A Flight with Eagles

by Michael McCrath, N283DE, of Seattle, WA.

I had announced to take off on three-four at Arlington when a voice came on the radio from the plane that had just landed. The pilot radioed that the Eagle Squadron was circling over the north end of the field and to be careful. Well, of course I was thinking daring young American volunteers in Spitfires and Hurricanes duking it out with the Hun over the Cliffs of Dover and all that. But a quick scan of the skies revealed a dearth of British aircraft of any sort. But I DID see a large flight of birds up at the far end of the runway, so I took the radio call to be a flip warning about fowl doings ahead. I thanked the radio voice politely and allowed as to how I would fly my very, very best, what with such a stellar and critical audience and all.

Well sir, I drove up to where they were, looked outside, and sure enough, it really WAS eagles! Big Bald Eagles. (I could tell they were Bald Eagles because they all had feather combovers.) Don't know how many. I lost count at 10 because they were whirling and diving about, and before I could finish counting they got all scrambled up. But what an experience! Once it got through to me that I was in no danger I sat there and took it all in. (They were watching me as closely as I was watching them, and were probably admonishing their kids to beware of the prop.) It was incredible. There they were, as long as they could keep up they cruised with me at a discreet distance: beside me; below me. All around. I suppose they earlier had been bobbing for field mice but then decided to take five and cavort with a fellow flyer. It's clear they were looking me over very carefully, perhaps wondering whether the little Mite wasn't one of them after all and did it eat field mice, too. And believe me, I WAS on my best flying behavior.

These truly WERE the most awesome group of critics I'd ever face, and of course I didn't want to embarrass myself in their presence. But at least now I can truly say I've flown with eagles. And who else but a pilot gets such an experience? And in what else but a relatively slow, Omni-vision Mite could you enjoy it so thoroughly?

August, 2000