Sunday, February 28, 2010

And It Continues!--February 27, 2010


Woke up at 7:20 A.M.  Time for the routine again!!!  But's a routine of work...which beats a routine of laziness.  I actually enjoy it.  So I ate breakfast and headed for the airport.

And today was yet ANOTHER beautiful day!  We had nothing but blue skies in all directions.  Perfect for imaging.  I flew up my plans and started at 9:15.  And I stayed there for the next few hours.  I was feeling great.  I actually had quite a bit on my mind (a girl, buying an airplane, money, and on), and it actually made the time go by so much faster.  I landed for lunch at 12:45...having finished one and a half plans by then.

I again stopped at the Lebanon-Jones airport.  And I was in time for the daily lunch!  I treated myself to a wonderful vegetable stew, a turkey sandwich, and cherry pie!  I haven't had cherry pie since I started the season!  Grandma's was my last...several months ago!  So that was wonderful.  I also heard that the FAA called that airport yesterday and said that an airplane had flown into a restricted area.  The manager didn't say anything, and that was that, but I found that interesting...

I hit the skies again...belly full.  And I stayed up there another couple of hours.  I had some crazy updrafts on departure, but I had relatively smooth air above 5000.  I was imaging at 6000.  Well, until the last 45 minutes.  On the eastern portions of our lines, I had some crazy turbulence for this altitude!  It rocked my wing, and I had a "roll error!"  I sure wasn't ready for that one.  I hadn't missed a picture the previous two days...until today!  Oh well.

I finished up that plan (three total) and then climbed to 6500 for the ferry back.  I had 85 miles to go!  Wowzers!

All in all, it was a GREAT day.  I really do enjoy working.  It sure beats not working anyway.  I flew 7.2 hours again today...for a whopping total of 27.3 hours in just 4 days.  It's fantastic.

I landed a gorgeous landing (touched down at 40) back at Branson.  The new hire was here, and I met him right as I landed.  He seems like a very likeable guy, so this should work out fine.  At the hotel, I talked to Dad who said I had more problems with the house!  I have ANOTHER water leak!!!  Agh!!!  This is crazy.  Looks like another $200 to fix.  Oh well...I knew I would have to put money into it.  I have since "fired" the previous plumber, though...he sure didn't find the leaks that he was supposed to.  Worthless.

I received the Aztec POH in the mail today, so I started studying/reading that.  Lots of stuff to know!

We headed to a restaurant with stuffed burgers (very good) for supper, and we had HILIARIOUS conversation.  But we all wanted to go out some more.

So we headed downtown.  We hit up an Irish bar, and everything was going well until some guy didn't let me play pool.  I had called the game a couple earlier with the ol' quarter routine, but he didn't want to leave.  (He had been on the table for the previous six or so games).  I told him I was up, he argued, but I still grabbed a pool cue and started to hit the cue ball.  He grabbed the ball and just stared me down about two feet away.  I waited for the punch...waited...waited.  Nothin'.  I was actually a bit disappointed.  I was so ready to fight.  I don't really fight, but tonight I was just wanting to fight.  The bouncer came over and threatened to kick me out.  I didn't care.  I was right.  So I argued right back.  I'm not sure why he didn't do it, but he never swung.  And that was probably wise.  I had seven guys that had my back.  I found out later they were wondering who was going to throw the first punch.

And I also found out that they were disappointed that I didn't at least take a punch.  They were more than eager to jump into a brawl.  Sorry I let you down, guys.  I offered myself on a silver platter!!!

We left soon thereafter, but not before the guy winked at me from across the room.  I never took my eyes off of him after that.  Bring it, buddy.  Bring it.

I really wanted to fight.

We came back to the hotel at 10:45.  Another full day of flying tomorrow.  I'm goin' to be training the new guy...I'm not too excited about not being at the higher altitudes, but it should be fun to have someone else to fly with.  I was just eager to see how long we could take this 7-hours-a-day routine!!!  I kinda wish I could continue.  Oh well.  That's how the cookie crumbles.

Went to bed at 11:15.  Later than usual!  Uh oh!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day in, Day Out--February 26, 2010


Woke up at 7:20.  Grabbed breakfast, headed for the airport.

Skies were lookin' splendid again.  Clouds at 10,000 feet.  No worries.

Flew to my first flight plan and started the lines.  I was on station at 9:24 this morning.  And there I stayed for the next few hours!  I had a couple of plans inside an MOA, but I could never reach Center.  I called and called and got nothing.  It was completely silent.  Hmm.  I called another Center, and they didn't have a frequency for them, although they gave me the freqency to the tower at Fort Leonard Wood.  I called him up and asked about the MOA and Restricted Areas.  They would be "hot" until noon, he said.  Very well!

So I flew south of the Restricted Areas for the next couple of hours.  East, west, east, west.  Nothin' really spectacular this morning.  Just same ol', same ol'.  I did get real close to one of the Restricted Areas, and an A-10 Warthog came out to greet me!  He passed right over my head and then turned on his side in a sharp arc.  So beautiful.  I never saw him again, although my transponder was heavily painted for much of the time.  Yikes!

At noon, the tower called me up and let me in the now "cold" Restricted Areas.  I finished the flight plan in about 30 minutes and then headed to Jones-Lebanon for fuel.  I landed and was greeted by a a BEAUTIFUL surprise inside the FBO:  LUNCH!!!  They had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pie!  Perfect!  I threw a couple of bucks into the hat and gobbled up a plate!  I can get used to this!  It sure beat the granola bars and wheat thins I had planned!

I listened to the guys talk about war stories and modern politics.  I also learned that slavery was the black man's fault.  True story.  At least that's what they taught around the table!!!

I headed back up for the rest of the afternoon.  The lower-altitude guys had to leave early due to turbulence, but Matt and I had smooth skies.  We finished quite a bit of flight plans today, and we're already 1/4 done with this HUGE project!  I flew 7.2 hours today.  Wowzers!

I landed and wasn't able to leave the airport due to the rental car already being gone.  I'm not goin' to lie, I was pretty frustrated by that.  I ended up sitting at the airport for two hours as the mechanic worked on another airplane.  Here I was, having flown over seven hours...and not being able to go to the hotel.  I hate that about this job.  I finally left the airport at 6:45 P.M., two hours after landing.

I talked to Dad while at the airport first, however.  And I found out that my house has a couple more leaks.  Wonderful.  Heavy sarcasm there.  What a pain in the butt!  These houses are so expensive!  Time to fix it up and sell it!  We'll see how bad it is in the next couple of days...

We went out for Mexican for supper, then crashed at the hotel.  Tomorrow is lookin' like another full day.  Skies clear.  Or at least that's what the forecast says.  As such, I hit the sack at 10:45 again.

We're actually working.  And getting tired because of it!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hour After Hour--February 25, 2010


Woke up at a painful 7:22 A.M.  I hopped right out of bed.  If I didn't, I would instantly fall back asleep.  Bleh!

Ate some breakfast, then headed for the airport...we had a beautiful day!!!  Ok, so it was freezing cold, but the clouds were way up at 25,000 feet.  And after a 20-minute delay for not having the planes pulled out, I headed on my 50-mile trek to my flight plan.

And that's where I camped out the rest of the day.  I only had 1.5 hours of fuel remaining, as the line guys didn't top me off, so I actually had to land around 11:00.  And I chose the ONLY airport in the area with fuel!  Mountain Grove!  And what a beautiful day it was!  I was able to dive down at 1500 feet/minute...without having to worry about bumps!  I dove straight for the fun!  I lined myself up on the VERY narrow runway (I thought it was a road!) and went on in.  JUST before the runway I saw THREE TURKEYS scatter underneath a tree!  It was beautiful!  There were other turkeys underneath that tree, but I didn't have enough time to count!  I was making sure I didn't hit the trees!

I landed on Runway 8 and had FOUR DEER on the left side of the runway!  It was perfect.  I taxied up to the fuel stop, and an older gentleman with a long flowing white beard was there to greet me.  I just love these airports!!!  He fueled me up, and while doing so, a little tail-wheel pulled up.  The two guys just went back and forth about how I wasn't a real pilot!  They joked about how it didn't matter if I had 10,000 hours in a 172!  I still didn't know how to fly!  I knew it was in jest, but they sure didn't stop!!!  Crazy country tailwheel pilots!

We talked for about 20 minutes, and the owner of the airport tried to get me some tailwheel instruction in the plane that landed (he knew the guy).  The guy took my number, so I'm eager to see how that develops!  I LOVE general aviation!!!  Seriously, this guy was so kind.  He gave me magazines to read, he gave a plastic oil funnel, and he just gave me some enjoyable conversation!  It was pretty sweet.  I learned that he himself is a pilot and used to fly aerial survey.  But two years ago he was in a crop-dusting accident...and he's never been the same since.  I guess the accident was fairly bad, as he said the only thing salvageable was the tailwheel, and that his depth perception just hasn't been the same.  I hope that day never comes when I have to hang up my hat in aviation, but I guess it comes to all of us.  I sure did enjoy Lloyd, though.  What a nice gentleman.

I headed back for the skies and spent the next few hours up there.  East, west, east, west.  We have six guys on the project, so we had some conversation every now and again.  Well, sort of.  Matt was still down with a bad fuse.  And the other guys went in at 1:00 P.M. for heavy turbulence.  But Matt came up at 1:00, and we stayed out until the window closed at 3:36 P.M.  And boy, was I ready!  The "dog days" of flying are here.  We wake up early, fly long, go home, rest, and do it all over again.  Today looked to the first in what will probably be a long sequence of days over the next month.  The last hour and a half were a bit painful.  My head hurt, I was ready to be away from noise, and I was hungry!  Not a good combination!  I was ready to be done.  But all in all, it wasn't too bad.

The birds were crazy today, though.  For whatever reason, the geese are all heading back up north.  By the thousands.  It's unbelievable to watch them.  So graceful.  Some move with purpose, others just dance around.  But I love watching them.  Well, that is until you see them at your altitude.  I saw flocks less than 1/2 mile away at 6000 feet.  And I saw an even bigger flock above that.  Gotta keep the eyes peeled out here.  They are certainly on the move.

Matt and I landed back at Mountain Grove again.  We talked to Lloyd again...and met Henrietta.  Henrietta is a pilot herself, and she flies around taking pictures for people, too.  She showed us her set-up in her personal Piper Cherokee, and I was nothing short of impressed.  This woman had pretty much done what has been done by engineers in our aircraft.  She had a couple of screens, one to show her what is directly below her (from the video camera pointing down), and one to show her what picture she just took (with two lenses pointing down).  It was seriously an impressive set-up.  She said it cost $15,000, and she was all oogly-googly over our cameras and equipment.  We couldn't let her get inside, but that didn't stop her from window watching.  We can't stop that!

Matt and I left there, and I never climbed over 2500 feet.  Actually, that's where I started.  Then I dropped down to 2300...then to 1700.  I checked the map to make sure I wasn't going to hit anything, and we were fine.  We located the towers and just cruised at 500 feet above the earth.  I was just about as giddy as you can get.  THIS IS FLYING.  We had 55 miles to go, and I just loved every minute of it.  Easily, my favorite thing to do in flying is to fly low.  I just love it.  Plenty of birds, cows, houses all around.  So beautiful.

I landed back at Branson.

Some big news today, though.  I learned that a contract was accepted for the Aztec!!!  Basically, that means I will soon be flying the Aztec!  CRAZY!!!  I'm so excited.  I learned later tonight that it looks like I'll be transitioning in the middle of March.  That is going to be here so soon!  Another pilot is being hired to take my spot.  Agh, I can't believe it!

It's just such a huge blessing.  People can fly for years, and never get an opportunity like this.  No, people DO fly for years and never get an opportunity like this.  So I am very thankful.  It's caused a little bit of animosity amongst some of the more senior pilots, which I totally understand.  I really do.  I am simply doing my job.  The offer presented itself, and I certainly jumped on it.  I'm hopin' to keep the peace amongst us all.  We'll see how that goes.

Went out to eat at Applebee's and ate way too much.  I am getting mad at doing that.  I need to stop.

Rested tonight in the hotel.  I flew 6.9 hours today.  It looks like more of the same tomorrow.  The "spring routine" is about here.  Fly, eat, sleep, repeat.

Went to bed at 10:45 P.M.  Alarm is set for 7:20 A.M.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Woo Hoo!!!--February 24, 2010


Woke up at 8:00 A.M.  Packed up, headed for the airport.  Nothin' but blue skies...sort of.  We had a couple of straggler clouds poppin' up.  We started yelling at them from the ground!

But they had nothing on us today.  I flew to my flight plan, and despite a bumpy and VERY quick climb through 3500 feet (the updrafts were very strong today), everything else went as planned.  FINALLY.  I never thought I'd say it, but the Little Rock project is complete!!!  It only took a month!!!  ha!

I landed, grabbed some lunch, returned the rental car, and hopped back in the airplane.  And I pointed the nose towards Branson, Missouri...our next project.  The winds were kicking today.  I again had a crazy quick climb-out, often doing more than 1200 feet/minute.  I opted for 5500 feet which proved to be fine for awhile.  But as I got over some hills on the flight, I requested 7500.  It was pretty smooth above 6000.  And the view was nice, too.  Arkansas has some BEAUTIFUL rock formations.  I saw one butte that reminded me of Utah!  Except instead of red rock, this one had trees hanging on to dear life on it!  It was pretty sweet.  I flew over the gorgeous Bull Shoals Lake and finally ended up at my flight plan.  I was only doing 75-80 knots up here...the winds were pretty strong out of the north.

I was able to fly 45 minutes on a flight plan in Missouri, and I completed one of 47 flight plans.  Only 46 more to go!  yikes.  We're expectin' to be here for a little over a month.  We'll simply be at the mercy of the weather.

I headed to the new airport at Branson, and I'll admit, I was nervous in the descent.  I was just certain I would get my face rocked off because of all of the hills.  But it wasn't bad at all.  A few bumps, but nothing major.  I just have a feeling that some of these days are going to be nothing short of painful.  The entire area is nothing but hills!!!  I landed and taxied to the FBO.  And what an FBO.  It's made of wood from an old barn, I'm almost certain.  The "new" floor already has boards bowing up, causing quite an uneven surface.  I tripped twice in just 20 minutes!  It's certainly geared towards the outdoorsy folk...never seen an FBO like it.  But it's small.  I don't think they built it with growth in mind.  And there is a hangar made out of tent material right next to it...aptly dubbed "The Carport" by one of our pilots.  It's certainly interesting to say the least.

Anyway, Matt and I grabbed a rental car and headed for a hotel.  And what a drive it was!  You have to drive 5 1/2 miles JUST to get out of the airport road!  It's literally in the middle of nowhere!  However, it IS gorgeous scenery.  We saw deer, and the views are simply amazing.  It's definitely rural.  But at the same time, it's just kind of silly.  It's not exactly convenient...and the 35 MPH (definitely due to the VERY hilly roads) speed limit is not convenient, either.  The airport is just a bit far out.  Oh well.

Dropped our stuff off at the hotel, then went back to pick up two other pilots who came in as we arrived at the hotel.  Came back to the hotel, then went out to eat.  We had our boss here, so that was fun.  We don't get to see him much.  And we learned that we might have some crazy changes in the next month or so.  It's looking like it might be a good posibility that the Aztec will be put on the line next month.  And that would mean some pilots moving around...including me!  I might be flying a twin next month!!!!  Ow ow!!!  I'm real excited about that.  I can't believe it might actually happen!  It's happening so fast!

We'll see!

I went to bed at 10:45.  Yes, 10:45.  Those late nights are long gone.  We're entering the loooooooooooong days of flying now.  I have to be ready to go at 7:45.  It's going to be a long few weeks.  LOTS of flying.  But long commutes in the air.  At least 45 miles JUST to get to our plans.

Oh well.  It's more hours in the book.

7:20 is what I set my alarm for.  I can't even remember the last time I had a "7" in front of my wake-up time.


And We Wait...--February 23, 2010

Woke up at 8:15.  yikes.  Grabbed breakfast, headed to the airport.

Clouds were forecast to be 3500 feet at 11:00.  But the skies looked great.

I was off the ground at 8:54 A.M.  I flew the 18 miles up to my plan, but as I climbed through 3000 feet, I knew we had a problem.  We had clouds to the west in those plans and clouds up ahead in my plan.  Grr.  I had no doubt in my mind it just wasn't goin' to happen.  But I continued all the way.  Up to 5200 feet, then on site.  Clouds.

I turned and headed back for the airport.  Two of our pilots were just taking off, so the controller kept me at 4500 feet.  I even turned base at 4500.  I pulled the throttle back to idle and tried to lose altitude.  I was descending at 1500-2000 feet per minute, and I had a monstrous view of the earth through the front window.  But I just didn't seem to be coming down in time!  I turned base to final probably around 2500 feet?  I was indicating 120 knots on the airspeed indicator!!!  And I just wasn't coming down!  These Cessna's love to fly!

I blazed over the runway numbers high and fast.  And I continued to point the airplane towards the long runway (lawn-darting, more or less).  I was WAY outside of flap range, so I kept the flaps off, and I waited until just the right time to pull back to start the flare.  I knew I was going to float, so I waited.  Hold it...hold it...hold it...then I flared.  And I had to pull back quite a bit to get that airspeed off.  I contemplated a go-around a few times.  But I continued.  I ate up a couple thousand feet or runway, and I touched down much sooner than anticipated, even bringing out a verbal "Really?" from my mouth.  But I was down and moving pretty fast.  Much different than landing with flaps.  But I was on the ground.  With some runway to spare!

We went to Homer's for lunch and then I spent the rest of the day in the hotel.

Grabbed some KFC for lunch, watched some Olympics, and talked to the boss.  Had a good talk with the hotel front desk chick...and had just a nice day.  Slow but fine.  I had stuff to do.

Went to bed at 11:30.

Forecast is for clouds at 10,000 feet tomorrow.  I've seen that before, but I'm confident about tomorrow.  We should be out of here before noon...on our way to Branson, Missouri.

All I know is that it's been a long time coming!!!  I've been here a week and have yet to a day of revenue.

What a life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Paid to Do Nothing--February 22, 2010

Another slow day.

Woke up at 9:34 to a phone call from my plumber.  I went straight back to bed.  Woke up again at 11:30 to a phone call from my dad.  He had met with the plumber, and they were able to fix the leaks.  I had a leak behind the wall in the main bathroom, behind the wall next to the water heater, AND all three of my faucets have slow drips!  Agh!  The damage?  $327.50.  I was expecting a price of $250 (as told on Saturday), but you have your hands tied when it comes to professionals.  You have to pay them.  Grr.

This house thing is expensive.  I have $6000 going towards it I can't invest with.  It's literally driving me nuts.  I don't like it.

Matt and Jensen were out at the airport for their 100-hour inspections.  We had low clouds at 2000 overcast today, so we didn't even bother scouting.  I simply had the day off.

I went to Homer's for lunch.  I really enjoy that place, although the meatloaf was a bit cold...and wasn't the best.  I should've stuck with something traditional instead...that's what you get for going for the special at 1:30 in the afternoon (they close at 2:00!).  Oh well.

I read more of the Howard Hughes biography this afternoon.  A very crazy man.  Addicted to women and adventure.  And he has money to back up both.  I think I would be scared to see what I would do if I had money.  Because I already have the first trait.  I like girls and adventure.  I just don't "carry it out" like he does.  What a wild man.

A pretty slow day all around.  I stayed in the hotel all afternoon.

I went out to KFC for supper...and then spent the night inside.

I picked Matt, Jensen, and our mechanic up at 10:05 and went to a restaurant with them.

But it looks like we'll finish the project tomorrow.  Clouds are forecast at 10,000 feet tomorrow.  And we'll be heading to Branson after that.  I'm not goin' to lie...I'm not too excited about that project.  It's around 10,000 square miles.  And I know I am going to be there forever.  I'm not too excited about that.

Oh well.  I'm flying.  And that project should provide PLENTY of hours.

I'll be looking back at days off like today and wishing I had it back.

So it begins.  The crazy flying season is almost here.  I imagine we'll be breaking 100 hours in March or April.  But we'll see.  The weather will tell.

Went to bed at 12:15 A.M.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Role Reversal--February 21, 2010

Woke up at 9:06 A.M.  Went down and grabbed some quick breakfast...they closed up at 9:00!

We had rain and thunderstorms on the way.  No flying today. 

But I did do something that has seemed out of my grasp for the past several weeks...I went to church.  I did the painful Google search for a church...and it brought up what seemed like 100.  And each had a different name...if not a different denomination.  I HATE THAT.  Well, most didn't have times listed, so I simply grabbed the keys and headed out.

I was going to church today!

I drove all around...passing by the HUGE Pentecostal church right off the interstate...definitely tens of millions invested in the mammoth structure.  It's crazy big.  I passed.  I got off the interstate in North Little Rock and drove and drove.  I couldn't find any churches!!!  I drove some more.  I just took road after road.  Nothin'.  So I drove some more.  I was frustrated beyond belief.  Here I was READY to go to church...and I couldn't even find one.  Agh.

Well, I drove through a neighborhood...and I passed one on the right.  There were only a few cars outside...and I didn't want to be bombarded with the new visitor attack.  So I kept going.  And in a few blocks, I came upon another church...with loads of cars outside.  It was a simple older church, but it seemed packed inside.  Something was going on in here!

I got out of the car and was instantly greeted by a very strapping older black man in a fancy suit...he was stepping outside his BMW.  Frankly, the car looked out of place...the church just didn't seem the type.  He was awful nice, though.  I walked inside and was greeted by a couple more people...even shaking hands with the pastor!  So far, so good.

I was pointed in the direction of the service, and I walked inside.  You have got to be kidding me!!!  I was simply stunned...I didn't know what I was expecting, but it was NOT what I saw.  I walked into the back...and it took all of about 2.3 seconds to realize that I was the ONLY white person in a group of more than 100.  ha!  Frankly, it didn't really bother first.  It was only several minutes later in the service where I started to wonder what they were thinking about me.  Why was I here?  Why now?  Did they have the "race card" on their minds, too?  Was I wrong to have it on mine?!  Silly thoughts.  But real enough.

Well, I just took it all in.  From the VERY passionate singing (I'll never forget how the MEN sang along with the whole church...we "white folk" would be wise to learn from that!) to the focus on prayer to the passionate preaching.  It was certainly not just sitting in the pew.  It was a fresh change.  I know each church has its weaknesses, but I was just refreshed by a church that seemed to be on the right path.  I also liked how during the specific prayer time, they brought out 19 chairs.  Yup, 19 chairs in the front of the room.  For each request, a member was asked to "sit in" for that specific prayer request.  I thought that was pretty powerful...and important.  They were literally praying on the behalf of someone else...intercessant prayer...a command in Scripture.  It sure beats the quote "and all of the requests in the bulletin."  I've said that countless times.

The service was longer than what I was used to...I came in around 10:15...and didn't leave until 12:45.  But it was sure good.  It was encouraging, refreshing, and stimulating.  I didn't agree all with what the pastor terms of what he was taking out of a specific passage.  I feel like he was focusing on the secondary material...facts that were not the purpose of the writing.  But he ran with it nonetheless.

All in all, it was just good to be amongst believers again.  Even if I was the minority.

Actually, one of the men gave me money!  I, of course, I didn't need it, but he insisted.  I couldn't deny the man's generosity...that would be offensive.  I accepted it in gratitude.  What a kind gesture!

I drove back to the hotel where I picked Matt and Jensen up.  Then we headed out for lunch...we ate at a Greek diner.  It was good food...I wish I ate this stuff more!  I did find it interesting, though, that when I paid, I noticed a flyer for a teacher.  A teacher to teach Islam rules and the Q'uran.  It was a shock...though maybe it shouldn't be.  And my mind ran with how to respond to think.  I don't know how to live in a society where we are not separate from people with other beliefs.  But my thirst thought was, "I just supported Muslims!"  And then I thought that I do that every day in just about every other encounter in life.  No, no, not Muslims.  But non-believers!  Almost every transaction I make is probably supporting people who do not follow God.  It was just a couple of quick thoughts, but that's how my mind responded.  Interesting.  But it just didn't settle right with me that I was supporting someone who was going to be teaching Islam to his kids...and other people.  And my country.  And...I don't know.  It happens all the time.  But this just hit me the wrong way.

From there, we went to Barnes and Noble where we spent about an hour.  I grabbed a book on personal finance.

But I ended up losing money today!  Even on Sunday!  I had Mom and Dad look at a couch and chair for me today...and they bought it!  And while there, they found out a TV was also being sold.  I bought that, too!  I paid $400 for all three today.  Yikes!  Having a house is crazy expensive!  And every transaction I make is more money that I can't invest!!!  It's killing me!!!

But the couch did look nice in my house.  Mom sent a picture!  :)

Jensen and I went out for Chinese for supper...a bad idea.  I really need to NOT eat that stuff ever again.

I watched the Olympics tonight...and went to bed at 12:30 A.M.!

I won't be flying tomorrow.  Clouds are forecast to be at 1500 feet.  I'll scout, but that's about it.

I did get word today, though, that I'll be heading to Branson, Missouri, next.  We have a HUGE project there...and five of us will be based out of there for four to six weeks.  I started looking at cabins and other places to stay.  If I'm goin' to be there that long, I might as well get out of a hotel.

C'mon, Little Rock.  Let go of me.  I have work to do...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another Day--February 20, 2010

Woke up at 8:15.  I wasn't too thrilled about that, but the other guys were moving.  I asked Matt if we were going (I was certain there would still be snow), and he said we better.  I wasn't too thrilled, but I hopped out of bed.

I flew up to my lines again, but I was right below the clouds.  Actually, the clouds were below me north of me...and south of me...but I had a little area in between them to at least get some work done.  But there was a little bit of snow left.  I looked to the southwest at where the other plans were...low clouds.  And I looked just wasn't worth taking pictures of snow if we couldn't finish the project anyway.  Might as well wait for a good day.  I headed back to Adams Field.

I logged 0.7 hours.

We went out to Whole Hog BBQ for lunch.  Good but pricey.

We came back to the hotel afterwards.  A plumber ended up calling me back and said he would be able to come out.  I agreed.  And I hoped that everything would be fine as he turned the water back on.  I sat there from 1:30 on wondering what would happen.  Mom called about 30 minutes after he arrived.  I knew that was too soon.

"It would be too easy if all went well," she said.  Crap.  What?  It turned out I had water leaking out of a wall in the main bathroom.  Wonderful.  Sigh.  Oh, the joys of owning a house.  I knew it couldn't go as planned.  I asked what the damages were, and she said it would cost $320 to fix it...and I would have a hole in the wall of my bathroom.

Wonderful.  I wasn't too thrilled.  But I knew it had to be done.  The plumber is coming back on Monday to fix it.  Because of this large water leak, though, he didn't have time to completely build up pressure in the lines.  It's possible there may be some other damage.  Oh boy.  I'm hopin' for the best.


We went to Barnes and Noble in the late afternoon where I poured over some tax books.  I've decided I need to hire a professional.  It's just too risky not to have one on my side in case I get audited...which is highly likely.  I want someone to have my back.

I watched the Olympics at night...recorded some expenses for my new house...caught up on my expenses for the season...and toyed with selling the house after I fixed it all up.  What are the advantages of keeping it?

A nice day, all in all.  We kept ourselves pretty busy.  It staves off boredom.

Oh, and I talked to Chelsea for an hour tonight right before bed.  She's stressed.  I hate seein' that.

Went to bed at 1:00 o'clock.

Won't be flying tomorrow...we have thunderstorms comin'.

I hope they put on a good show.

It's Official--February 19, 2010

Woke up at 8:20.  Grabbed some breakfast.

Jensen and Ivo headed for the skies...Matt and stayed in.

It was a pretty slow day.  Ok, a VERY slow day.

The only exciting part was lunch.  Matt and I found a lil' diner right close to the airport...a tiny little diner.  But there were TONS of cars parked out front.  We walked in, and I was instantly pulled to one of the hottest women I have ever seen.  Her body was literally just perfect.  Wowzers.  But then I was taken aback by the restaurant itself!!!  EVERY table was full...and it was so loud!  It felt more like an auction than anything!  I had never seen anything like it.  Just normal people out for a bite to eat.

I loved it!

And it so turned out that the "eye candy" was out waitress.  I ordered roast beef and mashed potatoes, green beans, a roll, and sweet tea.  Gotta love the south!  Good ol' home-cookin'.  And it was!!!  But the restaurant just amazed me.  We were literally out in the middle of nowhere...right in the middle of an industrial park...and so I asked the cashier why they were so packed.  He said it's because they have been there since the 50's...and since there is nowhere else to eat.  But it was the people that amazed me!  Mostly men...but old men, young men, business men, men in huntin' clothes...all across the board!  And we had business women and older women...and us!  It was just a hodge-podge of people in the simplest of cinder-block buildings.  Obviously here for some good food.

And the waitress?  Wowzers!

We ate, then headed back to the hotel.  I was closing for a house at 1:00, but I hadn't really heard anything at all about it.  That was interesting.  One o'clock came and went.  There was quite a bit of paperwork and communication throughout the process, but the actual closing was the most anti-climactic experience of my life.  Not even a word was said about it.

But it's official:  I'm a home-owner.

I thought about going for a run in the afternoon, but I opted for a nap instead.

Mom headed over to my new house to start cleaning...but I forgot to have the water turned on.  Oops!  I called plumber after plumber after plumber, but they were all done for the week-end.  No one would look at it until Monday.  I wish I had thought about this at 1:00!!!  I was 3 1/2 hours too late.  Sorry, Mom.  No water.

I found a date that I had went on the last time I was here, and she took me out to Texas Roadhouse.  We then went to her apartment and watched the Olympics (her dad was there!).  Anyway, she tried to jump my bones.  I refused.  That was pretty crazy.  She did everything in her power to get me to stay the night.  I had no desire.  I requested to be taken back to the hotel...much to her disbelief.

Women are crazy.

I went to bed at 12:15 A.M.

Back to Work...Sort of--February 18, 2010

Woke up very 8:50 A.M.  Just in time to grab some breakfast.  But I didn't move too fast after that.  The bank had called me and said they had forgotten to send very important papers...i.e. the note!!!  So they e-mailed that to me...and I had to fax it back.

I also got word of the amount that I needed for closing.  $2040.16.  Crap.  It's due this Friday...along with my $5000 credit card bill (one month!).  I ABSOLUTELY positively refuse to NOT pay off my credit card bill each month, so I scrambled to find someone that would spot me money for a day.  We would be paid on Friday, but the money wouldn't clear until Saturday.  I need to have it now!  yikes.

Matt and I headed for the skies mid-morning.  It was an absolutely perfect day for flying.  A high-pressure system had moved on, and our 29.94 altimeter from yesterday was now sitting at 30.34.  Beautiful.  The sky was a gorgeous blue, and there wasn't a cloud to be seen.  Winds were calm...which is unheard of here in Little Rock!  I welcomed the change.

I took off and flew 18 miles north to my location.  My flight plan was only 48 minutes long...and then I had a half of one to do after that...maybe another 45 minutes.  In less than two hours we would be completely done with this project.  After more than three weeks of working on it!!!  But it just wasn't to be.  About five miles from my first line, I started seeing the white stuff:  snow.  Sure enough, the snow STILL had not melted.  It was clear as could be in just about every area except for the northern slopes of the hills.  Where the proverbial sun don't shine.

We couldn't work.  Unbelievable!

I radioed Matt, and we decided to head up to Conway, Arkansas, for some lunch.  I was only 9 miles away.  I landed on the very fun Runway 36...settling down right over the tree-tops.  Hard to beat.  I taxied up to a group of four men.  I got out, and they came over and greeted me.  We spent the next 20-30 minutes just talking...mainly about my flying, but also about the future of the airport, about prospects in aviation, and about our love for the small general aviation side of flying.  Matt and I love this airport because it is located right in the heart of the town.  They are planning to move it several miles outside of town...completely taking away its flair!!!  I HATE that.

All for the sake of money.  Money, money, money.  It's what makes aviation go 'round.

Well, Matt and I grabbed the courtesy car and headed into town.  We tried out The Hog Pen BBQ...the place that we had missed a couple of weeks ago.  This time they were open...and VERY busy!  It was some good food.

We ate, headed back to the airport, then headed back to Adams Field.  I logged 1.1.  We sent the pictures of the snow to our boss, and he sent them to the Vice President of our company.  The VP told us to stay on the ground...we were commanded to not fly tomorrow!!!  There was no way the snow could melt, he said, so it would be worthless to even go up.  Agh!!!

Well, I grabbed a rental car...this time we were going to ENJOY our stay here in Little Rock.  Matt and I went downtown for supper...and got word that Jensen and Ivo were coming into town.  We ate, then came back and picked them up.  I drove the two of them downtown where we grabbed a couple of drinks.

It is sooooooo nice to have wheels.  We came back at 10:30, and I was in bed at midnight.

Nothin' to wake up for tomorrow...I'm not flying!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Loooooooooong Day!!!--February 17, 2010


Woke up at 8:20 A.M.  Grabbed some breakfast and headed for the airport.

Matt and I were headed for the skies...which were wonderfully clear.  The winds were still howling, but they had cooperated with Matt yesterday in the early part of the day, and we were trusting them to do the same for us today.  We were close to finishing!

I grabbed one flight plan and finished in 1 1/2 hours.  Matt grabbed another of the same time.  We both tag-teamed the last one, and we finished the entire project at 12:20 P.M.  BEAUTIFUL!!!  No clouds!!!  No turbulence!  The other pilots had to quit VERY early due to excessive turbulence...they were down at 3100 feet...just 2000 feet below us.  It's amazing what a couple thousand feet can do.

We landed, and I had a package...more bank papers!!!  I signed them, had them notarized, then sent them back.  Then Matt and I headed for a restaurant that one of the ladies (very cute, I might add) recommended for us.  We found ourselves in a Jaguar...and driving by these ridiculously nice southern homes.  I still crave owning a brick house...complete with the parlors on the sides.  I am just madly in love with southern homes, that's all there is to it.  I was gawking out my window the entire time.  We drove by the Masters golf course...where they were already setting up for the tournament in several weeks.

And then we found ourselves at the restaurant...a hole-in-the-wall.  We loved it.  It was dark, made out of wood, and had picnic tables as the main eating area.  Names were carved into the tables and walls...and large animal heads looked over you.  It was fantastic.  I ordered the shrimp and fries....their #1 seller.  And it was cheap...and good.  I was pleased.

We drove back to the airport, loaded up our bags, and pointed ourselves west.  We were heading BACK to Little Rock...the place I had left just seven short days ago.  But there was just one problem.  THE WINDS.

I climbed up to 6500 feet and was doing 70 knots across the ground.  On my climb-out, I seriously saw traffic passing me on the highway.  NOT cool.  But 4500 feet was too this was going to have to work.  My GPS showed the time enroute to be over six hours.  Oh boy...we didn't take off until just after 3 o'clock in the afternoon!!!

Well, we just's all we could do.  About an hour into it, we were a bit bored, so we made up our own Battleship playing fields.  I kid you not.  We had it A-O and 10 rows deep.  Matt and I went back and forth on frequency shooting at each other's ships.  It was a welcome change to the monotony of flying slow.  Very very slow.

Around Atlanta, Georgia, though, we put the game to a stop.  The traffic was obviously heavier, and all of a sudden, we had aggressive winds again.  The turbulence had reared its ugly ahead again...this time at 6500 feet.  I figured the winds were rolling off the hills in the distance...and I also noticed that I was hanging around the inversion layer...where the clouds were forming.  Not a smooth place to be.  I requested 8500 feet...which I was given after 10 miles.  I was doing 57 knots on my climb.

I did end up hitting 85 knots, though, at 8500 feet.  Sometimes.  The winds were so variable that you never knew what you would see.  My lowest was that 57...and the highest was in the upper 80's...but average was right around 75 or so.  We just simply were not moving.

I did have a problem, though.  I had to PEE!!!  And bad!!!  The sweet tea from this afternoon was going straight through me.  I looked and looked and looked around my airplane, but I didn't have any empty bottles.  I had a half-bottle of apple juice, but I didn't want to waste it.  I considered using a cardboard box, just going in my pants and letting it dry (it's crazy what you'll do up there), but I decided against both.  Then I remembered!  I had an empty quart of oil that I had used earlier!  That would have to work.  I searched for it blindly with my hand behind my seat.  Found it.

And then I did the crazy ritual.  It's not the first time I've peed over a mile above the earth, but it's still a difficult practice.  In these tiny airplanes you can't just sit and do the deed.  Nope.  It's a little bit more difficult than that.  For me, I have to pull the pants a bit below the waist, turn sideways, hold the missile launcher with one hand, and shoot the goods into the bottle which I am holding with my other hand.  It's a bit cumbersome.


Frankly, the hole in the top of the quart of oil was just too small for my liking.  By a lot.  Having a half gallon apple juice bottle is simply fantastic.  This?  Not so much.  I had to make sure I was spot on.  Of course, having auto-pilot this year helps.  IMMENSELY.  But it's still a fear to have something happen in the sky and be found on the ground with your pants below your waist.  I'm not lyin'!  The thought goes through your mind.

Well, as I told Matt over frequency, it was like trying to shove a 55-gallon drum into a coffee can.  BUT I HAD TO GO!!!  So I made absolutely positively sure that I was firing in the hole, and I braced for release.  And I can't even begin to tell you how unbelievably unprepared I was for what happened next.

Sigh.  So you see, I had a VERY tight seal from the rocket launcher to the quart of oil.  As in very tight.  And as I started peeing, the oil bottle started expanding.  To the point of not being able to expand anymore!!!  NOT GOOD!!!  I kid you not, the pressure shut of my peeing!  I was trying to pee into a bottle that was not letting any more air or goods in!!!  Agh!!!

I can't really tell you how difficult this was.  I am still turned sideways, trying to watch all of the gauges still, and needing a quick release of liquids.  It is simply not happening.  I panicked!  I was only 1/5 of the way done peeing, and I had been forced to cut off!  Not cool.  So I tried to squeeze the oil bottle to send air past my, know.  Of course, I was nervous about liquids shooting out, too!  And as I squeezed, a bit of air released, and I was peeing again!  ha!  Oh man, this was NOT cool!  And then it did it again!  I kid you not, I had this very uncomfortable dance of trying to pee into the bottle, all while releasing air out of the bottle, all while trying to keep Mr. Happy IN the bottle, all while trying to not let liquid OUT of the bottle, all while trying to maintain a steady stream of pee!!!  It was ridiculous.  Seriously.  Simply ridiculous.

I felt my hand getting warmer as the bottle filled up.  Even this thick plastic bottle, I thought?!  I was shocked.  But humored, nonetheless.  Well, I managed to do the deed.  It took longer than I expected, and it probably caused more stress than actually flying the airplane, but I was able to breathe again without fear of peeing my pants.  I kid you not, I grabbed my sweet tea between the seats and started filling up the bladder again.  Right after I peed.  I love that stuff!

What an experience.

We decided to land at Huntsville, Alabama, for fuel...just as the sun was setting.  I LOVE watching the sun set from the sky.  It's so peaceful.  We grabbed the courtesy car and headed for Burger King this time.  We made it quick, as we still had another 3 hours to fly.

We came back to the airport...loaded up...and headed off into the now very dark sky.  And that was that!  I climbed up to 4500 feet this time...figuring the earth would be cooler, and the winds would be calmer.  It worked out great.  And we just flew...talking every now and again...but mostly just sitting there in the dark.  With nothing but the glow of the lights below...and the lights on my panel.

I love flying at night.

I passed through Alabama, Mississippi, hovered about 20 miles south of Tennessee, then passed over the Mississippi River and into Arkansas.  I was wide awake and just having the time of my life.  One of my favorite flights.  THIS is what an airplane is meant to do...move from one place to another!  I loved it.

I landed at Little Rock just after 10:00 P.M.  I was hoping to break double digits, but I came up just short.

All in all, I had logged 9.9 hours today...the most of my career.  And the funny thing?  I felt great.  I have had numerous six-hour flights where I just feel terrible.  Today I just felt wonderful.  It didn't feel like 10 hours AT ALL.

Agh, what a day!  What a night!  Another project done...another half of the country crossed!

The weather is looking great tomorrow...a huge high-pressure system has moved in.  We should have clear skies all day...and that should allow us to finish this project!!!  We are kicking butt!

I had flown 22.8 hours in the first 13 days of February.  And now I have flown 20.1 hours in just four days.  What a crazy job.

Went to bed at 12:15 A.M.

I really do think we'll finish tomorrow...maybe even by noon!

Where am I going next?!

On the Move--February 16, 2010


Woke up at 7:00 A.M.  NOT cool.  Was picked up from my boss's house by our mechanic.  We headed to the mechanic's house to have a truck towed, then headed to the airport.  One of the other pilots picked me up in his car, and then we drove the 45 minutes to Sanford to pick up our airplanes.  We had a nice conversation about why we believe what we believe...where we get our morals, etc.  It's fascinating.  At the end of the day, we ALL believe something.

I grabbed my plane and pointed her towards Augusta, Georgia.  I had some fairly strong headwinds on my flight up there, and I was only average 85 knots over the ground at 4500 feet.  The actual flight was fairly simple...nothin' too complex.  I only had to deviate once to get around a Restricted Area, but that was it.  Before long, I found myself talking to Matt who was already in the air 100 miles ahead of me.  He was working!  Perfect.

I landed at Adams Field in Augusta, then took the courtesy car out for lunch.  I wasn't feelin' too good, and I knew I needed some calories.  I did the simple McDonald's routine.  I think I was back in my airplane within 30 minutes.  And I climbed up to 5000 feet to do some revenue work.  But man oh man, was it bumpy.  I HATED the approach coming in to Adams Field...I had a heavy airplane, and I could feel every jolt.  And they were jolts!!!  Sudden snaps from the wind.  Just not fun at all.

The climb-out was just as bad.  The winds were 13 knots gusting to 20, I think.  I don't remember exactly.  But they were kicking, I remember that.  My prop would overspeed, then slow down.  My airplane would climb at 1500 feet per minute, then barely be able to climb at 200 feet.  It was painful.  And it was oh so bumpy.

I finally made it up to 5000 feet, but it wasn't much better.  My flight in at 4500 feet had been smooth, but something had changed in the past 45 minutes.  I flew one line and went to make my turn to line two.  I was being bounced around like a rag doll.  I was flying over some (small) hills, and they must've been creating a fury of wind waves...and I was feeling every one.  It didn't help that I was doing 65 knots westbound...and 140 knots eastbound.  These winds were strong!!!

Well, I missed my line, so I circled to try it again.  I did a wide loop, and then all of a sudden, I see another airplane about 500 feet away from me...right in front of me...climbing through my altitude!!!  It scared the living crap out of me...but it happened so fast.  The wing was tilted every so slightly down to the left, so the pilot couldn't see me.  But I recognized that plane.

"Matt, check your 9 o'clock."

He later told me all he saw was a blur go by...he knew it was a plane, and I guess it shook him up a bit!  As it should!  I had dove 300 feet already...I had to!!!  We had told Approach that we would provide our own separation, and he just assumed I was on station.  It could've cost us our lives!!!  It was another lesson in the Big Sky Theory...and in always remaining diligent.  I wasn't too worried about it.

I tried a few more lines, but after being thrown down below my necessary altitude...and after being kicked around some more, I said no way.  It just isn't worth it.  It was seriously DUMB to be flying in this stuff.  Matt and I called it.  I headed into Daniel Field, and I had to endure 10 minutes of terrible, painful flying.  I HATE aggressive turbulence.  I just hate it.  It throws your wing up when you don't want it to, it makes you climb when you don't want to, it makes you descend when you don't want to, it kicks out your tail when you don't want to, it makes you come off your seat when you don't want to, and it makes you compress into your seat when you don't want to.  Frankly, I see nothing good that it does!

I entered left downwind for Runway 29...but I completely blew that approach.  The winds were just eating me alive today.  And I was more than mad.  I "rescued" my approach and just lined up for Runway 23 instead.  I fought the bumps all the way to the ground and put the airplane down.  I was glad to be done flying.

I hate flying.

I walked inside the FBO where I met a gorgeous young woman.  We talked for awhile, and so I asked her out for supper.  No dice.  She has a boyfriend.  Riiiiiight.  She WAS beautiful, but what caught my eye was her studying Calculus III!!!  How attractive is that?!  She is a math major...I absolutely melt for smart chicks.  But I was shot down.

Matt and I called the hotel shuttle, and we went outside to wait.  The gorgeous FBO girl had warned us that this guy is often late...but I guess I didn't take her at her word.  We ended up waiting outside for 56 minutes.  And it was stupid cold.  We hopped in the van, and the man had the audacity to ask if we were cold.  I didn't say one word to him.  Not one.

The hotel (where the other guys were staying) ended up being sold out, so Matt and I went across the street to the Holiday Inn.  I grabbed some supper by myself, then headed back to the room.  I ended up going to bed at a healthy 11:00 P.M.  I had wanted to make it 10:00, but I missed it.  Oh well...I needed sleep.

Tomorrow has the same forecast as today.  Scattered clouds at 4000 feet.  And gusty winds.  However, those clouds never came about today...and we're banking on them not being there tomorrow.

Sleep, here I come.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Twinkie Time!!!--February 15, 2010


I woke up at 5:00 A.M.  It was pitch black.

I had slept very poorly.  I had so much on my mind going to bed (airplane stuff mainly)...actually at one point, I lay there in bed thinking, "Most people are having sex right now in this hotel...celebrating Valentine's Day.  And here I am, studying multi-engine checklists and procedures."  How fitting it was to my life.  Others are focusing on relationships, I am focusing on metal.  And I don't know who is the better off.   I also woke up several times with incredibly sore shoulders...every time I went to reach my hands behind my pillow, I was in extreme pain.  I guess that's what watching the Olympics does to you...the same night you lose a friend...I was so full of energy that I needed to release.  It happened to be in push-ups and pull-ups.  And now I was paying for it.

I should also mention that I had my FIRST dream of crashing an airplane.  I've heard the other guys talk about it, but this was scary stuff.  I was flying at night, watching the light gun from the tower, when my airplane started shaking violently.  I suspected a stall, so I lowered the nose, and the airplane continued its terrible shake.  I was going down without knowing what to do.  I woke up terrified.  I really hope I don't start having these dreams.  I hated that one.

Well, I packed up, went downstairs, and looked for my taxi.  Nothing there.  Hmm.  The front desk had assured me they would take care of this last night.  Nothing.  I asked about it, and it appeared that no phone call had ever been made.  I was not happy.  So the front desk called a taxi for me, but the woman said she would pay for it.  I was now 20-25 minutes later than I had expected.  And I was not going to be wheels-up by 6:00 A.M. anymore.

I grabbed a couple muffins, then headed for the airport.  As I went to tip the driver at the airport, I set down one of my muffins on the bumper (I had eaten the other one).  I had already pulled my bags out, and before I knew it, he shut the trunk!  I squirmed and said something, and he thought he had smashed my fingers!!!  No, no, I smashed my muffin.  Quite literally.  Right down the middle.  He unlocked the trunk, and the muffin went right into the air with the trunk.  I told him he could keep it.

I was off to fly an airplane.  It was still pitch black out.  I liked it.  I loaded up my gear, paid the front desk, then headed for the skies.  This bustling airport was eerily quiet.  It was kind of beautiful.  I got my clearance, then went airborne.  Man, I love night flying.  It was so smooth, and the lights were nothing short of beautiful.  I can get used to this!

I only had an hour and a half flight to Sanford, and the sun rose about 40 minutes into it.  A very enjoyable flight, although I was already yawning like crazy.  I just don't do mornings very well.  Especially if I'm not in the routine.

Well, I landed at Sanford, and tried to catch 20 minutes on the couch.  I seriously think I would have been under had it not been for a guy that walked in for flight planning.  DANG it!!!  So close.  The boss showed up with the other pilots soon thereafter, and we talked for a bit...but we had work to do.  So they took me into a classroom, and we went through the POH of this Piper Aztec.  I then had to explain to them the characteristics of a was pretty much my MEI oral all over again.  Which was good.

Finally, we went out, and I hopped in the plane!  I couldn't believe it!!!  I was pretty excited.  This has been a long time coming!!!  Although at the same time, I am getting this opportunity pretty quickly in terms of my flying career!  So that is nice.

I learned all of the gauges, their locations, etc...and then I started the airplane.  My boss took over the radios, and he let me focus on flying the airplane.  We taxied out to the runway, and I was eager...and a bit nervous! get flying.  And sure enough, we were cleared for take-off.

I revved up the two 250-horsepower engines, and we were off.  This thing has some POWER!!!  It climbed very easily, and I was impressed with its handling in flying.  It was big and beefy, but it was fairly responsive in controls, too.  Not sensitive at all...but just nice to fly.  The winds were starting to act up, and we had some bumps up through a few thousand feet, but nothing major.  Yet.

I just flew around...getting a feel for an airplane.  My boss had me do level turns to a heading...then climbing turns to a heading...then power-on stalls (VERY hard to do...this plane wants to fly!)....then power-off stalls...then a Vmc demo...then steep turns...and probably some more stuff in between.  I was simply getting a feel for the aircraft...AND trying to get my mind ahead of this beast!

Admittedly, I was behind the airplane, especially on the engine-loss checklist..  Miiiiixtures........Props....Thrott...

NO, NO, NO!!!  You have to be quick, Andy.  Quick.  Right away.

Mixtures, Props, Throttles, Flaps Up (first), Gear Up, Fuel Pumps On, Identify, Verify, Feather.

Ok, ok.  I became more and more confident...getting back in the swing of things...but wow...what a LOT of airplane!!!  This was no Cessna 172!

Frankly, it was nice to be challenged again!  I didn't feel too overwhelmed.  Granted, I DID feel like my plate was full, but having the training and experience behind me, it wasn't so overbearing.  Everything we did made sense, and I knew why the airplane acted as it did.  So that was nice.  Actually, that was really nice.

We headed in to Daytona Beach for a landing...and it was BUMPY all the way down.  Winds were 17 knots gusting to 20...and we were landing on Runway 26L.  They sent us several miles out over the ocean (I kind of hate that...but I think it's because I'm cautious of losing an engine!!!  I didn't have the confidence of two grilled into me yet!...I am so used to one!).  And I lined up for the runway.  My boss asked me if I would take the landing...or if he should.  I thought about it, and I said I would give it a go.  I was in the left seat...I knew what I had to do...and this would be great practice, too.  So I got on it...but wow...what a bumpy ride down.

We were sideways coming in with my crab, but the landing was good...and quick.  The boss helped a bit, I think...both our hands were on the controls or rudders...or something...but that was fine.  It's his airplane, and it's my first landing.  I would say I had 90% of it.  With some nervous/cautious back-up!  ha!

But what a good feeling.  I do NOT have the confidence of taking one of these on my own just yet.  It will get there, but there is just a lot to be responsible for...including my life!  You simply cannot toy around with twins.  As soon as you get behind it, it could be your life.  I want to be confident.  I want to fly a few more hours before I am released.  I flew 2.1 today in the Aztec.

I hung out in the shop the rest of the afternoon and early evening.  Several games of ping-pong and a couple of interviews for other candidates (one of our pilots was fired a few days ago).  I sat in on a couple of the phone interviews, and it's really quite weird to hold someone's fate in your hands.  Each of the candidates was eager to take the job...and yet it's not them that gets the say.  Of course, they DO pretty much determine if they will get hired or not...but at the same time, they don't.  They are simply on the other line...miles away...and they have no control over what the interviewing person decides.  It's just weird to think about.  A REAL PERSON is on the other line wanting to work with me!  With us!  Kind of crazy.  It was also enlightening to watch how the whole process works.

I talked with one guy they flew in for the position.  More or less, he has the job if he wants it.  We'll see what he decides...he asked to think about for a night.  Run, boy, run!!!!  Run far away!!!!  haha.

I'm only half-way joking!!!  ;)

Well, I did some supper, some Olympics, and then bed at 10:00 o'clock.  I was exhausted.

But I flew a twin today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Woo hoo!!!!!!

Valentine's Day--February 14, 2010


Woke up at 8:30 A.M.  I had decided to find a church.  But as I took a shower, I looked out the small window at the top of the wall.  "Nawwww, this can't be!"  I saw palm trees with nothing but the cleanest of blue skies behind it.  I took another angle...not a cloud in the sky.

I checked the weather afterward, and sure enough, the skies were clear.  Palm Beach was calling for 3500 feet scattered, but I could at least finish 90% of the project.

I packed everything up.  Yes, everything.  I was moving out.  I was obviously not wanted here anymore, so I loaded it all up.  I wrote a letter saying I was sorry this was how it all turned out, and I left it open for making peace, but I knew I had to leave.  It was just so awkward.

I headed for the airport.

I took off and headed west.  My first two plans had some funky blue...yes, blue...clouds/smoke in them.  They were low and thin, but they were very apparent when looking east into the sunlight.  I couldn't do these.  So I headed north into what looked like a World War II bombing strafe run.  Smoke was billowing high in just about every direction...and the winds (though not too strong) were carrying them to the southeast.  I was able to squeeze out a couple of the flight plans, and then I headed for the coast and hoped that the smoke would appease later in the day.

I had four plans along the coast, and thanks to a very unwelcoming staff of controllers a month and a half ago, I decided NOT to call them up.  I simply flew (legally) over the top of their airspace.  Frankly, they were not helpful last time, and I knew I would be moving around quite a bit, and the explanation would be more difficult than necessary.  So I just flew and monitored their frequencies!  I had a corporate jet fly 500-1000 feet below me...and he zipped by.  It's amazing how fast those jets move up close.  Other than that, the airlines were asked to look out for a "target, maneuvering steadily at 4600 feet, altitude unverified."  Of course, every traffic call they gave out, I also used as my own traffic call.  It worked out perfectly.  I was surprised to open up one plan, though, only to find three WHOLE lines!  This was the plan where Matt's computer went kaplooey...and I had to take over.  I remember it exactly!

Well, I finished up those plans, then headed back to the west.  After some flying around, I was able to finish the last two plans (frankly, I wasn't going to take "no" for an answer...I desperately wanted to be out of Fort Lauderdale).  I ended up flying two of the plans from the morning over again, as the smoke had cleared up even more.  I think the morning pictures would have worked (or else I wouldn't have shot them, right?!), but I wanted to make absolutely sure that these pictures were worthy.  Plus, it was only a few miles...a few extra minutes of flight time.  Having GOOD pictures would certainly save yet another trip down to southern Florida to do a second set of reflies.

I hope they all turned out!

I landed and sat at the airport for awhile.  I knew this was going to throw a kink in my boss's plans...but I also knew that I HAD to take advantage of such an opportunity.  You simply don't get clear days like this in southern Florida.  Oh, and the clouds off the coast?  Well, they WERE there...just a few miles off the coast...far enough away to not be a problem.  I was thrilled to be done!

I guess I can mention now, too, that those plans were to have me train on the twin.  I had been told this earlier in the season, but logistically, it never worked out.  But here I Florida...and the twin was in Florida, too.  We were going to TRY to get me some twin time!  I was certainly excited...but admittedly not 100% certain.  But I called the boss to find out where I would be going.  He was flying.  Crap.

Well, I ended up getting ahold of him at 4:40...and he said I should plan to meet him in Sanford, Florida, the next day.  I grabbed a hotel (I had yet to hear from the lady "friend," even though I asked her to call me), then returned the rental car ($60/day!!!), then walked the few miles back to the hotel.  Frankly, I would have certainly drive if I had a car, but it was also nice to walk.  I stopped at a church that had some cars in the parking lot on the way back, and I learned they had a Sunday evening service.  When asked if it would be like the morning service, I was told that it was a service geared around a pastor leaving.  Hmm.  I was pretty dejected about that.  Here I was, ready to go!  And the service wouldn't have even been appealing...or relevant?  to me.  Frustrated.

I walked back to the hotel...looking for restaurants as I went.  Nothing really sounded good.  I started to head to a restaurant, then realized I really, really didn't want to go alone.  So I headed to the could I find somebody?!  Then my phone rang.  It was her.  She tried to make small talk, and I allowed that for a few...I asked about her Valentine's Day (she doesn't believe in Valentine's Day), about her grandma (doing much better), and about us (not good.

More or less, she went off on how I used her.  How everything I did revolved around me using her.  And she had a list.  She felt used for me staying at her house.  I had told her it was a couple-day project (she knew about the cloud situation, though, and she admitted that).  I had stayed three nights, and I guess she didn't like that.  Huh.  She said how I had used her washer and dryer and left clothes in there.  Absolutely unacceptable, she said.  She yelled at me for leaving the house with the dryer woke her up.  I pleaded that I had NEVER heard of a dryer beeping at the end (I hadn't...I thought that was reserved for microwaves), but she didn't believe me on that one, either.  Then she was mad at how I didn't give her advance time of my arrival.  Although I called the night before, the day of when I was two hours away, and then when I landed IN Fort Lauderdale.  She said she would leave the door open for me since she was taking a shower, and that I could walk in.  So I did.  But she was mad at me for not calling her on the way TO the house...saying that she didn't even have time to make the bed for me.  I just don't get it.  I really don't.  And she absolutely positively COULD NOT believe I gave her "the third degree" about a guest that she had brought into her house (the one from yesterday).  Frankly, yes, I DID ask questions about him, but once I found out it was NOT the guy she had told me about, I asked more!  And, yes, I DID ask if you had kissed him, because I couldn't believe you would be kissing another man while you had a boyfriend!!!  Only later did I realize you had lied to me, and that this WAS in fact your boyfriend!  But I have no regrets about asking's what friends do.  Seeing as how it was your boyfriend...and how we had kissed last time I was here, yeah, I guess that would be awful awkward for you, wouldn't it?  But how was I to know?!  And you didn't have to answer.  Seriously.

Of course, I could have had a rebuttal for everything she said, but I knew it was a worthless battle.  She had made up her mind.  NOTHING I could do would change that.  No logic, no reason, no truth.  So I said, "ok," and we had an awkward silence.  But I just knew that was it.  There was nothing I could do.

But dang it, I was mad.  And I was very sad.  You had showed me how to use the washer and dryer...and even shown me where the detergent was!  You had left the door open for me...and I had called you from the airport while HERE!!!  And I used you?!  I only used you?!  Even the last time I was here?  I guess this doesn't take into consideration the nights we spent together...talking on the beach, laying on your couch watching movies, going fishing together.  I guess this doesn't include the fishing trip I bought you...or the meals I bought you...or the times when I called to see if we could get together.  I guess this just overlooks those.  Oh, I am furious.  I am still mad.  I just couldn't believe it.

So I asked her how much she wanted.  Dang it, if she felt like I used her, then I wanted to prove to her that I didn't.  Sandy, I would rather you have all of your detergent back, your water back, your time back, your few days back...if we could just be friends.  So how much do I owe you?  Huh?  If you think I'm just in this to USE you, then let me show you I'm not.  Let me pay for everything!!!  Agh, I hated the very idea of having to do that, but how could I let her know I was there for HER?!  Not for her stuff!!!

I would have paid for a hotel and just spent the evenings with her if I could've.  Just dinners.

I was devastated.

But then it came up again.  "Andy, all you do is use me.  And this other guy, he never uses me.  He never asks for anything.  So when he asked for ONE thing, I said ok.  And that is that you leave."

I nearly cried.  I seriously teared up.

The conversation was over.  My hands were tied.  "Ok."

And that was that.  Of course, I never told her about the toilets I scrubbed, the hair I picked up out of the shower, or the kitty litter that I scooped.  It didn't matter, and I knew it didn't matter.  She didn't like me.  And this guy was talking to her on the side to not like me even more.  Jealous?  Of course he is.  And I think rightfully so.  If they are a couple.  I mean, I would hate to have my girlfriend have another guy over (frankly, I wouldn't allow it).

But dang it, don't screw me over.  And don't ever, ever blame it on me.  Tell it how it is.


I walked to IHOP by my lonesome.  And I just sat there completely and totally dejected.  I was seriously at one of the lowest low's of my life.  And it's the fact that someone viewed me as a leech.  Someone I cared about.  Someone I care about.  I seriously coudn't even bring my eyes up to talk to my waitress...who was cute.  I just stared at the table the entire night...lonely...and just really, really sad.

I had lost yet another friend.

The waitress must've seen it.  She tried cheering me up, but there was no hope.  Simply no hope.  I was so pained.

As I paid at the cashier, she handed me a gift and said, "Things will get better.  They will."  I must've looked like crap.  I was wearing my heart on my face.

I walked back to the hotel and watched some TV before bed.  I saw myself in the movie "3" about Dale Earnhardt.  Frankly, I see myself in so many people anymore...and the people I see are all guys that can't hold girls.  Dale, Warren Buffett, Charles Lindbergh, Howard Hughes.  Men that dream big.  Men that chase dreams.  And men that lose the women.

What a wretched life.

But I did get a phone call.  I would be training starting tomorrow on the twin for sure.  I needed to be at the airport at 8 o'clock in the morning.  And I needed to be ready to fly a twin.  Mentally.  Oh boy.

I shut the TV off and immersed myself in my old Twin Comanche literature.  It had been a year and a half since I had flown a twin-engine...and I was rusty.  But dang it, I am going to do this.  So I studied right up until bedtime...which wasn't too far off.

Mixture, Props, Throttle, Gear Up, Flaps Up, Fuel Pumps On, Identify, Verify, Feather.

Dream on that, Andy.

I went to bed at 9:30 P.M.  I was to wake up at 5:00 to head to the airport.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Don't Get It--February 13, 2010

Woke up at 9:00 A.M.  Not very motivated again.  And I was unbelievably tired.  Probably for good reason, though.  I could not fall asleep last night.  I just had SO much on my mind.  I just laid in bed thinking.

So I slept until 10:00 A.M.  Got out of bed at 10:10 A.M.

I hung out around the house for a couple of hours, mostly thinking some more.  I punched the numbers for what I would need to do to get that house.  It's all so dumb.  I would have to put 20% down.  As I see it, that's the only hope I have.  And the only way of doing that is to sell off my all-too-loved stocks (what I did not want to do) and push back the closing date.  What a mess.  Around noon, I went out to eat at Arby's on my way to the airport.  The entire sky was one huge mess of cloud.  I went through the all-too-familiar routine:  ask for the plane to be pulled out, pre-flight, hop in, start up, grab weather, grab clearance, taxi, take off, confirm the mess of cloud, turn around, call up Tower, land, get out, go home.  Sigh.

So that's just what I did.  The skies were bumpy again today...though not as bad as yesterday.  But it was still annoying.  Short, aggressive bursts of turbulence.  So annoying.  I flew nine miles out west, did a U-turn and came back in.  Winds were kicking out of 310 today...and I way overshot the runway on my turn from base to final.  These winds have absolutely kicked my butt the past couple of days.  But I brought it back in and did another cross-wind landing.  I landed on Runway 22, and the winds were out of 310 at 17.

I headed back to the house, but I realized I was locked out.  The front door was dead-bolted shut this morning, and I had NO idea where the key was, so I went out the garage.  I now had no way back in.  So I went out to Barnes and Noble to read a bit.  I bought a coffee and read more of the book I started yesterday (in the house).  I'm reading a biography about Howard Hughes.  What a messed-up, dirty, filthy-rich man.  It should be interesting to say the least.

I went back to my friend's house but was still locked out.  I assumed she was sleeping as it was only 4:00.  So I stayed in the car and called a couple of friends on my cell phone.  Well, around 4:30 I get a phone call from my friend asking if I was in the driveway.  Yes, yes!!!  Can ya let me in now?!  She had told me yesterday that she would like to wake up around 4 (yesterday) for a good day's rest.  I figured the same would be said for today.

"No, Andy, my neighbor just called me.  She said someone is in my driveway.  You need to leave."  Her voice was less than kind.  She was honestly mad!  Um, ok?  I asked if there was any way of getting in, and she said no.  I asked if she would be home, and she said no.  Sigh.  Ok.  I asked if I could come pick up a key, and she said she could give me the garage door opener.  But there was just something about this whole thing.  She had changed.  She was honestly not cool with me staying here.  What gives?

Well, I meet her on the street on the way to where she said she was at.  (???)  Anyway, we head to the hospital where she said to meet her (I followed her car), and she gives me the garage door opener.  I ask what had changed, and she cussed me out and said I was simply taking advantage of her.  You have GOT to be kidding me!!!  This is EXACTLY what I asked her about when I came!!!  I asked if she was OK with me staying here!!!  The first night she hugged me and said how much she missed me, and she was sooooo excited to go on another motorcycle ride.  She showed me how to use the washer and dryer, and she let me have full range of her house, even giving me a bed in my own room!  And now what?  Then she said it.  She said her boy (she refuses to call him a boyfriend) was not comfortable with me being there.  There it was.  I knew right then and there that I was screwed.  It was over.  I need to find a hotel.

I simply DO NOT understand women.  I am growing to hate them more and more.  And I hate that.  Man, I hate that.  But this was ridiculous.

But I needed answers.  This was NOT her talking...this was the boy.  I knew full-well that it was the boy.  She said she couldn't talk when she was mad.  I said she had to!  She wouldn't...she said she had to go.  I offered to walk and talk with her!  So we walked down the parking ramps to the floor of the hospital.  I was asking specifically what I needed to do make it so that I wasn't using her!  She had offered her house to me!  How was I using her when she had thrown out the invitation?!  I just didn't get it.  I said I was willing to clean, to cook, to do whatever.

That's when we walked in the doors of the hospital, and what a surprise we had there.  She was incredibly surprised to find her dad there, and without missing a beat, she said I needed to go and that we would talk about this later.  She was obviously embarassed to be walking in with a guy.  Um, talk about embarassing?!  How about looking at your "friend's" dad and being forced to walk away without saying anything?  That was what was awkward.  I literally had to turn around before I could say anything to him (he was several feet off).  She was more than obvious that she did not want me there.

I'm going to need to find a hotel.

Mom called me on the way home to ask about this guy who wants to rent a room from me.  She was asking about a stove, about painting the kitchen, about furniture.  I was so out of it...probably rude.  I was just lifeless.  I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'm not even sure I even have a house.  The only good thing I did was to ask when she would be making these changes...and it wasn't until the weekend of the closing.  I did NOT want her to be working on it before then.  It may not even be mine.  I just couldn't tell her.

I drove to her house and couldn't help but think about her neighbor watching me pull in the driveway, open up the door, and then disappear.  I wondered if she would call the cops.  I really did.  Bring it.

The rest of the night was dismal.  I watched the Olympics, dreamt about doing something worthwhile with my life, and just thought a lot.  I cleaned the toilets, made sure all of my stuff was in a small location, scrubbed the sink, swept a bathroom floor, and just thought about a lot.  A lot.

I called her to see if we could meet up for supper.  Or if she had time.  I asked her to call either way.  I never received an answer.  I called later when I knew she would be on her way to work.  No answer.  I am just done with people.  I have absolutely ZERO faith in people.  I see the worst all the time.  I am treated as if I don't exist.  To be honest, that is worse than being yelled at.  There is NOTHING more painful than to not even be acknowledged.  It is my deepest pain, and it is becoming more and more apparent every day.  Why do I meet these people?  Huh?  Why me?  I have a "friend" who won't even talk to me right now.  She wanted two weeks off.  Who does that?  Honestly, who does that?

I am just so very tired from this world.  So very, very tired.

So I dreamed about just throwing it all away.  Selling everything I owned and just working with someone who needs me.  Someone who is a castaway.  Street children in Mexico City.  Orphans in Romania.  The homeless in Haiti.  If I could just give someone else hope, I would be happy to be hopeless.  As long as someone else believed in good.  As long as someone else found a reason to live.

As it stands now, I am sleeping here.  I am more than positive that she would be angry if I left.  And yet she's not going to let me stay.  I just know it.  So very thoroughly confused.

I'm just ready for change.  And I'm ready to be known.  To be acknowledged.  I'm ready to be worth something.

I'm thinking about going to church tomorrow, but I'm so nervous about that.  I hate being the new guy.  So many questions, so many people, so little depth.  In and out.  I'm afraid of not being fulfilled.  That's the honest truth.

I set my alarm for 8:00 A.M.  I know I won't be taking any pictures tomorrow, but I only have one goal:  to talk to my friend.  I HAVE to know what's going through her head.  But I'm mainly packed.  I'm really thinking I am going to be homeless tomorrow.  I just have this hunch.  Now that the feelings have been thrown out there, I just don't feel welcome at all anymore.  At all.  It's all so very awkward now.

Went to bed at midnight.  I'm not looking forward to waking up.

Bottoms...and a High--February 12, 2010

Woke up at 9:00 A.M.  I knew I wasn't goin' to be able to fly today, so I went back to bed.  Ended up getting out of bed at 10:10 A.M.  Had a very weird experience at my friend's house.  I could hear some guy kissing all over 9 in the morning!!!  I don't think they had expected me bein' here...and I later found out that nope, I wasn't supposed to be here!  Last night, I had mentioned leaving around 8 o'clock in the morning...well, that didn't happen.  She decided to invite a guest over banking on my early departure.  It was just awkward.

But I got ready and headed to the airport.  The winds were gusty today.  And I knew that...and I had a premonition that I shouldn't fly today.  Well, at least the thought crossed my mind.  But I just mechanically went through with it.  I should've stayed on the ground.

I pulled up the weather, and the winds were 150 at 11, gusting to 22.  Hmm.  That is some gusty crap right there.  Well, I called up the ever-busy clearance at Fort Lauderdale and then made my way out to Runway 8.  I had to wait for a few bigger airplanes to go before me...even though I had been holding longer...and before they were even there.  Oh, the joys of being in a Cessna 172.  But I watched with the utmost of reflection as light airplanes made their way in in front of me.  An Aztec I swore was aimed right at me...and he was!  But he was tracking down the runway.  Then a Cessna followed him...VERY fast...he didn't land 'til halfway down the runway.

Oh, what a day this is going to be.

I finally was cleared for take-off.  I aimed down the centerline, put my yoke all the way over to the right, and powered up.  I bounced up in the air VERY quickly, and I never stopped the entire flight.  I made a very caution and leisurely turn out to the west...and I prepared myself for what I knew was going to be a very unenjoyable flight.

It didn't disappoint.

I flew 15 miles out to the west, but I could never get above 2500 feet due to clouds.  My engine was revving up and down...the result of gusty winds moving the propeller.  It was annoying.  Not to mention my tail was being thrown back and forth, back and forth...the ball was swinging widely from side to side.  Again, very annoying.

Oh, and the ride itself?  I would have very much liked to have NOT been in the sky today.  Swinging to and fro, constantly adjusting the yoke, adjusting the power, and getting sudden jolts up and down...quick snaps.  It was NOT fun.  I put the utmost of trust in these two little wings, but sometimes I wonder.

I made a slow turn back to the east and called up Tower.  He had me line up for a 5-mile final, and I did what I needed to do to line up...which meant face my airplane directly downtown.  I was doing 109 knots across the ground...but my airspeed was bouncing up and down.  The Tower advised me that winds were now 160 at 20 knots, gusting to 22.  Crap.  That is right at the tested cross-wind component of a 172.  Oh boy.  He also let me know casually at three miles out that he may have to call off my landing for a faster jet behind me.  Umm...ok?  What do I say to that?!

I left all my flaps off.

400 feet, 1/4 mile.

"Cessna 151, turn left 360 and follow Citation on final."  You have GOT to be kidding me.  I get NO respect.

I side-stepped to the left and climbed up to respectable altitude first.  "Cessna 151, begin left turn."  Shut up, man.  I was just 400 feet above the ground when you broke me off...and now I am over houses...I am climbing.

I turned to the left and instantly indicated 134 knots groundspeed.  Crap.  And I was being jolted left and right.  The winds were NASTY down low.  "Cessna 151, turn left for left downwind approach."  I acknowledged.

A minute later, he asked me where I was going.  And I will admit, I was making a very gentle standard-rate turn to the left...but even then my wings were going back and forth, back and forth.  I couldn't keep ANY type of turn in...the winds were whipping my plane like a rag doll.  I was so annoyed.  A bit tense...and admittedly somewhat scared.  I hate saying that, I do, but fear is real.  And my plane was being TOSSED around.  I finally made a 3-mile left downwind.  Crap.

I turned to base and followed in another jet.  I was to turn for Final right behind him.  And it was RIGHT behind him!  Crap!  I had to climb just to avoid his wake turbulence.  So annoying!!!  I AGAIN lined myself up for Runway 8, though I did overshoot my turn as I tried to go for altitude.  I did NOT want to have to deal with wake turbulence as well as these winds.   On Final, the Tower advised me that winds were still 170 at 20.  Wonderful.

I kept off the flaps the entire time.  I'm not sure if that was a good move or not, but my airspeed was going back and forth rapidly.  And I couldn't easily find an angle at a slow speed (within the flap range) that proved too controllable.  I kept the airspeed pegged at 110 (I think).  I know it was well above 100.

My oh my, how fast those numbers look when you going this fast!!!  I crossed the numbers doing over 100 knots across the ground...double what I sometimes come in at.  But I needed controllability today.  As I crossed the numbers, I focused and I gradually bled off that speed, keeping my airplane tracking down the centerline.  I quickly threw in the first and then second notch of flaps once in the range.  It would certainly add to the floating, but I also needed some drag.  I finally touched down about halfway down the runway.  Not bad.  It was a very simple touchdown.


What a flight.  I absolutely HATE, HATE, HATE those flights.  There is simply nothing good that can be said about them.  I thought about what that would look like in IMC conditions...and I honestly lost all confidence.  I simply can't imagine the stress, the disorientation, the stress!!! of keeping that airplane upright.  It was bad enough in perfectly clear conditions.

I taxied to park and headed home.

I stopped at McDonald's, and I was honestly pretty somber.  A flight like that just makes you realize exactly what you can be up against at any given time.  An airplane is simply no match for the elements.  I toyed with flying into a thunderstorm just to see how it would feel (STRICTLY hypothetically-speaking).  I have NO desire to do it in a sane mind.  But it's one of those "desires."  I just CANNOT imagine the strength of such a storm.  I have no doubt in my mind my wings would snap off.  No doubt.

I headed back to the house.  My friend was still asleep.  I called and arranged for home owner's insurance.  Then later on I headed to the airport to get a smaller car.  On the way back, I received a phone call.  I remember EXACTLY where I was.  I was on the off-ramp just coming off the interstate.

It was my banker.

He said he was glad he got ahold of me and then asked if I had time to discuss something.  I know exactly what that means.  And it is never good.

I was right.  More or less, the bank has denied me for a loan.  Even after approving me two weeks ago!  I don't get it.  He explained to me that I don't have enough taxable income, and I said I understood what he was saying...but that they aren't looking at the BIGGER personal picture!!!  I honestly told him I couldn't understand how I could literally go out and buy this house IN CASH...and yet I can't even get a loan to pay it off over 30 years?!  HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!  OR RIGHT?!  And he explained all the nitty-gritty details about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Frankly, I knew all of these details!  Which is why I was denied for a house over the summer!  But now that I was APPROVED, I thought I didn't have to worry anymore!  I was wrong.  We talked for 15 minutes, and I'm in the habit of just cutting to the chase.  I asked him if I could get this house.  On a 30-year loan.  At a fixed rate.  He said we would have to make some changes.  Namely I would have to put 20% down instead of the 5% I was told.  No deal, I said.

He then said that I could take all of my money out of the stock market and put it into a CD.  I chimed right back that if he could get me a rate comparable to the 40% I had made over three years, then we could talk.  But I refuse to put that money into an account that will get 1.4% when he is turning around and charging me 4.95% to use that very money!  NO DEAL.  He said he could offer me at 2.5% on my money.  I said it didn't compare to the 40%.  No deal.

So then I started looking at options.  I asked him what I would need my taxable income to be in order to get approved.  Though I would terribly lose in having to pay tons more in taxes, I said I didn't have to write off everything that I currently do.  If I didn't write it all off, then I could have a higher taxable income.  He said he would get back to me.  He also said we would have a better chance after me finishing this year's return.  I told him that I have pretty much finished...but that I still work at the SAME job, and I'll still have the same types of write-offs in deductions!  It is not going to fix anything.  I really don't think he had examined his thoughts too carefully.  It was frustrating.

Well, he called me back in 20 minutes.  And he said that I had two options.  #1--I could use my stocks as collateral.  Then, if I defaulted, I would lose the house and these stocks.  Hmm.  I pretty much said that that option was always there from the get-go...I mean, using my stocks as a determining factor for getting the house.  I asked him if they even looked at what I had in them.  He said yes, but it really doesn't matter.  More or less, Fannie and Freddie look to see if you can pay your house payment for at least six months if you lose your job.  Anything above that is moot.  Unbelievable.  So it doesn't matter if I have $3,000 or $300,000...when buying an $85,000 house.  Does anyone see anything wrong with this?  He said the six months was just a buffer in case I lost my job.  To which I quipped...IF I lost my job, then I could go get any job...let's say Wal-Mart or McDonald's...and make $23,000 a year...but as long as I had a W-2, you would approve me!!!  He said he couldn't argue.  I about lost it.

We were getting nowhere.  So I asked what option #2 was.  He said the bank could do an "in-house" loan until I had 20% equity in the house.  But they could only do that for five years.  Nope.  NO DEAL.  I have seen the wide gamut of interest rates over the years, and I lectured him that my parents purchased a house in the Carter years.  At 12%.  I said he could not guarantee me a rate of 4.95% in five years.  It could very well be 5,6,7 or 10!!!!  And that is tens of thousands of dollars over the course of the loan.  No deal.

And that's when I learned that the previous Option #1 was still the same, too.  This was NOT a 30-year loan even then.  It was 5 years, too.  I would have to re-write the loan in five years.  Honestly, guy, do I look stupid?!  Did you think this was going to be a yes answer?  I was so frustrated.

So again, I shot straight with him.  "Jason, do I have ANY option of a 30-year fixed loan at 4.95% like I was APPROVED for"?  He said no.  This is so dumb.  To which I replied, "Well, if this doesn't work out as I was promised, I will have you know that I am coming after you [the bank] for the full amount of earnest money that I have already put down for this house.  That is my money, and I will not be losing that."  You could easily sense a change in attitude.  I already have money in the house?!  Yes, sir, I do.  The whole scenery just changed.

He told me we still have options, and we still have time.  (I see only seven days).  And then he said he would think about it over the weekend.  I said I wouldn't settle for less than 30 years, 4.95%, like I was promised.  He didn't say much to that.  He just said that he didn't want me to have a bad weekend thinking about it.  Oh, right.  Right.  Shut up.  Frankly, I'm not too optimistic.  I think he's going to try to squeeze something else out of me.  I don't get it.  I was promised a 30-year loan.  I have more money than most that go after loans.  And I am denied.  This whole not being cookie-cutter thing has really taken its toll on me the last few years.  And this just added to it.  I am NOT like most people, dang it.  Get used to it.  Work with me, people.  Please work with me.

I just don't belong anywhere.  It really sucks.

Halfway through the conversation, he said he knew exactly how I felt.  What a load.

My other banker (the one I have been corresponding with the most) is on vacation in Vegas.  My last e-mail to her said that I was just another numbered customer.  She responded by saying NOOO...that I was HER customer.  I am eager for Monday just to see how she fights for me.  Or if she will at all.

30 years.  Fixed.  4.95%.  I can't settle for anything less.

I had even been shopping for a couch and fridge today!  For my house!!!


In other news, the time back at the friend's house was just all sorts of awkward.  I walked in, and she was silent.  She said hi, I said hi.  That was it.  This went on for about an hour, and I finally walked to her in her bedroom and told her exactly how I felt.  What a mess.  Life is so annoying.

I watched a thunderstorm come in from her front porch.  I sure love these storms.

Then I went out to eat at McDonald's for supper.  Lame.  At least they all can buy houses.

The high of the day?  Well, I got a phone call.  This next week may change the course of my life.  We'll see.

I went to bed at 12:45 A.M.  Low clouds forecast for tomorrow.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Florida!!!--February 11, 2010


I woke up at 8:00 A.M.  My body told me that that was NOT going to happen.  I set my alarm for 9:00...but I never could fall back asleep.  That makes me soooo angry!

Grabbed some breakfast, called the shuttle, and then headed for a bank!  I needed these house papers signed!  I walked in and asked if they had a notary.  They did.  I walked over to her desk and asked if she would sign my papers.  She asked if I had an account there.  I said I did not and that I am not even from the area.  She asked if I banked with Regions, and I again said no.   She said she could not sign my papers then.  Unbelievable.  Seriously.  She wouldn't even help me out.  She kept on talking, and I turned and walked out.  She obviously saw my disappointment.  I hate policy.  Especially when it comes to removing kindness.  It's seen quite a bit on the road.  It's downright frustrating.  This society is BUILT around people that are local.  Around stability.  Around locality.  If you don't have that, you fight against it all the time.  It's nothing short of annoying.

My shuttle driver called and asked where a Bank of America was located.  We went there, and I had no problems getting my papers signed.  If all goes well, I should be the owner of a house in 8 days!  Wow!

I went to the airport, filed IFR to Lakeland, Florida, and hit the skies.  We had high overcast again...but VFR all the way.  I was cruising between 114-124 knots today.  It's nice going east.

I had the auto-pilot on the whole time.  And I thought about flying a jet.  It's just so accurate...and pretty simple!  Just turn the knob.  I can get used to this!

I decided to go past Lakeland and landed at Avon.  I just needed to move my legs.  I took off my camera covers and hurried to get to my project before the window closed.  I knew it was going to be close.  I didn't even grab any fuel.  And sure enough, I made it.  I had six lines to do...for a total of 17 minutes.  But I finished...right at 4:00 P.M.  A nice day.  The skies were just perfect...why couldn't they have been like this when we were out here a month and a half ago?!

It was fun to see the different landscape, too.  The fields are just a bit greener...but definitely noticeable.  There are just so many of them!

I flew back into Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, grabbed a rental car, and headed for a friend's house.  It was 62 degrees on the ground!!!  Needless to say, I lost my jacket right away.  It's crazy...I saw five inches of snow and ice yesterday...and now I'm in 62-degree weather!!!  Guess what one I would rather have.  I'll be stayin' at my friend's house until the project is completed.  Oh, and I finally received my Christmas gift from my sister!!!  It had been waiting here in Fort Lauderdale ever since I left.  I had missed it by four hours last time.

I went out to eat with my friend and absolutely ate WAY too much.  I hated it.  I felt like crap afterwards, and it just sucks knowing that I was a glutton.  If only for a day.  It was dumb.  And I still feel like crap.  I have noticed a gain in weight the past couple of weeks, and yet I still do it!  This needs to stop.

While at the restaurant, though, I received a call from the boss.  He said a pilot was fired tonight.  That means I move up in seniority.  And I was told about an opportunity I may have in the future.  Interesting.

My friend worked all night, so I had a lazy night.  It was nice.

The forecast is for low clouds and rain tomorrow.  I don't think I'll be working.

I went to bed at 12:30 A.M.  Eastern time!!!  So an hour ahead of what I am used to!  But I am so tired.  Just physically drained.  And I have a headache.

I set my alarm for 8:30 A.M.