Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mississippi...and Back--February 2, 2010


Today was a long day.

Woke up at 8:30 for breakfast.  We still had some snow in our flight plans, so we planned on doing what we didn't do yesterday:  head down to Mississippi to do a control field.

Matt and I left the hotel at 10:00 A.M.  The other guys were still deciding what to do.

The control field was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi...a whopping 250 miles away.  It's kind of crazy to me that our company pays us to go that far just for a control field, but I can't and don't argue.  It's their money.  My last control field was done December 4, so I was actually WAY overdue.

The flight down there was pretty fun...I was cruising around 125 knots...a good clip.  About 50 miles south of Little Rock, I encountered some high overcast.  That high overcast developed a kid sister...some low overcast.  And for a solid 15-20 miles, I was making my way between these two walls.  I was crusing at 3500 feet but had to amend my altitude to stay out of the clouds.  It was so beautiful, though.

When it was clear, I was infatuated with the THOUSANDS of birds flying near the ground.  Every several miles, I would see these HUGE flocks of birds...just bobbing and weaving.  No words really capture the movement of birds in the sky in large groups like this...graceful is too soft.  Beautiful doesn't come close.  But I was mesmerized by their every move...watching them flow together like a wave, then break apart, then come back together, seeing the rhythm of their movements as if had been choreographed for months.  I think I could watch that sight all day.

The rest of the flight was pretty normal.  As I approached Mississippi, though, the skies cleared (for the most part), and I now had some medium-sized cumulous clouds right above me.  And it started getting bumpy.  I was just at the bases of these cumulous, and they were letting me know that I was intruding on their sky.  I really don't fully understand the anger of these clouds, but flying at the bases of these clouds is nothing short of an experience.  The bumps would continue for the next hour.

I made it to my flight plan, and I started the first of two lines.  I was moving well over 100 knots over the ground, and I had numerous speed errors.  NO pictures were taken.  Crap.  I lined up for the second line...north this time.  The headwind made the line easy...every picture was taken.  So I lined up for my last line again.  Speed errors.  Unbelievable!  I never get these on control fields...just warnings!  I turned around to try it again.  On my turn, my left wing was quickly thrown up.  I put in full deflection immediately, but even that seemed powerless for a split second.  To be quite frank, it scared the living crap out of me.  I HATE flying in this stuff.  My airplane was literally thrown over onto its side with no request made by me.  I was timid the rest of the flight, and I HATE flying like that!  I was afraid to bank hard into the turns, not knowing when or where I was going to be tossed like that again.  It made for a miserable 20 minutes.  I hated it.

I missed my third take on the line...I simply didn't bank hard enough to make a good entry.  I was mad.  On my fourth try, I made a very leisurely turn...admittedly still scared.  It was nothing short of fear.  I hated it.  But I lined up and SLOWED up.  Way up.  I pitched up, trimmed up, and tried to hold 85 knots.  I had 70 knots on my Airspeed Indicator.  It sure seemed like the tailwind was stronger than that.  But not only did I have this tailwind in a pitch-up attitude, but I also had to deal with the crazy turbulence.  The line was only a couple of miles long, but I still managed to miss a few pictures.  But I was done.  The line was completed.

I headed in for a landing.  I wanted to be out of the sky!  As a side note, on final (again VERY gusty), I saw a large group of horses going down a road followed by two covered wagons.  Yes, covered wagons.  I don't even know.

I waited for Matt who was able to do the two lines in just two passes.  Schmuck!  I was actually glad for him, though.  We grabbed the courtesy car and headed for a diner down the road.

Came back to the airport and headed back for Little Rock.  I climbed up to 4500 feet for awhile...and I was still getting tossed around like a rag-doll.  I climbed to 6500, and it was certainly smoother.  But my groundspeed was between 77 and 97 knots.  It was painfully slow.  My GPS showed a time of 2 hours and 40 minutes to get back.  Oh boy.

After awhile, the cumulous were gone again, and I now had a solid layer of overcast below me.  I couldn't see the was nothing short of picturesque.  But I was still slow.  I grabbed the FAR/AIM to read a little, but that lasted about a minute.  I simply just flew by looking outside.  At nothing but a white earth.

As I came back into Little Rock, the weather was calling for broken 2000.  I was VFR, so I decided to drop below the cloud deck at 30 miles out.  It worked out fine.  I was cruising along at 1700 feet (my favorite place to be!), but I was beneath the clouds.  The landing was fine.  All in all, I logged 6.1 hours today.  But I was ready to be out of the plane.

I had a date to catch anyway!

Buuuut...she didn't answer her phone.  She never called.  She never texted.  She never returned my messages.  I understand what that means.  #1--Andy loses MORE trust in women.  And #2--She has no desire to see me.  Oh, and no integrity.  I HATE that.  I can't even describe it.  But I let her know that.  She had no respect for me.

Out of spite, boredom, anger, desire, I went out to eat with another woman.  A very nice and ridiculously attractive woman.  We went to Boston's and spent a few hours there.  She asked for more, and I certainly wanted it, but I refused.  I came back to the hotel around 12:30 A.M.

What a day.  What a night.

Went to bed right after I got in.  12:30.  Looks like we are flying tomorrow.

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