Glider Flying Over Boulder


So about a year ago Brenda bought me an "introductory lesson package" gift certificate from the soaring school at Boulder Municipal Airport. I finally got a chance to get on the schedule. I have flown gliders exactly one other time before, back on the east coast. A friend of a friend offered me a chance to fly a Schewitzer 2-33 from Van Sant airport in Pennsylvania, and I had a ball despite the overcast day which meant no thermals, which meant we went up, and basically came right back down. Since moving to Boulder, I have pretty much stopped flying airplanes save for a few checkout flights, due to cost and time constraints. But apparently Boulder Colorado, in addition to…

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Hoop's First Airshow


Boulder Municipal Airport (KBDU) had an open house today. Not an airshow per se, but there were a couple of cool airplanes parked on the ramp (including a very rare two-seat Supermarine Spitfire trainer) for inspection. I took Hooper to the airport for our very first "father-son" type outing. It was great. At one point, a flight of three AT-6 "Texan" aircraft flew overhead, and my friend Michael got a shot of Hooper and I enjoying the show. A few moments later, they all landed and taxied up to where we were, and Hoop didn't even flinch. So, he likes airplanes, even the big, loud, radial-engined ones. I was so proud.…

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B-17 Bomber Over Boulder


About a week or so ago, I received a flyer in the mail announcing the coming of the Liberty Belle -- a restored, airworthy, Boeing B-17 bomber dating from World War II. She was going to be at nearby Rocky Mountain Metro Airport (formerly known as Jefferson County Airport), right down the road. Rides would be available. There are a handful of these flying specimens touring the country at any given time and they serve to remind people of the sacrifices made by the so-called Greatest Generation and to preserve the legend of these magnificent aircraft. The usual deal is you make a reservation to fly in the thing, pay your money (in this case, $450 for a 30-minute flight)…

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Cory Lidle Crash


Wow. (Another) Yankee goes and gets himself killed flying, and now the criminal (yes, criminal, just like his asshole father) Chicago Mayor Daley and Hillary Clinton are yapping about how dangerous these small planes are. CNN's shitty website ran a poll recently asking the good citizens of the websurfing world if small planes should be "allowed" to fly over densely populated cities, and the majority answered no. Chill out, people. I have never Monday-morning-quarterbacked a plane crash before, but moments after hearing about the Lidle crash I already had a good idea what had happened; after watching the video and seeing the smoke streaming west I had all the info I needed. Cory and his instructor flew up a dead…

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An Old Friend Comes to Visit


Today, I got something I've been wanting ever since I left a dear old friend behind in New Jersey 18 months ago. Actually, I've wanted this thing ever since I acquired "niner three foxtrot", my old beloved airplane. I wanted an air-to-air shot of the old bird, and today I got one. Jake -- 93F's new proud owner (and also recent proud owner of his very own private pilot certificate) -- sent me a pic of my old plane in its natural habitat: loitering a thousand or two feet above the lush, green western New Jersey farmland: Rob W. took the shot, from the open door of his Piper Cub, another plane I flew way back when, when I was…

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Top of Colorado


Today Brenda & I hiked to the top of Mount Elbert, the tallest mountain in the state of Colorado. At 14,433' above sea level, it's second only to California's Mount Whitney (by about sixty feet) for tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. Today, we stood on the top of Colorado, and it was a hell of a feeling. Our first "fourteener". Yeah! Now, Elbert is considered an "easy" fourteener. And it is, I guess. The thing is massive, so the approach ends up being fairly shallow the whole way. But you're still walking six miles across and 4,000' up, and then get to reverse and repeat the process to get back to the car. We were quite…

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Whammy


Peter Tomarken, the host of the 80's TV game show "Press Your Luck", got himself and his wife killed in a plane crash the other day. The ultimate whammy. From the eyewitness reports and the wreckage, it appears that he had a problem with the plane shortly after takeoff, apparently lost the engine, and was trying to glide back to the airport, and it just wasn't in the cards. The sad thing is, they were out over water as they were turning around, and at some point it was probably better to ditch in the water rather than trying to "stretch the glide" to land. Instead of a controlled crash into shallow water, it looks like the pilot stalled the…

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Glass Cockpit Flight


When Garmin's G1000 "glass cockpit" instrumentation system came out last year, I sort-of did a "whatever". At the time, I still owned niner-three-fox, my beloved little 1966 Cessna 150 with basic cockpit instrumentation (and my handheld Garmin 196 which was impressive enough). The G1000 is something on the order of a $60K option on new aircraft, and I figured I'd never fly behind one of those. Hence my blase attitude about how cool they may be. Boy was I wrong. On Saturday, I got checked out in another aircraft available for rent over at Aviation Services, the local airport FBO. Sure, it's just a 172, but sitting behind a G1000, wrapped in a shiny new panel with that aircraft grey…

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Boulder Flight


Well, at long last, I have finally flown around in sunny Colorado. In July of last year, I sold my beloved Cessna 150, knowing full well that the little 100HP plane would not be terribly useful in the high country of Colorado. I also sorta put all aviation on hold, as there was a bit of financial uncertainty involved with moving 2/3 of the way across the country and buying a new house. Besides, I was getting my cycling fix. But ever since arriving in Boulder, I have thought about flying. The local airport is only three miles from my house, and the glider towplanes fly over my office every day. The scenery of Colorado's front range is breathtaking,…

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Finally...


Denver CO (Jeffco) [KBJC] hourly observation on the 14th at 7:45am MST (1445Z) wind calm, visibility 80 miles, 15,000 feet scattered, 25,000 feet broken, temperature 6°C (43°F), dewpoint -12°C (10°F), altimeter 29.97. (looks like I'm goin' flyin'!)…

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Update


I swear, I'm not losing interest in the blog thing. I dunno, I guess I have less to complain about. Just to update, I built a pair of wheels for the first time in twelve years. Pictures to follow. My Singlespeed Project nears completion -- in fact, I will ride it to work tomorrow, sans rear brake and handlebar tape; pictures to follow. I spent a couple hours the last two days at the airport, and met a couple of nice guys who I plan to fly with shortly; I'm gonna get back into flying soon, real soon! I also discovered that I live so close to the local airport that I can not only see the airport beacon at…

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Turkey Day Weekend


Well, my first major holiday since moving 2,000 miles away from where I spent my last thirty seven has come and gone. Lots of emotions, many visits, and a few observations later, I am on a plane headed back to Denver International, amidst a thrumming chorus of shrieking infants. Let's discuss. First off, I highly recommend traveling on Thanksgiving Day, if at all possible. I hear that the day before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday that follows, are the worst (well, busiest actually, but more people generally means more hassle, this is a fact) airline travel days on the entire calendar. It meant getting up at 5AM in Boulder to make a 3:00PM dinner date at my sister's house…

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Velo Madness


Ride faster! Ride Faster! Yes folks, the cycling bug has bitten hard since arriving in Boulder. Eight or so years of no bike riding has made Robby a frustrated boy. Since moving to Boulder, I have had Scott Moninger ride his bike in front of my car while waiting to make a left turn, bought a cyclocross bike which I use as a daily commuter bike, and attended a giant bicycle swap meet in Denver, but things are really getting out of hand now. I bid on, and won, another bike on an online auction. But here's the thing: it's a mountain bike. I decided I wanted to get something with fatter tires for the coming winter snow, and holding…

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Oshkosh Report


Well, I'm back. Been back, in fact. But I spent three great days at the greatest airshow & aviation event in the world (and then a day wondering just how in the hell we managed to screw up commercial air travel so wholly and completely). Highlights: -- Seeing my New Jersey pilot pals again -- Warbirds, including a one-of-a-kind P-51B modified with a dual cockpit; five B-17s; a P-47; Corsairs; at least 25 Mustangs; a modified twin Beech bomber trainer; and several Sabrejets. -- Seaplane pilots corn roast dinner on the first night. -- Drunken stroll through the airport after dark, following aforementioned corn roast dinner (excellent hilarious pictures unpublishable). -- Homebuilts. It was in 2003 when I was first…

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Journey to (Aviation) Mecca


Enough of this Boulder business, I'm goin' to Oshkosh! That's right, it's late July and that means it's time for EAA Airventure, the biggest general aviation airshow in the world, and I'm going again. I had originally thought I would be riding with my friends in the Aztec again, but I seem to have moved far away from them. So, I'll be flying commercial to Green Bay and meeting up with John, Rob, Damian & Jill, Bill & son, and Jake tomorrow, and we'll all be driving down to Appleton. From there, we will plan our assault on Oshkosh's Whittman Field while consuming beers. EAA Airventure -- generally known as "Oshkosh" to pilots -- is quite simply the greatest aviation…

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Couldn't Have Said it Better


When the time came to fly 93F one last time, I asked my friend John to come along. I wanted to tell him how much I appreciated our friendship, and his help with acquiring this plane of mine, this plane that was about to become someone else's. John's the guy who made aircraft ownership possible for me, and in a way, I felt as if I was letting him down by leaving New Jersey and leaving niner three fox behind as well. But life happens. After a two month hiatus from flying it, I wedged into 93F and John folded himself into the right seat. The plane started right up, and I went through all the motions of preflight. Soon…

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Good News & Bad News


The good news is I spent this past entire weekend with friends and family. The bad news is the goodbyes at the end of the days had a little more significance. The good news is I saw my mother & my sister on Saturday. The bad news is they both cried when they left. The good news is I spent my Sunday at Andover Aeroflex Airport. The bad news is I have no idea when I'm ever gonna get to spend another one there. The good news is I flew my Cessna 150 yesterday. The bad news is it's not mine anymore. The good news is I flew a Boeing Stearman yesterday, and landed it rather well four times. The…

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So Long, Friend


Well, that's that. In a few more days, I won't be able to call myself an aircraft owner anymore. Niner three foxtrot, my little Cessna 150, won't be joining us in Boulder. I knew that this move would be bittersweet, and that there were minuses sprinkled in with the pluses, and a little while ago I arrived at the conclusion that it made more sense to sell the plane than to keep it. Score one for the minuses. Airplanes like air, and the denser the better. But as the altitude increases, the air thins out, making it harder for the wings, propeller (just another pair of wings, really) and the engine to do their jobs. Regular readers know about my…

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Stearman


Say hello to the latest family member at Andover Flight Academy. It's a Boeing Stearman, a 1940's-era biplane, the military trainer of the day. And soon this one will be available for joy rides, aerobatics and taildragger instruction, and generally spreading its sweet radial engine song across the valley around Andover Aeroflex Airport (12N). The thing is, it's got no wings at the moment. But that didn't stop my friend John and the gang over at Andover from pulling the plane out of the hangar and attempting to fire up the engine for the first time since the school took ownership of this project last fall. And airplane nuts will congregate -- with cameras, no less -- at the thought…

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Sex Flight


<p>I didn&#8217;t know it was gonna be a sex flight, but that&#8217;s the way it worked out. That&#8217;s the cool thing about sex flights, they are like the real thing&#8212;you try for it all the time, but usually come up short. When you have a sex flight, you are pleasantly surprised. </p> <p>I flew to Lancaster, PA <a href="http://www.airnav.com/airport/KLNS">(KLNS)</a> today. I&#8217;d never been there before, and they supposedly have a great pilot shop: not one, but two excellent reasons to fly there. A little over…

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Flying is Dangerous...


... especially when you try it without a plane. Yesterday, when getting ready to go fly, I flew. Let me explain. The asphalt at my tiedown spot is rather old, and what with the sun beating down on those three little pressure points that my plane’s tires make, the tires have created three distinct depressions in the ground. They are so deep at ths point, if I try to accelerate out of my spot I have to go to almost full throttle to get out of there. Lately I have taken to pulling the plane out a few feet with my tow bar, so that I don’t have to use so much power to pull out of…

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Seen


At the airport today:…

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The Hawks


Recently, I reached my one-year anniversary of aircraft ownership. I always said I’d give it a year and then look at what this is all costing me, and then decide if it was worth it. When the milestone was passed, I tallied up all the hours I flew in the 12-month period, and divided by the total outlay of money for the same period to derive a “cost per hour”, which all aircraft owners know is bullshit. I’m no accountant, but even accountants can’t agree on how to assimilate all the costs of owning and flying an aircraft and boil them down into an accurate cost per hour. I thought maybe I…

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The Old J-3


Tonight, I received an email from someone who had read my Cub story. It has been a while since I’ve heard from a reader, so it was nice all by itself. But this gentleman was also seeking information about a poem he knew, a poem about the star of my story, the Piper J-3 Cub. The poem begins thusly (the copy of which was included in his email; I assume he knows it from memory, and I can understand why): Remember when we pressed our face, against the fence that marked the place, the place where the airplanes came to rest... the ones we liked the best? Not the liners silver and grand, that roared away across the…

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Trip to Elmira-Corning Regional


Today’s weather in this area was absolutely fantastic, and after many weekends of short hops or no flying at all, I was jonesing to stretch my legs a bit. At first, I’d planned to fly to a little airport near the Canadian border, but the flight there and back would have taken much of the day. Instead, I planned a flight to Elmira-Corning Regional Airport, to visit the National Warplane Museum that is located right on the airport grounds. I departed my home airport at 11:00AM, and ninety minutes later touched down at Corning Regional. The views were great, and the air was smooth. The museum was… interesting. For the seven dollar admission, you…

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Push


The day dawned overcast, hazy and ominous. I had hoped to get a short morning flight in before heading out to a family commitment, but Ma Nature seemed to decline. So, I decided to run into the city to pick up a lawnmower instead. You see, aircraft ownership has forced a new responsibility on me. Lawn care. Keeping the grass cut near my airplane is my responsibility, presumably for liability reasons—the people who cut the acres upon acres of grass around the general airport grounds don’t want to be responsible for accidentally cutting a tiedown rope, or somehow nicking any part of the planes tied down there, so the immediate area around your plane is your…

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Why


<p>This plane thing, this owning an airplane. People think it&#8217;s crazy, extravagant. Maybe. But today was a good example of why it&#8217;s worth it. </p> <p>Today&#8217;s weather around here was the pilot&#8217;s trifecta. No wind, no turbulence and decent visibility. We had other plans today, other than flying, but in the late afternoon the weather was still stellar, and I thought I&#8217;d steal away to the airport for a little aviation crack. And I said to Brenda &#8220;just come with me, this is the best flying weather, it&#8217;d be a shame to…

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Annual


First annual inspection, done. Airplanes are required to undergo an inspection every twelve calendar months, and “the annual” is often a dreaded ritual where the aircraft owner drops his plane off with his mechanic and waits for the list of expensive things wrong with it. In a good year, the inspection is just that, and things are inspected and nothing it found our of order. Most years, one or more things are found out of order, much to the chagrin of the owner. Some years, the annual presents an opportunity to take care of a few things that have needed doing, and that is what my situation was. Niner-three-fox is back at home, with all kinds of new…

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Orlando, Florida - The Very Rough Guide


Sunny Orlando, Florida. Been there, done it. But it was time to do it again. Brenda’s sister was graduating from school, and becoming a nurse. We went down there, to watch. We went early, to vacation. As I said, been there, done it. All who know me know my distain for the place. A card-carrying Disney hater, I loathe the land of calculated happiness, forced smiles, Olive Gardens, and line length camouflage. But, you know, blood is thicker than water. So I guess it’s fitting that this time around, Brenda decided that Sea World would be the tourist trap of choice for this visit. I gotta say, it wasn’t all bad. Now, the $55/…

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Sputter


After a promising fall season, wherein I shamelessly gushed about aircraft ownership and looked forward to the months ahead, I was greeted by a particularly pissed off Old Man Winter. This curtailed all flying for months. In fact, my flying has suffered a bit of a crimp even these last few months, as my weblog content clearly shows. Lately, I haven’t seen an aviation article on this site at all, just a lot of bitching and ranting. Well, these last several weeks have allowed at least a bi-weekly foray onto the skies, and as we set the clocks ahead and the temperatures have climbed in fits and starts, I felt that soon I would resemble a pilot again.…

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Temporary flight restriction at Kitty Hawk


Hey, check this out: 3/1835 – PART 1 OF 4 FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS KILL DEVIL HILLS, NORTH CAROLINA, DECEMBER 17, 2003 LOCAL. PURSUANT TO TITLE 14, SECTION 91.141 OF THE CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS AIRCRAFT FLIGHT OPERATIONS ARE PROHIBITED WITHIN 25 NMR UP TO BUT NOT INCLUDING FL180 OF 360106N/0754017W OR THE RBX020006.0 FROM 0312171200 (0700 LOCAL 12/17/03) UNTIL 0312171700 (1200 LOCAL 12/17/03); WITHIN 10 NMR UP TO BUT NOT INCLUDING FL180 OF 360106N/0754017W OR THE RBX020006.0 FROM 0312171200 (0700 LOCAL 12/17/03) UNTIL 0312171700 (1200 LOCAL 12/17/03); EXCEPT AS SPECIFIED BELOW AND/OR UNLESS AUTHORIZED BY ATC: A. ALL AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS WITHIN A 10 NMR AREA LISTED…

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glass


Pilots sometimes talk of smooth air as being “smooth as glass”, or “like glass”. Of course, the air is not smooth. It’s the ride that’s smooth. And when you take to the skies in something that weighs less than your car, a smooth ride is a welcome rarity. Generally, Ma Nature is up to something; whether she’s creating high & low pressure centers, causing air to rush about seeking pressure equilibrium (wind), or heating up the ground on a clear day with the sun, creating invisible air geysers (turbulence), she’s always up to something. And it’s annoying. Generally, when the air is still, teasing pilots with…

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Wind


She told me, flat out. She flatly stated "You have no idea what the hell you are doing", but I never heard her. Maybe it was the noise of the engine; maybe it was my unwarranted sense of pilot bravado, I don’t know. But yesterday Mother Nature was definitely telling me to stay on the ground and I didn’t listen. Shame on me. There’s an old saying in aviation that goes “it’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground”. Yesterday I got a sense of that that truly means. What could be the cause of…

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And, begin.


Rare is the day where you get to live a dream. For me, today was one of those days. Today I drove to the airport, untied my plane, and went flying. The Great Experiment is underway. I actually spent a few moments here trying to put the experience into words. I couldn't. Maybe later. Meanwhile, here's a picture, guaranteed good for a thousand words, even if the white balance was incorrectly set on the camera.…

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Airplane


<p>No matter I say it, no matter how calmly I try to fit this into conversation, it never fails to draw odd stares from the uninitiated, and wild congratulations from those who knew I was looking to do this:</p> <p>I own an airplane. </p> <p>It&#8217;s true, I am now an aircraft owner. This late hour will preclude me from really getting into detail, but the basic idea is that I am now the proud owner of a 1966 Cessna 150, a little two-seat trainer aircraft that neither looks sexy nor goes fast. But it does go UP.</p> <p>…

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Published


Ever since I started this blog thing, it’s been too easy to publish my own work. No editors to please, no particular audience or format. But when I DO get published, it feels really good. It’s nice to know other people are interested enough in your stuff to expose it to a wider audience. Today is the first time since I started this blog that I have had something published elsewhere, and I’m a little giddy about it. Have a look here.…

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T6/SNJ Photo Shoot


<p>About six weeks ago I flew this, a North American T6 &#8220;Texan&#8221; (actually, it was the Navy version, the SNJ.):</p> <p><img src="http://www.rumblestrip.org/site-img/inflight1.jpg" alt="T6 flight" width="100%"></p> <p>I had so much fun, I wrote about it. Well, it turns out the good people at <a href="http://www.avweb.com">AVweb</a> would like to publish my scribblings, and they needed some photos to accompany the article. So, today I met my friends John and Matt at the airport for a little air-to-air photo session. The snap above…

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Oshkosh 2003


Well, I'm back. The pilgrimage has been completed. I have gone to Oshkosh. I've been to aviation's Mecca, and the simplest way to summarize the experience is this: Holy Shit. If you've never been to a local airshow you have absolutely no friggin' idea what Oshhosh is like. Even if you HAVE been to a local airshow, you have no friggin' idea what OSH is all about. Airventure, as the EAA prefers to call this spectacle, is an annual event held at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It started over fifty years ago, when the EAA decided to host a “fly-in”, at their headquarters’ home airport, just a gathering of pilots flying in with their home…

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Aviation Pilgrimage


Well, I still can’t believe it, but tomorrow morning at Morristown Municipal Airport (MMU) I’m going to squeeze into a Piper Aztec with four other guys and fly to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Oshkosh. Yeah, place where they make overalls. But also home to the largest airshow in the world. Every July pilots & aviation freaks flock to Whitman Memorial Field in Oshkosh for a gathering of eagles that even Hollywood couldn’t top. The vogue is to fly in in your own general aviation plane, camp on the field, and take in the vast array of aeronautical delights that abound. It’s something I’ve been curious about ever since I started learning to…

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Ways to tell that you are a dork


you know the exact day that Microsoft’s new Flight Simulator 2004 is due on store shelves you actually go to CompUSA on your lunch break to purchase said program, precicely on that day you inform the CompUSA staff that today is the day it’s due out, after not seeing any copies on the shelf you dutifully wait by the “staff only” door with nervous anticipation waiting to see if the staff member returns from the stockroom with a fresh copy you purchase the very first copy of MSFS2K4 from the new shipment at the 36th Street CompUSA you call Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 “MSFS2K4” you install MSFS2K4 on your computer at work…

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