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With all the planes I’ve been lucky enough to fly over the years, the list has not included one with a tail wheel.  For those who don’t know, that’s an aircraft with a little wheel below the tail.  They’re called tail-draggers by many but the real name is conventional landing gear.  That’s because it was the “conventional” way aircraft were built in the early years of aviation.

Most aircraft today have tricycle gear meaning all three wheels are in the front. They are easier to land and taxi, particularly in windy conditions.

Detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each would make this post longer than I intend but this link will cover that.

Tail wheel aircraft basically fly the same once in the air but because they demand more attention on landing and taxiing, the FAA requires a special endorsement from a certified flight instructor before you can fly one as pilot in command.  The time necessary to get the endorsement depends how well the “student” gets it.

I received mine last weekend flying this beautiful Citabria and it took longer than I expected.  There are other requirements that apply before you can fly with a passenger which is the next step.

Because of the higher insurance costs it is rare to find one to rent so if I want to continue to fly them I’ll need to buy my own.  I’m looking now and will blog about that process along the way.

I don’t maintain a bucket list but this is something I’ve wanted to do for some time and it was fun and exciting to achieve another flying milestone.


Nine Eleven’s Hole in the Ground

I just recently toured many Western states visiting monuments dedicated to great American heroes and historic events.  I know some can take issue with how the Indians were treated and I too wished it could have been handled differently.

Aside from that, the expansion and development of the West was a remarkable achievement.  Driving hundreds of miles across Montana and Wyoming, one wonders what it must have been like on a horse, wagon, or afoot.

Settlements were built, the Pony Express riders delivered the mail, rail lines were opened, all done in the remoteness of a hot, cold, windy, and disease-infested area.

So that was on my mind when I listened to the “Ground Zero Mosque” debate on the radio somewhere between Billings and Cody.  What occurred to me was why are we debating the building of the mosque when we have a hole in the ground in Manhattan?

Our forefathers have done remarkable things. Developing the west was only one.  Another was the construction of the Empire State Building.  Do you know how long it took to build?  One year and 45 days.

Why are we debating the Mosque?  Why aren’t we talking about the hole left by the destruction of the World Trade Center?  Think about it.  There is a hole in Manhattan caused by radical Muslims and it’s still there 9 years later.

Have we fallen so far that the Mayor of New York City supports the Mosque while the death of thousands are memorialized by a hole in the ground?  That hole is emblematic of where we have gone since the heroes of the west.

As a matter of principle, a Mosque should not be built until that hole is filled.  Filled with a building so high it would dwarf the site of any Mosque built below.

Church at the Base of the Tetons

Inside Teton National Park sits The Chapel of the Transfiguration.  Yes, a church on Federal Land that some group hasn’t tried to eliminate.

During the summer season, services are at 8  and 10 in the morning. It can accommodate approximately 50 people inside and benches outside take 20 or more.  We attended today and it was full.  In addition to  the normal Episcopalian service and communion, visitors are asked to introduce themselves and tell everyone where they came from.  It was fun and interesting hearing from everyone.

I took many photos before and after the service.  I took this one from the perspective of the altar which is what the you see when kneeling to take communion.  I thought of the last line in the poem High Flight “. . . put out my hand and touched the face of God.”

The Chapel was built in 1915 and is in the National Register of Historic Places.  We discovered this unique little church sometime ago on our travels to Jackson Hole and have always felt particularly close to God when viewing his beautiful creation of mountains and valley, completed by running streams and wonderful animals – moose, elk, deer, bears, buffalo and many more.