The Flight

I woke up this morning shortly after sunrise and drove down highway 64W to the Taos airstrip. I arrived there before my captain and took a few long, slow breathes to calm my nerves. His yellow Scout appeared in the rearview mirror and I took the last swig of coffee and folded a strip of gum onto my tongue. He pulled close to my car, "jump in and I'll drive us down to the hangar." I pulled myself up into the open cab and slammed the heavy metal door. It was chilly in the open air and I pulled my wool jacket close about me. We passed through the security gate and drove alongside a row of mint green hangars passing small planes scattered along the runway tethered to eyebolts in the pavement. We stopped at hangar #04 and he got out, opened the hangar door and there sat the tiniest plane I have ever seen. I took one more long, slow breath. He looked at me as he walked around maneauvering the plane out of the hangar obviously attuned to the fear all over my face. "You can ask any question that you'd like." "How does this plane stay in the air?" "Basic principles of physics. Air passes more quickly over the top of the wings giving it lift and the propeler gives it drive." He went on to explain that his grandfather bought this plane from a local hobbiest. "It was pieced together by hand, much like a model plane." Sure enough, as I climb down into my seat and buckled my four-point harness I read a disclaimer on the back of his chair, "PASSENGER WARNING: THIS AIRCRAFT IS AMATEUR BUILT AND DOES NOT COMPLY WITH THE FEDERAL SAFETY REGULATIONS FOR STANDARD AIRCRAFT." I cinched the harness tight.

We took off and climbed into the sky and my every nerve dissolved. We flew northwest through the Sangre de Cristo range over the continental divide and into the Colorado Rockies. We passed through the Chama Pass sideways at 12,000 feet and I felt close enough to the jagged, snow covered peak to reach out and touch it. We spotted elk grazing and wild horses running on the alpine meadows. We flew through the mountains to the source of the Rio Grande then turned back south and followed the river home, detouring slightly to fly over the Colorado sand dunes that lay like a silk sheet at the base of the mountains. 

Thus begins my third week in Taos. I am thoroughly enchanted and I haven't even told you about the fishing...