Hot Air Balloons Have the Right of Way

Today was Nicole Ticknors' bridal shower. She's a cousin on my father's side. While we're somewhat distant cousins, I definitely see some resemblances like our high cheek bones, our noses, and fair skin. But Nicole is a stunning beauty.

Nicole Ticknor & I


I'm very glad she invited me to her bridal shower in Durant. It gave me an excuse to fly and use our airplane for practical travel. While last week was solid instrument weather, today was clear and calm.

I flew on an IFR plan intending to do the GPS approach into Durant, but I was running late. I decided on a visual landing to save time. After the airplane was parked and tied down, I borrowed a courtesy van then showed up to the party in my new blue heels just in time to mingle and celebrate Nicole's special day.

After the party, I chatted up the nice guy at the Durant FBO. He told me the airplane off the runway is abandoned. It's a Fairchild FH-227D. The story is, students from the university purchased the airplane to restore it as part of a project, but didn't finish. It's now sitting on an old taxi-way off part of closed runway, abandoned. The city just wants to get rid of the airplane. The guy at the FBO thinks it will get scrapped by the city. He says this airplane was featured in the 1993 movie Alive. It was the only furnished FH-227D the producers could find, so the airplane served as part of the set.

The Fairchild at Eaker Field

So if you want a dirt cheap, twin turboprop airplane that was once in a movie, call the nice guy at Durant.

Leaving Durant was my first departure from a non-towered airport. I called up The Briefer and fumbled my way through filing then getting clearance. I say fumbled because I hadn't done this before and mixed up my terminology. I wasn't sure if I opened an IFR plan, or get filed, got clearance first or last- I didn't know. I'm sure I was informed at some point in my training. Now I'm all straightened out: file then get clearance, and do it within 10-20 minutes of departure if you're on the field. Otherwise, file then call again for clearance when you're almost ready to taxi.

Ooh, and I learned that hot air balloons can launch without ATC knowing. Luckily, I saw this one well enough in advance to deviate. There were three in the area, but this one was closest to my path.




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