In the piloting world people talk about the $100.00 hamburger and what they are referring to is renting a plane, flying it to a destination, having lunch or dinner somewhere, and flying back home again. The cost of renting the Cessna 152 I fly is $79.00/hour wet which means fuel included.
Last Thursday I took one such trip with my husband. My Dad is running as an independent for Congress in November so he needed to collect 1000 signatures from people who live in the district he is running in. Since I got my certificate in April I have only been up flying once about a month ago. I decided that I could combine collecting signatures and flying in my rare day off. Now flying the plane to the location we were collecting signatures from made absolutely no sense from the point of trying to save time but it would allow me to get back up in the plane so I scheduled us a rental plane.
We stopped in a work before we left and ended up spending an hour or so tying up loose ends before we felt comfortable that everything was handled in our absence and then drove to the St Cloud Airport. I got the weather updates and preflighted the plane and armed with my trusty clipboard and petitions sheets we took off for Glenwood, Minnesota where we would be collecting signatures.
It was a beautiful trip over, about 55 nm(nautical miles). The area we flew over demonstrated just where Minnesota got its name Land of 10,000 Lakes. We flew over many lakes and farm fields. It took us about a half hour to get there. We landed in Glenwood and got their courtesy car and drove the 3 miles into town from the airport. Before we left the airport my husband asked “Is there any place to get a haircut in town?” The lady at the airport didn’t know of one. My husband was sure we could find one so we drove around Glenwood for about 15 minutes and finally found a place. My husband said “Why don’t you go and collect some signatures while I get my haircut?” So I set out in the neighborhood where the hair salon located to get some signatures.
I walked up to the first door and knocked, no one home. The second door there was a car in the yard so I walked up and knocked on the door. I saw someone look out the window next to the door and slowly the inside door that was partially opened closed and no one came to the door. I went to the third house, a corner house, and as I was walking up to the door a car passed very slowly on the street and turned the corner and parked on the side of the house but the person never got out of the car. They just sat there and watched. I walked to the next house. I knocked and an older women came to the door and after I explained what I was there for she said that she wasn’t interested.
Now I don’t think that I’m a particularly scary looking person but I felt like I had the plague while I was carrying that clipboard. People wouldn’t make eye contact. The longer I tried the less confident I felt in my ability to be able to collect even one signature. Its been a long time since I have felt shy but that was the feeling that was starting to creep up in my body. I almost felt like I was back in junior high in those awful awkward years. I wondered at this time how in the world my Dad and other volunteers had already collected over 900 signatures in the past week and I haven’t even collected one.
I was working my way back to where my husband was getting his haircut when I saw a young man walking up the street and I stopped and talked to him. He was a salesman from a car dealership. I talked, he listened, and signed. Yeah! Finally my first signature. I was now by the hair salon that was located in an old school building. My husband walked out after his haircut and I walked back in to see if I could get a signature or two in there. The stylist asked me “What is his stand on domestic abuse?” I said “He’s against it” How do you answer that question? I felt inadequate in my response. She still signed. I didn’t ask for her to elaborate on her question, apparently my response was enough.
My husband and I headed to the Dairy Queen for a Blizzard before we headed back to the airport. I asked him “How much was your haircut?” He said “I’m embarrassed to tell you.” I looked at him for a response. He said “$20 with the tip.” That wasn’t so bad. He said “Maybe when I need a haircut you could just fly me to get one that way you could get to fly and I could get my haircut.” I said ” I was thinking of doing something a little more exciting with my pilot certificate than flying to get haircuts.”
We got back to the airport, I got an updated weather report, paid for the use of our courtesy car and preflighted the plane. We were off for home with 3 signatures and a fresh haircut. On the way home we flew over the south end of Sauk Centre and I announced my position relative to the airport. “Sauk Centre Traffic, Cessna 4872B crossing south of the field from west to east at 5500, Sauk Centre, Traffic” Then I heard the familiar voice of my CFI who was flying with a student just setting up to land at the Sauk Centre Airport. They announced their position and then I was on to the St. Cloud Airport to land. It was so good to hear her voice while I was in the plane and having her hear that I am being a safe pilot when she is not in the plane with me.
As we neared the airport I listened to the updated ATIS and reset my altimeter for landing and called the tower “St. Cloud Tower, Cessna 4872B inbound for landing with information Romeo 10 miles west of the field.” They responded “4872B report a 3 mile right base for Runway 13. ” I repeated their radio call back and started to set up for my entry to the airport. I reported my 3 mile right base entry and they responded “4872B cleared to land Runway 13” We landed, taxied back to the General Aviation ramp, and shut down the plane. It felt so good to be back up flying. The bird’s-eye view of things is still my favorite even if it incorporates a $170 haircut. $150.00 for the use of the plane and $20.00 for the haircut.