formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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September 3, 2013 Hank's Stowaway

The Liberty Gazette
September 3, 2013
Psssst: The following story was shortened for space in the print version but appears here in full-length, as originally written.
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: This week we’re sharing Hank’s story. He’s from California, but don’t hold that against him. It’s a good one.
Hank: Last week Michelle and I took a short flight in my Cessna 172, the one painted like a bee, down to the Reid-Hillview airport just south of San Jose. We were going down to pick-up a Margaritaville drink maker machine that I had bought on Craigslist. We arrived at the plane about 10:30 did the normal preflight inspection and got ready to go. I taxied out to the runway, had an uneventful takeoff and was climbing through 600 feet when I noticed we had a stowaway.
Hank's Cessna 172
I was looking out the windshield when a wasp dropped out of the left air vent. He landed on the dash and started flexing his wings and tail. I'm pretty sure he was about a foot long with a two foot wing span and a stinger the size of a fountain pen. I stared at him and he stared back at me.
I think I said, "Oh, look Michelle, there is a wasp on the dashboard."
It probably came out like, "Holy crap there's a huge freaking wasp on the dashboard kill it before it kills us!"
 Michelle looked over at me and immediately pushed herself as far back in her seat as she could and said something like, "Sweetie, would you please get the wasp out of the airplane?"
What she actually said was at a pitch beyond what the human ear can hear.
At that point the wasp apparently heard her and began flying around the cockpit. I decided that I needed to concentrate on flying the airplane so I ignored the inhuman sounds coming from the passenger seat, continued to climb and made my turn toward the south.
Once I got on course and trimmed the airplane I picked up some paper and started looking for the wasp. It wasn't long before the wasp landed on the windshield right in front of me. I reached out and squashed him against the windshield and he fell onto the dash. I was very pleased with myself and looked over at Michelle expecting some praise. Instead, I saw wide eyes and finger pointing. I looked back at the dash and saw that the wasp had picked himself up and was now standing on the edge of the dash staring at me with a look of fury.
Before I could attempt another squash maneuver, he toppled over the dash, landing somewhere near our feet, by the way, we are both wearing sandals.
At that point, Michelle pulled both her feet off the floor and said, "Sweetie, the wasp isn't dead."
What came out was again beyond my capability to hear. She started looking for the wasp but said she couldn't see it. I reassured her that I had in fact squished it so hard that it must now be dead.
We flew for another five minutes, I was starting to feel better, then I looked over at the area where the front seats come together and you guessed it, the wasp had crawled up between the seats and was now zeroed in on Michelle's left thigh.
I told her that the wasp was now on her seat doing a slow crawl toward her thigh. She immediately closed her Nook electronic reader and promptly smashed it against the wasp.
I forgot to add that I put sheepskin covers on the seats; they have about two inches of nice fluffy wool that keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They also make it very difficult to smash a wasp with a Nook.
A reasonable facsimile of Hank's stowaway
Michelle decided that it would be best if she just kept the Nook pressed against the wasp until we landed. So for the next 20 minutes she kept the Nook pressed against the wasp so hard her knuckles were white.
We finally made it to Reid-Hillview and landed. Once I parked and shut down the engine, we both opened our doors. We stepped out and Michelle slowly lifted the Nook. Mr. Wasp was still alive and moving. He was a little lethargic from being pressed into luxuriously soft and fluffy wool for 20 minutes. He struggled to get up and fell to the floor where I finally dispatched him and removed him from the plane.
I guess you might say it was a pretty stressful flight for Michelle. I looked around the plane and found another dead wasp on the floor.
From now on, I am going to make sure the vents on the plane are closed when I lock it up after flying.
We picked up the drink machine and took off for the return trip. The flight back to Concord was uneventful.
It was a great day for flying, bad day for stowaways, bees and wasps just don't mix.

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