On a multistate cross-country trip with a large group of pilots (which I described in the March 2003 issue of AOPA Flight Training), I was flying a Piper Archer with a CFI in the right seat and a passenger in the back, bound from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Burlington, Vermont. We’d just enjoyed a lobster lunch and were happily taking in the breath-taking scenery as we passed over the mountains.
On this summer afternoon, thunderstorms began to form while we were still several miles from our destination. We listened to the tower and noted that some airplanes were being diverted to a lake near the airport to wait out the storm. Were we next on the list?
As it turned out, no. We were told to continue our approach. But as the clouds formed and the storm spooled up nearby, the winds got a little raucous. I remember trying to plug in a frequency on the Garmin 430, but I couldn’t quite manage it. When our heads hit the ceiling and the CFI’s camera floated in the air, he offered to fly the airplane, and I accepted. With pleasure. (I like to think that if I were in that left seat today, I would have said “Yee haw!” and kept flying the airplane.)
The winds were straight across the runway at 30 to 35 knots, and Mark had to use a lot of aileron and a lot of rudder to keep us on the centerline. When we touched down and taxied to the parking area, the skies opened up, and we were drenched as we ran inside the terminal. And Mark wore a giant grin. “That’s flying!” he said.