Thursday, September 2

Glory be!

Years ago Karla and I were hanging around the Mariposa Airport, a 3,300-foot (1 kilometer) strip in the foothills north of where we wanted to buy some property. We met a park ranger and his wife who had just landed in their Cessna 210, a nice big fat six-place single-engine airplane that they had lucked into owning. (That’s the only way to get an airplane if you worked for the National Park Service back in the 1970s.) He had just finished testing new radios and navigation gear that he had picked up for a song from a brand new crashed Piper aircraft. (It was a test flight; the test pilot bailed out and survived.)

They loved their airplane and could hardly wait to share it with flying enthusiasts, which we were at the time. They gave us a ride and we flew north from the airport over the gold country of 49’er fame. There was some ground fog in low places, and looking down we were surprised to see the plane’s shadow surrounded by a circular rainbow. It’s called a glory, which is nice to see in a picture like the one above, but even better in real life.

Dan and Elaine were their names. I wonder if they still have that great airplane. Those things never wear out if you keep up the maintenance. The FAA once said that an unpressurized single-engine small airplane should literally last forever. If it doesn’t crash, that is. And even then it comes back as thousands of nice shiny new beer cans. I’ll drink to that.

Photo: Nick Bradley via

No comments: