I had some genuinely “free” time to myself today; no RL worries, nothing to rush to or get done in-world (well, nothing that couldn’t wait…), so I gave myself an hour of pure indulgence. It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to take to the air in SL, but this is September, and while there are still a few days still to go before the 15th, I decided that heading over to Santa Catalina’s Hollywood Airport and putting my Spitfire IX through its paces sounded like a good idea.
I’ve reviewed the aircraft – a quite generous gift from the creator, Eric Gregan – in the past, so am not going to do so again here. Suffice it to say, I think it is once of the best aircraft I’ve flown in SL, and I’m totally in love with it.
Having run through pre-start-up checks, I hit the ignition and waited as the big Merlin coughed, paused, coughed, and then with a snort of flame from the exhausts, roared into life. Confirming all my switches were set, I ordered the chocks away and opened the throttle a touch more and eased the plane around for taxiing.
I was admittedly a little leery about taking off; coming out from the other side of the airport was a humongous great US air force bomber (which, given the little avatar running frantically along side of it as it turned out onto the runway, may have forgotten / lost someone…). As I didn’t fancy impersonating a leaf in autumn and back flipping in the jet wash from the beast, I gave it plenty of room before turning out myself and pushing the throttle all the way to the stop and giving the engine a little bit of boost.
Flying out of Hollywood airport can at time be a little ugly. The end of the runway is the region boundary, which can make things a tad interesting when the grid is in a mood. Not this time, however. Letting the tail come up, I eased back and to the right on the stick and started a climbing turn to the west, wheels coming up tidily.
Continuing west, I passed over Crows Nest and the Fastnet light house, one of the great landmarks of Blake Sea, then dipped the nose for a fast pass over Half-Hitch. This took me over Barbarossa as well, And I spent some time flying around the two before heading back east towards Santa Catalina, before finally turning south and then west to put down at Honah Lee Surf.
The last couple of times I took to the air things were not that pleasant when it came to region crossings. This time, while I encountered three rough moments (one of which I actually recovered from by editing the plane and dragging it back to the middle of a region after getting snagged on the Blake Sea Arabian / Blake Coast regions), things were very smooth, and even rapid and repeated region crossings while flying in a tight circle caused few problems. About the only major issue I did have was in trying to fly the plane and position the camera for a decent snapshot …
All-in-all it was a good trip and fun to be back in the air – although I need to brush up on my landings. A couple were decidedly rough; there’s an art to alanding atail-dragger I’ve not quite mastered – but plenty of time to get better! I can say that I certainly didn’t miss finding myself sitting at 0,0,0 sans ‘plane and thinking”?!?” this time around :). I think I even pleased someone with a couple of low fly overs!
September 15th is approaching, so I’ll be airborne again to mark the day; hope I can do something a little special.