Archive for June, 2007

Flying with Roger

Monday, June 25th, 2007

A rare treat and experience this weekend as I flew with Roger. Who he? He The Master of the Piper Cub, for building, piloting, air-show performing and all-round aviation buff…but a Piper Cub aficionado without any dispute. And known for it nationally. The story? Roger and Jim had purchased the remnants of a Piper Vagabond PA-15. These aircraft are quite rare, built by Piper, out of nearby Lock Haven PA and only 222 still registered to fly. The airplane is smaller than the famous Cub, but the 65 hp Continental engine will drive the craft to 102 mph. Roger (with occasional ‘help’ from Jim) completely rebuilt and re-equipped the PA-15, restoring it to perfection – and then adding hand-held radio’s and a GPS! Its side-by-side seating configuration makes for pleasant flying, as I found on Sunday.
I first flew with Jim, always fun – a great pilot.
But questions about it’s handling brought Roger to the cockpit, with me in the right-seat. Now this is rare. For anyone to fly with The Master is rare. For me to accompany him on this flight, as we completed several take-offs and landings, both on the grass-strip and the runway, was special. Wanting to learn how I can add to my tail-dragger skills I watched him closely, while trying not to look like I was watching him closely. What a treat. You will always learn when you sit next to and watch a Master at work. I did.

My Dad and the Circus

Monday, June 25th, 2007

My Dad was a big circus fan and would take the family to every circus show that came to town, or within driving distance. We got to see Billy Smarts, Robert Brothers, Ghandi’s, Bertams Mills and other top-line troupe’s. These were big circuses then, traveling throughout the UK, arriving by train or convoys of brilliantly painted circus trucks. Animal acts, unlike many shows now, were included and were often the highlight for us kids. But my Dad’s interest spanned not only the shows but also the set-up and take-down. The firm he worked for were often contracted to provide the lifting cranes to raise the main tent poles and to provide fork-lift trucks on the site. This was enough for my Dad to be there as the troupe arrived and as they departed, and he often brought me along to see all this happen. He read many books on circuses and was interested in every aspect- the acts (I believe we saw the Flying Walendas at least once). In other words, he had a passion for many things – the circus was prominent amongst them.

He passed 18 years go, but imagine his delight at having a grandson now part of the most successful touring and residential circus-type company’s ever – Cirque. He would have been chuffed!

And Lynne and I can truly say that our son ‘ran away to the circus’.

To Hong Kong and Japan, and a Visit with Alan

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

A return business trip to Asia, but this time with Lynne joining me enabling us to enjoy some vacation time. We have a weekend off in Hong Kong, visiting Stanley and Landau Island. Stanley is just 40 minutes by cab or bus from the city of Hong Kong, traveling by winding roads over The Peak to the other side of the island. The contrast is startling, leaving the gleaming metal towers of the crowded city skyline, and enjoying beaches and markets of Stanley. The ocean-front is under development and is looking a little like Baltimore harbour! But the restaurants and stores are entertaining and friendly, with British influence evident in the food, street names and the driving-on-the-left. Wonderful clear weather (unusual for HK at this time of year) helped make for a memorable visit.
Taking the train then spectacular cable car to the worlds largest Buddha, at Lantau Island occupied us on Sunday, sweltering in the heat and humidity of an otherwise gorgeous day. A trip on the famous Star Ferry across the HK harbour to Kowloon gives you an excellent view of the city skyline as well as the myriad of boats, junks and commercial traffic that criss-crosses the waters, turning them rough and choppy.
Business done in Hong Kong we’re off to Japan, a five hour flight away.
Landing at Narita, Tokyo’s international airport, we still have two hours until we reach the Imperial Hotel, adjacent to the Emperors Palace. I’m off to the office but Alan, who has been in Japan with Cirque for 5 months now, joins Lynne in Tokyo – a city he has come to know and love. They do the vacation thing, until we three travel 2hrs north by bullet train, to Sendai. Cirque is at Sendai, performing 63 shows. We spend a fabulous two days with Alan and his ‘family’, enjoying the show – but mostly enjoying being with Alan. He and the cast/crew are kind and welcoming, pleased that we’re visiting. For us, to be amongst these top-class performers is a real treat.
All too soon it’s over, we must return to Tokyo, and home. A successful business trip, a few days vacation fitted-in and we got see the old ‘un.

Oodles of memories, some caught in photographs