A treatise from within the clouds: Aboard Cape Air

From an October 2016 Facebook post

Flying Cape Air is, against its mainstream adversaries or, shudder, the bus, a rare treat. A treat, though, for refined tastes. Single-malt, small-batch, all that nonsense. In an era when even a modern jetliner can seem outdated, a piston-powered plane with only one pilot and where your weight dictates your seat is positively Rococo. A Brough-Superior versus a Kawasaki. Rudolph Valentino versus James Franco.

A GPS failure and only one open runway at Logan during this morning’s rush meant the mighty mite Cessna 402 was an hour and a half late getting its wheels up. The inexorable taxi from the ramp to the runway is as long as the flight will be. Vroooom, putter putter putter putter, repeat. Then, a quick run-up test of the engines, a wiggle of the tail, and we’re lined up to go.

It’s easy to forget what a feat powered flight is when you’re in an anodyne Airbus. You can’t, however, when the balls touch the wall, the turbochargers wind up, the manifold pressure zooms to 40 inches of mercury, the exhaust bellows a cloud of burnt Low Lead and the scrappy Cessna begins its cotillion with the cumuli. Volare! Autopilot? What’s an autopilot? A stoic airman and a little luck is all we need.

There was an x-factor to this particular puddlejump. Maybe even a y or a µ. At only 3700 feet, we’re the cherry dancing on top of the big sundae. It’s every Omnimax theatre opening sequence come to life, only louder. Away, ye reciprocating renegades, into the dreaded troposphere! Whirling, whoop-de-dooing through the shimmering canyons of vapor, a trim of the elevators here, a coordinated turn there, across the sound, between the Chops. The Gay Head Light blinks off our three. We throttle back over Freddy Fisher’s farm, and float as a downy feather onto the island’s cracked tarmac. Jiggity jig.

Author: Bunny Butler

I'm the last of the good old-fashioned steam-powered trains.

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