Tuesday, August 7, 2012

6 August 2012--Uvalde is No Vacation in Greece

In Alice Munro’s short story, “Runaway,” a character muses on a recent vacation in Greece: “At first I was bewildered. It was so hot. But it’s true about the light. It’s wonderful. And then I figured out what there was to do, and there were just these few simple things but they could fill the day. You walk half a mile down the road to buy some oil and half a mile in the other direction to buy your bread or your wine, and that’s the morning, and you eat some lunch under the trees and after lunch it’s too hot to do anything but close the shutters and lie on your bed and maybe read. At first you read. And then it gets so you don’t even do that. Why read? Later on you notice the shadows are longer and you get up and go for a swim.”

It’s much like that at the WGC in Uvalde. At first, you are bewildered. It is so hot.  But it’s true about the flying. It’s wonderful. And then you figure out what there is to do: you drive a mile down the road to Wall Mart to get a new tube for your wing wheel and another for the bicycle, because both have thorns in them.  Then a mile in the other direction to HEB to get water and cheese and beer, and that’s the morning. And then you eat lunch at Subway, and you launch, and then it’s too hot to do anything but return to pick up your laundry, go back to your hotel room, and lie on your bed and maybe read. At first you read. And then, you don’t even do that. Why read? Later you notice the gliders will not be returning for another two hours and you go for a swim.

Meanwhile, you watch Spot and you listen to the radio, if you can, and you try to discern when the gliders will return. When you get a good idea, you grab more water, rush back to the airport, and wait till you hear the 30 k out call on the radio. Then you grab the wingwheel and the tail dolly from the truck, run out to the taxiway, place them behind the orange cones, and wait for the finish call. When you hear that, you grab the tail dolly on one arm, the wing wheel in the other, and watch for your pilot. When you see him nearing the taxiway, and then floating down the taxiway, you stand about 40 feet off the taxiway, wait for it, catch the wing, and run to place the tail dolly on the fuselage, the wingwheel on the outer wing, and then you start pushing the plane off the taxiway. You hope that there are no other trucks or cars or planes in the way.

You are crewing for one of ten or more planes landing at once. You are all trying to do this, and you are all trying to get your plane off the taxiway at this point, without impeding anyone else, and without impairing your chances for making it safely to your tiedown area.

You push the 1875 pound plane back to the tie down and begin scrubbing bugs from the wings. All 92 feet of them. Then the tail and the nose. Then you start putting on its pajamas. Meanwhile, it’s still 100 degrees.

So it’s a little like a vacation in Greece. Except for the dust devils.

Today I asked a German crew member what they call dust devils in Germany. He shrugged his shoulders. “Nothing. We don’t have them.”

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