Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tim and Mary Hawkins

sssssssssssssssssssMary Hawkins in the 2-33

sssssssssTim Hawkins in the Pawnee

Tim and Mary Hawkins are one of the few married couples who share an enthusiasm for aviation. They are a tall, attractive couple whose cheerful dispositions and candid humor is contagious. After spending a few weekends hanging out with them it became evident that they enjoy each other’s company as much as they enjoy flying.

Tim started in aviation first. The first lesson that he has in his logbook was training from Ralph Brown in a 125 HP Super Cub at the old Ruidoso airport in September 1965. This airport is now a golf course.

Tim was a commercial pilot for many years. He left Ross Aviation in late 2006. Since that time Tim has been flying a Bonanza, Pawnee, Callair, Grob, std. Cirrus, and Citabria.
Tim is a tow-pilot for both Sundance Aviation and the Albuquerque Soaring Club.

Mary is Nurse Practitioner (which may explain why she has such a calm demeanor.) She just passed her check ride for the pilot certificate in gliders on June 8th, 2008. Mary has been flying the Schweizer 2-33, 1-26 and the Grob 103.

Mary Hawkins

Mary, have you always been interested in aviation or did you become interested after you married Tim?

Actually, I was interested in aviation from the time I was about 13 years old. I lived in Greely, Colorado just behind the Greely airport. My dad had been working at the airport and bought me a flight for my 13th birthday. After that I started hanging out at the airport to learn as much as I could about airplanes.

I didn’t get my pilot’s certificate when I was a kid. I didn’t start to pursue a certificate until I joined the Soaring Club.

What made you decide to fly gliders?

Well I had to decide between gliders and power planes because I didn’t know which one I wanted to do. When Tim started working as a tow pilot at Moriarty I came out to see if I would like it (gliders). After two or three rides I decided that is what I wanted to do.

What is the most interesting flight you have had either in a power plane with Tim or in a glider?

Now that’s tough because Tim and I have had a lot of fun flying around and doing different things; spending our weekends landing at little airports and camping out or flying to Leadville, Colorado which is the highest airport in the country. We’ve had a lot of adventures flying around New Mexico and Colorado. Alaska was very adventurous as well, flying low over glaciers and viewing the unusual colors and dramatic shapes were beautiful. We flew to California last Christmas in the Citabria which we are half owners in and that was an adventure because of all the winds we had to deal with.

I guess my most memorable flight in a glider, other than my first solo, was probably the day I flew in mountain wave with Stan, my instructor. We went up to about 18,000 feet. I had never been that high or in a mountain wave before so that was fun.

Did you thermal (turn) in the wave?

No, once we got through the rotor we just flew back and forth along the edge which I thought was the upper edge of the wave. I think Stan said we were in tertiary wave most of the time which my understanding of that I think is the middle part of the wave. It just sort of tries to lift you, it is not like circling in a thermal, you just try to stay in it.

What is the most interesting thing you have seen while you were in a glider?

I don’t know, one thing I enjoy is when I look out the window and see birds, dust devils and I think hum... I wonder if I want to fly in that or not. The clouds, the landscape from that perspective, it’s all great!

What are your goals with gliders?

Well, my first goal is to get my license. (Mary passed her check-ride on June 8th, 2008) I would like to fly cross country and get more experience in other planes. I would like to fly more in the 1-26 and the grob. My short term goal is to fly some short cross-countries this summer and figure out how to get back to the airport. My ultimate goal is to fly our glider, which is a Standard Cirrus.

Do you plan to learn how to fly power planes?

I love flying gliders and really enjoy the sport, but I love power planes also. Hopefully, I will eventually get rated in both.

Mary when you started flying gliders and told your friends who were not glider pilots about your new hobby what was their reaction?

It was kind of mixed. I had one friend that would make me call her after my training every Saturday because she was worried that I would get hurt or killed. I had to call her every Saturday for the first few months of my training because she wanted to make sure I was OK. Other people at work would want to know where I was in my training and were fascinated that I would do something like that, because they didn’t think they would have enough courage to do that, to fly something without an engine.

Why do you think some people believe that flying without an engine is more dangerous than flying with an engine?

I think that their view of it is that it is something more mainstay to have a plane with an engine. If you need to you can always use the engine to get from point A to point B and you have the engine as a back-up if you need it. A lot of people that you talk to think that flying gliders means flying hang-gliders. Some people have seen gliders but a lot of them don’t know what I am talking about at all.

What are some of the unusual comments people have said to you about flying gliders?

Some people think it is strange that you would allow a plane with a 200 foot rope pull you into the air. There are some people that have a hard time wrapping their head around that. Someone asked me one time “How do you land with that plane attached to you?” They thought it was like water skiing, you flew around with the tow-plane never releasing.
Do they ever compare it to ballooning?

Occasionally, they want to know who picks you up and where do you land. When you tell them about some of the more experienced pilots who fly to Colorado and back from Moriarty, which is amazing to us beginner pilots, they want to know how many times they land. When I tell them they don’t land, they just fly all day, they find that mind boggling.

Tim Hawkins

Tim, what is the most interesting flight you have had either in a power plane or a glider?

I have trouble answering that because just like Mary said there have been so many. I thought about making a list of the 10 most interesting or frightening times I have had in an airplane. When I think about interesting, I don’t know, perhaps a couple of flights in the north slope of Alaska.

Do you want to hear frightening?

Well one time in a little L-19 two place airplane, I was doing something I shouldn’t have done, I took another pilot who wasn’t checked out in that airplane, and I decided to give him some instruction. s
I thought he was doing alright so I said you see that mine down there? That is kind of a fun place. Let’s land down there on that road. So we landed on the road and I was in the back seat and we hit a rock. s
As soon as we hit the rock we came to a stop. We could see the tire was going flat and we are out in the middle of no where. And if we got caught out there in the middle of no where we would both be fired. So he says “Is there anyway we can get out of here with a flat tire?” So I got in the front seat and said, “Well it is downhill and I don’t know I have never taken off with a flat tire.” It was completely flat. We were sitting on the rim. I had it full power but it wouldn’t move in the sand, so I asked him to get out and push on the tail a little bit. I can’t imagine how sand blasted he got. Somehow we moved a little bit, we were still moving slowly so he jumped in, and out across the boondocks we started picking up speed. s
So then we started flying around trying to figure out how and where we were going to land and what we were going to say. So anyway we decided to try to land on a dry lakebed close to the airport. Luckily the wind came up so I had a nice headwind to land into and everything was fine. Of course I didn’t exactly tell the truth about how we got the flat tire. I said, “Oh, it just went flat.” Nothing bad happened. I got away with that one.

What about flying into a hurricane?

I did fly into a hurricane once in Florida. I was flying for the Department of Justice and we had a prisoner that needed to get to Miami. There was a hurricane between us and Miami. They asked me if I could do that and I said “Well I could just fly around the hurricane.” I found that I could get closer and closer.

What were you flying?

A DC-9.

I started at the edge of the hurricane, there was a lot of moisture. What I didn’t know was that the air in the hurricane is real warm. That’s part of the definition of a hurricane. So I hit the warm air and couldn’t stay up to 35,000 feet. I had to come down to around 25,000 feet. But it was nice, there was no other traffic in that area. So I got to go where ever I wanted. It was not a big deal, it wasn’t that turbulent. I did not fly into the wall or the eye, I just went around the sides.

What is your most interesting flight in a glider so far?


OK, memorable?

A long time ago I first got my glider rating in 1975. I went up, I don’t know how high and there was a little cloud. I only had about 10 hours in gliders. I was in a 1-26 (Schweitzer) and that cloud felt like a vacuum cleaner. It just kept taking me right up. And somewhere around 18,000 feet I decided this is high enough, I need to get away from this vacuum cleaner.

I had another flight back then when I thought to myself , I wonder if I can do this 5 hour thing? It was part of the badge. I went up for something like 4 hours and 30 minutes. I had to go to the bathroom so bad that when I came down I did not want to land near where all the people where hanging out. So I landed at the opposite end of the runway. And I made up my mind that I was going to slam that thing on the ground just as fast as I could and jump out before anybody could get there. I know that’s silly but I remember that one clearly.

Have you ever been scared in any of your flights?

Of course. One time in a DC-9 I was going into Augusta, Georgia, I was the co-pilot. Over the airport we could see on radar that there was a thunderstorm. I asked the pilot, “Surely we are not going to land while there is a thunderstorm?” He said, “Well let’s just take a look.” s
So we shot the approach into Augusta. I kept asking him, “If we go around which way are we going to turn?” because every where around us was a huge thunderstorm. And he said, “We’ll see what it looks like.” s
I broke out of the clouds and in front of us was the lead-in strobe lights to the runway. We could see those clearly. Where the strobe lights ended and the runway began was a black wall of rain coming down, like you see those solid walls. We flew right into that. The second we hit the edge, lightening came out of a cloud and hit us. s
As we touched down lightening hit us and we landed and came to a stop. We did a lightening strike inspection because we carried mechanics. It seemed like that took a couple of hours. During this time it rained harder than I have ever seen rain. s
I found out later that the rain storm we landed in was the record rain storm in Augusta at that time. It rained five inches in one hour. No one else landed. ss
When the rain ended we were the first to take off. As we were taking off we looked up and saw blocks of concrete laying on the runway. We flew over it and went to Florida. s
The next day we flew back to the same airport (in Augusta) and a maintenance man asked if he could come up and talk to me on the airplane. He asked me, “How is your airplane?” I said, “I guess it is fine, we have been flying all over the last couple of days.” He said, “Well that lightening that hit your tail went through and broke up the runway and it took a yard and a half of material to fill the hole up.” So I have always considered myself very lucky to get away with that stupidity. That was one of my top ten exciting times.

Now that you are a tow-pilot for the Albuquerque Soaring Club and Sundance Aviation. Has anyone, (a pilot or a student) done something on tow that made you nervous?

A few times I have had gliders start to take off on the runway and lift the tail of the tow-plane. And I wonder how much of that I can tolerate before I have to release. Also I wonder if I would be quick enough to release before my prop would hit the ground. Fortunately I haven’t had to do that.

I had one tow for Sundance. I learned a lesson, never attempt to tow a heavy glider that is not fully lined up with the runway. Because, it points the tow-plane towards the edge of the runway. The only way to get the tow-plane lined up with the runway is to step on the break, but if you step on the break hard enough the tow-plane with go on its nose. I came a little close that time to having a prop strike. That got my attention.

I have found that towing can be exciting because sometimes the tow-plane experiences the same turbulence as the glider you are towing. When I am bouncing around I worry about the guy behind me. What is he feeling?

Advice to glider pilots on tow...

I would like to tell everybody who is being towed, don’t think that I can tell what you are doing back there, cause I can’t. I can’t see that well behind me. So all those little things they tell you in the manual, all those signals you can give the tow-pilot, most of them don’t work. If you pull off to the side and think that you are telling me to turn, I just think you are out of position. Surely you don’t want me to turn. If you want me to turn you need to call me on the radio.

OK, so the next time I am out of position I am going to claim I was just trying to make you turn :-)

If you want to help me out let me know when you get off tow. If there is a little bit of slack in the rope I can’t tell. If I can’t find you in the mirror the only thing I can do is keep climbing. At some point when I decide to write down that altitude, I just hope it is not too much higher than where you tried to get off.

So your advice to glider pilots is to call you and let you know when they are off tow?

I think that is the most economical thing to do unless you put some tension on the rope so that I can tell. I really appreciate it when somebody lets me know they are off tow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! what an idea ! What a concept ! Beautiful .. Amazing …