Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 105th Installment

getting the feel of it. Then it was my turn, and I clambered into the small canoe shaped body of the snow plane. The two rear skis were about eight feet apart, and I could steer the front ski with a steering wheel. The only other instruments were the on/off switch and the throttle lever. I hooked my feet under the bar that held the steering wheel and pulled the throttle half way, and wham, the belly tingle was immediate. The power was thrilling, the sound sublime, and away I went. At half throttle the speed picked up quickly, even in the sticky wet snow and just kept increasing. Soon I was flying, well not exactly flying; the skis were on the ground. It was the same sensation as flying, I imagined, having never actually flown. As I soared around the last turn and headed back, I realized there was no braking built in; you had to throttle down or shut off the engine to stop. I shut the engine off and coasted past Russell, then slid out of the field and into the weeds. Tired, but exhilarated, we decided to cover the engine and leave it there until we had more snow.

When the snow was deeper and frozen and crusty on top, we drove the snow plane up to great speeds always allowing enough room to turn and circle until it came to a stop. The speed and power of the snow plane was incredible. It probably weighed less than an airplane and without wings had less wind drag. We knew that a prop plane had plenty of power and could fly up to two hundred miles per hour. We wondered if the snow plane could go the same speed or more on smooth crusty snow. Russ and I took in out to the Twenty–five where there were long straight runs, and we estimated our speed at about a hundred miles per hour. In other words, it was a white knuckle, heart pounding, short–of–breath speed.”

To substantiate the claim, Russ drove Alfred’s motorcycle, a 250cc, to a hundred and ten miles on the speedometer and said that the sensation of speed was the same as in the snow plane.

The time I shudder to think about was when I came into the yard too fast and wasn’t going to be able to stop in time. Without throwing my brain into gear, I leapt out of the cockpit and grabbed the nose of the snow plane like a bulldogger would grab a steer and dug in my heels. Wrestling the infernal machine, I slid to a stop with the engine still idling. Later when I thought about what I had done, it occurred to me that if I’d fallen or hadn’t been able to hang on to the nose of the snow plane, even at an idle, the prop would have chopped me up into unrecognizable pieces.

Chapter 30

One evening when Russ and I went out to
500 more words tomorrow

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