Monday, October 23, 2017

A High-Flying Birthday

I'm so blessed to have a mid-October birthday that comes just when the autumn colour is burning brightest. To wake up on my birthday morning, look out the window, and see towering leafy miracles of red and gold and bronze backed by a bright October sky, is a present beyond price.

This year I got to see that autumn colour from above as well as from below....


It started with breakfast at the Jet Room, a favourite haunt of my plane-obsessed aviation-minded family. If you like planes and live within driving (or flying) distance of Madison, do check it out. The food is good and the view is great: straight out onto the runways, with plenty of air traffic, large and small, on constant view. On a really good day, the F16s of the 115th Fighter Wing (our local Air National Guard unit) will be doing touch-and-go landings.

We didn't see the F16s that morning, but we did see a pair of mystery jets come in. And such was our luck that they taxied over to park on our side of the airfield, just a few hundred yards away. Here's one of them:

None of my plane-geek family members could identify the blue beauty, but a gentleman at the next table took pity on our ignorance. He told us it was a T38, a trainer jet - a model he'd flown many times during his military service. (Thank you, kind stranger, for your service and for the information.)

When breakfast was over, we adjourned to the Wisconsin Aviation waiting room, where soon a friendly young man approached and introduced himself as Chris, our pilot. (Magic words!) He took us out to the tarmac, where we had a date with a rather different kind of plane:

Enjoying the view while waiting my turn to board:

We squeezed into the cockpit, and I announced delightedly, "Look! I've got my own steering wheel!" (Whereupon my sister promptly told me not to touch it. We may be 60-some and 50-some years old, respectively, but that older-sister-laying-down-the-law thing is timeless.)

Photo of a family member taking a photo of me:

After much flicking of switches and pushing of buttons, some quiet conversation between the pilot and the voice that lived in his earpiece, and various throttlings-up and throttlings-back of the motor, we taxied out to the runway and took off for an aerial tour of Madison, Wisconsin's lovely lake-bordered capital city.

Looking towards Lake Mendota, with plenty of fall colour sparkling beneath us:

We sailed over Camp Randall, home of the Wisconsin Badger football team, the tiny figures of which could be glimpsed practicing on the field below as we passed:

The isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona, where our Capitol stands:

A view of the downtown area as we approached the lovely Capitol:

A closer view of the Capitol itself:

After circling several times over the University, the downtown, and the Capitol, we headed back to the airport, and soon the runways were in sight:

And before we knew it we were back on the ground.

A beautiful day and a beautiful way to spend a birthday morning. :)

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