Puff’s home!

IT’S SO STRANGE!  For the last several months, since I returned from Florida, Puff was in my mind every day.  So many adventures with the little seaplane, adventures with Dan and his own plane Jennifer, spun in bright film strips clear as life sometimes, sometimes an old monochrome, fading.

Last week, though, a message from Dan, that Puff was ready to come home.  They were about to fly 3,700 miles together, it would take 50-some flying hours, seven days to come home.  All those days I was haunting the computer weather sites as they slipped from one weather to the next: missed a storm, tossed into winds that shuddered them both.

Mississippi they crossed, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, and then the sound of Puff again, entering the pattern to land here! Dan and Puff eased the power one last time back to idle, and squeak-squeak! touched her wheels to the runway.


A minute later, Dan waved from the cockpit, I waved back, not a word.  Her wheels stopped on the grass, and in a minute her engine slid down into silence.  Dusty, windblown, bounced from a week in the rough air, they were home.

Dan gradually began telling me the story of the flight.  Puff had finished a long flight, and I felt the quiet sense of her: We did it!  I’m home!

“There’s a lot of this country that’s wilderness,” said Dan.  “Mile after mile of wilderness.”

We had been there together before, but this time I had to imagine.  Dan and Puff had lived this flight, every minute.  Temperatures from below freezing to a hundred degrees, winds to forty miles per hour (“…by Banning Pass, our groundspeed was 30 miles per hour…”), brush fires in Southern California, Puff’s wheels didn’t extend for an electrical failure near Oregon (so she landed on a lake); no radios, no flight plan, but a locater that told us where she was every minute.

She was home, tools all around her and gentle care: oils and soaps and a closed hangar at last against the wind and rain.

Dan was off soon to Hong Kong and Japan with yet another sister of Jenn and Puff, floating on a ship.  But it was important for him to fly with me, some air work and some water landings, my months of idleness come to an end at last.  Somehow, flying a little airplane is like commanding a winged bicycle…one doesn’t forget how to fly.

Dan will come back, we’ll fly together again, but all at once he was gone to different skies.

The next day I took it slowly, little things to do after her long flight: change her oil, new oil filter, clean her air filters, wash her thoroughly, apply grease and oil to every fitting, every hinge, every moving part about her.  The next two days.  What I couldn’t wash away was her deep satisfaction of a long flight well finished.

Do you wonder why some people, after years of flying, they love their airplanes?

28 thoughts on “Puff’s home!

  1. People I have known that name their machines (which includes me) feel like those machines have a personality — almost their own sense of being — and in that way their machines become a friend, especially if there have been adventures taken together. I find myself wondering what your new friend the puppy will think of your old friend the seaplane.

  2. So happy to hear the news of Puff back with you. How awesome is that-that you are surrounding yourself and doing the things you love and are good at! And to answer your last question about wondering how aviators love their planes…no doubt cause even i, who is not an aviator in the classical sense of the word, can have a sense of love for another’s plane…..like me for Puff… 🙂

  3. Glad to hear you’re back in the air. I wish you clear skies and safe flying.

    Two questions:

    1. Does Puff really not have a radio? 2. What do you use for a locator?


    • Puff has a radio, but it has an OFF switch. The locator is a SPOT3, so much better than a radio in the wilderness.

  4. Well, I can’t add much that others haven’t already said, but I’m very glad! And I agree with Jennifer, I also love Puff. All the more after reading so much about her, and Dan’s amazing photography. 🙂

  5. Wonderful, evocative picture. The large expanse of grass in the fore-ground and little Puff angling down, more adventures tucked away.

    Most definitely says “Welcome home”

  6. Do you also wonder why, after years of reading, those with no planes of their own can grow to love those winged beings we’ve met on the pages of a book? Welcome home, Dear Puff!

  7. Dear Richard,
    We are so happy that you’re back together! All these months we were looking for some information about you. And how much joy it was to find new books about the second part of “Illusions” and the continuation of Seagull (Chajka), which is so close to us. Thank you very much for the endless stream of love and flight. Every contact with your books, thoughts, with your soul gives great support in our rather difficult time. We would also like to be a support for someone, and I think that sometimes we get it. Thank you again, and we wish you many flights ahead with Puff sparkling incredible happiness !

    Your theatre “Third floor”, Kaliningrad, Russia.

  8. Oh gosh, so happy to hear this, Richard! A joyous reunion, I know. Congratulations! Many pleasant adventures to you both….

  9. I heartily agree with all that has been said today. In the Navy, we said “Fair winds and following Seas”, but more properly for pilots everywhere “Fair winds and Infinite Blue Skies” (….and welcome home Puff) Aloha

  10. How proud must be Puff! After having crossed the US, tip to tip, one more time… Much experience, many stories! I’m sure she is more confident than ever, and thrilled to be back with you, back at home!

  11. Years ago Richard, you wrote you wrote “Steel, aluminium, nuts and bolts” and now, all so many replies, all those souls happy for the return of a simple machine. Who knew that so many others also connect with the spirit in a machine.

    We may never have seen Puff but we have been with her on her travels, have shared her and your adventures through your blog and your book. Do shared adventures create a bond in the spirit?

    I am reminded of a quote I read a little while ago. The name of the article escapes me. It was from a recent copy of New Scientist, in an article dealing with the nature of matter. Paraphrasing: “Forget about the ghost in the machine. It’s ghost, all the way down”.

  12. What? No radio??
    How can your aircraft even fly???

    Oh wait. I was thinking wings. You’re OK.

    Congratulations both on your reunion.

  13. Great news that Puff and you are reunited!

    As a (relatively) recent transplant to Seattle, I am looking forward next year to adding “floatplane pilot” to my list of ratings and certifications (I’ve already started reading the Edo book titled “How to Fly Floats”)…and then, more importantly, get back into flying on a regular basis so that I can put said ratings and certifications to good use. It’s been too long!

  14. I am so glad you are okay! I haven’t checked on you for a bit, but Illusions jumped into my purse last week, and today I find you here, healed. Welcome back, dear friend.

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