I could have cut wood, I could have worked on our cars, I could have done some overtime at work, I could have even stayed in bed. I was bold though, and went flying instead. It takes a strong man to turn his back on so many responsible pursuits in favor of a flight of fancy.
Sunday was forecast to be a bright spot in the gloom of our winter, and indeed it was. The air was about as still as it ever gets, and the sun took the chill out of the air quickly. Visibility was more than 50 miles. I had wanted to fly to the Jamestown area to visit a fellow Commonwealth owner, but I decided that 150 miles was a bit too far to go on a shakedown cruise. I had been told that there was a good restaurant at the airport in Tunkhannock PA, which is about 65 miles southeast of Elmira. Just right, I thought.
This was the first real trip for the plane since I did the repairs to it. I have flown around the local area establishing its flight performance, and becoming accustomed to handling a tailwheel airplane on the runway. I hadn't yet had a chance to settle it onto a long straight line and let it fly. I was anxious to sit back and watch while the airplane did the work.
I could say a lot of things, but I suppose that in summary, I'd have to say that the plane is sweet. With the throttle set for an economy cruise, it flew hands off for the entire flight, and covered ground at better than 90 MPH . I keep having these fantasies about making some real flights this year, and the performance I saw today brings them one step closer.
Friends in Detroit, family on Long Island, all of these places are day trips, leave at breakfast time and be back in time to mow the grass in the evening. "Sun and Fun" is a gathering of the faithful at the Lakeland FL airport each April, and Oshkosh Wisconsin hosts sport aviation's big event each summer. Dare I dream?
An unusual plane such as the Commonwealth comes with a number of built- in destinations, too. There weren't too many of these planes built, and people who own the surviving examples of the breed all help each other. From everything I have heard, owners all have an open invitiation to fly over and visit with each other.
It is a simple plane, and that suits me just fine. An engine and some airfoils are all that is necessary to fly, and anything more is just gadgetry. Navigation is as simple as drawing a line on a map and picking out landmarks. The plane flies slow enough and low enough that it interacts with nature rather than trying to overpower it.
This plane is little more than a sheltered place for two people to sit while the scenery goes by. Not too much different than the front porches where people once relaxed and socialised at the end of a summer day.