Thursday, May 17, 2012

Flying High with an RV Grin

This blog entry appeared in the May 8th Kings County Record.  I wrote after taking a flight with Rick Keirstead.  The Keirstead's actually own the airport in Sussex and ask people to respect it.  They work had at maintaining the grounds and runway.  I was at the airport as a final evening for our Men's Group and wow it was a great night.  Enjoy.

There are moments in your life where you simply end up with the right people at the right time.  In that moment good things are bound to happen if you let them.  Last fall I started spending my Monday evenings with a great group of guys as part of my search for clarity on my faith.  This last Monday we ended our talks by gathering at the Sussex airport for a barbeque. 
Yes Sussex has an airport.  It is privately owned now but used to host planes as part of the spraying for spruce bud worm on behalf of the Province.  The airport sits atop Marshall Hill, just south of Sussex.  As I drove along side the runway in my car I felt like I was already high in the air as the view was phenomenal and looked over the valley near Fox Hill and north onto Sussex.  Rolling farm land was coming alive with spring well established.
I parked my car and grabbed my meager contribution to the party, mustard and ketchup.  The guys all greeted me with easy chatter as I took in the planes sitting along the runway and the contents of the hanger.  I thought it a bit odd that a canoe hung off the wall until I remembered who the guys were that spent many hours here.  Todd Byers, Rick and Ross Keirstead were all pilots but also eager outdoor enthusiasts. 
Ten minutes after arriving Rick asked if anyone wanted to go up for a flight in his plane and I didn't hesitate to take him up on the offer.  He walked me through the process of getting into the cockpit and helped me strap in.  After letting the RV-6 warm up for a few minutes we pointed it down the runway.  It seemed like no time and we were up in the air.  The small plane gobbled up runway faster than my dog gobbles up Cheerios.  It seemed impossible to me when Rick told me our take off speed was about 140mph.  Once he pointed the nose down the ride was smooth as glass as the plane caught wind and started to glide.
Once on our way Rick banked to the left and back around towards Hidden Valley.  I've hiked there many times and scoured over topo maps and Google aerial photos so I was sure I would know it from the air.  I quickly picked out the familiar ravines of the Valley but couldn't believe we were already there.  I truly don't think we were in the air two minutes.  A plane made the trip to Hidden Valley much easier that was for sure and the view was definitely another perspective and no aerial photos compared to seeing it from the plane.
Our next destination was Pleasant Lake via the Cedar Camp valley and I couldn't help but think "What a great way to scout the watershed I work to conserve."  Rick pointed out a few features and lakes he was familiar with and talked about spotting moose on previous flights and how the Fundy Coast area was one of his favorite places to go and "play."  I snicker to myself at how different our definition of play is.  I can't help but grin from ear to ear and I could feel it on my face.
Rick takes us over the new mine site and I am impressed by the neat layout of the site and how clean it looked considering all that was going on there.  From here we followed the Kennebecasis River towards the Town of Sussex.  I noted the large number of cars at each of the bridges and figured that the sea run trout must be running.  We took a quick flight over my house and I thought "Man, Seth would love this."  

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