Two more legs to go. There was some speculation that the Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout Face Down in the Mud would be tainted by the residual JP-5 in the modified external “fuel tanks” that I was carrying. But it’s amazing what a maintenance shop can accomplish when motivated by the mission and a few bottles of Woodford Reserve
Due to my current ukulele obsession, the party would wait one more day for beer delivery. I had made a silent oath that if I ever stepped foot on a Hawaiian island, that I would come home with the real deal. Fortunately, Oahu was home to two great houses of uke, KaOlaha in Honolulu and Kanile’a in Kaneohe. I would rent a car for the day and visit both, hopefully getting a factory tour at each.
Both craftsmen create amazing instruments by hand and gave very warm welcomes to the player seeking a tenor companion to his mahogany Kala concert beater. Holding, admiring, and playing both became an excruciating struggle which in the end, would require more than a day to resolve. I knew that no matter which one I left behind would become the source of much soul searching regret. Ultimately, American Express would win the day. Perhaps I should sell an acoustic to make room. Claudia will surely have my butt otherwise
With Hornet delivered, ukuleles procured, and beer transferred to the new tanks, there was really only one way to depart Honolulu.
As my PC was strapping me in, a small pickup pulled up and a goofy dude slithered out of the passenger side wearing a flying suit and carrying a helmet bag. Where in the hell does he think that he’s going?
“Hi, I’m Jester!”, he yells as he climbs up the ladder. “Mind if I catch a ride?”
“As long as you don’t sit on my ukuleles and don’t yell anything like MUDSPIKE! while we are over the vast Pacific, you are welcome to tag along. Actually, you can help with fuel management, because I have filled those bags with beer.”, I yell back pointing down at the ramp.
Jester smiles and in his best Jethro voice, “I’m good a cipherin’.”
Too bad you’re not Ellie May, I think.
Pulling up the weather briefing I choose 8L and taxing into position say, “Hey Jester, you are allowed to yell something stupid now.”
He doesn’t hesitate and I hear in my headset, “I FEEL THE NEED!”. I have a huge grin as I advance the throttles to the stop.
I am surprised at how brutally the Tomcat accelerates and it feels like way are passing through our assigned altitude before we reach the end of the asphalt.
“You trying to break some windows?”, comes from the back seat.
We roll right to take up our course. Claudia and I need to come back here for our anniversary.
I think that I’ve found my favorite AS Cloud Art theme.
The big cat’s systems are fascinating. Careful Chipwich. Do not shut one down.
These clouds are amazing.
350 IAS is giving us 544 GS confirmed by my handheld Garmin.
This is the sweep our Tomcat likes at cruise.
The autopilot requires only occasional adjustments in HDG and ALT modes. But a few times the roll computer becomes upset by chop, resulting in some aileron oscillation.
Jester’s playlist is pretty good though. I haven’t heard of most of the artists, but am enjoying the music enough that ask him to email me the list. Should we survive the trip.
We pass the time talking about how we ended up in a Navy jet hauling beer. Turns out Jester was a Clemson grad and had played rugby. His dad was an Army officer and flew Loaches in Vietnam, doing VR missions near the trail. He had some insane stories about both rugby and his dad dropping hand grenades in gun pits. What is the saying about the apple not falling far from the tree? Anyway, I mentioned that I thought that my dad had said that he had seen Loaches at Da Nang and perhaps they had shared beers in the O club. But their tours had missed each other by a few months.
After a couple of hours we start down. During the descent I check the weather, which doesn’t look too bad.
We hit some precip, but just enough to rinse off the salt. The rain looks correct until I hit the Pause button to take a screen shot.
I make a break over the field, but keep the pattern high because of the trees being so damn near the threshold.
Jester predicted that we had enough fuel and he was right. No alternate out here anyway.
One leg to go!