Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chance of a Lifetime--December 30, 2009

DSC09348 - CopyDSC09366 - Copy


Woke up at 4:40 A.M.  Whoa!  Had I fallen asleep last night?!  Sure enough!  Still had my jeans on!  Went back to bed.

Woke up at 7:20 on my own!  That hasn't happened in a long time!!!  I had slept 12 hours!!!  Kind of funny, too...I woke up to a dream of me having an egg...a cooked egg.  But it was beating.  I opened up to find a small chicken...with batter on it.  It was certainly cooked!  But dead now that it was open.  I love dreams.  I also remembered one of my mom opening up a letter back turns out Delta had hired me.  Hmm.

Grabbed breakfast at Denny's in the hotel.  Didn't come with the hotel...that's my fault!  I should have checked that.  Went out to the airport to fly.  Skies were looking pretty good.

And sure enough, they were!  Fly, fly, fly!!!  On station at 9:45 A.M.  One of my flight plans took me right up to NASA's restricted airspace.  I couldn't get in.  We don't have clearance until January 1.  Bummer.  I moved to another flight plan.  I finished that one up.  But before doing so, I called up Cape Control.  I asked if it would be possible to get in there today...after all, we had GREAT weather.  Clouds were starting to pop up, but so far, I was staying out of them.  He granted my request?!  No kidding?!  Really?!  SWEEEEEEEET!!!  I called up Matt to let him know.  We were granted access into the Restricted Areas over Cape Canaveral!  Woo hoo!  We were so going to finish this project today.

I finished the plan I was on, then headed up to finish the one that I had to leave due to the Restricted Area.  I finished those four lines, then headed down into the middle of the Restricted Area to finish one more flight plan.  Matt and I tag-teamed that one.  I was flying just a few miles west of the Space Shuttle landing site...and the assembly plant.  Pretty neat.  Not many pilots are allowed in here.  What a fun time!

Well, Matt finished his four lines, then went in for fuel.  I grabbed the remaining six, turning just a few miles south of NASA's huge assembly building.  So beautiful.  I finished, thanked the guy for letting us in there, then requested a lower altitude for my own picture-taking.  My camera was not working earlier in the day, and I was sooooo frustrated!  Here I was, having the opportunity to fly over Cape Canaveral, and my camera doesn't work!  I had needed to charge the batteries and even mentioned that to Matt this morning after Denny's, but I just didn't have time.  Agggh!  I had searched everywhere for batteries.  I replaced the ones that were in there.  I tried different combinations of batteries.  I pulled out an old GPS from my flight bag searching for batteries.  Nothin'.  Grr grr grr!!!  Oh well.  Such is life.

But it started working as I flew over the Cape.  I was more than thrilled!!!  I couldn't believe it!!!  It seriously did not work all morning...and now it was!!!  Woo hoo!!!

Well, I dropped down to 2ooo and took a couple more pictures (I had already taken several from 4500 as I made my turns).  Then I headed back for Space Coast.  But I couldn't shake the thought.  I owed it to myself.  I HAD TO.

"Control, 151, it's probably a little too much to ask for a touch-and-go on the runway, isn't it"?

<chuckled response>  "Yeah, I can't let you do that, but if you want, you can fly over the runway at 500 feet."

I couldn't believe my ears!!!!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!  I seriously didn't believe what I was hearing and had to verify it for myself a couple of times.  Sure enough, I was granted the honor of flying over the 15,000-foot NASA Shuttle Landing Facility runway.  I immediately took him up on it.  He joked that if my partner called in, he would have to deny any such acknowledgement of such a request.  ha!  What a privilege.

It was seriously an honor.  So I turned around and a made a base for the runway.  I aimed right towards the assembly facility and dropped down to 500 feet.  This was simply spectacular!!!  I grabbec my camera and started snapping shots.  What a privilege!

I actually was so consumed with taking pictures that I nearly overran the runway!  I turned sharply and tried to line up.  A bit embarassing!  Oh well, it wasn't by much.  I was able to line up before the actual runway, but I missed a great shot of the approach lights and all.  Agggh!!!!  Oh well.

And just like that, I was seeing a view that I would imagine VERY few other pilots have seen.  I was staring down the 15,000-foot runway where the space shuttle comes to land.  Who else can say that?!  And I flew 500 feet across the ENTIRE runway.  It all happened so fast!!!

I thanked the guy profusely.  That's a memory I'll cherish for life.  Frankly, it's nothing spectacular.  And yet, it's everything spectacular.  I certainly enjoyed it!  As I flew along the runway, he asked where we were based out of.  I told him and just had some small talk.  As I turned off the runway, he said I must have a pretty sweet job.  Next only to his, of course.  I simply couldn't argue.  As a pilot, I am getting opportunities that I will never have the rest of my life.  Stories to remember!  Not always good, but certainly memorable.  How many pilots can say they've flown down the NASA Shuttle runway?  Ok, yeah, them.  But they are ASTRONAUTS!!!!

Headed back to Space Coast.

Landed, called the boss, found out we are going to Lakeland, Florida, next.  Matt and I weren't necessarily thrilled, but oh well.  We had just finished a project in two days.  Awesome.  I flew 4.1 hours today.  Then about 20 minutes later, I received another phone call.  Scratch that.  Head to Alexandria, Lousiana.  ha!  What a job we have.  I later learned that we will be heading to Daytona Beach tomorrow where I will get an oil change and where Matt will hopefully get new radios.  Then from there, we (plus Jeff) will head to Alexandria, Louisiana.  We have a VERY large project awaiting us.  I think we have 105 flight plans!!!!

Talked to Sandy for 45 minutes tonight.  That was nice.

Had some Waffle House for supper.  I still want to own one of those.  I have a perfect spot for it back in Illinois.

Went to bed at a respectable 11:15 P.M.  I haven't seen that in way too long.  I'm looking forward to being fresh in the morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment