The last day of my trip. Every flying day had started with the same routine: planning a route, checking the weather, reading through pages of irrelevant notams, preparing the plane, loading all my gear and paying the airport bill. And yet, I never grew tired of it. To realize that this was the last flight caused some double feelings. I was happy that my trip’s successful end was near, even a little eager to go home and rest, yet I realized that the kind of peacefulness of just “having to fly” all day was soon to be a thing from the past. Focusing on the positive side was much better for my spirit, so I proceeded with a smile.
Taxi and take off were uneventful. For the last time I accelerated my loyal iron bird from 0 to 60 kts. For the last time I felt her lifting off the runway. For the last time, she took me into the sky. During the climb I had to apply the same technique as the day before to keep the oil from overheating. To safely and easily cross the mountains on my path, I established a new personal altitude record: 11500 ft. I guess the air in the USA must be different from the air in Europe, since in Europe you need oxygen if you fly above 10000ft. I enjoyed the altitude for about half an hour, after which it was time to start my descent. I decided to enjoy one of the USA goodies for the last time: free touch and go’s ! Quite close to the Santa Teresa airport was El Paso international airport, where I arrived a month ago and where I would take my plane home in 2 days. But now, I was going to do the landing.
On the El Paso tower frequency, I could hear an airplane practicing ILS approaches. I recognized Suzy’s voice, who greeted me with “Welcome back Santa Claus”.
The touch and go was smooth, and I set course for the endpoint of my trip. Santa Teresa was easy to spot: a light grey patch of grey in a desert of, well, sand. I made the last landing with my loyal airplane, after which I taxied back to Suzy’s FBO. As if the airplane felt this was the end of our month together, a sign of struggle and discontent, the engine refused to shut down and veered to life every time it was almost shut off. She fought hard to keep the adventurous spirit alive, yet, in the end she accepted her faith with grace and calm. The engine went silent. It was over.
One of Suzy’s employees greeted me and helped getting all my stuff out. I waited in the air-conditioned room for Suzy to land. The whole experience started to sink in. That little Cessna flew me across almost 60° latitude, both ways. Around 10000 nautical miles. All across the US and Canada, with just a single propeller to keep it in the air.
I was giving a brief overview of my trip to the mechanic, when Suzy walked in. She was impressed by my story and invited me to the classical movie festival in El Paso that night. Oh, and she wanted to know if I felt like flying her Lancair to a breakfast fly in the next morning. What a silly question that was!
About 75% of the supplies I bought were never used. They found a great final resting place in the FBO’s fridge. Later that afternoon, I got to use a chainsaw for the very first time. I felt like a serial killer / horror slasher. That bush in Suzy’s yard never knew what hit it.
One atmospheric performance of “To Have and Have Not” later, it was time for bed at Suzy’s spare bedroom.