... why not slip over to Melrose and see the house ...
Editor's note: This is Marie's fourth article on learning to fly, a story that begins in the late 1930s and runs over a period of several years. To read her first three chapters, see the links at the bottom of this story.
Chapter 4: Mandatory cross-country flying.
My instructor and I decided on a trip to Portland, Maine, with a stop over at Plum Island. With my map and protractor, I plotted the trip, measuring the miles, the time, and how much gas was needed. I also checked on the wind and its air speed, and then filed a flight plan in the office.
With our plane checked over, gas filled, we took off following the coastline over Ipswich to Plum Island. We landed at the small airport there, then took off again toward Portland. It was a very pretty flight with the ocean on the right and the small towns on my left. We landed at Portland with no mishaps. I had the plane checked over and the gas tank filled. Meanwhile I enjoyed a bottle of coke and got my log book signed.
Returning to home base, in Revere, we had the wind against us which required more concentration to keep the nose on the horizon, wings level and fly in our planned direction. The trip went well.
The next week I had to do the trip alone. That was exciting to be in the air by myself with the coastline below me. I watched the compass to keep on course, and made Portland in good time. I landed, refueled and took off. I felt strange being in the plane alone. I headed back with a cross-wind again, and kept drifting inland. Finally when Revere was in sight, I thought why not slip over to Melrose and pinpoint the house I lived in when I was young. I found it, it looked so different from the air -- so neat, picture pretty. Finally feeling very proud of myself, I returned to the airport.
My instructior ran out to me as I taxied up to the line. "Where have you been? Did you have any problems?," he asked excitedly.
"No," I replied, "but I flew over Melrose."
"Well," he said, "with a cross-wind and extra flight time, you may not have had enough gas. What would you have done then?"
Oh, I thought. "Well, I would have had to find a spot, glide down and land on it. And then find a way to get in touch with the airport."
"And also it was not on the flight plan. You need to stay with the plan," he stammered.
But he did pass me.
Drawing of the 1939 Piper Cub by Stringer Russ Priestley.
Read all of Marie's adventures in learning to fly:
Chapter 1, "It was fun to fly."
Chapter 2, "I looked down and there was the instructor ..."
Chapter 3, "Spins -- one of life's more embarrassing ..."