"This is 90 X ray. Hurry up, will you? I'm almost down, and I don't see you. There's a barn and...." He must have dropped behind a hill, cutting off his transmission.
We found him in a stubble field just north of Cedar Bluffs, puffing on a cigar and chatting with a pair of amiable old gentlemen in Bermuda shorts who had stopped by the roadside and come to rescue him. Gleb was clearly disappointed in his crew. He had done everything but send up flares to help us find him, hadn't he? A beer made him feel better, then we all pitched in, took the Sisu apart, stowed it and drove back to the base, with the car still simmering furiously and the temperature needle headed for the peg. Gleb couldn't have cared less. A yachting type to the core, he would have strangled anybody who put a scratch on his hull, but gasoline engines no longer interested him.
Flying home a couple of days later behind my own engine, I discovered that a subtle thing had happened to me. The trip back was just as rough as it had been coming out, and the old Bonanza was riding like an old Buick, converting bumps into soggy swoops and yaws. Then I hit one of those prairie thermals that used to make my palms sweat as I fought it. I looked down. The hot air was obviously rising from a farm field directly below. The rate-of-climb needle oscillated wildly between 500 and 1,500 feet per minute. Instead of gritting my teeth and plowing on through, just for the hell of it I rolled into a tight turn. With the wings slicing the updraft at this new angle, the bucking stopped, the engine settled into a muffled, puzzled mutter that I'd never quite heard before, and I found myself magically and smoothly going up at a rate that made my ears pop.
Five minutes later and 6,000 feet higher, I took up my course again. That thermal had been worth a couple of quarts of gasoline to me. It was a long way home, with lots more big bumps, and I don't remember ever having had so much fun driving an airplane.