Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Moving On--December 29, 2009
Woke up at 7:30. Much, much earlier than I had wanted. But Matt and I were to meet "window open" up in Melbourne. I just went through the motions this morning...I did what I had to do. I wasn't sure how today was going to be. I was tired. Again. I HATE this. I need to stop doing this!!!
Matt and I were ready to go 8:15...but we had to wait on the other guys. We ended up leaving around 8:35, I think. We weren't going to meet our "window open." But I took off a bit after 9:00...I had about 120 miles to get to the project. The first hour wasn't too good. I had downed half a cup of coffee...enough to hopefully keep me awake...but not enough to make me pee in a half hour. I hoped it would work. But it really didn't. Grr. I really needed this to be a good day. We had the absolutely most perfect weather we have had since I have been in Florida. SEVERE CLEAR. Not a cloud in the sky. Anywhere. I could see everywhere!!! Well, ok, as soon as you hit the coast, there was clouds. Right above the ocean. But the earth had NO cloud. I could easily see 60 miles in every direction!!!! 100? More?!
Flew up to Melbourne and started mapping. I was "on station" at 10:21...about a half hour late.
The first flight plan was routine. Smooooooooooth air. No problems. But my next flight plan put me over an airport that had skydiving going on. And a whole lot of it. Crap. I talked to Approach about it, but they just informed me that they were doing ops all day long. Hmm. I went over to the advisory frequency and got ahold of one of the Twin Otters doing the skydive ops.
"151, doing aerial survey, will be passing over the airport, you guys out here all day"?
"Yes, sir, all day."
"Um, is there any way of coordinating this? I will be over the field just a couple of times, then out of here for good."
"Two Twin Otters in the sky all day, skydivers, that would be REALLY dangerous."
"Right, I know. Is there any way of coordinating with you"?
"I don't know. There are two of us. I'm dropping now. Then again in 3 minutes. Another guy is on his way up dropping right behind me. If you stay 2 miles away, you won't be a problem."
"Um, I will be mapping over the field. 10 mile lines. North and south. 2 miles south of the field, 8 miles north."
"That will be dangerous."
"RIGHT. ARE WE ABLE TO COORDINATE THIS SO I CAN GET IN THERE"? I was a bit frustrated. I know what you are doing, now here is what I am doing. Let's work together!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Peoples' lives are literally at stake here. We don't call them "meat rockets" for no reason.
But I was getting nowhere. I had been circling south of the field about four miles. With not much help from them, I went east of the field to at least complete some lines. I had wasted 15 minutes already. Maybe more.
I kept making radio calls. But I was getting no help from them. They HAD to be hearing me. The other guys on frequency were. I could hear them making their calls when they were dropping the meat rockets. But they weren't really talking to me. I was so frustrated. So I listened for them...when they made their drops. And I based my flight around that. Frankly, it was aggravating. And not 100% safe. I didn't like it. I made my radio calls very frequently. 5 miles north, southbound. 3 miles north of the field. Over the field. North, south, whatever. I let everyone know. They did not. Whatever.
At one point, I just wasn't comfortable with one of the lines. A drop had been completed from 14,000 feet about 10 minutes earlier. Maybe 8? I didn't know when the chutes would be deployed. How long are these guys staying up? Free-fall for how long? It made me nervous. I broke off one of the lines that put me just east of the field. I didn't want to risk it. I circled around, finished the very eastern lines, then came back.
I finally finished that flight plan...45 minutes later than it should have taken. I was sure glad to get out of there.
I landed at Melbourne (again!) for fuel. Ate a little, then headed back up. A quick 20-minute turn-around.
I was able to finish one more plan and half of another one.
Matt and I landed at Space Coast Executive Airport...just five miles west of the Space Shuttle station.
I was pretty tired. I had made it all day...certainly not the most tired I've been while flying, but I certainly wasn't feeling great, either. I focused on my landing (which was fantastic!) and taxied in. Again, I was thrilled to be on the ground. It was a great day for flying...so smooth and clear...but sometimes the days just get long. I had logged 6.4 hours.
The airport was simple. And that was nice. Actually, the whole day was nice. Approach was quiet (unlike Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach) all day. The airport was a simple Class Delta. No fancy FBO. Just a small little one. I felt at home. Matt was more than thrilled to be out of Banyan. Too busy. We were just another number. I understood his viewpoint.
Grabbed a car, went to our hotel, then headed out for some food. We drove and drove and drove. Not much. We finally settled on a small bar and grill. Bad decision. It was pretty sad. I would call it "depressed." In every sense of the word. Financially, mentally, etc. It seemed to be a place where people came to get away from it all...in alcohol. A dark, quiet bar. It took us over 30 minutes to get our food after we ordered. And we were so tired already...and hungry. We were happy to put that one behind us.
Came back to the hotel, then laid down on my bed. It was 7:20-ish.
I never woke up.