Monday, November 16, 2009
Goodbye, Gin Fizz
My last view of N5859E in flight as Dana Holladay put her through her paces yesterday morning at Westosha Airport in Wilmot, Wis.
My half-century-old Cessna 150 two-seater, the one I flew coast to coast in 1995 for the book Flight of the Gin Fizz, is going to a new home in Massachusetts.
Her new owner is Bill Sanchez, an engineer at an energy company in New Hampshire who lives on a farm, grows hay and boards horses when he's not flying. He will be basing the airplane at Lawrence Municipal Airport in Lawrence, Mass., north of Boston.
I went up to my airport yesterday to prepare N5859E for her ferry flight east -- an old comrade, Dana Holladay, a veteran certified flight instructor, will fly her out today if the weather improves.
Saying goodbye was not easy.
Half the time during the 15 years I owned Gin Fizz, I thought of her as an assemblage of fragile and expensive aluminum parts flying in loose formation. (She is named in honor of Vin Fiz, the historic Wright Model EX that Cal Rodgers -- also a deaf pilot -- flew from Brooklyn to Long Beach, Calif., in 1911.)
The other half the time I considered her a living, breathing being full of affectionate idiosyncrasies, a good friend who took as much joy as I did cavorting in the air and going places low and slow. She is so light and responsive on the controls that sometimes it seemed that she had a soul.
But now it is time to cast off sentimentality and face reality, after a heart attack last August and consequent bypass surgery. My aviation days are not necessarily over -- I can still fly under the FAA's Light Sport Aircraft rules -- but owning an airplane is no longer practical.
Bill Sanchez and his son Bill Barker, who soloed on his 16th birthday last Sept. 24, will keep old N5859E warm, well fed and content.
That's good enough for me.
TUESDAY: Dana delivered N5859E to Bill at Lawrence Municipal last night at 7:30 p.m. after a 9.5 hour flight, with three pit stops. All is well.