Living at an airpark has a lot of advantages – easy access to your plane (and shop), the ability to go flying for a few minutes before dinner (or before breakfast) without a lot of travel time, and having neighbors who are like-minded enough to consider airplane “noise” to be music. One other advantage is that it is easy to provide overnight accommodations to fellow aviators looking for a place to get some rest.
We had the pleasure the other night of taking in a couple of guys on an amazing trip – amazing not for its duration, but for its distance. A former Russian Air Force officer who goes simply by the name of “Vlad” currently lives in New Jersey with the RV-9A he built and completed a few short years ago. Since that time, Vlad has been known to jump in the airplane at a moment’s notice to depart for places unknown – sometimes, even to him! The other day, he found a friend who needed to build cross-country time towards his ATP ride, and offered the use of his time and plane for a little “jaunt across the country. “
Departing from the suburbs of New Jersey on a Thursday morning, they made western Wyoming by nightfall. After catching a night’s sleep in the FBO lounge, they flew many more hours the next day looking over the mountainous regions of Idaho and Oregon, landing on the dry lakebed of the Alvord Desert, circling Crater Lake in Oregon, then setting down at Black Rock City’s freshly-graded lakebed runway where they are preparing for the annual Burning Man festival. They rolled into our airpark on the east side of Carson City, Nevada as the sun was setting – many more hours in their logbooks. Bright and early on Saturday, they launched again – this time headed for the Meteor Crater in northern Arizona – which required them to take a little time to see the “big ditch” of the Grand Canyon. Finally turning the corner for home, they crossed Arizona, New Mexico, and into the panhandle of northern Texas before once again bedding down for the night.
Sunday saw them once again airborne, winging east into the rising sun for home base in the crowded east. While we don’t know for sure how many hours they put on, we guess it was time for an oil change when they got back – not a bad trip for a long weekend. A remarkable achievement for an airplane built in a New York City workshop by a guy just making a living as a recent immigrant to a country that offers the freedom to fly and roam.