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Safeguarding
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Aviation
Stories from our members...
 

Christmas Flight
by George Loegering, December 16, 2003

We returned from a 26 days cruise with lots to do before the holidays. Thanksgiving passed eventfully and we flew from Lincoln, California to Sun City, AZ for a week of relaxing and Christmas shopping in the sun.

We returned IFR with rain and cold and stopped in Rocklin for a few days until we could fly north to pick up a fresh cut Douglas fir tree in Trinity Center. Sun returned finally, but upon arrival at the Lincoln Airport I was very surprised to find a significant coating of ice on all flying surfaces requiring a strong morning sun, two large terry cloth towels, and a soft plastic card to completely deice.

Monday morning went quickly with lots of errands and visiting in Redding. Then after a pleasant lunch, the short flight to O86. More visiting friends and neighbors, checking on frozen water pipes at the hangars, going to the post office, last minute winterizing the house, hangar, and boat, and finally picking up the tree. Volunteers cut local trees and donate them to the Trinity Center Elementary School. Funds raised are used for special student activities and trips. The other incentives to purchase these trees are that they are one day fresh and very reasonable in price.

My selection was almost immediate, a full, symmetrical 10 foot tree with 4 to 5 inch annual growth branches, tall yet slender at the base-perfect for the Rocklin house. I took a small saw to the plane with a wrap blanket and removed one foot as it was just too tall to fit in the cabin. I saved a dozens limbs for wreaths or in case I needed to replace a damaged limb. The butt end of the tree went in through the main door to the hat shelf with the tip brushing the dash. After checking the plane, I adroitly managed to climb over the tree, strap in, and close the door. Off we went with the pine smell over powering my space. I estimated that we would touch down at Lincoln by nightfall; plenty of time for dinner.

After reaching cruise altitude in cool calm air I relaxed and took inventory of a very fun and productive day (about 20 contacts); had I driven nothing would have been accomplished except a 10 hour drive!. My mind wandered as I envisioned myself as Santa Claus bringing the beautiful tree for Julie, the children, and grandchildren to enjoy.

All too soon the lights in the valley and on the highway below started to twinkle. As I looked to the west, the sun was slipping below the coastal range peaks and the deep blue sky was decorated with white, yellow, orange and red-I sat mesmerized as the colors changed from bright to vivid then mellowed.

At the same time, to my left, to the east, the full moon was above the Sierra Mountain ridge mistily obscured in a dark blue gray haze. The moon brightened as it rose into the clear upper air as the sun went dark I wondered if maybe Santa Claus started early on an evening like this? It was glorious!

It was amazing, but after I extracted the tree unharmed from the Bonanza I couldn't get it in the Blazer, I had to tie it on the roof for the 60 mile per hour freeway ride to its place of prominence. Fortunately I didn't break a bough or loose a needle because of its freshness. It didn't take long after affixing the tiny angel to the top that lights were strung bright and the tree was adorned adding to nature's glory. It's going to be a great Christmas.