Biggles flies undone

Sunday was a day of gender opposites. Deanne played host to Mindy's bridal shower and Mike and I embarked on a day of testosterone driven adventure. We started the day by heading up to the Chabot Gun Club with Mike's dad to do some shooting. I haven't shot in a LONG time but thoroughly enjoyed it. There were an interesting collection of people and weapons up there. Some of them I am now convinced could have destroyed a small tank. We all shot well and went home happy. The next part of the day would prove to be unforgettable. For Mike's bachelor present I got him a ride in a Waco (pronounced wah-co not way-co) open cockpit biplane. He's a plane enthusiast and has long harbored an ambition to fly, even completing a 12 week ground school course at Attitude Aviation. Originally Mike's dad was due to go up with him (the plane can hold 3 people, including the pilot) but he was adamant that I go with Mike - I could hardly argue with that :) So we arrived at Attitude and after talking it over with Rich Perkins, the owner of Attitude and also our pilot for the day, we decided it would be a lot more fun if we flew separately. This meant we could leave the control stick in and give us both a chance to fly this beautiful airplane. Mike went up first and had a blast - he was grinning from ear to ear upon his return. I went up next. I have never flown in an open cockpit aircraft before. It is certainly a unique experience. You are cruising at about 100mph with the wind rushing over you. Truly an exhilirating experience. As soon as we were out of the traffic pattern I took control of the aircraft. We flew over Highway 84 and near (but not too close to) the Vallecitos Nuclear plant. Once we were close to Del Valle, Rich took control and dropped the altitude down to a couple of hundred feet. We did a couple of wing rolls which drew the stares of the campers by the lake. We turned to the North and I took control of the plane. We flew along side the Altamont, intersecting Highway 580. There was quite a wind blowing from the West, so much so that the drift of the airplane was very noticeable. I flew us to the East of Brushy Peak and over Los Vaqueros reservoir before turning back South-West and over House on the hill. We entered in a 2 mile right base - the same pattern I had flown over and over with my previous instructor Luca Scheda. I was surprised when Rich told me to fly the plane all the way to final, at which point he took control and brought us in for a perfect landing. Now if anyone tells you that's any easy plane to taxi...they're lying. I was all over the place! But I (eventually) got us back to the hangar where we posed for a few photos by the plane. A fantastic experience, something every aviation enthusiast must do at least once. We got some amazing photos and even a couple of short movies. (Movie 1 -2mb Quicktime : Movie 2 - 3.1mb Quicktime)