Two Ships, Passing

Posted April 2013

Took off today to try out the homemade under-helmet headset.  I keep my radio tuned to the home drome even outside the pattern, just to keep track of what's going on back at my base.

Was flying south today, and I heard a radio call:  "Tiger NXXXX crossing Lake Tapps south-to-north, fourteen hundred feet."

Hmmm.  I was just east of Lake Tapps, at 1900.  Let him know?  Heck, we're offset by a mile or so, and five hundred feet of altitude, and I'm flying in the opposite direction. would be courteous, just in case he'd already spotted me.

"Tiger, you've got a Fly Baby east of the Lake, at nineteen hundred."

Voice came back:  "Is that N500F?"

What the hey?

N500F, of course, is the ORIGINAL Fly Baby, now in a museum restoration facility.  I hadn't flown it for twenty years.

"No," I replied, "But I used to fly it."

"Is this Ron?"


"This is Bob _____!"

Holy smoke.  "Hey, Bob, you replaced the two-seater!"

I'd met Bob on the Internet 30 years ago.  Yes, thirty years, on one of the old USENET discussion groups.  Bob had been flying "The Hummin' Little Grumman," a Grumman TR-1.  I'd even an in-flight shot of him and his plane in a book or two.  We'd met at some USENET-community fly-ins a couple of times, but I hadn't seen him for about 5-10 years.

Back when I was a 13-year-old CAP cadet, I was trained to operate some of their old goofy VHF radios (anyone remember GONSETs?).  One bit of training is that you do NOT use the radio for chit-chat!  But I shoved down the guilt feelings as Bob and I reminisced a bit.

We went our separate ways.  I still had the radio turned to Auburn, my home field.

"Auburn Traffic, Tiger NXXXXX" crossing at 1500 feet."

Probably on the way to Boeing Field or Renton.

"Auburn Traffic, Tiger NXXXXX on the 45 for 3-4."


"Auburn Traffic, Tiger NXXXXX downwind for 3-4, full-stop."

He's landing at my home field!

I turned back north and raced (or at least putt-putted) home.  I'd do a touch-and-go first to spot where he's parked.

First T&G... hmmm, the two transient parking locations were clear, and he wasn't parked at the gas pumps.

Second T&G... its that him taxing down for departure?  No, it's a Cherokee.

Around a third time for a full-stop.  Need gas, so taxi to the pumps.

Beyond the pumps is a resident tiedown row...and there sits a Grumman Tiger with its canopy open.  And up walks Bob.

Strange how two ships can pass in the day...but still meet.  Gives me hope for parallel lines. :-)

Ron Wanttaja

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