TAK­ING WING

THE EURO­PEAN FLY­ING ODYSSEY CON­TIN­UES

Flying - - CONTENTS - By Sam Weigel

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.

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