This past weekend, me and @hyenagirl64 went out to the High Sierra Fly In. The event is a 4 day plane camping trip with hundreds of other pilots out in the Flanigan Playa Desert, AKA the Dead Cow Lakebed. It is centered around STOL airplanes, (Short TakeOff and Landing) and the STOLDrag racing event. The experience was a lot like an old school Burning Man event, but almost exclusively devoted to aviation. It was incredible. #aviation
Most of the planes out there are of the Bushplane variety. Tailwheel airplanes with big wheels and huge wings. They're designed to be able to get in or out of basically anywhere. Grass strips. Chunks of dirt in the backcountry. Random mountain tops, you name it. Their ability to take off and land in incredibly short distances is what gives them the name "STOL."
And yet, only about half to 3/4 of the planes that went there were bush planes.
A friend of mine, Toby, owns a flight school in Hayward, CA, and happens to be a queer furry as well. He and 3 other queer furs rented a couple of Cessna 172s from his flight club, and I and @hyenagirl64 brought our Cherokee 6, and together we flew out to the playa. Though we started in formation, I eventually broke off because my plane is just so much faster than theirs. I had to leave 10º of flaps in just to slow down enough for them!
aviation, vacation, nationalism
We stopped in Reno/Stead airport to pick up some fuel and another friend, and I got a small thrill landing behind a youtube personality whose videos have gotten me really excited about backcountry aviation. None other than Trent Palmer and his Red, White, and Blue "Freedomfox". We landed behind him (after briefly going the wrong way in the downwind).
I walked over and introduced myself and asked for some information on how the weather was looking. I learned that some folks were landing west (the runways were only north-south facing) and I told Trent Palmer about "par asocial relationships." Then some other folks came by and I had to run as well, so we said goodbye. But I honestly got a mild kick out of that. :P Rare instance of mild fanboy/girl/personing from me. :P
The folks we camped with were pretty awesome. All various flavors of gay and furry, making our way through the heavily conservative and cis het male dominated space of aviation. About half our group actually had careers in aviation, while the other half were recreational aviators like me.
Contemplating the cultural differences between this group and some of my other social groups, I realized that pretty much every queer aviator I know is a little more into off-color humor, more tolerant of "casual bigotry" like using ableist words, and generally more willing to let things slide...
It's interesting, because I think it has to do with needing to develop a shell or callus to protect yourself from such a harsh and unwelcoming environment.
aviation, vacation, transphobia
Sure, aviators all stick by each other and help each other out. But a pretty large chunk of them don't hesitate to make fun of trans folks, queer folks, etc. Their event page had at least one or two moments of this kind of mockery present.
I think queer aviators get forced to "put on a performance" of sorts for these kinds of folks. Like the way I'd participate in making fun of myself when I was a child. IDK. It's definitely a pattern, though.
in any case, the event was pure aviation bliss. Every morning we'd wake up to the roaring sounds of dozens of airplane engines flying low overhead just before sunrise. It was absolutely amazing and glorious.
Every person I talked to was super excited to talk about their airplane and all the unique parts of it that made it tick. Despite my very queer presentation, they were very open to talking and chatting. It was one of the most socially friendly events I've been to.
Anyways, part of our adventure involved a couple of flyouts to the place where Burning Man takes place. Two of our group donned their fursuits and well..
We even had another flight of planes fly by while they were doing this. LOL.
Beach City is our private beach-side sanctuary for close friends and awesome folks. We are various flavors of trans, queer, non-binary, polyamorous, disabled, furry, etc.