July 19, 2005
Wauseon, Ohio to Mentone, Indiana
Highs and Lows and trip stopping injuries
The morning dawns beautifully and Dee is excited
about taking a scenic flight to see the corn maze so after a careful
preflight we take-off into the early morning sunshine. We climb
immediately up to 1,500 feet above the ground (AGL) so we can see the entire
maze picture at a glance, then make a few spirals as we loose altitude for a
closer look with Dee snapping pictures the entire time.
A few minutes later I have dropped Dee off,
refueled and headed for the Mentone fly-in. The day is crystal
clear and it is one of the prettiest days I have had so far. I'm
flying over lush green fields and again the flying is exactly as wonderful
as I'd imagined it would be. I feel lucky to be alive and flying on
such a day. This is the warmest day yet and I enjoy flying
along in shorts and a T-shirt.
At one point I see a farmer on his tractor plowing
a field and I drop down to 50 feet and wave. The fields here are huge
so I can fly low for several miles before a field ends and I climb up a bit
to clear the next road and the wires running alongside.
Flying along at crop level I see a field being irrigated. I want to
swoop down and fly through the water like a kid running through a sprinkler
on a hot day. I ponder how it would feel but with no doors and my
engine exposed caution makes me pass it by only 100 feet away with the early
morning sunlight creating a million rainbows in the spinning
As I near the airport my radio call is
answered by my friend and mentor Terry Eiland who is in the pattern teaching
landings to his latest student. Terry is the builder and former owner
of my aircraft and always a wealth of information. I have
a smooth landing which Terry rates as a 9.5.
The rest of the day is spent greeting old and new friends and making a
few more scenic flights in the area but by 10 p.m. we fall in to bed happy
to have made it here.
July 21, 2005-- A Broken Arm
We have organized a group of 7 or 8 gyros to fly to a nearby airport for
breakfast and I am greatly looking forward to sharing the skies with all my
flying buddies. I'm the first one ready and even though I have pre-flighted
already I take the time while waiting for the others to go over my machine
I casually turn the prop a few inches to look at my
drive belt and to my shock the engine compression nearly fires the engine
causing the prop to spring back and slap painfully at my wrist. I grab
my hand as blood spurts from a tiny cut near my right thumbnail. The pain I
am feeling is all out of proportion to the small cut.
A small crowd starts to gather around me but I feel
foolish and don't want all the attention so I just walk away and start for
the motorhome to get some ice and a band-aid. When I don't return to the
runway my friends secure my gyro and fly off for breakfast. At the
time I assume that I'll slap a band-aid on my hand and follow behind them.
Instead fifteen minutes later I am lying alone on
the floor of the motorhome writhing in pain and trying not to go into shock.
The pain just seems to keep increasing. It takes about an hour before
the pain subsides enough for me to try moving my hand and when I do I'm
greeted by some grating sounds that don't bode well.
Dee is off exploring the nearby Amish community and
while there are plenty of people around there is no one I know well so I
simply get in our Jeep and head for the hospital 15 miles away. The manual
transmission is a bit of a problem but eventually I get it into third gear
and simply leave it there working the clutch to keep my speed in range.
When I walk into the hospital white and sweating the nurse keeps looking
over my shoulder to find the person who has driven me here until I tell her
I'm on my own.
The medical care here is excellent and in less than
2 minutes a doctor is examining my wrist and sending me for X-rays which
reveal a broken wrist and my thumb broken in two places. The
piece of bone between the two breaks is floating freely and they briefly
discuss putting a pin in my thumb but the hand surgeon arrives and she says
that won't be necessary. She also explains that the hand and
especially the thumb are loaded with nerve endings which is why I feel so
much pain. She is swift and gentle and minutes later I am sporting a
bright blue cast covering from my forearm to the end of my thumb.
My biggest concern is how this will affect my trip.
I spend several days determined to fly with my cast but in the end I decide
it simply would not be safe to do so. Our next stop was planned to be
the huge Oshkosh Wisconsin airshow which gets over 20,000 planes and 750,000
people. They had even publicized that my gyro would be there and for
me it is a tremendous disappointment not to be able to fly there.