Wednesday, June 2, 2010
21 Hours in 3 Days--June 1, 2010
Woke up at 7:10 A.M. Did the usual...breakfast, showered, headed for the airport, and stopped at Subway for my later lunch. I grabbed an ounce or two of coffee for a lil' shot, then headed west. The skies had some virga and clouds off in the west, and I wasn't sure how long I would be able to image.
I was able to finish up a flight plan that has taken me several days...I can rarely complete the east-bound lines. Well, I BARELY managed to stay under the speed parameters for the first east-bound line, but I still missed too many pictures due to me going over...it was literally coming down to ONE knot!!! I could do the west-bound lines with no problems. So I decided to try something new. I decided to create some drag to slow me up! I tried extending the flaps, but they wouldn't go down. Hmm! So I dropped the gear. The change was minimal...I only lost a few knots but it wasn't enough. THEN I dumped in some flaps. And just like that, I lost about 12 knots! It happened so quickly, too! That was a nice little lesson to learn about the Aztec, too. I was taught to take up flaps before gear on an engine-failure, but this just made it all the more reasonable. The flaps create WAY more drag than the gear does. WAY more.
With the gear and flaps down, I literally had no problems completing the east-bound lines. I had a very nice speed with me flying at blue-line. It was a bit annoying, but it was getting the job done. I finished that plan! Finally!
I headed about 40 miles west for the next plan. I ran into more of the same. This time it was with the north-bound lines. I was simply going too fast when trimmed clean. I had to get dirty in order to complete the lines. Going south-bound just wasn't a problem. So that's what I did...for awhile anyway. It was getting a bit bumpy, and I was flying below some clouds above me. It just wasn't going to get much better. I had virga to the north in the rest of the plans...it was just not goin' to be a good day. I ended up calling it after 5 lines on the second plan.
I was also ridiculously cold. I had clouds above me, and the sun was nowhere to be found. That made a HUGE difference compared to yesterday. Basically, my toes were cold (still had two pairs of socks on), but today my hands were crazy cold, too. I had to tuck them into my jacket every now and again. It's kind of frustrating not having a working heater. And I will be going higher and higher with these plans...this blanket just isn't cutting it. I'm going to have to buy gloves. I'm not a big fan of being cold. AT ALL. It was 30 degrees up there today.
I decided to drop down in to a different airport for fuel. I loaded up the VOR approach for practice and to check the instruments, too. It had been awhile. The needle was acting kind of funky...it was picking up the signal, but I didn't see the airport...man, DME would sure be nice. So I flew the approach keeping that needle centered, and I found a runway. I made my call, but that runway just didn't look like the one I had a picture of! Another guy was taking off of Runway 1, and I was coming in for Runway 25 (winds were at 04 knots). I looked for him, but I didn't see him. AND I didn't see Runway 36, the runway I had attempted to shoot the approach into. What is more, half of these runways were dirt! Again, not what my map was showing. But I circled over, and sure enough, there was a Runway 26...painted over an 0ld 25. I know degrees change every now and again, and runways change numbers, so I gave it a shot. I landed on Runway 25 and taxied up onto the ramp. I checked out the sign on the building. Huntington Airport. I was looking for Carbon County/Price!!! Oh boy. An old man was sweeping the ramp of rocks with a huge sweeper...I just sat there kind of amused and surprised! Of course! IT MADE SENSE!!! It didn't LOOK like the airport from the sky...that's because it WASN'T the airport!!! I quickly loaded up my old GPS, and it told me that Price was 17 miles on a heading of 010 (the VOR inbound course was 009 on the approach). ha! It all made sense. Oh boy.
I took off on Runway 07. Oops!!! I'm sure the guy that was taking off of Runway 1 was just confused to death as to where I was in the pattern. Poor guy. I had a little fun on take-off...might as well, right?! I did a quick turn after departure and said hello to some cows. Nothing illegal...they were just right there on the end! It was pretty fun.
I shot up to Price in just a few minutes. ha! This PAVED runway looked right...it was north and south! Like Runway 36 SHOULD be! It just amazes me sometimes the silly things we do...and how I tell myself that it COULD have been right. I mean, the airport on my diagram had three runways as did the one that I just landed at! Outside of a missing runway (????!!!!), it could be the one, right? Right?! I was way off.
I landed on Runway 36 and waited for the fuel truck. As the woman was getting ready to fuel me, the airplane started rolling backwards. She had already connected the static wire, and I was standing on the wing. I said, "I should probably stop this, huh"? as she uttered a cuss word! ha! I hopped in and threw on the brakes...then put the parking brake on. Silly slope.
I wasn't in any hurry because I knew I was done for the day. It was actually raining just off to the east when I landed, and the virga was quite a bit lower here at the airport. So I slowly enjoyed my sub, played with a dog, and just talked with the young woman behind the desk. It was pretty enjoyable. She says they average 4 planes a day, but she also told me that the single-engine pilots just love it here. I checked out pictures of backwoods strips, and, seriously, these things looked like they were out of Alaska or Africa. I WAS IN LOVE. Utah really just amazes me. It's pure wilderness. And combined with aviation?! Um, sign me up!!!
I stayed for an hour, then headed back out, taking Runway 18. Winds were pretty light. I had about 100 miles to go, but I never flew more than 1000 feet above the ground. I was just taking it all in. I followed the highway all the way around the valley. THIS is what flying should be. It was seriously just a blessing to be able to take a twin and fly it...for fun! Sometimes we get paid to do the most enjoyable things. I was cruising around 146 knots at just 1000 feet. Perfect!
I landed back in Grand Junction, having logged just 5.0 hours. Actually, I say "just." It was fine by me. I have logged 21.3 hours in 3 days. That's good my anyone's book. I headed back to the hotel and just enjoyed the time off. It was only 2:30, a welcome relief to the 8:00 I've been used to. I checked my hotel rewards night balance, and I think I can get another four. That would make 12 nights total. And at the rates here in town ($70-ish), that's a whopping $840 I'm saving. I'll most certainly take it! It's pretty nice. I walked downtown for supper, enjoying the absolutely gorgeous weather again. I ate outside and even fed some sparrows from my hand! I seriously think they talk to me (and no, I'm not THAT crazy).
Speaking of talking to me, a drunk came up in the middle of the day and started saying something to me. He was a bit out of it, and he was pretty worn down from life. I kid you not, his arms looked like elephant skin, so weathered and wrinkled and tough. There were bruises all over, too. He's definitely lead a hard life. Anyway, we talked for about 10-15 minutes, then he invites me to split a pizza with him. I tell him I'm not hungry (I wasn't, I had just finished my meal), thinking that it was his ploy to get me to buy something for him. Well, he insists. I refused again. Then he says, "You're going to split this pizza with me, or we are going to fight." I was pretty sure I heard him correctly, but I said, "What"? "I'm going to buy this pizza, and you're going to eat half of it, or we are going to fight." <sigh> He moved closer to me. Right then and there, everything changed. I don't really have the best of histories with stuff like this, so I was pretty on edge after that. Crazy man.
The girls were closing up the shop, but he meandered in. I could tell they were pretty bothered by him, so to ease the situation, I walked into the closed restaurant to buy him something. I told him he could pick out whatever he wanted, and it would be on me. He barked something back at me, saying HE was going to buy. Then he pulled out what looked to be over $100 from his pocket. I was dumb-founded! hahahahaha!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Just goes to show you...
Anyway, I held the door for him to get out of the restaurant, not leaving until he left the building. The girls just stared. As he made his way over to his backpack, I made a bee-line path down the sidewalk. I looked over my shoulders a couple of times...he was yelling at the girls for stealing his money (they didn't). Wow. I was happy to move on from that situation. yikes.
I spent the rest of the night in the hotel, actually enjoying some downtime. It's kind of crazy, though...you get too much, and you don't know what to do! I may have had about an hour too much tonight. A lesson learned: I NEED to work. I get too bored without it.
I thought about buying an airplane, I researched more about ducks (I'm seriously getting a couple), and I looked into starting a Bed & Breakfast, one of my goals. Basically, I just dreamed a little and enjoyed the evening.
I talked to the mechanic tonight, and he wants to send me parts for me to take apart the top of the fuel tank. I told him that it might be worth holding off. The weather is looking simply fantastic for the next 5 days...through Saturday now. If the winds cooperate, I could put a solid 30 hours on the airplane in a week. And according to my numbers, I am only 33.6 from my 100-hour inspection. So with that said, it looks like I might be having my 100-hour done next week in Denver. I guess we'll see.
It's just so hard to plan anything with this job.
Went to bed at a "late" 10:45. Alarm is set for 7:10. Looks like I could get an 8-hour day in tomorrow. ha!
We'll see what happens...
(Oh, and outside of this morning when it was tough, my left engine behaved normally today! Even at lunch! Silly thing).