(2018-10-26) Laughter Silvered Wings
Solo takes Heather flying.

Location: Aerostar Courier Hangar, at the Air Port. Then in the air in a Cirrus Vision SF50. Links in the first pose.

Solo opens the small door on the hangar, the one that's the right size for people. She flips the lights on. There's a brief pause, then the LED lights flick on at full brightness, mostly as a group. There are two planes. A small white Pipistrel Alpha Electro, and a somewhat larger Cirrus Visionjet. ((One of these: https://www.pipistrel-usa.com/alpha-electro/ and one of these: https://cirrusaircraft.com/aircraft/vision-jet/)) Neither of them is particularly large. The Vision Jet is about 30 feet long, and its wings are just shy of 40 feet wide. The Pipistrel is even smaller, about 21 feet long with a much more slender body, but its wings are only 6 feet less wide. Which would be hard to tell, since they're not presently on the aircraft, the nosecone is disassembled, and a rainbow of wires is hanging out behind the motor.

"So I was planning to take you up in the Pipistrel, but I had to order some parts for the overhaul, and they're not due until tomorrow. But I figure I just got paid. I can spend 300 bucks in the strip club getting us both drunk off our asses, or I can take you up for an hour in the jet." She pushes the button and the big door starts to open. "Besides. The view is better from up there." Solo grins.

"I dunno, they'd have to be pretty big boobs to get a better view from the air" Heather deadpans while looking over the aircraft. "And you know how to put this all back together? Impressive. I can pay for the fuel too" she offers with a smile, making sure to get out of the way of any opening doors. "I bet this hanger costs a lot to hire. I thought I was in an expensive business." A quick check of her phone before it is tucked away in her jacket pocket. "And no fooling around in the air. I remember that" she smiles.

Solo laughs. "Yeah, and plastic like the fusilage." She knocks on the Cirrus' door. Then opens it, and climbs in to the right side. "Come on up. And yeah, if you want to add to the flight time, we can stay up longer." She looks at the touch screen "glass" cockpit, and runs her fingers over it affectionately, the kind of touch Heather might be acquainted with by now. "Quick question. Are your sunglasses polarized?"

Heather takes a few moments to best figure out how to get into the plane before she clambers in alongside Solo - glad that she didn't wear a skirt today. She glances around the interior as she gets herself comfortable in the seat. "I think they're polarized" she replies, "Not really sure to be honest. The glass isn't?" Heather won't poke the surface, she knows she will just get fingerprints all over it that will result in their deaths. "Let's not talk about plastic boobs" she smirks, "I paid for a pair I never got to see."

Solo shrugs. "Not gonna tell someone else what she should or shouldn't do with her body, but the plastic ones don't do it for me." Solo pauses, then reaches behind her seat to a small cabinet in the wall. Opens it, and fishes out a pair of sunglasses. "Use these instead, so you can see the instrument panel. LCDs and polarized lenses are a problem." Once Heather's in the seat, she says, "Scootch that forward. More… take that joystick thing in your hand. It's called a sidestick. It has to be comfortable, and you'll need to reach the pedals comfortably.

"I think they're saline these days anyway. And yours are pretty perfect as is" Heather replies with a wink before taking the offered sunglasses. "Let me guess, Aviators?" She puts them on before adjusting the seat as instructed, lining up sidesticks and pedals. "Okay, I think I'm set. Umm…you're not expecting me to take off on a first lesson, are you?" A little frown. "Plenty of room in here for a cameraman but…we'll worry about that another time."

Solo hmms. "That's actually a problem. The Pipistrel's a two-seater. Maybe remotely operated camera or something? Or we can rent a bigger plane." She hands Heather a headset. "Very important. It's loud in here when the engine's running. Also, it lets you hear me." She pulls on her own headset. Once Heather has hers on, she says "Don't worry. This is just a familiarization lesson. I'll do the takeoff and landing." There seems to be a little truck backing up into the plane. The plane lurches softly as the truck hooks up and pulls it out of the hangar. Solo pushes the button on her sidestick. "Cirrus November 656 Papa Alpha. Tango 1" The answer comes quickly. "Tango one, 656 Papa Alpha." "Tango one, can you pull us onto taxiway zulu 4? 656 Papa Alpha." "Roger that, Tango 1." The plane is quickly towed to the taxiway, then the tug disconnects and is gone.

"Remote cameras will work. The HD you can get on the tiniest one these days is phenomenal" Heather nods as she takes the headset and places it on, adjusting it a little. "Is this just communication between us?" she asks, her voice a little louder than it needs to be. "Or will everyone hear us?" Solo seems to be using it to talk to the tow vehicle so she decides to shut up until she is sure one way or the other. Heather can't stay quiet long. "So you don't normally teach in this one?"

Solo lets up on the button. "There's a button on your sidestick to talk to the radio. They can't hear you unless you push it." She points to the switch. Now raise your arms in an X.

"Any reason why,or is this a kink I don't know about yet" Heather teases before raising her arms. She glances at Solo. "This is pretty exciting" she grins.

Solo smiles. "Yeah. You're going to start the engine, and you're warning people so it doesn't try to eat them." She grins and points to some buttons. "That one, then hit the big "start" button. The system will do the rest.

"The 'Start' button? Sheesh, if they're going to make things that complicated…" Heather teases before a deep breath. "Here goes nothing." She presses the button, eyes partially closed in case everything blows up. It doesn't! "So far so good. I really deserve a kiss for getting that right. Just saying."

Solo grins as the jet winds up slowly, and starts getting loud. She leans over to check the instruments and temperatures. "Okay. I'm gonna call the tower." She does, in the calm, clipped 'pilot' voice. "Tower, Cirrus November 656 Papa Alpha, on taxiway Zulu 4, request permission to take off, and a block of airspace at or around flight level 280 for flight training." The tower responds, clearing for both, and assigning us a runway, and Solo pushes the throttle forward. The jet gets higher and louder for a few moments and the plane begins to move down the taxiway. She steps on the rudder pedals to turn the plane and line up on the runway. "Cirrus November 656 Papa Alpha, ready for takeoff." Solo grins at Heather, checks her seatbelt, then runs the engine up to full throttle. The tower comes back after a few moments, and Solo lets off the brakes. Acceleration is… surprisingly gradual, but it keeps coming and coming, until Solo pulls back on the sidestick and the aircraft rotates away from the runway.

Heather listens in on the conversations, watching the world around them. And then it is on. She can't help grip the seat a little tighter as the plane accelerates. A nervous swallow. Seeing the whole runway rushing past in front of you is not the same as looking out a porthole. A little prayer under her breath as the nose lifts and her stomach sinks. Heather forgets to breathe as they leave the ground and it starts to disappear below them. "That wasn't too bad" she squeaks, looking to Solo with a nervous smile and then a more enthusiastic thumbs up.

Solo smiles and nods. The little plane keeps climbing and climbing, until it suddenly emerges over the clouds. Solo says, quietly, "Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the sky on laughter silvered wings. Sunward, I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth, of sun-split coulds and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of." The climb eventually finishes at 28,000 feet (so the altimeter says). "Ok. Feet on the pedals. Hand on the stick. Pedals make the airplane rotate left and right, stick left makes us bank left, stick right makes us bank right, stick forward pushes the nose down, stick back pushes the nose up. We're at 300 knots… about 350 miles an hour, so keep your touch light until you know what to expect." She looks over at Heather. "You have the aircraft." One might note that her hand is close to her sidestick, but not on it.

"That's nice, who said that?" Heather asks after Solo's reading, peering at the clouds around them…and now below them! "When you told the tower '280', I thought you meant 280 feet, not 28000" she laughs nervously before following the instructions. Pedals. Stick. She's a tough as nails businesswoman who doesn't take shit…she can do this. Why are they so high! "Thanks" she replies about having the aircraft, though there is a lack of enthusiasm in her tone. "Anywhere in particular we're going?" Heather is not in a hurry to push pedals but there is a slight use of the stick, if for no other reason than to not end up too far away from Calaveras.

You say, "We're in kind of a unique band of airspace. Commercial jets and big business jets fly higher. Most general aviation stays lower. Ok, here's how you make a turn. Bank us a little to the left, then push down gently on the left pedal. I was quoting John Gillispe Magee. Canadian fighter pilot in World War II." She doesn't mention that Magee died at the age of 19 in a flight training accident…

Heather nods to the instructions as she listens carefully. Very carefully. Their lives are depending on it after all. The plane seems to do what is intended, so that makes Heather happy. She even tries to level it out - a bit too far to the right before she manages to figure it out. She's even looking a little proud of herself. "That okay?"

Solo nods. She taps the screen. "That's your artificial horizon. Your inner ear can get really really confused flying." She looks. "Nice job. Pick the nose up a smidge. We're descending a little. Let's make a right turn now. Same drill, only right instead of left.

"Why don't we use the real horizon" Heather smirks before letting out a breath as she readies banking the other way. Of course, she will overdo the nose lifting and they start to climb a little too much. The nose is pointed down again. "Damn…it is hard to get it just right" she growls to herself before she manages to level out and start the right turn. "I can see why you love this though, Solo" she smiles, gazing out at the sky before back to the instruments.

Solo nods. "Sometimes you can't see the real horizon." She lets Heather get the aircraft level again. "It's not that hard, and this is a really forgiving aircraft. The computers will almost fly it for you if you let them. Let's go ahead and climb a bit. Take us left again too." She goes on, "…it was the only jet I could afford, it's not very fast, as jets go, but… I fell in love with it the first time I flew one. Same general flight envelope as an A-10, that's… about all they have in common."

"It's a pretty sweet ride" Heather nods as she climbs the aircraft…or the computers do. "I wouldn't be embarrassed about it being all you could afford. Sure, it's not an A-10, but you're also not in the business of blowing shit up anymore." The plane banks left. "Speed isn't everything, Solo. It's about the pleasure of the ride." A wiggle of her eyebrows for the her companion. "What's the fuel economy like?"

Solo chuckles and points to the display in the engine section. "About 65 gallons an hour. So… almost… what, six miles to the gallon? Right down there with a motor home. Which is phenomenal for anything with a jet engine. Solo adds, "Come right and go ahead and push forward. Watch your airspeed. Keep it right around 300." Solo reaches to draw the throttle back a little.

"So many things to keep track of" Heather pouts with a nod to the instrument bank. "Which one is speed…ah…got it. Throttling back, Cap'n." She would salute but she's afraid to move her hand from the stick. "What's the minimum landing area needed for this? I mean, could I fly it to work from home? Yes, I know I live at work. It was hypothetical" Heather quickly adds.

Solo laughs. "Not legally. And you'd need about 3100 feet of flat, level, straight road to take off and land. But. You could commute to and from DIA. Live here, work there, or vice versa. Or you could go to Vail or Aspen in one hop, ooor… Denver to San Jose California if it was just you in the plane and you keep the speed a little lower.

"I'll keep that in mind if I ever need to take a trip" Heather nods, eyes affixed to the instruments and the horizon - both real and artificial. "So…umm…are you interested in a weekend in Aspen? Go skiing. Hang out in a Jacuzzi. Not that we're in a relationship or anything."

Solo laughs. "okay, take us right in a circle. A really big circle. Tell ya. Sometimes I get a job to pick someone up in a resort location. They pay me to fly there empty - called deadheading. Sometimes I have to wait a few days, and they pay me for that, too. I can ask if they mind sharing the ride, though we might want to keep quiet just what you do for a living.

"Why do I feel like you hang around with all the wrong people?" Heather teases as she starts the circle. "Though, these days, working for the media can be seen as a health hazard. I promised I wouldn't snoop, Solo, and I mean that, but you're going to be okay, right? Are you in anything where I'm going to be reporting your death by 'accident' one night? I don't think I'd enjoy that much."

Solo looks at the clock. "Now come right…" She's quiet a while, checking the navigation screen. She shakes her head. "Flying is way safer than driving. It…" she trails off. "Okay. It's possible. It's possible I might just disappear, too, willingly or otherwise. It's also possible I might feel the need to get boned and have a man on the side. Right now, today, I'm with you, so I'm pretty safe." She smiles a little.

"We're not in a relationship, remember?" Heather replies with a wry smile. "You bone whoever you want to bone." She banks the plane as requested. "Safe with me? I don't hear that often" she smirks before shrugging. "It's okay, I'll make sure not to care about you too much" she winks.

Solo nods. "We keep saying that, yeah." Solo checks her screens. "Man, an hour goes by fast. We should probably get back on the ground. Then we can talk about your place or my place."

"Sounds good" Heather nods about the discussion subject later before peering at the instruments. "Umm…which way is back the way we came? Being above the clouds makes it hard to see the roads…but it is nice up here."

Solo nods. "Yeah… there are days when I wish I didn't have to come down at all. Everything makes sense up here… just… one with the plane and the air." Solo shrugs. "I'll take us down. You formally give me the aircraft by saying "you have the aircraft." Solo puts her hand back on the stick. "How's your stomach? If we did a little aerobatic kind of stuff would you be ok?"

Heather clears her throat. "You have the aircraft" she states with all the authority she can muster. "My stomach is pretty good. I've seen a lot of things that would normally turn it. Bomb victims. Mutilations. Naked men. Go for it." A deep breath as she finds something to hang onto.

Solo nods. "I have the aircraft, thank you." She looks over at Heather. "Are you sure YOU aren't hanging with the wrong people?" She poses that question, not expecting an answer. She banks the plane over in a 1 gee roll. Only the horizon outside (and the horizontal horizon) make it clear we go upside down, until the sideslipping starts and the plane dumps altitude before rolling back out level. "Cirrus November 656 Papa Alpha to Calaveras tower. Descending to two-five-zero, twenty-five thousand, done with our block, and ready to land."

the tower comes back "656 Papa Alpha, descend to 2800, turn 30, line up on 1 left. Calaveras Tower."

You say, "Descend 2800, turn to 30, line up on 1 left. Request permission to land."

"Whee!!" Heather laughs as the plane rolls. "I think my stomach is in my mouth now" she grins, though obviously enjoying it all. She keeps her mic switched to in-plane conversation only. Wouldn't want to say anything embarrassing over the air - she can do that at work. Now she keeps quiet as they head into land.

Solo pushes the stick forward. "One thing to watch out for is that if you get the plane going beyond the Do Not Exceed speed, the wings will come off. That's not always fatal for this aircraft… we have a parachute, and the computer will try to stop it, but it's never a good idea." The nose digs into the clouds, and for a few minutes there's nothing to see, except on the radar, IR, and navigation screens.

"656 Papa Alpha, clear to land runway 1 left. Calavaras Tower." comes the reply.

"The plane has a parachute? That's…clever" Heather replies with some astonishment. "I guess you don't pack that one again." She pets the instruments. "Clever little thing, aren't you."

You say, "One left, thank you. 656 Papa Alpha." Solo nods. "It's rocket assisted, too. It's one of those 'deploy this and you'll be on the phone with the factory' kind of things. But hey, that beats "collision with terrain." She smiles like a proud mama as Heather talks to the plane. "The Pipistrel has one too, actually. "

As the clouds clear and we continue to descend rapidly toward the runway, the big letters 1L appear at the threshold. "Aaand here we should slow down. We use the landing gear and the flaps for that. Landing gear first." She looks over her left shoulder a moment to find that switch. "Man, I'm not used to flying this thing from over here." The gear whines and clunks as it extends. "Flaps next." That switch seems to be easier to find. "The flaps extend from the backs of the wings and improve lift at the expense of drag." She clicks the flaps out a few stops, and eases back considerably on the throttle. The plane slows more.

"Big risk at landing is running out of speed and lift. Running out of energy, we called it in A10s. More flaps… engine to idle… less speed… nose up… flare…" the wheels touch the runway. Solo lets the nose down fairly gradually, and lets the plane slow down a bit before applying the the brakes. "It's an easy plane to fly because the stall speed is so low. I could probably land it on the highway with traffic if I had to… I might get a speeding ticket, but only for a couple miles an hour on a 75MPH interstate.""

Heather is quite impressed by everything that needs to be done…and that Solo knows them all. "This is an easy one to fly?" A little snort of amusement. "It might be but it sounds like hell to land. I thought the idea was to run out of speed when you land" she teases before adding, "I could get used to traveling like this."

Solo nods. "You run out of speed when you land, exactly. Just have to make sure that happens when you want, and only when you want. Once you know what all the parts I just named are and what they do, and when you use them, it's a lot simpler. I mean… it can't be harder than editing video, right? Just the consequences for screwing up can be higher." She grins and throttles up a little, taxiing off the runway toward the fuel pad. "Hey, if you're on the clock, I'll cut you a discount. If we're getting away to a beach in the middle of winter, I'll split fuel with you and do it for that." Solo grins. "But yeah. Landing and takeoff are the most dangerous parts. Long distance flying, I can let George do it." She glances over at Heather. "George is the autopilot.

"You'd be surprised how dangerous editing video can be" Heather deadpans as she enjoys the trip to the hanger. "A beach in winter? Sounds like a good idea. Though no bringing your boner along" she winks. "You don't need to give me a discount. It just means it is paid through the company rather than out of my pocket. Which is the same pocket as the company at the end of the day." A nod to the identity of George. "Would it still be a hands-off zone around the pilot?"

Solo thinks about that. "Theoretically it wouldn't have to be. George could fly it even if I was dead. It happened once. A Lear jet lost pressure at 39000 feet, incapacitated everyone on board. It flew until it ran out of fuel and crashed in South Dakota. The F16s they scrambled to intercept it when it went off course could see the windows all iced up. But realistically, I don't think I could get my freak on up here if I'm the pilot. You want to join the mile high club with me, we'll have to do it on someone else's plane.

"It was worth a try" Heather shrugs about the mile high club. "You know, you really shouldn't talk about plane deaths after the first lesson. Just some friendly advice." She'll unclick the seat belt once they've come to a halt. "Thanks for the flight. I can see the appeal. And I can see how much you love it. So…you have about an hour of maintenance stuff you need to do now?"

You say, "Hmm? Nah…" She has them fill up the tanks at the fuel pad. "The Pipistrel needs a full day's work to put it back together, but that's not going to happen until middle of this coming week. I have some long runs scheduled. I'll be back evenings, probably, so fuckable, but not drinkable.""

"I think I'd prefer a fuck to a drink anyway" Heather decides. "You have my number, give me a call when you're free and I'll try to be. And look…I'm not even asking about what the runs involve. All your business."

Solo nods. "Okay." She picks up her phone and opens the hangar doors, then drives a tiny tracked tug out. It backs up under the nose wheel and hooks up to the plane, slowly hauling it into the hangar. "Could you turn the switch to stop to shut the engine down please?"

Heather reaches out to flick the switch; at least she hopes she has the right one. The whine of the engines as they die away suggests she did. Once the plane has come to a complete stop, she opens up the door to step down the steps and to the floor. "This is what solid ground feels like. I'd forgotten."

Solo stops the little tractor, unhooks it, and drives it over to its charging ramp. "Mmhmm." She stretches luxuriously, unstraps from her seat, and climbs out. "Yeah… So… shall I sign you up for flying lessons?

Heather purses her lips in thought as she looks the plane over. A nod to the question. "Sure. Let's hope we're not in a relationship long enough to finish. Probably wouldn't be a good idea to go flying together if we hated each other's guts." She pulls out her phone to check her schedule. "How long before I could learn at night?"

You say, "Uh. night flying is IFR. Instrument Flight Rules. That's the next certification you get…usually… after your sport or general aviation license. Why?"

"I'm just trying to find time for lessons" Heather replies as she continues to check her calendar. "And you have to be around too. When you're not doing these runs. Is there a time limit to get certified? Do all the lessons have to be within a certain period of time? Any health checks I have to do?"

Solo shakes her head. "There's no time limit, but we want to get you there in six months or so, or you tend to forget the early stuff. You need basic medical certification before you start. The FAA maintains a list of examiners around the country. I think there's one here. If not, in Denver for sure."

"I do love those medical check-ups" Heather sighs. "Okay, I'll sort all that out and let you know when I'm ready for the next lesson. First lesson. A lesson." Now she has to find space for an exam as well. "Hmm…might even be able to do it as part of 'Wake Up, Calaveras'."

Solo chuckles. "Heather, you could make interesting tv out of your next gyno. I watch when I can.

"Don't tempt me" Heather winks. "Though it would have to be all above the sheets of course." A wiggle of her eyebrows. "Speaking of…wasn't there something about your place or mine?"

You say, "There was." Solo closes up the plane and the big door. "My place this time, I think. Dinner sounded good.

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