Plane & Pilot

Where It All Began

There were several long moments as I stared alternately at the giant dune adorned with a giant monument and the mangled metal of my Mooney’s baggage door support, a folding bit of metal that holds the door open for loading and unloading. Its simple, over-center locking mechanism had been wrecked at my direction, as I asked Amy to close the door while I tied the plane down. Amy had never fully opened or closed the door, and I had nobody to blame but myself as I contemplated how to get the door closed.

There were two factors lending a sense of urgency to the mission: First, there were people watching. We’d just landed at a national monument, so there were plenty of people at the fence looking at the swiftest airplane parked on the ramp. Second, there was a gray giant of a raincloud overhead, and the bottom was minutes from falling out. A

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