Sunday, June 26, 2011

Putting the "Flying" Back in FlyingSinger

Recently I've been thinking about what a shame it is that I have my private pilot's license but haven't piloted an airplane in over five years. Of course flying is pretty expensive and requires a lot of time, study, and attention to do it safely, and I've been pretty busy with other things. But I miss it.

Today I was in Marlboro, MA for brunch with my daughters when I happened to drive by Marlboro Airport (9B1). I had never visited 9B1 before, so I stopped to check it out. A student pilot (I assumed) in a Cessna 172 was practicing takeoffs and landings, so I watched for a while. I noticed that the single runway is quite short, with tall trees quite close to the approach end that was in use at the time (runway 32, landing to the northwest). The nearby trees reminded me of Hopedale Airport (1B6) where I took my first few flight lessons back in 1997, although when I went into the FBO to ask about rental and instruction rates, I learned that Marlboro's runway is much shorter than Hopedale's (by about half, 1659 feet vs. 3172 feet!). 

Marlboro Airport is about half an hour from home, and since I now work in Marlboro, I started thinking about what it would take to get current in a C152 or C172. Probably a few hours of refresher lessons to prepare for a flight review (BFR) before I can rent an airplane and fly solo again (plus I will need to get a current medical certificate). The short, narrow runway would certainly encourage disciplined flying and provide an additional challenge.


Driving home I realized I should also check out the airport that's closest to my house, Sterling (3B3). I've flown there a few times, including a couple of soaring lessons, and it's a nice little airport with a 3086' asphalt runway and a parallel grass runway that's used by the gliders and tail draggers. So I took the twelve minute drive and got a pleasant surprise - the flight school there is now run by Ed Urbanowski, a flight instructor from whom I had taken a few tail wheel lessons back in 2004 over in Spencer (60M). Ed now instructs full-time and has a Citabria 7ECA Aurora  (pictured) in addition to the Piper Cub we flew in 2004 and two Cessna aircraft. I didn't finish the tail-wheel endorsement, and I would still like to do that. Unlike the bare-bones classic Cub, the Citabria has a modern panel and an electrical system (no need to pull the prop!), and it can be soloed from the front seat. It's got a stick rather than a yoke (like the Cub), and it looks like a fun airplane to fly. So I signed up for my first refresher lesson for next Saturday morning. To be continued (finally!)...

I took this "artistic" picture of Sterling Airport on a late afternoon glider flight looking west on the downwind leg.

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