Like many Americans, I had Labor Day off, which happily coincided with a visit from my Dad who lives in Colorado. So when I mentioned that I'd be flying that day, four of my family members in all asked for a ride:
Joe, my younger brother and veteran of many of my flights;
Susan, my baby sister (who happens to be an archaeologist);
Julie, my other baby sister, who expressed both a desire to fly with me and serious reservations against, and
Dad, who has flown quite a bit as a passenger in small airplanes, mostly while I was in diapers.
Four adults would be a full load and an unnecessary risk, as well as leaving someone behind anyway, so I decided to fly two "sorties".
My first flight was with my two little sisters, neither of which had flown in a small airplane before. Julie, the older of the two, was the most nervous, so I made a point of explaining in detail the emergency procedures in case of engine failure, flight into IMC, electrical fire, and inflight structural failure.
The wind was almost nonexistant, so the takeoff was smooth as silk and straight as an arrow. We climbed out to 2500 msl and I did my usual tour of the countryside, lakes, and my house. The visibility was about 8 miles or so with ground haze but no clouds to speak of.
Julie was sitting up front and I offered her the controls. She put her hands on it, clearly afraid she was going to crash the plane. I said I wouldn't allow that, and did she want to make a gentle right turn to follow the highway? Nope, she didn't want to, but I had her keep her hands on the yoke so she could see what the control input for a turn felt like. She seemed relieved to take her hands off the controls.
Soon we turned back towards Flying Cloud, I dialed up the weather (hadn't changed) and made a nice straight in approach for landing, and even greased it a bit. I taxied back to the FBO and shut down the engine. After disembarking my passengers, I embarked the second set - my Dad and my youngest brother Joe.
With my second load of passengers loaded, I performed a hot start procedure on the Warrior, which started without any trouble (I'm told some engines can be fussy about hot starts). We launched into the hazy blue sky and cruised over Lake Minnetonka and watched a sailboat regatta, and did some lazy flying around the countryside again.
My Dad took the controls for awhile and I decided to head for my house. Just as we were getting near, my brother, who was in the back seat, said "Traffic, behind and to the left". I immediately spotted the plane and noticed it wasn't moving in relation to my plane which meant we were going to get closer to each other than I was comfortable with, so I lost some altitude and watched the other plane cruise over me without so much as a sign that he'd seen me. I bought my brother lunch that day - his experience as a passenger and traffic spotter kept the other plane out of my safety zone.
We headed back again to the familiar runways of Flying Cloud, which was difficult to see with the sun illuminating the haze. I was about 4 miles out when I could finally see the runways. I greased up the landing and wheeled onto the ramp, having successfully completed Sortie Bravo.
Google Earth Track - Sortie Alpha
Google Earth Track - Sortie Bravo
VIDEO - Takeoffs and Landings