Jan Jones Scholarship Experience -
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Attending my first ICAS convention I
was thrilled to be the recipient of the 2001 Jan Jones Scholarship.
Walking through the pavilion, Bill Stein (of Bill Stein Airshows) kept
approaching me and saying; "You have to fly with Wayne Handley; he's
the man!" After Bill's constant harassment, meeting Wayne and Karen at
the banquet, and impressed with Wayne showing the younger jocks how to
party after winning the Art Scholl Award, I emailed Wayne. Wayne made
me an offer I couldn't refuse, inviting me to stay with him and Karen,
5 hours dual in Bill Stein's S-2B, and various other flights!
It was a gorgeous morning in the Salinas Valley when Wayne and I arrived at Metz (Wayne's airport). I felt in a time warp. Before me was a 3500' dirt strip with 600' of asphalt. Between the airstrip and the canyons lie Metz Road and a railway track with a tunnel through the canyon. No control tower, a bunch of hangars and a couple of trailers. Wayne said; "it's just an old crop duster strip". I quickly realized that Metz is much more! Metz offers all the amenities of modern airports, serenity from the remoteness, yet has a certain nostalgia and magic animated to life by Wayne Handley.
Wayne, Melanie with The Raven
Wayne's goal for me was to fly the sportsman sequence in the box, along with unusual attitude training. Promptly, I was in the hangar, parachute fitted, rolling out Bill's S-2B and in the pilot seat. Once airborne, we began aileron rolls, loops, half Cubans, competition spins, falling leafs and Dutch rolls, progressing to Immelmann's, split S's, humpty bumps, slow rolls, precautionary 270 approaches and circuits.
Later, we went flying in the awesome Raven! Wayne showed me the Raven's performance as we maneuvered over the canyons winning a dogfight with Bill.
After an exhilarating day, a home cooked dinner with Karen, Manhattans prepared by "Wayne the bartender", we watched Jonathon Livingston Seagull.
Wednesday, we added reverse Cubans, inverted flight and snap rolls. Executing my first snap roll, I instantly had a favorite maneuver!
All day, everyday at Metz is an air show. Camaraderie, motivation and support were available from the other students. Revved up by the train's whistle, Torque, Wayne's Jack Russell, enthralled us daily, chasing away the train! Wayne taught CRM lessons with his WHOOEE stick, and showed videos. We enjoyed Mexican lunches in Greenfield. Naturally, the Metz day ended with an ice-cold beer in a chilled glass!
Thursday morning, waiting for the oil temperature to reach 100C, Wayne noticed ravens soaring over the canyons. "You can always distinguish the ravens for their grace," he said. "They effortlessly move their wings. Their wing dip is about thirty degrees compared to forty-five of others like the Red Tail Hawk. Ravens are social birds, usually with their young or partners, rarely alone. They love to play, looping and rolling, being the only aerobatic birds, and the smartest of its species."
I then deduced that Wayne is like the raven. He exudes an energy and gracefulness that draws others to him. Teaching, he gives so much, inspiring the "little ravens" with his skill, wisdom and perspective. In the air, he looks down on earth admiring it and the glories. Wayne flies with a free spirit, the passion and finesse of the ravens. At the top of the hierarchy is Wayne, making Metz, Metz.
100C, time for hammerheads! Now, it was time to fly the sportsman sequence. Wayne pointed out Metz's aerobatic box, its markers and key points. A lifetime flying in a whole sky, I contemplated maneuvering this machine inside of a box, which couldn't possibly be any smaller! Wayne demonstrated and away I went! It wasn't pretty, but Wayne was thrilled that I relatively stayed in the box, and flew all of the maneuvers continuously in sequence.
Unusual attitudes training was more than words! What a wild ride the inverted flat accelerated spin produced! Needless to say, my smile grew proportionately wider as time passed at Metz! Wayne demonstrated the special arrival procedures into Metz; the "Canyon 1" and "Tunnel 1" approaches. A visit to Metz will provide further details.
Thursday afternoon, Wayne guided a coyote watching expedition through the canyons in "Charlie Banana", Wayne's C180, offering a ride comparable to a big old Cadillac. We saw two silver coyotes.
After our last flight, Wayne announced my graduation, and gave me the honor of grating the strip with his bulldozer like tractor! After lunch, Bill flew me in his Swift over Hearst castle and the Pacific whale watching, unbelievably, seeing more than 20 gray whales!
"Graduation" dinner was at Miller's Lodge, a cozy hunting lodge, nestled deep in the canyons. Driving to Miller's, Wayne displayed his NASCAR abilities on the winding road, and his braking skills as three wild boars crossed the road ahead. We enjoyed a night of good cheer and enormous steaks!
Saturday was Wayne's fly-in BBQ and amazing air show! The show featured Wayne, Rocky Hill, and Bill simulating the Reno races, Wayne and Rocky dog fighting, and a beautiful tight formation finale. Nick Nilmeyer and David Ellison practiced their sequences. Mike Conrardy demonstrated the PC7. A pristine Waco made an entrance along with other aircraft.
After the fly-in, Wayne, Karen, Bill, Gigi and I were off to see "Defending the Caveman".
Sunday, Bill took me to Salinas for a helicopter lesson in a Jet Ranger with Jim Cheatam. Jim was great! My lesson started with hovering, continued with circuits and finished with autorotations. Once we landed, Bill and I flew Jim's simulator! Now, I've got the helicopter bug!
Next, Sean Tucker's hangar, which is the coolest hangar I've ever seen. It was like walking into a movie prop storage room filled with memorabilia. We danced in the clouds. Sean energetically guided me through Lomcevaks, torque rolls and the centrifuge. The Lomcevaks made me laugh and realize that I need to pump more iron to hold in the control inputs!
At Half Moon Bay, the home of Eddie Andreini, I went flying in Eddie’s immaculate Super Stearman. I was in awe of Eddie precisely and smoothly snap and torque rolled that big bird! There is truly a romance to flying in a big old biplane with a loud round engine, especially over the ocean at dusk! Melanie with Bill Shein's Pitts S-2B
My Jan Jones scholarship was such a unique opportunity. I would like to thank John Cudahy and everyone at ICAS, Jim Cheatam, Sean Tucker, Eddie Andreini and Gigi. Also, Bill Stein for hooking me up with Wayne. Ravens mate for life. They say, behind every good man stands a good woman. Wayne has been blessed with one for 41 years. Karen like Wayne overextended herself and has a heart of gold! Thank you Wayne and Karen for making it all happen! Reflecting on my week at Metz is a time I will forever cherish. This scholarship, has given me the opportunity to fly with and learn from the best!
Melanie with Bill Stein's Pitts S-2B
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