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The Flying Lesson

photo, member joe fitzgerald from st louis, mo How to avoid a fast–turning Mig with a slow–turning Phantom.

"Don't Spin Your Phantom!"

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 8. May:–  On last night's TV–news there was a plug for the Richard Serra exhibition in the Grand Palais. They were showing five featureless steel panels standing on edge, about seven metres high and three metres wide. This is one I think I'll miss. Then they tacked on a clip that showed some rust–colored curving steel panels just inside the Concorde entry to the Tuileries. I wasn't sure I had really seen this – on the TV – so I went by today to check it out on the way to the club.

It was warm. TV–news said tonight that it was 26.8 degrees in Paris this afternoon. The sky was very blue and the sun was very bright and its rays splashed on the white dirt of the Tuileries with a vengeance. The way these steel panels in the Tuileries were set up, the wind came along from the Louvre and squeezed between the panels, raising clouds of white dust, just like one of David Lynch's spooky effects. I expected ducks to be falling dead out of the sky. I saw what there was to see and tramped east towards the club's café.

photo, orange juice of the week Third version, cool Orange
Juice of the Week.

Spring has finished its leisurely upcreep. We are having summer now. Jump on a plane tonight and it'll still be happening when you get here. More detail follows the club report.

The Crash Helmet of the Week Report

When I came out of the métro at Concorde it was so bright that I thought the sun had put its atomic pile into overdrive. On a good day there is usually some haze but things were a–shimmer and folks were like colorful totems standing in splotches of ink. It was the kind of light they used for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Rounding the grill of the Tuileries I got a face full of white dirt.

I guess worse must have happened to me on the way to the club, like the time I cracked my knee. It's all better now, thanks. Heading east I kept to the shady side. It's early in the season, like it's the first day, and certainly too soon to be getting sunstroke or having the black barmies. I passed up my chance to shoot the octangular pool, the Carrousel and only wasted some memory card on the Louvre's fountains. I can't leave them alone.

Among other things, it was VE Day in Europe today. Instead of the usual show on the Champs–Elysées our president was out in Normandy with the Governor General of Canada, a very chic lady, originally from Haiti, named Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean. From what she said on TV the other night she speaks French better than Sarko, but then she used to do the TV–news before getting the Governor General gig.

photo, plonk wine of the week Not the best Wine of the Week.

I got to the club's café on time, in time for Waiter of the Week Patrick to apologise for the civilians taking up the club's area, having their after–lunch cocktails. Member Joe Fitzgerald was already there, looking for the fall–back table, so we shook the old hands and settled in and tried to talk over the racket of the civilians.

I asked him if he intended to take in the Fête Aérienne at Ferté Alais on the weekend of 31. May, 1. June. This is a big show of old flying crates, with about 150 planes on view, from WWI fabric and piano wire ottos to modern fighter bombers. He said he had never heard of it.

But one thing led to another and before long Joe was telling me about his flight training and how he didn't like to spin. The problem was that the only way to learn how to recover from a spin to to get into a spin and recover from it. Trainers are sturdy airplanes built for bashing around, and for being easy to fly. Joe's coach told him to do it ten times or get some walking shoes, so Joe drove up to 10,000 feet, gulped, and stalled his machine.

Since Joe was here today we know he passed the spin test. He told me he spun to the right and he spun to the left. Joe could have been a trainer too, because I now know that if you spin clockwise you put your left foot on the foot pedal, put the stick in neutral and Bob's your uncle. You use the opposite foot, he said.

Joe graduated to Phantoms. He said they did not spin good. He said you had to be careful and if there was even a hint of spin – the wings wiggling for example – you had to smash your left or right foot on the pedals and shove the yolk thing into neutral, or just past it. If you did this fast enough a Phantom wouldn't spin. If it wasn't your day it was a good thing to be at 50,000 feet when the fun started.

photo, smiling joe Joe, on the runway.

He said they were fine planes, especially after they got fitted with some guns. In the early days they had no gun because they had missiles. But the missiles were no good for close work so if they saw an enemy they tried to get far enough away to fire a missile and if they got that far they may just as well go home. The gun changed everything. It was a huge thing, so heavy that the plane only flew in a straight line. They had to learn some new tactics.

With the price of gas in Saint Louis, Missouri Joe told me he is thinking of getting a scooter. He said he has a perfectly good car but it is a gas–guzzler and it's not worth it to take it out of the garage just to go to the grocery store. Naturally he had noticed the scooters around here. He even had a Lambretta once so it's not like he is cockeyed.

Then we told lies about jobs we had. We were surprised to learn that both of us had been in the wood industry. Most folks probably think wood comes from a plastics factory but actually it grows in the wild, often on the slopes of mountains far away from civilization. Joe was in one of those places. He had some wonderful times and was glad he had survived it long enough to get into something safe, like jet–powered fighter bombers.

The civilians left and Patrick brought our drinks and all the doors and windows were open and some faint breezes glanced off our glasses and before we knew it the club was operating on overtime. I was going to meet Joe outside at the busstop but I didn't see him when I got out. I didn't know which busstop he meant, but he wasn't at the one near the ice cream cart on the Quai de Louvre.

photo, seaside in paris, 8 may, tuileries At the seaside in Paris today.

La Nuit des Musées

For the fourth year France puts on one of its cultural freebies, in this case called La Nuit des Musées which means that about 130 cultural places will be open and free on Saturday, 17. May, at nighttime, rain or shine. In all, about 2000 institutions throughout Europe will have their doors open when they are normally closed. Bring a flashlight.

Weekend Summer Weather!

This beautiful weather is not is so far from personally insulting that I'm not writing a 50 word tirade about it. No more tirades, not until next winter:! Here is the new and improved version:

Spring failed to materialize today. Instead summer has begun. Thank you, thank you. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, all sunny around here. Expect temperatures to drift down from 27 tomorrow to maybe about 24 degrees. This is for Paris and not the Riviera.

About the Café Metropole Club

Grip your fingers onto your mousie to see a club meeting report buried in deep somewhere in these pages. Less exciting than reading café menus during club meetings but nothing is always perfect. A clue about what we might have been doing today may help and can be found on the About the Café Metropole Club webpage.

graphic, club location map

Highlife In the Patazone

Like any unrehearsed Thursdays , semi out of control and usually, like today, one wonderful member present. Club meetings run from 15:00 to 17:00 on Thursdays. The next meeting will be on Thursday, 15. May, possibly a major strike day for teachers and civil servants. The metric times are equivalent to 3 to 5 pm around other unmetric places, while meetings are held right here. Whatever you feel like saying can be heard by the other members present if there are any and if they are listening, and sometimes they are, but not always.* Your other, absolutely true, stories are totally welcome too even if they are true.

Caution – should you have a personal desire to remain unfindable via the Web, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be 404 – not found by Web search engines before becoming found. Stay lost if you must.

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since the last report a week ago because of wobble legs contracted while learning to jam either the right or left foot on the elevator pedals depending on the spin direction. Whew!

The café's location is:

Café–Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny – or – 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre–Rivoli, Pont–Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday, from 15:00 to 17:00.
Next club meeting on Thursday, 15. May.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini