Friday, December 25, 2009

Plod On--December 23, 2009

Woke up at 8:00 to the guys moving around the room.  Grr.  Without an airplane, I had planned on sleeping in.  As long as I could!!!  I didn't even set an alarm.  I never could fall back asleep.  I HATE that.  Chelsea came in at 9:45.  She grabbed some breakfast and brought it in.  I still hadn't moved.  Ah, I wanted to sleep!!!

We chilled in the hotel for a bit, then went out in search of a nice lil' sub/sandwich shop.  After driving forever, we never really found what we were looking for.  We even stopped to ask a guy for one, and he advised us to get Italian instead.  What?!  We finally ended up at some bagel shop...the first one we had seen a half hour earlier!  Ate and talked.

From there, we went out shopping for Chelsea's brother...just grabbed a couple t-shirts.  And then we hit the beach for one last time.  It was a bit warmer today, and the beach certainly showed that.  Hundreds of people...though it still wasn't all that warm.  People were still in long sleeves and jeans!  Some braved the water and bare skin, but we chose not to.  Nothin' like a dress shirt and jeans on the beach!  ow ow!

We stood there and just watched the waves for awhile, then sat on the bench for a bit.  Time was passin' quickly, though, and we had to leave to get her to the airport...and me back up north.  <sigh>

I stopped by the hotel real quick, then headed for the airport to drop her off.  This trip was WAY too quick.  I really, really hope she has no regrets.  Things certainly did NOT go as planned...and I'm kind of sad by that.  But at least we were able to see each other...I hope that was worth it.  I hope.

I said my good-byes on the way to the airport...then once we got there, I grabbed her stuff, we hugged, and she was gone.  Soooo fast!  What a short couple of days.

From there, I headed straight for the highway.  I had 4 hours to get behind me.  I had no time to waste.  I was leaving at 4:30 and had to get the car back to Enterprise by 8:00.  I called up Sandy that first hour, and we talked for about that whole time.  It was anything but pretty.  Actually, it was ugly.  We talked in circles.  It boggles my mind how something so enjoyable can turn so sour in just a few days.  Not the day I was hoping for.  I'm goin' to miss her.

I just plodded along.  The trip went by fairly nicely...mile by mile, hour by hour.  But that last hour I was just tired.  Very, very tired.  Very tired.  I bought some coffee to try and help out.  Yesterday it worked...tonight it was doing nothing.  The road started giving me tunnel vision.  NOT cool.

I bought some more coffee once I arrived in Daytona Beach.  I had the car back at 8:30.  I headed over to the company and met the mechanic.  I called for an IFR flight plan, fueled up the plane...and realized I was pretty much unhealthy.  I was unbelievably tired.  And I knew it.  I downed the coffee, and I also did some laps.  Yes, I ran.  Out on the ramp, I ran back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  Suicide style.  I needed to get my blood pumping.  Somehow someway.

I did the pre-flight, then taxied out.  It was only 2 hours.  Just two hours.  C'mon, sir.  2 hours.

I did the run-up but wasn't completely confident in my engine yet.  A jug had just been replaced (it had a 4 PSI reading...4!), and my run-up was a bit rough...I had to lean the engine out to get it from dropping too many RPM's.  Not how I wanted to start out this already difficult night!  But it finally settled up.  I was now ready for departure.

I took off into the ridiculously calm night.  It's so beautiful flying at night.  Nothing really compares.  There were some broken clouds out there, but for the most part, visibility was unlimited.  They pointed me out towards the ocean for awhile, then told me to intercept v3.  I climbed to 6000.

I was doing OK...for a short while.  But I was sleep-deprived.  And I was losing that battle.  Quickly.  After about 30 minutes, I was shot.  I was worthless.  I couldn't focus normally.  My visualization process was sporadic...was I even doing it?  Was I catching them all?  Why did it seem so "blocky"?  It had absolutely NO fluidity to it.

I started the battle.  C'mon, I can make it.  It's only two hours.  I've already paid for a hotel down there.  I'm joining the other guys in their crazy flight stories.  I need a hangar tonight.  I have no rental car if I land now.  It's JUST an hour and a half more.

Terrible focus.  Open up the cold air vent, point right in my face.  Gulp down the coffee.  C'mon, c'mon.

Only two hours, sir!  You can do it.

Can't focus.  I'm scared.  Will I make it?

The battle ensued.  I knew of other pilots who had gone down.  I wondered how many were just too tired.  I checked my map.  140 miles to go.  That's not far.  In an hour, I would be within 30 miles, and by that time, I would have mentally considered myself there.  30 miles is easy.

Something isn't right.  This is NOT safe.  This is NOT how my body normally flies...or reacts.

The battle continued.

"Center, 151, request."

"151, Center, go ahead."

"151, would like to drop down to MLB, information Bravo, field in sight."

I had made the decision.  I simply wasn't sure if I would make it to Fort Lauderdale.  I had to dig deep, but I realized that death hunts even me.

And frankly, the 20 miles to Melbourne proved to be difficult, too.  I was told to descend to 2000 total blackness...I assume water?  I don't know.  Night flying can be like IFR flying!!!  But I was still struggling.  I simply was losing this fight to sleep to my body.  My mind was shot.

I never should have taken off.  I hate the fact that I let circumstances make that decision for me.  It was TERRIBLE pilot decision-making.  Terrible.

Well, I landed on 9L and requested a 24-hour FBO.  Nothing was open.  I just taxied over to the ramp and parked.  Some guy walked over...I told him I landed because I was tired, and he flooded me with 8 minutes of pilot stories of his own.  C'mon, man, I just want to sleep.  He told me to not cross the line into the building or he would have to charge me $55.  Hmm, ok.  I'll just stay out here.

My plan was to sleep for an hour, then go the rest of the way.  It was only 10:30 anyway.  Well, that plan was good except for one reason...the sleep part.  I couldn't fall asleep.  I had lights shining in my airplane, and I had a very tight space.  I just couldn't get comfortable.  Feet up, feet down, seat forward, seat back.  I tried to sit on the floor.  Nothing.  I leaned over the passenger seat, I leaned on the side window, I sat back.  NOTHING.  It was frustrating.

I fought that battle for the next couple hours.  I would go in and out of sleep.  I woke up and saw 1:17 A.M.  Hmm, I could go now.  Nah, I still didn't even feel like I HAD slept.  <sigh>  I finally fell asleep.

What a life I live.

I'm not goin' to lie...these last three days have made me really not enjoy this job.  I just haven't been too happy with the "stuff" that has to go along with the job right now.  Just put the day behind you.  Move on.  Plod on.

Plod on.

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