I gave him a quizzical look, and he
gestured that I should bank the airplane
to the right. I did, looked down the right
wing—and saw a large Goodyear blimp
hovering outside an enormous airship
hangar, 3,000 feet below us.
“Oh! Right! Like that one!” I
stammered, laughing. A blimp, after all,
is a hard item to miss. Connor laughed,
too, although I think it was as much at my
reaction as at the blimp. But the universe
rarely sees fit to prove me right about
something so quickly, and in so large and
dramatic a fashion. I wasn’t even sure the
hangar hadn’t burned or been torn down
somewhere along the way. But I doubt
Connor will forget the encounter anytime
soon. Not too many people get to look
down on a Goodyear blimp.
I’d planned the leg so that we would
arrive in Youngstown shortly before
sunset in the hopes of getting Connor a
little flying time in some smooth, calm
air. He’d been doing bits of flying all
across the country, but every time he took
the controls, the turbulence seemed to
“I don’t think your plane likes me
flying it,” he finally concluded with a sigh.
“It knows who the real boss is.”
“Not always,” I assured him. But the
Ohio skies proved as finicky as those
everywhere else, and it was still bumpy as
we closed in on Youngstown, with surface
winds from 350 degrees at 12 knots,
gusting to 18. The tower cleared me to
land on Runway 5, which was the closest
to our position.
“Oh, goody,” I said to Connor. “Another
crosswind landing.” We’d come more than
2,000 miles in the past nine days, and
every single landing so far had entailed
a crosswind. Surely that defied the odds.
But, wait. I looked at the airport diagram
again and saw that Youngstown also had
a runway much more closely aligned with
the wind. I called the controller back
and asked if we could have Runway 32
instead. There was a pause.