By: Bill Wiebking
The ride was a birthday gift to me. Prior to asking Anne, I remember asking about 13-14 other friends if they wanted to go. There were a lot of concerns, but the two biggest included the following. First, many thought I was going to be the pilot. Second, they were terrified of flying without an engine.
What made this flight even more unappealing was the associated ‘stunt’ package, where the pilot would perform loops and other aerobatics.
Anne, who shares a birthday very close to mine, actually thought it was a splendid idea. And with that, we were airborne.
Anne’s acceptance speaks very highly of her daring and adventurous character, which she has in spades. I know this because I’m a rather large person, and the pilot crammed me in the back of the sailplane for weight and balance reasons. (I actually wanted more window being the aviation buff.) Anne doesn’t know this, but at least one point in the flight I thought I was going to hurl, and the back of her head was the likely discharge point. So like I say, she is very adventurous.
Our sailplane was pulled aloft by another plane. It was a red bi-wing. We probably flew for a good 30-40 minutes sightseeing before the sailplane pilot released the tow cable. The sailplane banked and dove to the left while the bi-plane dove to the right. The sailplane, I believe, immediately did its first loop.
In geography that only matters to Anne, the sailplane slowly made its way to the intersection of Jog Road and Hypoluxo Road in Palm Beach County Florida. At the time, we were flying over serious cattle country. Now, it is a massive housing development.
Our pilot proceeded to execute more stunts. It was very exhilarating, but as the hour was almost up the pilot decided to put the plane in a downward spin to lose altitude. We were over a grazing field with a herd of cattle when he nosed down. For fun, the pilot selected a cow out of the herd and dove on it.
So here is the picture from my perspective. The entire planet is spinning wildly with the exception of that one cow, the windscreen, the back of the pilot’s head and the back of Anne’s head. With the exception of those four things, everything else was a huge blur.
In my mind’s eye, I swear that cow was looking up at us, too. I also thought that I heard it say “Moo?” in quiet confusion, which is impossible being in a sailplane at around 2,000 to 1,500 feet. But, that is the memory.
That memory also includes Anne. She was very excited about the spin and the cow. Before it occurred, she was also in some sort of discussion with the pilot. To this day, I think she hijacked my flight. While it was hard for me to hear, I also think she was giggling or at least very amused in the spin toward the cow, which in a very literary sense would be a huge foreboding to her future with Matt, Nebraska and all her favorite Cornhuskers.
So thanks, Anne, for saying ‘Yes’ to the flight. Your heart in both adventure and compassion relieved my growing desperation. It also created a stronger bond of friendship between us, to which I’ve always been grateful. The flight also seems to have pointed toward your future, which makes that memory all the more wonderful as I continue to enjoy Feedyard Foodie.
Many thanks to Bill for bringing back good memories…For those of you that are wondering—we did not land the plane on top of any bovines. We landed safely back at the airport. My favorite memory of the ride was making Bill nervous as we looped and drove through the sky (The pilot and I did do a little bit of plotting… ) I tease my girls that they are ornery—I wonder where they got that from??