Lady Taildraggers vs. Combative Men

Men. I love ‘em, but when wearing a LadiesLoveTaildraggers tshirt, don’t count on it being reciprocated.

After a very odd encounter at AirVenture this year, I have to ask myself, are lady taildragger pilots a threat to manliness? A couple of you have heard my strange story, but for the rest now’s as good a time as any to share it.

As always at OSH, I’m wearing a LadiesLoveTaildraggers tshirt. I’m alone, it’s midweek at AirVenture and I’ve surely walked 100 miles already since I arrived Saturday. Just like everyone else who comes to the biggest show on earth, I hit the ground running and catch my breath a week later when I’m back home in Indy. By midweek I usually start to recognize I can give myself a break if I just walk to a trolley stop and stand there. And wait. For the trolley. For some reason I’ve always preferred to walk right past the trolley stops, and those waiting comfortably and patiently, then watch them all seated, zip by me while I’m trying my best to speed walk to the same place they’re going. I’m a slow learner!

Anyway, on this particular day I decided to stop at a trolley stop and wait it out. I was proceeded in line by just two people, a couple middle aged guys. By the looks of their backsides, normal enough, and that was the extent of my observation at that point. My brain was cranking because I was on my way to meet a Facebook “friend” for the first time, doing my best to remember where she was tied down and all the stuff I should remember about her. I did notice one of the two guys ahead of me kept turning around, looking at me and seemed kind of agitated. I didn’t really think I could be the cause of whatever his problem was so I just ignored him – until I couldn’t.

So the guy finally turns, glares at me and the conversation unfolded something like this. By this point he’s VERY agitated and has an attitude that’s apparent not just physically but by the tone of his voice. “So you think you’re too good to fly a nose wheel airplane do you?” “Just too good, hey?” “You’re a lady taildragger flyer (and I’m supposed to be impressed?)” Imagine some agitated looks towards me and back to his buddy. There was a little more dialog to which I was completely silent, but that’s the gist of it. 

Wow, I really didn’t see that coming. But I didn’t react immediately. I listened, heard him out and somehow felt in control …. because he wasn’t. I could see by the look on his friend’s face that he was a little embarrassed and sensed he understood that I had accidentally happened into this strange encounter.

I waited until he let it all out. Then I waited a little longer and said “You know, I’ve got quite a bit of time and some of it is in nosewheel aircraft. It’s all good. But truth is, I just enjoy flying taildraggers more.”  He seemed to settle down. He softened up a bit and started to engage in a little less combative way. I think I saw a smile before the trolley came. By the time it pulled up we all three hopped on and incredibly had a very chatty and lovely ride to the next stop.

That’s it in a nutshell. I’ll leave the psychology of what happened there to anyone who cares to offer an opinion. I’m just happy we were able to part on a happier note than we started on.

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