Skip to main content


Waterford Township, MI

"Tower information papa. Automated weather observation one one five three Zulu. Winds one five knots at two five zero degree. Visibility one zero. Sky conditions few at seven thousand. Temperature two one, dewpoint one five. Altimeter three zero one three. Approach runway two seven left in use on the left, departing runway two seven left and runway two seven right. Prior to departure contact ground control one two one point niner. Clearance advise on initial contact you have information papa."

I looked over the displays around me. Blue status indicators everywhere indicating nominal conditions. I changed from the ATIS information service at 125.025MHz to call ground control at 121.9MHz for clearance to depart.

"Pontiac Ground, Gamma zero two four India Oscar experimental, is ready to taxi, VFR, information papa" I called over the radio.

"Taxi to runway two seven left via Charlie, Charlie one, Gamma four India Oscar, and contact Pontiac tower" came the response.

"Gamma four India Oscar, taxi to runway two seven left via Charlie, Charlie one"

I selected 120.5MHz on the radio and called the tower, "Pontiac tower, Gamma zero two four India Oscar experimental, taxing to runway two seven left"

"Gamma four India Oscar with you, clear for takeoff runway two seven left. No further ATC service available, monitor UNICOM on one two two point eight zero zero"

"Cleared for runway two seven left, Gamma four India Oscar"

I grinned. "Go time, Lucille!" I reached the C1 hold point at the end of runway 27L.

I keyed up again. "Gamma four India Oscar, moving to UNICOM on one two two point eight zero zero, bye bye" and switched to 122.8MHz.

I taxied onto the runway, facing into the brisk west wind. Pushing the throttles forward, I felt the twin GLAIVEs behind me ramping up smoothly.

"OK, girl, you can do this" I whispered to Lucille, the first flight-ready Gamma-class. Reaching takeoff thrust, I released the brakes and Lucille began to roll forward. Watching the groundspeed indicator, I eased the stick back as we hit takeoff speed, passing The Company hangars as our wheels lifted.

Lucille leapt into the air gleefully, pressing me into the seat as we ascended quickly.


Our flight plan was conservative, intended as a shakedown of all the vital systems. We would ascend to around 45 angels, putting us over Lansing after about seven minutes, remaining well below Mach 1 throughout. After that, a long, leisurely turn first towards the north that brought us sweeping over Grand Rapids, then into a figure-eight stretching back over Lansing and Detroit, to land again back at KPTK after about half an hour.

As the altimeter reached 40,000 feet, I let the stick return to center slowly, cresting at our target cruising altitude of 45,000 feet. All instruments still read blue, and I was feeling pretty good about Lucille's performance.

"Gamma zero two four India Oscar, contact Lansing tower on nineteen ninety"

I acknowledged "Lansing Tower, Gamma zero two four India Oscar, moving to one one nine point nine zero zero"

Shifting to 119.9MHz, I called KLAN tower. "Lansing tower, Gamma zero two four India Oscar, at flight level four five zero"

Lansing lay below us, and there were a scattering of cumulus clouds to the south-southwest, clear blue skies all around otherwise.

I rolled her into a shallow bank to the right, to begin the first of two long turns that would return us to the airport. A tendril of vapor coalesced in the vortex behind the starboard canard. Joy filled me, free of the ground and the presence of so many distractions. Up here, I can just live in the simple pleasure of flight. My mind is silent.

As Grand Rapids passes below, I check in with KGRR ATC, then level out, heading east-southeast towards Detroit.

A soft trill from my right calls my attention. The starboard GLAIVE is experiencing higher than nominal vibration on the intake bearing.

I adjust the shock cone and the alarm resolves, shifting from orange back to blue.

I call out, "Artemis."

A chime, then “Yes, Moira?

"Please note that Lucille starboard GLAIVE needed shock cone adjustment. Log last five and next ten minutes of telemetry with note."

OK, note created” followed by a soft chime.

As our wheels touch back down and I taxi to the Company hangar, I cannot wipe the grin from my face. The Gamma works! At least, for short subsonic flights.

A short woman waits for me in the hangar, wearing long multicolored striped socks under a knee-length blue skirt, and a floral pattern blouse in a study of greys.

"Moira! How was she?" Janais asks and I climb out of the sleek, iridescent blue aircraft.

My face tells the story before I can even open my lips. She exclaims "Oh my gosh! We did it!" and wraps me tightly in an embrace and smothers me with kisses.

I lean into her and kiss back, feeling a tension I was unaware of holding subside. When she lets up to take a breath, I reply "She was wonderful. Smooth as silk, and with one little hiccup that Artemis logged, Lucille performed admirably. Were you worried?"

"Good. No, but, much as I trust you and Kian and the tests and the sims...first flight on a new airframe and new engines? And it was good to see your face. I like your face!"

I am far too lucky to have this woman as a partner.