Sunday, January 31, 2010

(Almost) Famous!--January 30, 2010

Well, I'm in the newspaper once again.  Seems like old-hat anymore!

Woke up at 11:15 A.M.  To the sound of tires spinning in the parking lot.  Someone was stuck.  And they didn't have a clue how to get out.  I watched out the window for a bit, chuckling out loud.  Oh, these southerners.  After a few minutes of watching, I couldn't do it anymore.  I threw on some clothes and walked down to help.  He wasn't there when I got there.  So I came back upstairs.  I heard the tires again.  This time he had a large pole and was chipping the ice away from the rear tires!  ha!  I walked back down, went outside, and gave him a push.  That's all it took.  After 20 minutes of fighting it on his own, all he needed was an extra hand.

It felt good.

Came back upstairs, grabbed a shower, then we headed for Waffle House for lunch.  I LOVE their prices.  The snow/sleet/freezing rain mess is just that...a huge mess.  All of it froze together into a solid chunk of ice last night.  It's slick to walk on, slick to drive on.


We decided we were going flying.  I wasn't too keen on the idea.  We would make an extra $20, but IF anything happened, I would have to explain to the FAA WHY I chose to go.

"So you were aware of the large amounts of ice on the runway"?

"Yes, sir."

"And you still decided to go."

"Yes, sir."

Sigh.  I was happy with staying on the ground.  But admittedly, I did think we could fly just fine.  Airlines were taking off, and on the drive to the airport, I saw a Citation, King Air, and Falcon all in line for departure.  So it was possible.  I still needed to see the ramp, though.

It was TERRIBLE.  The ramp was one solid piece of ice.  No pavement visible anywhere.  Oh boy.  But I decided to go for it anyway.  I did a thorough pre-flight and started 'er up.  Grabbed the weather and was told to taxi out to 4L, the only runway being used.  I heard the phrase "Braking Advisory" on the METAR today...that was a first!!!  And the Tower repeatedly told us to use extreme caution on the taxiway.  Obviously.  It was one solid chunk!

I taxied out slowly and stopped before Runway 36.  As I applied the brakes, I noticed I kept on moving!!!  I looked outside, and my tire wasn't spinning at all, but the ice was moving underneath it.  I was sliding forward on the ice!  ha!  What a mess.  I was slow enough to know I was going to stop, but I was most certainly sliding across the ice.  Oh boy.

I was cleared to take off (number three in our fleet), and I lined up on the centerline.  I was heading up to North Little Rock, just a short 8 miles away.  I took off with no problems.  I climbed to 1500 feet MSL and headed for North Little Rock.  As I came closer, I could see the runway was covered.  I had NO chance of landing, although admittedly again, I wanted to try.  Macho.  You have to fight it sometimes.

I flew over the field, snapped a picture, and continued north.  Frankly, the scenery was nothing short of beautiful.  The entire landscape was white.  It was fairly windy out of the north, but the flying itself was pretty smooth.  It seemed "brisk," and I'm not even sure what I mean by that, but that's how I would describe the plane's handling today.  It just felt "brisk."

I flew about 14 miles north, then cut west, then made my way back in.  I was told to maintain best forward speed to the numbers, as a jet was on a 5-mile final to the ILS Runway 4L.  I suggested that I extend my downwind, but I was refused...for just a second!!!  He thought about it, and (rightfully) told me to fly OVER the field and enter a right downwind behind the jet.  There is just no need for a jet to have to wait on me.  Especially when I am going to be VERY slow today on my landing...especially when they have a schedule to keep and I don't...especially when they burn more fuel than me...especially when I still had 2 miles to go vs. his 4 miles...and especially when my taxiway exit was more than halfway down the just made sense!!!  The last thing we needed was him going around.  He had already been told to slow to 190 knots...then to 170.  C'mon, Tower!  Just put me behind him!  Sheesh.

I was doing 129 knots across the ground, though.  At 1500 feet!  :)

I took some pictures of the city, the airport, my landing, and the taxiway as I came in.  And I later sent them to a local news station who used them on their website...and I think in their news!  An entire article was essentially wrapped around my pictures even!  And I quote from Fox 16 news...

"The recent round of winter weather makes it uncomfortable, if not impossible, for many people to get around. It puts a major strain on travelers looking to get into town and out of town. Saturday, more people braved roads and highways attempting to get from one point to the next. There were difference scenarios with airplane, bus, and taxi travel.

An aerial look of Little Rock on ice explains the tough travel over the past couple of days. Another photo of the Little Rock airport, taken from the skies, shows why airport officials halted all travel Friday."



ha!  Another one in the books for me.  I did like the pictures, though...I thought they were a good capture of the city!  Obviously they did, too.  Those two pictures they referred to were taken by me...and were on their website!

Fun times.

Had a pretty slow night.  Talked to the chick from Little Rock again.  We were supposed to get together, but she was scared on the highway, so she turned back around.  Amateurs.  So I had a night by myself as I had already said no to eating with the guys.  I ate down at our small hotel restaurant and read another chapter of "Stick and Rudder."  It's getting detailed now (kind of!), and I have to read some of the paragraphs a couple of times before it clicks.  But what he writes just makes sense!!!  It's hard to believe that a "novel" can make you a better pilot.  But this one is sure making everything about as clear as day!

All in all, a nice, slow night.  Went to bed at 12:30 A.M.

The snow is still on the ground.  We'll have a high of 40 it will start going.  But I don't expect any mapping until Tuesday.

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