THE EUROPEAN FLYING ODYSSEY CONTINUES
The European flying odyssey continues
Some cravings are easily sated. A waffle cone of soft-serve ice cream, for example, or a hot greasy Big Mac (with a supersize side order of regret). Other, more deep-seated desires, however, seem only to intensify once indulged. Wanderlust is that way for me: The more that I see, the more I’m compelled to roam and explore. And aviation is probably the most insatiable compulsion I’ve ever known. Perhaps I could be weaned off it, slowly but surely, while my attention was diverted by glittery gewgaws — but give me one little taste of the good stuff and I’m back, baby. It’s more addictive than hard drugs, and twice as expensive to boot.
So after flying an Ikarus C42 microlight at Germany’s MainzFinthen Airport (Taking Wing, September 2018), my latent cravings kicked into high gear and compelled me into action. I finally signed up for Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base’s single-engine seaplane rating add-on course; it’ll be done, pass or fail, by the time you read this. I touched base with a bunch of friends who own airplanes, and will hopefully fly several in the coming months. And I made plans to fly an ASK 21 glider on a 26-hour Paris work layover. I don’t speak much French, mind you, just enough to muddle through ordering wine and victuals on layover walkabouts through the City of Light. But it’s been my experience that most Europeans involved in aviation tend to speak pretty good English.
Alas, when I called the gliderport after a midmorning arrival to Charles de Gaulle Airport, the instructor on duty explained that it was not a very good day for flying gliders — very little lift, as evidenced by the midlevel stratus clouds. Somewhat deflated, I did a Google search of flying clubs — and was surprised to find a whole passel of them just southwest of the city, at a small airport called Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole. I perused the club websites and found that all offered introductory flights and most had Robin aircraft of various vintages, but only one offered the airplane I really wanted to fly, the classic tailwheel Robin DR.221 Dauphin. A quick call to the Aeroclub les Alcyons yielded an appointment to fly with an instructor at 5:30 p.m. After my customary post-Atlantic-crossing nap,
The Robin DR.221 I flew in France is quite a handsome little taildragger.