the sky! The day turned out to be a bit more thrilling than I anticipated!

The temperature that day was in the low 80's, with no wind at all. Big fluffy clouds that looked like huge cotton balls hung motionless in the sky.

As always happens when I'm about to go flying, my heart was pounding a happy drumming beat - and I couldn't keep the smile off my face! I climbed into the co-pilot's seat and put on my headset. The way these are equipped, you have microphones attached to them so you can speak to each other without yelling. (I'm afraid, with my old ears, I'd spend half the flight saying "WHAT?") This way we can easily hear each other, even turning up the volume if needed. The headsets play havoc with the hair-do, but it's a small price to pay to be able to communicate!

Of course, I leave figuring out all these instruments to Captain Steven!

Off we took from Brighton's "Hyne Field", joining those wonderful still clouds- now looking down at the landscape of sparkling lakes and green trees. What a sight!

I'll say it again! In the summer, there is no prettier place than Michigan! Trees, lakes, rolling hills, and patch quilt farm land. It's a feast of beauty for the eyes!

Steven decided to take me for coffee and a light lunch at a little restaurant right near Napoleon, Michigan's grass strip airport. (In other words, a grass runway) We headed south west, pleasantly surprised that we encountered very little turbulence. I basically spent most of the flight with my nose pressed against the window- or taking pictures, trying to drink in all that beauty

Now we circled the Napoleon airport and made our approach. There, right in front of the runway was a row of tall trees, which we were going to have to clear before we'd make it to the runway. Steven brought the airplane in low.

Now, his aircraft is called a "Maule".  One of the really fun (but a bit scary at first) things about this airplane is it's Plexiglas doors! You can look down and actually see the landing gear beneath you!

My view of the landing gear from my door!

 So, here we are, approaching that row of trees! Lower and lower, until we were right over the top of them. I looked down and could have sworn I could reach out and grab the top branches!! (Steven tells me we were about 15 feet above, but it felt like we were going to be making a nest in those trees!) If I had my wits about me I would have grabbed my camera to record the moment- but this was going by in sort of a fast blur!

Hard to tell from this picture how tall thy are!!

As soon as we cleared the trees we swooped down, sort of whoosh- roller coaster style, and did one slight "bump" onto the grass runway! I am NOT a thrill seeker. I don't like roller coasters or scary rides. But, I've got to say-- that was FUN!  (I know- I was grinning again!)

Napoleon Airport- Napoleon, Michigan

Steven's pride and joy- and one sweet ride!!

Once we parked the airplane we walked to the restaurant, passing the former "Maule" airplane factory. I don't know if Steven's airplane was built here, but other "Maule" aircraft certainly were. Started by the Maule family after World War II, the factory moved to Georgia in 1968. Now the building is used for other things, but it was fun to see a bit of airplane history.

Captain Steven and his killer smile- at the Napoleon Cafe

The restaurant we walked to is a little mom and pop place. Steven and I got a big chuckle at the lawn mower parked out front, equipped with it's own cup holder!

We shared a lunch, chatting about our flight in, and where we might go next. (I love these moments of reliving shared experiences with my sons!) Steven was determined we were only landing on sod runways that day. So our next stop was to be Richmond, Michigan. Gliders are often taking off and landing there, and we were hoping to see some.

A little side story- The driver of this "John Deer" seemed to take a special interest in Steven, staring at him all during lunch. As we got back into the airplane, we noted that the man on the tractor was now sort of circling the air field, watching our aircraft! We laughed as we speculated what the man's motive was and whether he was a "pilot stalker". It made for an interesting, humorous conversation while we let our imaginations go a bit wild.

Off we took, back into that beautiful still sky, flying low over beautiful lakes and farm land, crossing over I-94 expressway and over Sugar Loaf Lake.

Try as we might, we couldn't find this river on the map- so no name- but beautiful!

Unlike the landing at Napoleon, the one at Richmond was smooth- to the point I wasn't sure we were on the ground!  Nice fancy flying, Steven! (Sound like a proud mother, don't I! Please forgive- I can't help it! Ha!)

There were no gliders this day- perhaps the lack of wind had something to do with it. Off we took again, heading back to Brighton's Hyne Field. Again I was mesmerized by the beauty of the countryside. Lush green, sparkling bodies of water, and patch quilt farm land- a visual feast!

True to Steven's promise, we landed in Brighton on the grass strip portion of the runway, making our day a true day of "Grass Runways Only!"

As we were taxiing in, two Powered Parachutes were preparing to take off. We stopped and watched as they reached upwards to that beautiful sky, making lazy circles in their colorful flying contraptions!

It was a perfect end to a wonderful day!

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