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Thursday, August 10, 2017

(4) I BET JAYNE'LL THINK OF AN EXCUSE NOT TO FLY WITH US.

     Ed and I have discovered an interesting though inconvenient fact of life involving our hobby—the difficulty of finding two people married to each other who are both willing to risk flying with us. There's always a man here or a woman there who will say, "Just name the day!" but invariably the husband or wife wants no part of such folly.
     Our friends Jayne and Blake Thaxter fly commercially when they take vacations, but Jayne is routinely terrified from the moment the plane takes off until they have safely reached their destination. Since Blake, too, isn't keen about being airborne, we were surprised when they asked if they could hitch a ride with us to Vermont. They’d like a bird’s eye view of a piece of property they are thinking of buying.
     "I'll believe it when I see it," I say to Ed. "At the last minute Jayne'll think of some excuse not to fly with us, what do you bet?"
     When the alarm wakes us early Saturday morning, I go to the window to see what kind of day we have. The sky is clear, but horrors—the wind is blowing up a gale. If there's one thing that scares me half to death it's being in a small plane at the mercy of a big wind. I remember the gusty day shortly after my first solo when I thought I'd never get the Colt and me down with both of us intact.
     "We don't have to go if you're nervous," Ed says. "We'll call the Thaxters and tell them we've decided it's too windy."
     "Don't you think it's too windy?"
     "Naw, I can handle it all right. I've seen worse. I'm game to go ahead if you and the Thaxters are."
     My only hope is that Jayne will back down. She, however, is too busy trying not to think of what lies ahead of her to be aware of a minor factor like a hurricane. Blake picks us up at 7:30, says his wife is still in bed with the covers pulled over her head. Never has Jayne seemed so sensible! I’m tempted to say, "Tell her to move over," but don't want to ruin my image as that fearless female pilot from Cohasset. We collect my friend, who says she has taken three tranquilizers for her nerves, and drive to Norwood Airport.
     To my relief, the flight to Rutland was nowhere near as choppy as I expected. The landing, however, was tricky, since the airport is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains; a fair‑sized hill rose almost directly in front of our runway. While Blake and I chewed our knuckles, morbidly fascinated by the way the wind kept tipping us toward the hill, our pilot skillfully circumvented the obstruction and touched the pavement with a gentle tap. Jayne missed out on the excitement, being a strict believer in keeping her eyes closed during takeoffs and landings. She claims she'd rather fly with Ed than on a commercial airline any time. Now there's a girl, as Ed would say, who's playing her cards j‑u‑u‑s‑t right!

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