Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Flying Life


Sure the hours are long, you get paid by the hour, and the wages aren't great, but being a professional flight instructor has many advantages. One benefit is that you fly regularly and spend a lot of time in aircraft and at airports, which allows you to encounter and experience things you otherwise wouldn't. Just the other day I had the opportunity to fly four different aircraft types in one day. But in addition to the variety of aircraft and types of flying, you never know who you might mieet and what sights you might encounter.

I was walking across the ramp at Palo Alto last week, when I noticed a gentleman next to a classic Meyers with a strange-looking contraption on a tripod. I approached him, introduced myself and asked what the deal was. The device, he told me, was a three-dimensional digitizer. He used it in his business, and what pray tell was that? Turns out he makes aircraft covers and the next words out of my mouth were "Are you Bruce? Of Bruce's Custom Aircraft Covers?" An aircraft owner I know had just purchased a new cover from Bruce for his Piper Arrow. "You're famous!" I kidded. His response, "Could you please call my wife and tell her that?"

It's Bruce!

Last night, climbing out from Oakland to the northwest with an instrument student, NORCAL cleared us into class bravo to five thousand. That's an a unusually high altitude, but then we were given a heading of 250 for traffic. My student complied and while we were turning I was wondering what might be afoot. Earlier, I had been sitting in lounge of the Business Jet Center waiting for my student, taking note of a lot of activity. There were a lot of people speaking French with lots of camera equipment. At least person was wearing what looked like a rock-climbing harness. A helicopter photo mission, perhaps?

The controller called traffic, an experimental solar aircraft at twelve moving to one o'clock at three thousand five hundred. "You gotta take your foggles off and look at this" I told my student. The controller had given us a rare treat: The 250 heading would have the one-of-a-kind, Swiss-made Solar Impulse right underneath us. Sadly, I didn't have my good camera with me so here is a cropped iPhone photo.

Solar Impulse over the Berkeley Marina

When the controller was asked where the Solar Impulse was headed, his reply was "He's flying all over the place." The Solar Impulse had departed Moffett Field for a morning flight and then again yesterday evening in preparation for a cross-country flight to promote electric-powered aircraft technology and development. You can find more information about the gathering of electric aircraft this weekend at the Santa Rosa airport here.

1 comment:

Jason Miller said...

I just ordered a Bruce cover last week :)