One of the consequences of flying low and slow, landing in the grass and weeds, is that pilots and airplanes are introduced to bugs. Lots of them. Some of the bugs make colorful splotches on the windscreen and prop–mostly green, yellow, red and black. I saw some purple once, but I suspect it was from some unfortunate mixing of bugs upon impact with the airframe. Because there are no windshield wipers on Piper Cubs–a vigorous analog debugging of the windscreen, when on the ground, is one of the many rituals of flying these old airplanes. What I had not expected, was the large number of bugs eager to fly along with me– perhaps to visit relatives in a neighboring county.
A variety of flies have stowed away in a nook or cranny along the instrument panel for takeoff, only to emerge in flight in the middle of the windscreen. Strangely, while I am doing the flying, the flies prefer to walk. They walk on the side windows. They walk on the front windscreen. They walk on the instruments.
Because I fly the Cub from the back seat, I keep a 24-inch stick overhead that I use to adjust the altimeter and carburetor heat in flight. I can’t reach either with my shoulder harnesses on, so the stick is a simple solution.
I have been using the stick to encourage the stowaways–bees, moths, flies, grasshoppers, to exit the airplane–out the open door and window. You would think the volume of air rushing into the airplane would have the same effect, but it doesn’t. The bugs are oblivious to it. They squat on things inside the cockpit and clean their antennae, wiggle their legs and do other buggy things. When I departed Ashland County a few days ago, I noticed a single gossamer thread stretching from one of the the right side fuselage tubes to the throttle knob on the left. A spider was building a web while we blasted through the atmosphere at 65 MPH.
I discovered the tick as I looked for Ron out of the rear side window. I stealthily tried to reach up and squash it with my stick– but I missed, and it jumped. I think I’ll let the spider stay for a while. There is more to tell you, but it will have to wait. It is time to go fly again. We are just a few days from Dayton.