Sunday, September 30, 2012

I'm still here . . .

No, I didn't get lost in Oz. (Although part of me wants to do so!)

I have just been very busy seeing the sights and meeting great Ozzies. I spent a couple days in Uluru (that big red Ayers Rock you always see in photos) which was amazing. Also amazing that I had to fly from Sydney to Ayers (smack in the middle of the country), then back to Sydney (east coast) to fly to Perth (west coast). This is a big, big country and I've crisscrossed it a few times now.

Two thumbs up for the airline system here. They serve you food - good food! - and best of all, security is like pre-9/11. No removal of shoes or coats; you can carry liquids through; and a friend can accompany you to the gate. It was like the old days, and I love it. Along that same line, the big-brother-watching that is perpetuated by police officers on every corner in the US is not found in Oz. People tell me they do give tickets, but I've only seen two in all my driving here. And yes, I can drive just as fast from the left side of the road as I can from the right . . . .  Ah, and the speed limits are reasonable - you don't fall into a stupor here from having to drive at near-coma speeds.

My only complaint: limited seating at the airports. I had to stay one night at Perth airport (that's always fun) and it was like a frickin' homeless shelter, with upwards of 40 people scattered around in various stages of discomfort - all over the floor and baggage carousels.

Otherwise, as they say here, All's Good.

xox, Cate (they all call me Cate here)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A New Way to Live

On this day in history, when airplanes were used as weapons and religion was used as justification to kill, I lift my eyes to the sky and continue to believe in the human spirit. I believe we can evolve past the need for weapons and past the desire to kill. I believe we can choose a new way to be human, a way that sees we are all connected as creatures of the universe, with no exclusions.

If you believe that one skin color is more desirable than another; if you believe that one religion is more right than another; if you believe that one style of life is more admirable than another, I challenge you to shake up your beliefs. When societies and religions are governed by fear and hate, judgment and righteousness, exclusivity and superiority, they enter a graveyward spiral that is ultimately fatal to all aboard.

Know that deep down we are all made of the same core atomic structure. When we rebuild our world in love and acceptance and inclusiveness, we will all be safe, and we will all be able to fly free, in whatever way we choose. It starts one person at a time. It starts with you and it starts with me.

I believe it can happen. I believe.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Aussie Airtime

Had a GREAT time flying "Down Under" today.

I reached out online to "Leighton" from the Hunter Valley Recreational Flying Club located at Cessnock Aerodrome in the great wine region of Hunter Valley, about two hours north of Sydney. I arranged to meet them at their monthly BBQ (they omitted telling me that I first had to solve the Rubiks puzzle of how to find them).

Following the smell of auto-gas, I did eventually turn up in time for some Aussie sausage sandwiches cooked on the Barbie. And without once driving on the wrong side of the road - of course it's all the wrong side of the road here!

One of the CFI's, Dave, gave me the grand tour, showing me his great little Savannah VG with the Rotax 912.

Then club secretary, Phil, showed me how the Aussie maps read.

Finally, it was time to go fly with Keith, a dedicated and patient CFI, in their Tecnam Sierra. A plane I know well, having flown one from Palm Beach, FL to Arlington, WA. several years ago.

Foreign air, familiar airplane.

We flew over the beaches of the Central Coast, circling Nobby and Norah lighthouses, admiring huge Lake Macquarie, crossing "The Entrance," and on to the Watagan Mountains - gorgeous scenery!

They fly their pattern here at 1,ooo feet agl, but do their crosswind midfield. Otherwise, Aussie flying is very similar to US flying. Sure, there are regs and the fuel is expensive, but the spirit of aviation prevails for those who gotta fly. As we flew back to the aerodrome, we observed the F1 freeway at a complete standstill. Been there, done that. I'll take airways over freeways any day.

And on the way home, I saw my first herd of kangaroos.

A perfect day!

Monday, September 3, 2012

In case you haven't heard, Richard Bach was recently injured in a plane crash on San Juan Island. Apparently, his 2008 Easton Gilbert Searey, which he called 'Puff," snagged a wire on aproach.

I guess if you fly enough hours, eventually things happen. I'll never forget him telling the crowd at Out of the Blue about crashing his P-51 Mustang. I mean that's not something too many people can claim to have done. At least not walking away from the crash site.

One of my fondest memories was when Richard came to talk to aviator fans in my hangar (which we cleared of virtually every item to make room for the 200 chairs) a couple of years ago. People came from as far away as Georgia to hear him. As fans called in to reserve a spot, they would tell me how Richard had influenced their lives:
"His book meant so much to me I named my son after him."
"I carried his book, 'Biplane' all the way through Vietnam."
"My daughter turned her life around after reading his books."

This is a man who has touched many lives, including mine.

I wish him a speedy recovery so that he can continue doing what he loves best: Flying