I’ve been flying more to build time and prepare for instrument training. This week we flew to Llano and met some guys who were waiting as a mechanic replaced a magneto on their Maule. We also met Larry Snyder of the Ercoupe Owners Club, who had flown in from Arkansas for lunch. After a stop in Fredericksburg, we headed back to Austin and encountered some moderate turbulence west of the city, resulting in a PIREP. Foreflight continues to be an amazing tool for managing flight plans and other details.
Like many pilots on vacation, I often find myself staring skyward and wishing I could stop at a local FBO and sign out an airplane. Doing so isn’t especially difficult, but it does requires a checkout and enough paperwork to make the endeavor more chore than adventure.
But thanks to OpenAirplane and its Universal Pilot Checkout concept, I can now easily rent from about 100 operators in more than 32 states using little more than my iPad.
A few minutes after landing at Brenham Municipal Airport, I’m greeted by a cheerful waitress in a poodle skirt. She leads me to a booth at the airport’s 1950s themed diner, not minding that I’m distracted and weary from a gamey landing that included a gusting and wavering crosswind. Like all experiences that are both challenging and rewarding, the crosswind nudges me out of my comfort zone.
I order lunch as two men who appear to be in their 70s discuss aviation fuel prices from the booth next to me. The Brenham Airport Diner is one of two themed diners frequented by pilots and aviation enthusiasts in Central Texas. The other, Gillespie County Airport, is 130 miles west of here and features a theme that pays tribute to the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.
As I take in my surroundings, I wonder if my generation will produce enough pilots to justify airport theme diners.
After lunch I preflight and fuel the airplane. The winds have calmed some, and the area weather stations report that clouds are continuing to rise into the autumn sky. The Cessna climbs rapidly in the cool air, cutting through the wind, toward home.