Been cooking these weekly stews for several years now, and implausible (or impossibly artless) as some may seem, all are true. Well truthful, anyway. Inevitably though, fresh fixin’s have become scarce. Not much left but distilled morsels, like that overcooked goo at the bottom of a crockpot. Plenty nutritious if you happen to be starving, but hardly worth space in the fridge. Dog food.
Exhibit A: 36:00 N / 118:00 W
A hundred miles out, traversing a notorious thin stretch, Pedro unearths our first thermal in what feels like half an hour. We need this climb, so when the lift improves he tightens his turn to bite in. It’s exactly the right move, and spontaneously I chirp, “Go Pedro, GO!”
What he hears, of course, is ‘stop circling and go on’.
Once back around to our heading, he squares his shoulders, tilts his head and rolls sharply level. At first I think he’s only nudging the circle that direction — until he noses over straight away from perhaps our last thermal for another half hour. My sorry face abaft does no good.
We’ve flown together enough to know each other fairly well, and after one monosyllabic volley each understands the other. My fault for not communicating clearly. His mistake was failing to question what he rightly thought a misguided directive. Like so many sins, easier to commit than to correct.
Suddenly low as our initial climb back home, and with the abandoned thermal receding behind, those querulous angels arise to grapple again in the dust behind my blue-blockers. We really need to keep moving, but ahead lie mountains well above us and no cumulus anywhere. Landout options? Okay for the moment, but getting lower here could push one after another out of reach. Going back for a thermal seldom works; if it’s already risen away we’ll be lower still and need to retrace ever further toward the nearest lakebed. All for a groundspeed less than zero.
But the angels deal in realities, not rationalities. Tiring of the trivial, they curl up together for another nap, leaving just Pedro and me, alone with gravity…
So how do we get out of this jam? You’ll have to ask him. The preceding testimony is my entire recollection of that day, swear to Gaia. All other details have stirred themselves into memory’s broth of uncategorized data, atomized, emulsified, but never lost. What I wonder is, has this single vignette been somehow resected from an otherwise ordinary (i.e. memorable) flight? And if so, by whom and why? Maybe the angels know.
Regarding denouement, off-field landings are anything but forgettable, so it’s safe to assume we escape somehow. Probably involving luck, right? Use your imagination.
Hey, there’s an idea! If scraps like this are all that’s left in my cockpit crockpot, maybe YOU should toss in some vittles of your own and heat ‘em up. Somebody out there ought to have chow more satisfying than these greasy bones.
And if not, why not? Dogs who eat too well only get fat.