This afternoon, on an airplane-shaped lark, we flew to Haliburton/Stanhope for their annual “fall colour” fly-in.

While the colour was not as eye-popping as it is bound to be in a few weeks, it did have some eye-widening spots. Some nice red is starting to mingle with the green, for a spectral experiment within the darker earth tones.

The ride was bumpy all the way. It was amusing to fly over a region of ground between Muskoka and Peterborough, where as student pilots we nervously flew our official cross-country training flights, all alone. That funny-shaped Balsam Lake and its friends were still familiar after two years, although we travelled in the perpendicular directions this time.

On the way there, we tuned in to the radio frequency used by the airport, and heard traffic coming and going. One airplane we didn’t hear had departed the area and was coming southwest, directly toward Toronto, and more importantly directly toward us at our altitude. We didn’t hear from him, but we saw his transponder echoes on our traffic sensor display. These expensive devices are proving their worth every few flights as they help turn midair near-misses into not-that-near passes. Little airplanes are hard to see during daytime, especially when they are on an approximate collision course. We didn’t see this particular airplane directly until about ten seconds before our closest approach.

The little runway at Stanhope was ample for GXRP, with the helpful headwind cancelling out some sloppy technique on my part. There were again a dozen or two airplanes, and a little food shack, and lots of people. There was a good mix of old gray-heads and little kid-heads, and some townsfolks came by just to gawk at the airplanes. A little food shack served yummy food & coffee, the latter of which by the way woke me up early the next morning to finish writing this article.

Several times we saw a new-to-us technique for letting multiple aircraft depart off of a sole runway: four of them rolled onto the runway, taxied all the way to the far end favoured by wind, turned around, and took off one after another in the opposite order. It saved lots of time as compared with each hogging the runway for a few minutes. It was still nothing compared to the intensity of runway management at a huge event like Oshkosh.

Juimiin and I met several nice folks, without actively trying to mingle. I overheard some folks talk about Piper Aztecs (which is GXRP’s make/model), so of course I had to bud in. We met a student pilot lady who happened to be a friend of a great instructor we know back in Toronto, adding further anecdotal evidence that the world of aviation is small indeed. Mostly, we enjoyed just sitting on a bench, looking over the apron, and soaking in the peace, quiet, and handsome looks of this region of Ontario. Come to think of it, in our circle of shooting acquaintances (somewhat neglected of late), most people are just as warm and friendly to strangers. Most of them don’t live in a big city – I think that has something to do with it.

Just one more picture here. It is of Toronto, as seen from afar on our way home. The sun was at a fortunate angle to illuminate the western corner of Lake Ontario in such a way as to render Toronto’s downtown in a pretty silhouette.