Monday, December 29, 2008

My Bensen Gyrocopter, Born Free

There is a caste system in aviation that says , bigger and more expensive aircraft are better and more deserving . I have to admit to belonging to that system way back in the early 60's when my husband Docko, saw an ad in Popular Mechanics or Popular Science, or some such magazine, about something called a " Bensen Gyrocopter".
The picture was of a small machine that looked like a tiny helicopter where the pilot sat out in the open , very exposed to everything and was held onto the fragile looking machine by a simple seat belt ! My guy was in love with that machine ! It was all he talked about . I tried to tune him out for I was a real pilot ! I flew AIRPLANES...real aircraft, in other words. And that pile of square aluminum tubing didn't fit my picture of a real flying machine. The old caste system was alive and well !
He tried various methods to get me to warm up to the gyro. He touted the fact that it came in kit form and he would build it himself, therefore it would not cost a fortune to build.
Further, he could teach himself to fly it and fly it out of our back yard...that was what the advertisement said anyway. He persevered and finally started buying gyrocopter kits and building his dream machine.
Skip ahead to where it was finally finished and we flew it. My first lift-off in his gyro and I lost my heart forever to that funny looking machine.
All that was way back when my children were very young ( the oldest one is 58 now ) and I have flown gyros all down through those years and loved every minute of it. Ok, I gave my hearing to the loud unmuffled McCulloch engine, but who can say that I wouldn't have lost my hearing if I never saw a gyro ? The gyro gave me more than it ever took from me. The gyro and I are getting along in years but we're still flying and enjoying it.
The photo at the left is of me flying my Bensen Gyrocopter at the Ken Brock Freedom Fly-in a couple of months ago in September.
I still see the old aviation caste system at times , usually by high time corporate pilots , you know , the guys who fly the boss to some airport and stand around and wait all day for him to be driven back to the airport so the corporate pilot can fly him back home . The biz jets they fly can't possibly give one the pleasure that my simple little Bensen gyro does and has for so many many years . The small Bensen is living proof that less is more !
Till next time
Marion Springer , CFI - Gyro-ret.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Today I lost a Friend

His name was Bobby Bettis. He was a gyro pilot and belonged to the group of gyro pilots that I hang out with. He always had a smile on his face and a willing hand to help whoever needed his assistance.
I had been retired from gyro flying for several years after the passing of my husband but still I needed to be around gyros and gyro pilots. Bobby always met me with a hug and then he would hold his flight helmet out to me and tell me to go fly his gyro. I never did fly his gyro but his generousity in offering it to me spoke volumes about him.
When I decided to fly again, Bobby generously gave his time and expertise to work on my engine and bring it up to flying condition. In earlier days he had flown with the same make of engine so he had the necessary knowledge to make my engine airworthy. The engine runs just fine.
Bobby was a member of Chapter 1 and was a safety officer in that group. His pilot briefings at each fly-in were very professionally done. He also wrote a piece on safety for Chapter 1's monthly newsletter.
It was always pleasant to just sit and talk with Bobby. His was always a voice of reason and insight. He died today . I will miss him.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

The Snow of Winter of OH-8!

The photo to the left is of my daughter Linda's bead shop which is still under construction and in the picture the bead shop is also under a lot of snow!

That's the snow I was complaining about in the last post...the snow that doesn't seem to belong in sunny Southern California.

As you can see in the picture , it's all desert where we live...miles and miles of desert.

When the snow covered the area it was a very beautiful picture but now the snow is gone and we're back to just beautiful desert. The way I like it best.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

The Winter of OH-8 !

Snow, beautiful soft white snow. It's georgous as is drifts down and settles on everything below. When the sun shines on it , it sparkles like diamonds .

I love snow...I love it on the distant mountains, on Christmas cards, in Currier and Ives prints, I love it anywhere as long as it is not close to me.

Last week the snow was close to me. Nearly a foot deep close to me. For 7 days close to me. And I live in Sunny southern California where it is almost against the law for it to snow.

A winter storm came roaring down from somewhere and dumped the snow on us and for the first time in the nearly 20 years that I've been living in the high desert of Ca. we were snowed in, roads impassable, water pipes bursting, the whole nine yards of winter weather.

Usually each winter we will get one storm that drops a dusting of snow that is gone in a few hours, but not this time. I know , I know, I'm whining. My children say about me , " mom thinks a cold day is anytime the temperature is less than 80 degrees ".

We have it easy compared to those who live in areas where the winter snows bring many hardships but living down here in the beautiful desert of sunny California it is easy to get spoiled regarding the weather.

But now the snow is mostly gone from my place and the weather is sunny, ( cool 50 degrees sunny ) and lookin' good again.

As for me, I'm looking forward to those good old hot days of summer!
Till next time
Marion Springer