Thursday, August 10, 2017


Fort Lauderdale
circa winter 1963

     Ed had to take a day from our vacation to jet back to Boston on business, so I decided to fly to Gainesville for a visit with my brother and his family. After we had lunch together, Dick, Dixie, and the little Dickenses drove me back to the airport.
     Noting that the skies had changed from broken clouds to overcast, I stopped in at Flight Service to check the weather between Gainesville and Fort Lauderdale. Locally we had a ceiling of 1000 feet with scattered rain showers, but in the direction I would be heading, I could count on improved visibility and rapid clearing.
     Should I stay at 1000 feet or on the ground? Flight Service Specialists are helpful, but they won't give advice. I must make my own decision.
     I waved goodbye to my brother and his family and took off. I had flown only a short distance when buckets of rain began splashing against my windshield. It's hard to see where you're going when a bucket of rain is in the way. I regretted not being able to welcome Ed back from Boston, but decided to return to Gainesville. The young men at Flight Service congratulated me for not being too proud to change my mind.  "Some pilots think that once they've left the ground, they're committed to go on, come hell or high water. They'd rather die than turn back—and sometimes they do."
     I took a cab to the nearest motel. I would have felt lonesome and sorry for myself if I didn't have Moppet to keep me company. It rained all night and all morning. By 2:00 p.m. I was stir‑crazy despite Moppet's efforts to divert me with finger‑biting, sandal‑chewing, and staring contests. You can take just so much of sitting in a motel room, staring at a poodle who is staring back at you.. So I called Ed, to whom I cheerfully had said a few hours earlier, "Oh well, c'est la vie, I'll probably be able to fly out this afternoon," and I said, "How come you haven't called me to see what's happening, I might have to spend the rest of the week here, boo‑hoo, why don't you get on a jet and come rescue me?"
     Two boo‑hoos later Ed promised to come as soon as he could climb out of his swimming trunks and into a taxi.  He left the house at 6:00, caught a flight that took him from Fort Lauderdale to Miami to Tampa to Gainesville, landed at ten minutes past midnight.  "Could've walked faster," he said grumpily.
     We got up at 5:30, took off an hour later, were in instrument weather for five minutes, then beautiful VFR skies the rest of the flight.
     "Now if you had your instrument rating. . . " Ed said. . . .

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