Bird’s Eye View of a Wildfowl State – Bird’s Eye View of the game

Gray mentioned to me that he had made a promise and we had an appointment.  It being a Saturday afternoon, a college football game was underway at the University Stadium.  I had already spotted it on the northern side of town and although the players were probably padded giants they looked like gnats on a pond from up here.  The game had just reached half time and the players were streaming off the field, so Gray swooped down to a lower altitude, stalled the glider over the field, made it nod then dramatically swoop away to the right.  I could not be certain but it looked like every face was looking up at us.  The movement lost us considerable height and Gray looked around for thermals.  The sky was still clear and it was not obvious if there were any natural thermals around on this cold day, but that did not concern Gray.  He headed to the out of town shopping area and picked up some hot air rising from the car parks and malls and we soon regained most of our altitude.

We were just in time.  The two military planes that we had seen earlier were heading straight for town and did a dramatic low level fly past over the stadium.  The crowd were getting their half time show from us.


Over the pitch

All too soon Gray said that we didn’t have that much altitude left to play with.  I was sorry not to head out in to the country, but for a first flight it had been a full event.  We circled a couple more times over Brookings and I could see down at the excavations going on at the airport.  Gray said we would not land on the runway, instead we would find some grass.  He chose a square just to the right of the runway from which we had taken off.  It was a pocket handkerchief sized plot and hindered by some orange temporary fencing held in place by tall metal rebar posts.  Gray did not want to overshoot the grass to the taxi way beyond so tried to come in as low as possible above the fence to maximize the length of grass.  He timed his approach perfectly and the wheels must have passed inches above the posts, then we bumped harshly on to the grass and almost immediately came to a halt.

I detached myself from the seatbelts and waited to Gray to guide me out of the plane; I could not conceal the broad grin on my face.  I thanked him profusely.  He, with his usual humility said not at all, it was a pleasure.

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