Out of This World

Parts & recreation.

Burt Rutan’s designs were truly out of the box and out of this world.

I returned from AirVenture with a few story ideas and a horrible illness that prevented me from doing much of anything. “Might as well get caught up on the UFO hearings,” I thought, popping two gelatinous pills. Orange in the morning. Blue at night. Silly humans, always armed with a quick fix.

Traveling to Wisconsin already made me feel small as I flew over vast land I’d never really seen before, and now I was being reminded about the possibility of further galaxies and even further-from-human creatures. The furthest I’d flown prior to Oshkosh was from Washington to Oregon, about 250 nautical miles, which wasn’t as flat and dare I say boring, since I passed Mount Rainier and could marvel at it. There wasn’t much goin’ on in Idaho, Montana and South Dakota. I’d also never flown long legs ranging between four and six hours.

Do UFOs piloted by little green beings like no-so-little green cookies? Colorful snacks and cannulas for a long trip.

Feeling up to date on unidentified aerial phenomena, I began to recount what I had witnessed at AirVenture. I thought about all of us gathering in a distant land known for its cheese to ogle over (oftentimes) unidentifiable flying objects. “What is that?” we asked, gazing out from four-wheeled carts originally designed for sport. I flipped through photos I took of Long-EZs and other funny looking vessels that somehow stay in the air. Who designed these peculiar things? Am I delirious? While ensuring an airplane will take flight plays a key role in what the final product will look like, some aircraft, such as the ones designed by Burt Rutan, make you wonder why engineers sometimes opt for more unusual-looking results. I suppose airplanes really are works of art that evoke thought if you stare at them long enough. If this thing can fly, what else is possible?

I lay there scrolling through photos I took, wondering what the aforementioned visitors would think if they saw or simply read about our time at AirVenture, just as I read about their possible time near us. Surely if there is such a thing as other life-forms they’d be here to collect data, but what would they gather during our favorite week in July? I pictured them scratching their bald heads, not fully sold on the idea of walking five miles a day in a variety of weather, the evening reward being this thing called bratwurst and Spotted Cow. The rows upon rows of airplanes, however, especially the ones you can build in your garage, would undoubtedly entice them. (We don’t really know if UFOs are funded by industry or are off-planet homebuilts, do we?) I drifted off.

What the…? Dang neighbor kids need to quit leaving their pool toys out!

We Come in Peace

Brian returned from Oshkosh in the Van’s demo RV-7A two days after Marc and I returned in his GlaStar. Thankfully I didn’t start feeling sick until the morning after we got back, so my flight home was enjoyable. Brian found me wrapped in blankets, complaining of a breeze. “Why didn’t you turn the AC off?” he asked, not fully comprehending I was no longer human. “I want to write about aliens,” I remarked from beneath my hoodie, which was beginning to look awful tin-foil-y. He vocalized nothing, but I could read his mind. “If you don’t stop I’m going to call your mother,” he thought. Joke’s on him, my Mom’s a Trekkie.

A full day and a half went by before Brian started sweating. “What have you done to me?” he wailed from beneath two cats, who, try as they might, could not heat him back to health. “You look a little…green,” I commented. The bickering continued. There we were, quarantined and left to our own devices, i.e., the iPhone and Nintendo Switch—two prized pieces of technology for us humans.

Overall, it was probably a good thing we were forced to rest post-OSH, but in the thick of it we felt victimized. Why me? I started to wonder if these reported extraterrestrial beings ever get sick. Are medicals of various classes required to fly spacecraft or are these creatures in perfect health? How many different types of vessels are there anyway? I thought about all of our rules and regulations and wondered if we’re the only entity with rigorous flight training. Maybe these little green guys push a button and are instantly flooded with the proper knowledge and skill set to take to the skies. Zip, zoom.

Then there’s the question of homestead. Where do they store their UFOs? Do they have hangars and if so, are they decorated with hokey signs that read “I love the smell of jet fuel in the morning” and fridges full of strange substances resembling Diet Coke? We’ve been led to believe they’re technologically advanced—witnesses have reported seeing strange craft perform aerial maneuvers no human or man-made ship is capable of. I think that’s safe to assume considering us humans set out to complete a project and instead, goof off, drink beer with our buddies, wake up and wonder why we didn’t get anything done. Same time tomorrow? Yup! Surely Martians don’t have plumber’s crack while working.

Views from our flight home. Flat areas like this looked otherworldly. We’re not in the Pacific Northwest anymore!

Down to Earth

A week passed before Brian and I started feeling better. We went back to work and forgot all about our time of misery and mystery. That is until I sat down to write this column. “There’s a creature in your hangar,” Brian whispered, startling me while thinking of a headline. “It’s upside down and sleeping,” he continued. Now I really must be going insane. “It’s a bat,” he confessed, realizing I wasn’t finding his coyness funny. I breathed a sigh of relief and switched my Google search to “How to get rid of a bat.” No more of this nonsense.

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Ariana Rayment
Ariana Rayment is an instrument-rated private pilot from Tacoma, Washington. She discovered her love of flying through her former purchasing role at Glasair Aviation. She loves the Reno Air Races, where she stands alongside Jeff LaVelle as his crew chief and pals around with her friends in Sport Class.


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