Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dad's Home Sweet Home

In a world where constancy is a rarity, I count my Dad amongst the "rocks" of my world. He's not into super-frequent contact and able to leap great distances between face-to-face encounters. Yet, when I'm with him, I feel a palpable Dad/son-like connection, comfortable and welcoming, soaking in every moment. I'd go to the ends of the earth with him just for laughs and for the experience (and wish he'd ask).

So, it was with a breathy sigh of relief that I finally landed in Columbus after a rather heinous and long air-trek from Hamburg, via Hamburg and Frankfurt. Geez, middle seat for 8 hours is enough torture for any non-wartime personnel! Thank god my co-worker Josh gave me his digital LCD device from Archos. I watched several movies on it including one amazing martial arts flick involving a rural Thai boy in search of his lost elephant. Wicked, Jackie Chan-like stunts, not to be missed!

I stupidly didn't call Dad in Washington DC to let him know I was running a tad bit late, but hooked up with him outside of Columbus baggage claim nonetheless. Dad looks great - just like I remember him. A "JimsAir" shuttle driver picked us up and delivered us to Dad's Lancair "rocketship", resting restlessly on the tarmac. 15 minutes to Cambridge on an engine rebuild, new twin turbos and an out-of-this-world "glass panel" chock full of modern avionics.

Pretty incredible to think that this experimental composite is a multiple world record-holder, flew the Ohio flag to Kitty Hawk in celebration of the 100th anniversary of flight, and is universally held in the highest esteem of any air traffic controller worth his salt. Of course, none of the gear would be shite in the hands of a lessor pilot. Dad is so comfortable and smooth and non-plussed in the air, I'm more at ease than if we'd be on land. His is a unique experience in aviation, having bridged the gap from the propeller age to military jets and back to high-performance experimental. How many others? A few hundred? Under a hundred? Astonishing, and I sincerely hope that he one day "cowboys up" and writes some of it down for Ethan and Emily (and I) to marvel.

We do a quick dinner at a Greek restaurant in Cambridge, OH, then cruise home. Diane is readying herself for a trip the next morning to Dana's to visit Bobby and his new sibling. She looks great and I'm so thankful that we got to chat for a few minutes.

In the morning, it wasn't long until we were at work on the property - just the tonic I was looking for! Dad had an electrician coming over to work on some lights and a motor for the pond across the road and soon I found myself rowing a boat into the water... He's got a great vision for these big projects and the fountain looked great later in the day at dusk.

We followed up the land and water work with a short flight in his 1948 Aeronca before the weather turned ugly. Taking off from "Taildragger Lane" (look it up in middle-Eastern OH, Alex!), we headed to Dad's Salt Fork and Grand Haven Resorts, followed by a low-level pass over the Salt Fork Lake. Wicked fun - check out my Aeronca pics on Flicker here.

One of the principle things I could help Dad out with this trip is a little tutorial on eBay - after all, he had a plane-load of avionics to get rid of. I did the best I could listing a couple of items and teaching him how to sell. The martinis helped, but still it was slow-going. The good news is that within a few hours he had a hit on our first listing!

"Artsy" Tractor shot out at Taildragger

The next morning I was scheduled to jet home. The weather was a bit unpredictable and since Dad wasn't fully confident of his IFR gear yet, we elected to drive. A customary short departure at the curb in Columbus to avoid man-tears and I was once again solo, heading to the West Coast and back to another sweet home. Thanks for the lovely visit, Dad!

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