Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How Do I Get a Full Day?!--March 30, 2010

Woke up at 8:00 A.M.  I immediately called TRACON to schedule today's long flight.

"Cleveland Approach."

"Yeah, I have been doing some aerial survey with you guys...just lookin' to get back into the Class B airspace today."

"Sir, are you aware we are IFR"?

"Uhhhhhhhhh..."  And with that, I went over to my window and opened up the curtains.  UNBELIEVABLE.  The clouds were at 100 feet, and I could barely see across the parking lot.  "Yeah, um, go ahead and scratch that.  I'll be callin' you later."

I couldn't believe it.  The forecast had called for clear skies ALL DAY.  We have a huge high-pressure system covering almost all of the country!  I had woke up with the mentality of flying 8 hours today!  And here I get...nothing.


So I waited in the hotel room.  I canceled my ride to the airport.  And I checked the weather probably more often than I care to admit.  We were the only place in the country that had the fog not lifting.  It was unbelievable!  9:00 A.M.  Still fog.  10:00 A.M.  Fog.  11:00 A.M.  Fog.  Noon.  Fog.  I just couldn't believe what I was seeing.





I talked to Jennifer back in Illinois, and she was already anticipating a beautiful spring day!  Around 70 degrees!  Yeah, I thought I was going to, too!

I walked over to McDonald's for lunch.  I could see a bit of blue...the skies were now broken.  But it still had a long way to go.  But I went ahead and scheduled the shuttle for 2:00 P.M.  Sure enough, the clouds were still around.  I coordinated with TRACON again, sent over my map, and decided to give it a shot.

I flew to a few plans, but they were a no-go due to clouds.  So I headed north to what seemed to be more clear.  Wrong.  Kind of.  Here it was 2:45 in the afternoon, and I saw a HUGE blanket of clouds literally covering the entire Lake Erie and the land just south of it.  It was beautiful!!!  You will often see this in mornings or in valleys, but here it was in the afternoon, and these folks hadn't even seen the light of (what should have been a great spring!) day!!!


I had to abandon one flight plan, and I was just on the cusp of the clouds for another one.  But I gradually moved south and was able to avoid the rest of 'em.  I finished a ton of work today, so that was good.  I had an exciting time when one jet came within a mile or two at my 9:00 o'clock without being called out (at my altitude), while I was watching another one descend towards me at my 2:00 not called out, either.  Right after that happened, the controller asked what in the world I was doing.  He was obviously flabbergasted at what had just transpired, and so I had to call out my turns for him.  It's funny, though...I had been up for a couple of hours at that point!!!  And I had told him exactly where I would be on the map IN FRONT OF HIM!!!  Oh well.  Controllers get behind, too.

I did have a good chuckle up there, though.  The Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport on Lake Erie was below the fog deck.  And so you would have these airplanes still 20-30 miles out getting the weather and hearing "1/4 visibility and 100 feet overcast."  They would ask the controller who would then verify that that is what he also had on his screen.  I wanted to confirm it on the radio, too, but it wasn't my position.  Anyway, the aircraft that were attempting at Burke simply could not.  They would shoot the ILS down to minimums but then had to go missed.  It was 3 for 3 at one point.  Well, a King Air was coming in, and he realized he was basically not going to make it in.  So he needed another airport to land at.  This is how it went down.

"Approach, King Air XYZ, uh, we're showing 100 feet and 1/4 mile on our screen here."


"Um, yeah, we are going to have to go to an alternate.  Could you call our people to see where they want to go"?

"As in use a telephone?  Sir, I control airplanes, I don't NOT make phone calls."

"King Air XYZ, Roger."

ha!  I was dying.  The controller was very candid...and the pilot knew that it was his lack of planning that had led to this situation (the field had been IFR since AT LEAST sunrise, and it was now the middle of the afternoon).  I was laughing, wondering where that guy ever ended up.  Oh flight planning.

The remaining part of the day was a bit bumpy, as I was just at the inversion/cloud layer.  But I pushed through and flew all the way to 5:30.  I headed back and called it a day.  3.0 hours on the Hobbs today.  And a good amount of work done.  Although I started way late, I was thrilled to death.  It's about time I got some work done here!!!

The rest of the night was fairly enjoyable.  First, on the drive back from the airport, I got a call from a potential roommate.  I had my dad show him the house, and everything is looking good.  I just might have someone now!  That would be sweet!  If he's not crazy!  Time will tell!  Then I had supper with one of the FBO girls, and we rented a movie.  But it took me way later than I wanted it to.  I finally got dropped off at the hotel at midnight!  And I miiiiiiiiiiiiight be out of here tomorrow.  The forecast is lookin' great (oh boy), and if I can fly a full day, I very well may be moving on to Iowa.  It's goin' to be a looooooooong day, and I wish I was going to bed earlier!!!

I'll pack in the morning and see if I can't move on out.

All in all, a dismal start but a great finish today.  C'mon, tomorrow.  I'm ready for change.

Finally went to bed at 12:35.  Alarm is set for 8:00 A.M.  Way too close.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Awful Froggy--March 29, 2010

Woke up at 8:30 A.M.  The weather was rather poor...the clouds were at 300 feet overcast.  yikes.  Just to the east, Cleveland was showing 100 feet.  Hmm, not good.  And the forecast was showin' it to stay that way through the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon.  But even then, the clouds were only supposed to raise to 2500 feet, still too low for imaging.

So I had a pretty lazy day.  I got a ride out to the airport at noon to pick up my receipts so that I could mail them.  I also had the guy drop me off at the post office so I could mail in my taxes.  I'm not sure that I've ever been so excited to send those in!  C'mon, $8000 tax credit!!!  I can't wait to get that back.

I walked over to the mall for lunch.

I brought my expense sheet up to date this afternoon, and I watched "The Fugitive" on TV.  It was seriously a lazy day.  But I did manage to do a load of laundry...definitely a successful day there as much as I hate it.  It was only one load, and somehow the 49 minutes of drying still left my clothes rather damp, but bah.  I'll let 'em air-dry.

My night was goin' pretty slow, but then my phone lit up.  I talked to Chelsea for awhile, then Chelsea called during that phone call, then Matt called during that phone call, and then my brother called during that phone call!  All of a sudden, it was bedtime!  I was very much thrilled with how that all played out!  No time to even waste!

I was in bed at 11:15.  I'm wakin' up at 8:00.  The next couple of days are looking AMAZING.  We have a lovely high-pressure system comin' through, and the skies should be ridiculously clear.  It's supposed to be quite a bit warmer, so I might run into some turbulence, but I'm goin' to do as much as I can.  I am so ready to be done with this project already!  I've been here way too long!  And it's only been 5 days!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Outlaw--March 28, 2010

Woke up at 11:00.

I didn't do a whole lot today...definitely a lazy day.  It was raining almost half of the day.  I spent most of the day in the hotel...just kind of wasting time.  I didn't do the laundry that I desperately need to do.  Oh well...certainly not the first time.

But I did have a rather interesting/disturbing experience tonight.

Around 5 o'clock, I walked over to Golden Corral for supper.  I was hungry, and I just felt like splurging tonight.  So I did just that.  I grabbed three plates and a couple of glasses of sweet tea.  And I just sat there.  I obviously didn't have anyone else to eat with, and I wasn't too keen on gettin' back to the hotel room I just left, so I just sat.  Absolutely no worries, no concerns.  Just me, my sweet tea, and people.

And I guess that was my problem.

Basically, sitting alone is kind of different.  Especially in this particular set-up.  Across my table was another table of two...but they were both on the same (and opposite) side of me at their table.  So basically, every once in awhile, I would catch their eyes.  Nothin' big.  You just do the whole "Oh, hey, look, I just caught your eye randomly in public...Let me feign a 'Oh, hey, look, I just caught your eye randomly in public smile' and then move my eyes."  It's really no big deal.  But as it was, I had nobody in front of me or on the sides of me to block my views.

And admittedly, my eyes wandered.  To the left, to the right.  Outside, inside.  Waitress, table next to me, table leaving, guy getting up, guy's food on the table next to me, oblivious space, oops caught your eyes, give that smile, outside, table, sweet tea.  And on and on.

Well, every once and again, I would catch a woman's eye in the corner.  Now normally, I would be excited to catch a woman's eye.  But she certainly wasn't that type.  To be honest, I still don't know what type she is.  She looked she had had a hard life.  But I won't lie...the entire restaurant looked pretty rough.  Wherever I was all certainly wasn't well.  It was just a rougher crowd.  Oh well.  It happens.

Well, (I am boggled even as I write this), one time I caught the woman's eye.  Now she is two whole tables across from me at my 10 o'clock.  And we have a table of two in between us (the woman was gone).  Well, I caught her eye, and she just absolutely went off on me.


My brain didn't even know how to function.  I was absolutely and totally I think were the people around me.  She had just yelled across a couple of tables!!!  And the guy's face that was in between us just contorted.  He didn't have a clue what was going on, but he certainly didn't like it.

And then me.  I never took my eyes off her as she went off.  I never blinked.  I never did anything.  I stayed perfectly calm and still in my current position, hands on the chest, body slightly leaning back.  I looked at her eye to eye and just took it all in.  After she was through with her tirade, I simply looked at her for a few more seconds as if to say "Really"?, then turned my head forward.

But I could feel it.  A surge of blood was flowing inside of me now.  My heart was racing, my mind was searching for what to do, how to react, and I was admittedly confused, mad, sad, curious, and angry all at the same time.  Oh, but how my heart was beating now!

But I just sat there.  I checked out the people around me, and I continued my simple evening.  Outside, waitress, food next to me, family on the right, cute girl with the ring on her finger, irate woman venting to silent friend, kids to the left, sweet tea, and, yes, woman in the corner.  I won't lie.  Part of it was out of spite, part of it was just incredibly natural.  She was ALWAYS in my peripheral vision, and movement certainly attracts attention.  And I will say even more so when you're by yourself.  You simply watch what happens around you.  Even now I could tell you about the cute girl with the blue shirt and grey long-sleeves underneath.  Or the table of black people obviously out from church.  The bald man with the chubby woman.  The cell phone color.  The old checkered blazer.  The flashy tie and matching handkerchief on the man that seemed to be born decades ago.  The old woman and their hugs.  The young family of three behind me.  The waitress.  Her scarred lip.  The crazy woman in the corner.  Her huge friend.  Her very large daughter with the giant hair.  The black man at my 9 o'clock.  The one that knew her as she walked in.

In no uncertain terms, I was people-watching.  And I have no shame in that.  I AM IN PUBLIC.  AND SO ARE YOU!!!  You are going to be seen.  Get over it!

Well, probably for my own good, the cute woman came back to sit next to her husband at the table in between the crazy woman in the corner and me, and for whatever reason (Thank you, God???), she did not seat in the seat that she had been sitting in...but chose one on the right side of her boo.  And that completely blocked my view of the crazy woman in the corner.  I say for my benefit, because I just knew that I would make eye contact with her again.  I mean, I was doing that naturally with a lot of people!  It happens when you are aimed at them!

Well, she called the manager out.  I never looked, but I certainly knew who he was.  I was basically saying bring it.  I pictured the manager coming over and kicking me out, and I pictured me asking for a written reason before that happened.  I would not leave without one!  Needless to say, I was pretty perturbed at the whole situation.  It just blew me away.

Well, now her large friend (with whom I could still see) had to get in on it.  Obviously they had talked over there.  She yelled at me for looking at her daughters.  Frankly, I couldn't even tell if one of them was a girl or not, but ok, they are girls.  Anyway, I NEVER stared.  Ever.  I was being...normal?!  Anyway, one of the kids got up to go eat or something (I honestly don't recollect), and this woman turned crazy now, too!


This was seriously crazy.  Like SERIOUSLY crazy.  But I never said a word.  I recognized these women as unstable, and frankly, I don't play around with that.  But seriously?!  I mean, seriously?!  I had compassion on them (I think), as they were very large.  Even the daughters.  I know it's incredibly difficult to live in this world looking different.  Being big.  So I think I had compassion on them.  I don't know their stories, I don't know their backgrounds, their pains, their reasons for having to fight like that.  So I just let it all slide.  On top of that, they were stinkin' women.  Had it been guys, well, I'm sure it would have been way different.

But the whole idea of what was happening just blew me away.  My heart was still racing.  But I just sat there, arms crossed, drinking my sweet tea.

Eventually, the large woman got up to go get another plate.  I had by this time had more than my fair share of this place, so I stood up, didn't even look over at the crazy woman in the corner, grabbed my jacket, and headed out.  But I did have other intentions, too.  I wanted to at least "save face."  Frankly, I didn't know these women, and I would gamble that I would never seen them again.  But dang it, this is my integrity.  My reputation.  My life.  I at least wanted to let her know that I was doing nothing offensive.

So I caught her on my way out and asked if I could have a minute.  She said no.  I asked for it again.  She begrudgingly gave in.  So I said quite simply that I had no intentions in causing offense.  I was out to offend no one, and I just wanted to make that straight.  And then she went off on me for looking at them even after having asked not to have been looked at (I didn't remind her she was in public).  And then she started telling me how those were HER daughters and how I was a man and how I just sat there and drank my drink and never ate any food and how those were HER girls and she didn't want me looking at them.  I was completely and totally blind-sided.  Worse than a freight truck.  So THIS is what it was all about.  She saw me as a sexual predator.  Oh man oh man.  By this time, the crazy woman in the corner had showed up.  I glanced at her but continued talking very cordially to the larger woman.  But that wasn't good enough.  The crazy woman went off on me and let me have it again.  Then she said she would "rail me" if she stood that close to me any longer, so she stormed off.  WHAT?!  I again apologized for the offense that she took.  But this woman wasn't goin' to have it, either.  The manager had come over to keep the peace.  Frankly, he was tiny, a bit stand-offish, and really did nothing to help anything.  He never even said a word but listened as I spoke very nicely.  She wasn't goin' to have it.  She was red and was backing off afraid of me.  I couldn't believe it.  Then she left.

I walked out with the manager, and he thanked me for being so calm.  "Some battles aren't even worth fighting," I said.  I stopped and talked with him for a bit, and not knowing the exact situation, he seemed to be favoring me.  He said they come in there rather often, and they seem a bit different, he said.  I forget exactly how he said it to describe them, but he didn't seem to be against me at all.  Before I left, I told him that if he wanted to, he could walk over there and tell them that he had kicked me out if it would make them feel better.  I said it in complete jest, of course.

But WOW.  Like seriously.

I was pretty disturbed on my walk back to the hotel.  I am just sick and tired of having these encounters.  Of not being able to live in peace.  I hate this world, I hate people, and I hate that I am always the one that ends up in these situations.  And I also hate another part of the whole story.  I hate to think it, but I'm almost certain it's profiling.  I have a rather thick beard now, and I was wearing a beanie.  I am almost certain that if I was clean-shaven, this would have never happened.  Of course, I can't prove that, but I remember this from a few years ago.  You get treated WAY differently going from handsome to lumberjack.  And I'm simply afraid that is part of it.

Anyway, the walk back was just brutal.  I had flashbacks of other encounters with people.  I wanted to pray for her, but I was having the hardest time even doing that.  I told God that I had nothing good to say about her at all.  Just completely honest.  I seriously battled praying for her for most of the walk.  I was on the brink of tears several times in the walk...just confused as to why this always happens to me.  Why I always have the stories.  Why peace eludes me.  Why I learn to hate people more and more every day.  I'm constantly in these situations, and I don't even ask for them.

I don't know exactly what this did to me today, but I know I was pretty messed up by it.  Someone accused me of being a sexual predator.  On kids.  The thought just absolutely sickens me.  The argument could be that I don't have to worry about it.  It's some crazy stranger that doesn't know me.  But it's really more complex than that.  I don't know how to describe how it feels to be even considered for that.  It's...demoralizing, disheartening, sickening.  Granted, she doesn't know me.  But I think that all plays into all of this.  People don't know me.  I'm a nomad on the road.  And so they judge me.  They put me into a box.  And I sat alone.  With a beard.  So someone considered me a dirty old man because of it.  A predator.  Maybe it's more simple than I'm giving it, but that thought just really messed me up today.  How could someone even think that?

I spent the night in tonight.

Tomorrow is lookin' halfway decent.  Like seriously only halfway.  It's supposed to rain through the morning.  At 1:00, the clouds are supposed to be at 3500.  We'll see what happens.  I won't lie...I'm already ready to leave this place.  It's just...blah.  I don't get a good vibe here.  But I'm only 7% done here.  I still have 10 hours worth of work least a solid two days.  I'm hopin' to get out of here this week, though.  We've got some good weather rollin' in after the low-pressure system moves through.  I'm just afraid it can't come soon enough.

Went to bed at midnight.

A Half Day--March 27, 2010

Woke up at 8:00.  I called Cleveland TRACON this morning to coordinate working in the Class B airspace.  Basically, the gentleman told me that I was working in a very bad area.  I said "yup" and said I needed to be there.  He pretty much told me I was going to get kicked out at 11:00 because of the "big push."  Ah, big you have become.  <sigh>  But I merely agreed and went along with it.  No worries, I said.  I could fly around until they let me back in.  He also said that 3:30 or so would be bad, too.  Whatever.  As long as I can work the entire day, I'm ok with working around them.  That is fine.  Let's work together.  I grabbed some breakfast, then took the shuttle to the airport at 8:50.  It was a busy morning already!

I was started up around 9:20, but I had some computer problems, so I didn't get airborne until around 9:40.  I was expecting a full day of work, but little did I know, that just wasn't goin' to happen.  I flew out my flight plans.  Crap.  The snow still hadn't melted.  And there was more out here to the southeast than back over in Lorain.  Grr.  I finished one flight plan (just three pictures), but I knew it was going to be bad.  I couldn't do it!  I started another one, but I quit before I finished the line.  The snow was still VERY noticeable on the northern shadows...roofs, ditches, treelines, yards.  I had to abort.  I called up Approach and told them I was done just a few minutes after starting.  Grr!!!

I went back to land at Lorain County.  I had a couple of airplanes in the pattern, and I opted to just do a right-hand downwind to the airport.  But as I turned, I knew I was way high.  I dumped in more flaps, but it just wasn't lookin' right.  I tried to nose over a bit to get down, but the airspeed was just too much.  GRRRR!!!  As I neared the runway, I just couldn't risk it.  I did a go-around.  I hate those!  But it just wasn't worth me floating and going off the end.  The next one was just fine.  No problems.

I had logged 0.9 so far today.

I went inside the airport and just sat.  I tell you, though, overnight I have been given new respect.  I talked to a man in the FBO for quite some time, and once he learned that I was flying the Aztec, he was oogly googly over me.  WAY much more than if I had said a 172.  He has flown mainly local and is admittedly nervous about a desired flight to Atlanta, Georgia.  I did nothing but spit confidence and encouragement into him.  Planes and pilots are meant to fly...and not locally...I told him.  Get in there, plane it out really well, and take your wife to Atlanta!!!  I really hope he goes.  Another guy never took his eyes off of the Aztec as he walked by.  I watched him from inside.  Frankly, it IS just a light-twin, but all of a sudden, I went from being a 172 pilot to a real pilot just overnight.  It is unbelievably noticeable.

After a couple of hours, I took the courtesy van into town for Subway, but I came right back.  I was anticipating going back up again this afternoon because of the warmer temps.  I waited around some more, then did just that.  At 1:45, I headed out again.  This time, we had business.  The snow had melted (most of it)!

I spent the next couple of hours getting bumped around.  Frankly, it is WAY different than turbulence in a 172.  In a 172, I get thrown up, then down rather aggressively in the afternoon.  This is more like driving a car over bumps in the road.  I am not ramping them like in a Cessna.  But they are certainly noticeable.  I definitely had to have my seatbelt on.  I thought about calling it for quite awhile as it was rather uncomfortable, but I just kept flying.  I wanted to get a good chunk done with this project.  So I pushed through.

That is...until Approach canceled my clearance.  They had to call me off due to excessive traffic.  I wish I could hear myself again on the radios.  It went something like this.

"Aztec, we're, uh goin' to have to cancel your survey work here."

"Aztec, <sigh> Roger."

He made another call to a jet.  Then silence.

"Aztec, now what are your intentions"?

I made sure to let him know my disappointment.  "Aztec, <very loud and long disappointed and frustrating sigh>, ummm...I guuuuuessssss I will have to head back to Lorain <sigh> and get back up with you guys tomorrow."  I made sure to let him know that I WILL be back up here.  That I WILL be back in the exact same area.  It is so annoying.  I understand traffic can get more than the slower times of the day.  But c'mon, guys, let's work together!!!  You are Cleveland, for crying out loud!  I have been at 3500 feet THE ENTIRE DAY with no deviations!!!  I am not going to move off of that altitude!  It is severe clear.  It's OK to tell the jets to descend and maintain 4000 instead of whatever you are used to telling them.  It's OK to change your words a bit.  I wasn't too happy.  I had relegated myself to flying as much as I could on this project today...however uncomfortable it get in the Bravo and get out.  But I didn't expect to be forced out.

I headed back to Lorain County.  I had finished five flight plans...out of 20.  GRR!!!

I landed right around 3:50 P.M.  I had logged a total of 3.2 hours today.  Simply not enough.  I won't lie, though...I WAS kind of glad to get out of the turbulence.  It's not too fun.  But I have a project to finish!!!

I stayed at the airport for the next couple of hours as I had told the shuttle to be there at 6:00.  Buuuut, about 15 minutes before he showed up, an amazingly beautiful L-39 Albatross was pulled out of the hangar.  And I was in love with it.  I talked to the owner/pilot, and I wanted to be there for his take-off.  I'm serious...this plane was GORGEOUS.  Absolutely pristine.  So one of the FBO ladies said she would give me a ride back to the hotel.  I gave the driver $5 and apologized for him driving out.  He seemed fine with it.

I watched the jet take off...along with about 10 others!  It was a beauty.  He certainly had our attention.

I ended up hanging out with the girl for the night.  We went to Texas Roadhouse, then chilled at her house.  It was nice to get out of the hotel for awhile.  Tomorrow looks like crap.  Rain, rain, rain.  I'm not even plannin' on gettin' up.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Snow on the Ground--March 26, 2010


Woke up at 9:00 A.M.  Grabbed some breakfast, then requested the hotel shuttle to the airport.

I loafed around the breakfast area for quite awhile today...just listenin' to people...and lookin' outside at the snow on the ground.  We had around an inch or so.  I finally went back to the room and got ready.

I was at the airport at 11:00 A.M.  Because I knew I wouldn't be taking pictures, I inquired as to where a restaurant was at one of the nearby airports.  I was given a few different names, but I finally decided to fly northwest to Port Clinton.  I went outside to pre-flight the airplane, and it was COLD!!!  And very windy.  I hate the winter!

I was a bit nervous today in regards to the winds, as I wasn't sure how this airplane handled in gusty conditions.  The winds were 050 at 16 knots gusting to 26.  But I went for it anyway...the best way to learn.  Of course, it helped that I had Runway 7 to use.  Basically, I didn't feel much.  This airplane just slices through the winds.  Perfect.

I climbed up to 4500 feet VERY quickly and pointed the nose to Port Clinton.  I was doing 151 knots over the ground, hitting 156 knots on my descent.  I'll take that any day!  I LOVE this airplane!!!  I landed on Runway 9...not bad at all.  My confidence is slowly building.  I thought there was a restaurant on the field, but I was wrong.  But the guys gave me a courtesy car, and I went and checked out Dianna's Deli just across from the airport.  It was superb!  I wish I had a deli like that back home!  The menu was just absolutely full of sandwiches and soups.  I would love to eat there again.  They actually filled me up so much that I had to take a to-go box...which I never do!

I hurried back to the airport so that I could make it back to Lorain by 1:00.  I had told the shuttle to pick me up then.  The flight back was pretty simple...and quick enough.  I was doing 130 knots across the ground.  Still respectable!  I lined up for Runway 7 and landed very nicely...though for whatever reason I simply failed to put any flaps in.  I was obviously distracted with the GUMPFS check to even remember that.  I was pretty disturbed by that.  GRR.  I need to use the paper checklist I made.

I did have a slip-up, though.  And it haunted me.  On climb-out today, I initially leveled off at 3500...but then I continued up to 4500...all fairly quickly after departing.  I was simply afraid that I had busted into the Cleveland Class B airspace unintentionally.  All I could think about was them calling the airport and requesting my tail number.  So much so that I actually called them this afternoon to let them know that I may have unintentionally come in.  They had no record of anything, and the woman was very nice about it, so that was good.  But I was relieved.  It just boggles my mind how easy it is to get distracted with doing everything else that I could miss something so important.  A lesson learned.  FOCUS.

The rest of the day was pretty simple.  I walked to Wal-Mart and McDonald's later in the day.  One for some cash for laundry (I just bought a candy bar), and one for sweet tea.  Then I dropped into Best Buy to buy an external hard-drive that I've been putting off for over a year now (since my laptop nearly crashed in December 2008).  I spent the rest of the night inside watching the NCAA tourney, reading an FAA book, and talking to Jennifer.

But I am really tired.  And my stomach is doing weird things.  So I am hitting the sack at 11:30 P.M.  I'm eager to get some sleep.

Tomorrow is lookin' perfect.  Almost all of the snow has melted off since this afternoon, and it's supposed to be in the 50's tomorrow.  And the clouds are supposed to be at 25,000 feet.  Basically, I'll be able to fly as long as the turbulence stays tame.  But I'm plannin' to get an early shot at it.  I have to coordinate with TRACON tomorrow to get inside Class B where I'll be for just about the entire project.  I'm hopin' that goes well.  If all goes well, I'll be flying several hours of revenue tomorrow.

Exactly what I've been waiting for.

In bed at 11:30.

No More Winter, Please!!!--March 25, 2010

Woke up at 9:00 A.M.  The weather outside was was raining lightly.  I checked the weather online, and the clouds were actually fairly high...around 6000 feet, but I simply can't take pictures with any type of moisture.  And the forecast showed it raining all day.

All of a sudden, I had an entire day to kill by myself!

I read a little bit in the morning, bought some stocks (which I haven't been able to do since buying that house!!!) which made me happy again!, and just sat around and passed the time.  I walked over to the mall for lunch, but nothing really piqued my interest.  So I walked out the doors on the other side and headed to Burger King.  A $3.00 lunch.  Hard to beat.  I talked to Jennifer again today, too.  It's crazy to me how one simple action can just change your life...even if in a small way.  I go to my brother's wedding, I meet a girl who in turn has this friend, I make a comment online, and before I know it, I'm now talkin' to this girl's friend.  It's nuts.  Like silly crazy nuts.

The afternoon involved more of the same.  I had to walk back in some light (though VERY cold!) rain, and it didn't show any signs of letting up.  I read some more and just hung out in the hotel.  I'm not goin' to kind of felt like a prison today!  It was just one of those days inside...not too fun!  To pass the time, I decided to go to the I threw on my swim trunks and followed the sign.  Imagine my face when I found myself at a door leading a pool covered with a huge tarp...and I could feel the cold air coming through the windows.  Needless to say, I passed.  Agh, I was a bit disappointed!  Now what?!

I ended up going to the hotel restaurant for supper...and just spent the evening in.  NCAA basketball, some internet, and a bit more reading.  It was a VERY slow day.

I should mention that around 5:30, the rain decided to turn to snow.  Yes, SNOW.  I wasn't too thrilled about that.  The forecast called for about an inch, but we only received a dusting.  But enough of a dusting to make tomorrow a no-go.  I'm still plannin' on goin' flyin' tomorrow...but there is just going to be too much snow on the ground for pictures.

What a day.  What a slooooooooooooow day.

Finally went to bed at 12:45 A.M.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

All Worth It--March 24, 2010


Woke up at 7:45.  That didn't last long.  Fell asleep again and finally got out of bed around 8:20.

We had nothing but blue skies!!!  Amazing how that happens.  Nasty overcast the past couple of days and perfect today.  My boss and I went over the airport to fly!  He wanted me to get a few more landings underneath my belt in order to give me more confidence...and him, as well!

We took off, and I actually flew a calibration field first.  That wasn't too bad.  It's the same thing as flying a 172, but the distances I have to go off the line are a bit different.  But it was fairly straightforward.

I came back in and shot an ILS...and then turned that into a single-engine landing.  This plane has so much power that it is pretty simple to climb on one engine (in cold New York), but I still came in a bit low.  I added power, though, and it recovered nicely.  I made a pretty good landing.  The only thing I forgot?  CARB HEAT.  Grr.  Oh, well, that's how ya learn!  I taxied back and took off again.  This time I did just a normal landing.  Again, it was nice!  I took off and did a third.  No problems.  My boss asked me if I wanted to go again, but I said nah.  I was feeling really good.

I taxied back to the FBO where we grabbed a car and then went out to eat.  Mediterranean food.  I love this stuff!  I then went to our company headquarters to drop off my calibration field data, then took the boss to the Amtrak station, then came back!  I was soooooooooooooooooooooooo excited!!!  This would be my FIRST time alone in a twin!  I have 85 hours or so PIC time, but there has always been someone else in there!  I was eager to get out on my own.

And I did just that.  Denver was cancelled, and I was now going to Cleveland...not too far away.  But I was going by myself!!!  Woo hoo!!!  And it was fantastic.  The flight was just perfect.  This airplane is so fun to fly!  It is way more challenging than a 172, but at the same time, it flies pretty easily.  There's certainly more to do, but I love it.  I absolutely had the time of my life today.  It was such a fun flight.

I had clear skies all the way.  It was only a two-hour flight, but I just savored the entire trip.  I was cruising right around 130 knots at 4500 feet.  I'll take it!  I flew just south of Buffalo, then followed Lake Erie for awhile.  I came up to Cleveland, but they wouldn't clear me in to the Class B airspace, so I had to fly over the lake a few miles.  No worries.  I dropped down to 3000 feet and just took in the skyline with the water.  So beautiful!  There is an airport right there on the lake that would be sweet to land at!  It's literally right next to downtown...just like Chicago used to have!!!


I found the airport I was landing at and went through the landing checklist.  Agh, I love this!!!  Gear down, mixtures, props, throttles, fuel pumps.  (Ok, so there is more than that, but still!).  There IS more to do, though.  It's fun actually flying a real airplane for a change!!!  Don't get me wrong, I love the Cessna 172, and I have nearly 1000 hours in 'em, but this is a welcome change.  I just love it!

I talked to a guy on a picnic table as I waited for my hotel shuttle.  He asked about my job, and I told him, and he said that I must have the life.  I can't complain, I said.  He told me about a friend who is instructing in order to build the hours.  I know all about it...there is a story everywhere.  I am sooooooooooooooo grateful to have this job!  And once he found out that I flew the Aztec, well, it was over.  There is just something different about flying a twin than a single.  It's not's just respect.  For whatever reason, you get more respect.  Who knows.

I walked to BWW's for supper and then spent the rest of the night in the hotel.

All told, I logged 3.8 hours of twin time today!!!  3.8!!!  If I purchased that myself, it would easily cost me $950.  And yet they paid me.  I just don't get it.  But you won't hear me complain!!!

Wooooooo hooooooo!!!  I am seriously on Cloud 9 right now!  I just loved flying that bird today.  What a fun day!!!

Went to bed pretty wired at 1:00 A.M.  Wish I had something to do!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Wait Continues!!!--March 23, 2010

Woke up at 9:00 A.M. with my jeans still on.  How about that.

We headed to the airport again...with the intentions of being done by noon again.  There were very minor items still to be addressed on the plane and cameras.  So I headed back out for my moral support again!  It's the right thing to do.

Well, noon came and went.  And so did my desire to be there!  We ended up staying until 4:00 o'clock.  Sigh.  These days are just looooooooooooooong when you stand around.  I mean, a day really is a long time when you don't have much to do.  I took my laptop today, and I worked on some financial stuff...but that didn't last too long.  The majority of the time was me hangin' out in the hangar again.  Just watchin' and helpin' with what I could.

We went out to eat at some restaurant that has been around since 1958.  Frankly, it wasn't that good.  And when I went back up to get a refill on my root beer and was told they don't give refills, I liked 'em even less.  Agh, I just want good food!  Here I was charged $8.00 for a crappy meal!  It was a heart attack on a plate.  I hate that.

I did talk to a possible roommate today, though.  Seems like a nice guy.  We'll see how that goes.  It's crazy interesting owning a house 1000 miles away.

I also checked out the weather for Denver.  They are supposed to get 8-20 inches of snow tonight.  We told the Vice President that, and it looks like I now may be going to Ohio or Iowa because of that.  Oh well.  Whatever!  As long as I fly, I'll be fine.

And as it stands now, we'll go up for training tomorrow and then I'm on my own!  The weather was sooooooooo bad again today...overcast 400 feet with cold rain.  Two days in a row now.  I hate Rochester!

I was bored in the hotel tonight, so I went down to the restaurant for some dessert.  I came back, and we both went stir-crazy, so my boss and I headed back down there for some pool and a drink.  We played several games, but we were eager to get back to the room and be lazy again.  I ended up talking to a friend for about an hour, and then I headed for bed.  It was 1:00 again.  I REALLY need to stop doing this!

Alarm is set for 7:45 A.M.

One Loooooooooooong Day--March 22, 2010

Woke up at 7:30.  Was at the airport by 8:00.

And I spent the rest of the day there.  And I mean just about all day.  Sometime this morning, I grabbed the courtesy car and drove the 1/4 mile down to Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast as I needed some food.  I hate not eating at the proper times.  I also downed some coffee which I rarely do, but I certainly needed it today.  I was pretty tired.

Basically, the tech guys took the whole day to install the camera rig equipment.  One of the other vendors flew in with the rig, and they took it out of that airplane and are putting it into mine.  The timeframe was supposed to be a couple of hours...I literally thought I was going to be out of there around noon.  Well, because we thought it would not take too long, we went out to eat with the tech guys for lunch, then went over to Headquarters to give our mechanic a tour.  Well, that ended up turning into a 2 1/2 hour ordeal.  A long lunch, and an even longer talk with the Vice President!  It was enjoyable, but it ate up necessary time.

We didn't make it back to the hangar until 3:30 in the afternoon.

And we realized that the camera rig was NOT going to be installed in time.  But that certainly wasn't an option.  So we stayed.  And stayed some more.  And stayed some more.  I helped out with a couple of things here and there, but really, I just didn't want to be there!  I mean, it IS my airplane, and without their work, I don't have work.  So I didn't want to leave, but it was just painful.  Absolutely painful.

The good news is that the tech guys agreed to stay (they didn't have to as they BOTH expected to leave at 5:00, their normal ending time).  But we had a project to do, and they were willing to see it through.  Crazy.

We finally left the shop at 11:00, I kid you not.  11 stinkin' o'clock.  I was tired, I was a bit perturbed, and I was crazy hungry.  We took the hotel shuttle to the McDonald's drive-thru, and I grabbed two wraps, fries, and a water.  I ate them on my bed back at the hotel and literally crashed.  I had my jeans on and everything.  But I was just done...that was about 1:00 A.M.

What a day.  I hope I have no more like that.  It just wasn't too fun.

I did learn about another exciting opportunity, though.  I have to give it a LOT of thought...we'll see what happens!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New York, New York!!!--March 21, 2010


Woke up at 1:30 A.M.  We checked the weather, and the rain and low clouds were taken completely out of the forecast.  Crap.  We decided to push the time back a little bit.  We decided on 4:00 A.M. instead of 2:00 A.M.  I hopped back in bed but had a hard time falling back asleep for awhile.

Woke up again at 3:30 A.M.  Took a shower, grabbed my stuff, and we were out the door.  Grabbed some plastic-wrap breakfast at a gas station, then headed for the airport.

We packed all of our gear into the Aztec.  We didn't end up getting off the ground until about 5:30.  We had to top off the tanks in order to try to make the trip non-stop.

But we were off!  The airplane was mine.  I was at the controls, and I would have them for the next 6.2 hours.  The take-off was pretty fast!!!  That airplane is SO powerful...and can be a bit squirrely on the runway!  But I climbed out, brought the gear up, and went after my heading...and an altitude of 10,500 feet!!!

Part of our trip was over the ocean...something I probably wouldn't do in a single-engine!  I climbed up to 10,500 and just cruised.  I really like this airplane.  I won't lie...there is a lot going on.  From fuel-flow gauges to specific engine temperatures to propeller speeds to manifold pressure, it's just a "lot more airplane."  But I enjoy the challenge.

The trip itself was pretty enjoyable.  The first couple of hours weren't too bad...the sunrise over the ocean was simply beautiful.  We ate, we talked, and I just got a feel for the airplane.  But the middle hours were nothing short of brutal.  I mean, brutal.  I was flying VERY tired.  The loud drone of the engines, the bright sunshine, the lack of a horizon to watch, the dry eyes, the constant yawns.  My "co-pilot" fell asleep for a bit, and that didn't help at all.  I did EVERYTHING I could to stay awake.  I moved around a lot, I specifically focused on different things.  But I was struggling.

When we were about an hour and a half out, it became so much better.  I had the end in sight.  But yikes!!!  Flying tired is NOT fun.  Or safe.

But it was still enjoyable.  We had tons of munchies, Gatorade, and plenty of jokes.  And we were cruising around 170 MPH.  Oh, that is so nice!!!

I descended into Rochester from about 30-40 miles out.  The airplane certainly handles turbulence quite a bit differently than the 172, but in a better sense.  It just kind of pushes its way through it.  One thing I don't like, though, is that the attitude indicator is the OPPOSITE of all of the other indicators I've used.  Instead of the airplane turning, it's actually the GROUND that turns!  So when I think I have to turn left in order to fly level, I actually have to turn right!  When I think about it, it's not a problem.  But I caught myself a couple of times doing the wrong thing...namely on quick glances and quick corrections.  That is going to take some getting used to.

My landing in Rochester was pretty much flawless...outside of me forgetting to put the carb heat in.  But the owner and the mechanic both congratulated me on a fine landing.  I was thrilled!  ha!

We went out to eat and tried the famous Garbage Plate.  I hated it.  It is certainly going to kill me later.

Then we went to the hotel and crashed.  All of us.  We slept for a couple of hours.  We woke up and watched C-SPAN for a few hours.  No joke!  The healthcare bill was being discussed and decided tonight.  We went to the bar at the restaurant, and we actually watched C-SPAN instead of sports on the big screen!  It's just that important to us.

But much to our dismay, the bill passed.  I'm just afraid there are too many unknowns ahead.  Too much positive thinking and not enough details.

I ended up going to bed at midnight.  Tomorrow is supposed to be nothing but rain.  But it's a day in the hangar as my camera rig gets installed.  I imagine I'm here for a few days...and then off to Denver!

This is crazy!!!

But 6.2 hours of PIC multi-engine time.  Woo hoo!!!  And I'm getting paid again!!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kind of Flying...But Not Really--March 20, 2010

I ended up waking up at 10:00-ish.  I was off and on all morning...not necessarily good sleep.  I finally crawled out of bed at 11:35.  My boss was gone.  I tried calling but got nothing.

I walked across the street for lunch.

I tried calling later, but I still couldn't get ahold of him.

He ended up coming back around 2:30, and basically, he was really tired from pulling a 48-hourer a couple of days ago.  So he headed for the couch for a nap.  I just stayed at the house and waited!

Later this afternoon, we headed to the airplane to give it a test flight.  But the boss wanted to take the controls to make sure everything was fine.  No worries.  He doesn't even have an hour in this plane yet.  I took the right seat, and we flew for about 30 minutes, testing everything out.  Outside of an inoperative clock and the landing gear lever not snapping back into position, the flight was good.  The mechanic went to work right away.

We checked the weather for tomorrow, but it's pretty bad.  A massive cold front is pushing its way through, and it's going to wreak havoc for us.  If we left tomorrow morning, we'd probably not make it the entire way due to freezing levels.  Stupid northeast.  We talked about leaving tonight, but none of us were really ready for that.

So we opted for 2:00 A.M. tomorrow!!!  ARE YOU SERIOUS?!  yikes.  But that's the game plan.  2:00 A.M.  I grabbed some charts, went out to eat, packed what little I had, then headed for bed.  I was in bed at 9:15.  The alarm is set for very not far away.

But I get to fly tomorrow!!!!  Er, tonight?  Tomorrow!!!

And We Wait...--March 19, 2010

Woke up at 9:15 A.M.  Stayed around the house for awhile.  I lazily made my way to a sub shop on the way to the airport and took advantage of the sunshine.  I ate outside!  It was beautiful today...much nicer than yesterday.

I didn't do a whole lot today.  I helped spray paint some panels, played a couple of games of pool with myself, and just hung around the shop, but it wasn't much.  The Aztec is nearing completion, though.  The pieces are all back in, and everything is just about complete.

Later this afternoon, I hopped in and started the engines, then taxied over to the side of the airport to get the aircraft weighed.  With all of the new equipment, we had to get an updated weight-and-balance.  That was pretty straight-forward.  They simply tug the airplane onto some scales!  Easy enough.

But we're basically ready.  Tomorrow we are going to fly for several hours...just getting me used to the airplane.  Take-offs, landings, etc.  I'm ready for that!  It's been a lot of waiting this week!

This evening we all went out to a bar/grill for some food and drinks.  We ended up stayin' for SEVERAL hours.  I played a lot of pool, and I had some REALLY hot chick wink at me a couple of times.  She was ridiculously attractive, but it was hard to get past the huge rock on her finger.  She ended up showing me some butterfly tattoos on her side, and I certainly had to bite my lip...but, um, about that diamond.  Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

I did end up playing with another somewhat attractive woman, though.  As the night progressed, she became more and more drunk.  Like...really drunk.  But she was nice.  She and her sister and her brother-in-law played pool with us for a couple of hours.  Basically, she likes me.  But she is 39 and has a couple of kids.  And I leave on Sunday...

Yeah, about that.

Came home around 2:45.  Ended up talking to my boss about some pretty heavy stuff...I was tryin' to get to bed, but it was pretty important.  So we talked about life, God, death, religion, me, him, etc.  I finally it quits at 4:00 A.M.

Crap.  I HATE staying up late.  And it's already mid-morning.

I'm not settin' my alarm...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More Waiting...--March 18, 2010

Woke up at 9:15 A.M.

I stayed around my boss's house until just before 11:00 when I went to the airport.  He and another mechanic had literally spent the entire evening at the airport working on the Aztec.  They are trying to get it ready by Saturday.  There is quite a bit of work left to be done, but every waking moment is being dedicated to this airplane!!!

I hung around until lunch, then went out to eat with the guys.  I came back for a short bit, but I wasn't doin' much, so I headed back to the house.  I was only there 20 minutes when the boss called.  He needed me to pick up some parts.  And that's what I did the rest of the afternoon.  Helicoil.  Alodine.  I headed back to the shop only to find out the four of our milled parts weren't cut correctly.  So I headed to the lathe shop to have them fixed.  I was all over for awhile!

I came back, gave 'em the parts, stood around for about 10 minutes and then called it a day.  Again.  The guys are REALLY giving this their all, and it's neat to watch, but again, I wasn't needed.  So there was no sense in me being there.

I went out to a bar/grill for supper and played a few games of pool.  I came back to the house around 8:00 and just sat around.  It kind of stunk!  Not knowing anybody in the area is rough!  Let's hope the next couple of months aren't goin' to be this bad...

Ended up going to bed around midnight.

I'm still crazy excited about flying this thing.  The day gets closer and closer every day, but I'm ready!!!  Let's do this!!!

In other news, I made an ad for my house.  I'm goin' to put a renter in one of my rooms!!!  This ought to be interesting doing from 800 miles away...

We Have a Green Light!!!--March 17, 2010

Woke up at 9:45 A.M.  Again, I'm in no hurry!  But I figured sleeping until 11-somethin' was a bit over-the-top.

I headed into the airport at 11:00...where I wandered aimlessly for about an hour.  My real boss was in town today, and I wanted to eat with her, so I waited around until that happened.  It's always nice to be able to spend time with the's pretty relaxed.  She is seriously pretty great to work for.

After lunch, my fake boss and I drove over to Orlando to pick up some metal for the Aztec.  The FAA guy approved the modifications EARLY this morning...I mean EARLY.  At 1:00 A.M.!!!  But the project moves forward...and quickly.  The approval is seriously HUGE news.  Basically, it means that the aircraft can be ready to go as soon as we fulfill the modifications we requested.  Let the fun begin!

Our goal is to be out of Daytona Beach on the way up to New York by Saturday.  Whether that happens or not is anyone's guess, but that's the goal.  We started fabricating the metal this afternoon and worked into the night.  I left around 8:15 to get some supper, go "home," but I headed back.  The guys used my help for another hour, but I called it quits at 10:30 P.M.  My boss and mechanic are literally planning on spending the next couple of days at the airport working on this thing.  I don't get it.  But there is money to be made, contracts to fulfill.  In my mind, it's kind of crazy, and I was more than happy to come home and actually just sit and relax.  But at the same time, it's kind of fun/funny to watch people work HARD.  And long!

Here's to hoping that the Aztec is ready to go by Saturday.  It's goin' to all happen real quick.  I learned today that I'll be flying up to New York to have the cameras put in...then off to Denver for my first project.  Of course, with anything in this job, I only believe it AFTER it happens.  But it's still fun to think about.

Flying a twin across the country.  SIGN ME UP.  Went to bed at 12:45 A.M.

Waiting--March 16, 2010

Woke up at 11:25 A.M.  I didn't set my alarm, and that felt great!

My boss and I headed out to meet the mechanics for lunch (or breakfast?!).  After that, we headed to the airport.  The Aztec is still in the fabrication phase.  Actually, we are waiting on the approval by the FAA rep who has to OK all of the modifications.  We really can't move ahead on anything until that happens.

I spent the entire day at the airport.  Probably longer than I wanted to.  I played some ping-pong, checked out all of the aircraft being worked on, and just hung out with the guys.  Nothin' too fancy.

Oh, I also learned today that I am not getting paid for any of this!!!  Grr.  I didn't really know that...or at least hadn't planned on that!  Basically, I thought I was coming to fly an airplane here!  I had no idea that it could take several days before it's even ready.  Oh well...

It's REALLY hard to complain when I know that this is a special opportunity.  I mean, I'm going to be flying a twin-engine aircraft!  If I have to take a little break in order for that to happen, I'm really not out anything.  It will all be worth it in the end.

Came home around 8 o'clock.  Grabbed a sub on the way home and ended up talking to Trisha for an hour and a half before bedtime.  Watched some TV with my boss before bed...we try to Republicanize ourselves enough before we drift off to sleep.  So we enjoyed watching the uber-conservatives bash our President about this whole healthcare reform.

It will be interesting to see where this all ends up.

Went to bed at 12:30 A.M.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Movin' On--March 15, 2010

Woke up at 7:30 A.M.  We had what appeared to be a good day to fly.  I had an airline flight scheduled for this afternoon, but I had planned on going up with the new-hire so that he is comfortable actually flying our lines.

So we headed out to the airport to get on station by our 9:30 starting time.  Well, it was another day of good intentions.  We could already see the low clouds forming much for the forecasted 4500 feet scattered.  We took off behind the other guys, and we had clouds everywhere.  I mean, everywhere.  They started right around 1800 feet MSL.  The weather guys were off surprise there.

Well, we continued to fly south towards our flight plans, but I just knew it wasn't going to happen.  There were clouds as far as we could see.  One of the guys had left quite a bit earlier than us, and he radioed to let us know that there were in fact clouds in the flight plans.  All right!  Time to head back.

Actually, I opted to stay out a bit longer with the new-hire.  I put him through the ropes in the Cessna.  Because he was coming from a King Air AND because it was required for a check-out, I took advantage of the free time we now had.  Of course, we danced around the clouds a bit (and we both professed our love for aviation), but after that was done, I put him to work.

I asked him to do a power-on stall.  He did pretty well.  Then I asked for a power-off stall.  He wasn't as comfortable.  So I asked for it again.  He took it to the first sign of the stall warning horn, then put it back down.  Nope, I said.  Again.  This time we almost got to the break, but he recovered too soon.  Again!  I showed him how to take it TO THE BREAK.  Nothing to be afraid of here.  Just keep that ball centered, and let the plane stall!  He was still a bit hesitant, so I helped him pull back on the yoke!  C'mon now!  Again, again.  He admittedly hated doing stalls, but I wanted him to be ever confident in this airplane.  You HAVE to be proficient all around.  With flaps on, we actually got down to below 40 knots on the airspeed looked more like 20 from where I was at!!!  But time and time again, the airplane behaved just as it should.  It broke, we put the nose down, and it flew.  Amazing.

After we went back and landed (which we had a VERY hard time finding the airport after dropping below the clouds without a GPS!), I headed for the hotel to pack.  And that's what I did for the next couple of hours.  I did some laundry, organized everything I had, and prepared to leave!  My suitcase was too heavy, though.  I just knew it.  I did my best to leave stuff behind (food), but it still felt heavy.

Steve took me to the airport, and I went up to the counter to get my ticket.  My bag was 55.5 pounds.  Crap.  I tried shifting items to my crazy full carry-on, but I just didn't have the room.  I weighed it again.  51.5 pounds.  Not goin' to happen.  So I went and mailed home a blanket, two hoodies, and a book.  $14.50 to ship them.  GRR!!!  I wish I had left some stuff behind when I was home last week!  It would have sure saved me some money!

I went back up and paid the $25 bag fee.  GRR!!!  Oh airports.  Then I went and waited in the VERY long security line.  After about 15 minutes, I shed everything I had on me into three containers.  I hate this crap.  But I passed with flying colors.  I then went and waited the short bit for my flight.

I had a decent flight to Charlotte, North Carolina.  I had planned on reading the Aztec POH again, but I ended up talking to the guy next to me the entire trip.  He was Muslim, and we talked about our faiths, racism, and everything in between.  It was seriously non-stop from about 10 minutes into the flight until we landed.  It was enjoyable.  He said we should all strive for peace...I said it's virtually impossible with tolerance in our nation.  Basically, if you are tolerant of everyone, then you have to agree that you are "tolerant" of someone having the exact opposing belief of you.  He concurred.  Well, by default, these disagreements are going to butt heads, and tolerance will lead to intolerance of the other person's beliefs (whether abortion, healthcare, racism, murder, homosexuality, religionn, etc.).  He then asked me if I believed that his religion would lead to heaven.  I flat out told him no.  Not in any negative condescending way.  But in the I have to go by what the Bible says way.  It was just a very real and enjoyable conversation.  Oh, I should also mention that he is getting his Ph.D. in Philosophy.  I was all over that one.

I landed and had a quick turn-around for my next flight.  I was in the very back row next to the engines, in front of the lav, and in seats that didn't recline.  ha!  Oh, airlines.  Oh, and the guy next to me spilled his drink on me jeans.  He felt TERRIBLE.  He apologized an unbelievable amount of times.  Sometimes with 20-minute increments in between!  ha!  No worries, man.  No worries.

Well, I landed in Melbourne, Florida, where I waited about 40 minutes for my ride.  It's a nice lil' airport...probably wasted tax dollars, but it was sure nice.  They were so on top of their stuff that our bags were already PULLED OFF off the belt by the time we walked to the baggage claim.  The guys had unloaded them from the carousel for us!  I guess it helps when you only have one flight coming in.

I hopped in the van, and my boss and I headed for Daytona Beach.  We ended up getting in a little after midnight.  I was in bed at 1:30 A.M.  yikes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Almost There!--March 14, 2010


Woke up in a befuddled state sometime this morning.  Went back to bed.  I was so tired.  Ended up waking up at 9:48 A.M.  Just in time to go get some breakfast.  But I was still way tired.  Not sure what happened there.  I later figured out that I had lost an hour of sleep due to the clocks springing forward.  Yup, had NO idea about that when I went to bed.  So much for knowin' when you don't watch TV or anything!  ha!

We took the day pretty slow.  We had rain and low clouds again, so we were really in no rush.  Well, until about 1:30 in the afternoon when I got a phone call.  My boss wanted me out of here TONIGHT!!!  yikes!  I hadn't even flown with the new guy yet!

I quickly rounded him up and headed for the airport.  I received a phone call that said that I would now be flying out tomorrow instead of today (it was way too expensive today), but I still wanted to get this training out of the way.  We basically had what we had a couple of weeks ago...a pilot coming in from a larger airplane and going back into the 172.  The first guy was coming out of 250 hours in a regional jet.  This guy was coming off of 350 hours in a King Air 200.  So I knew that we would have some issues...nothin' bad.  But that's just how it goes.

I helped pre-flight, then hopped in and helped him figured out the "ancient" radioes.  He actually has a pretty good stack, but he didn't care for it!  ha!  My goal was to do some take-offs and landings...then do some IFR work.  So we headed out to 26L and got closed traffic for 26R.  He was pretty good on the flying part, although I was a little leery climbing out at 65 knots.  The Cessna will certainly do it, but I sure wanted that nose down.  I told him there was just no reason to climb out so aggressively on a long runway!  We weren't configured as we crossed the numbers, but again, it wasn't too bad.  He was just a bit behind the airplane.  He wanted to dump flaps a bit too early, but he never did.  His hand went down to do it, but he saw he was outside of the white arc.  It was kind of funny/interesting to watch him have to "hand fly" an airplane again.  He's admittedly just so used to automation.

We came in for our first landing, and it wasn't too bad.  We had a nice 12-knot cross-wind out of the north, and he didn't put too much control in, but I was more than happy to show him that he needs to get it over, especially after we landed.  We did a touch-and-go and did it all again.  The second one was better, the third one fine.  He's still a bit behind the airplane with everything going on (missed a couple of radio calls and didn't take the north winds into consideration on his base to final), but I was also being a stickler.  He IS learning how to fly a 172 all over again!!!

After our third landing, we headed out and did the full ILS to 26L with the procedure turn.  Again, it was pretty interesting to watch him "hand-fly."  He's just not used to it!!!  And again, he was a bit behind with much of the approach, but after we talked about it, it made sense.  We went down and landed to a full-stop and discussed the whole thing.  I could tell he wasn't too confident, so I said, "Let's do it again."

We took off again and did the ILS approach again.  We actually were sent south-bound at 1300 feet (right below the clouds), and I had to frantically search for the VFR chart to check for towers.  Agh!  That all happened real quick.  NOT cool!  But we were fine.  We actually went ahead and requested a local IFR and climbed up into the soup at 2100 feet.  We weren't in much, but the runway disappeared, so that was good.

He flew the ILS approach sooooooo much better this time.  It was night and day to his first one.  You could tell he felt better about it, too, so that was good.

We landed and called it a day.  We had flown 1.6 hours.  I'm not too worried about him actually flying the's just getting the day-in day-out comfort of mastering the 172.

We all went out to eat tonight at Applebee's.  And I also learned tonight that I will in fact be heading for Florida tomorrow to begin training.  My flight leaves at 4:30 from here in St. Louis.  I ran around most of the night taking phone calls, getting paperwork collected and printed off, and getting everything ready for the transition tomorrow.

If all goes well, I'll fly with the new guy tomorrow morning, then come back and quickly pack, and then head for the airport where I'll be on my way to Florida.  I knew this day would be coming, but it's hard to believe it's here!!!  I am "movin' on up!"  I'm pretty excited.

The logistics are kind of crazy, though.  I'm crazy tired, and I'm eager to sleep.  I know tomorrow is just goin' to fly by...and yet be long all at the same time.  So much to do tomorrow morning.  Clean out my airplane, pack, get papers signed, fly/train, come back, leave.  Agh!

Went to bed very tired at 12:35 A.M.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Beginning of Transition--March 13, 2010

Woke up sometime way early in the a fire alarm.  The hotel's alarms blared for several minutes until the fire department arrived.  I wasn't much too happy about that.  I just lay there in bed not moving...thinking that if it were an actual fire, then I could just break out of the window if necessary.  I was in NO hurry to do anything.  I literally just lay there the entire time.  Never moved.

Stupid fire alarms.  They ended up going off again sometime later.  Grrr.

I later found out that the first one was around 6:00 A.M.  So dumb.

I woke up at 9:30 after I went back to bed.  We already knew the clouds were crazy low, and we had rain forecast for today, too.  Sure enough, the clouds were only at 1000 feet...and overcast.  We might not even be able to do a scouting flight!

I did a lot of reading all day.  I'm enthralled with this Howard Hughes biography.  What a crazy, crazy man.  And what a crazy, crazy life.  Wow.  I walked down to that bar/grill from yesterday for lunch.  In the rain again.  I watched the Illini get beat by Ohio State in double-overtime.  Stupid team.  I walked back in the rain.  I was kind of mad, too, that no one offered a ride.  Stinkin' independent, fearful Americans.  Unbelievable.  So much for payin' it forward.

When I got back to the hotel, the guys were in the lobby getting ready to go to the airport.  Was I going to be called?!?!  I wondered.  Anyway, I grabbed my stuff and went with them.  And I called Trisha, too.  I had already talked to her this morning, and we pretty much said that we would not be seeing each other.  But I just HAD to let her know that I was going flying...we had originally planned on going today!

And much to my surprise, she dropped everything and came out to fly with me!!!  I was so excited.  Because the clouds were so low, we had to get a special VFR clearance.  I just stayed in the pattern, but it was still fun with her.  She is so cute!  I think I only scared her just a little bit.  ha!  Seriously, though, I was sure happy to have had the opportunity to take her up.  We were both really bummed when we thought it wasn't going to happen.

So I said ANOTHER good-bye to her.  Sad day.  But really it WAS a happy day because I got to see her again.  AND fly with her!!!

I should also mention a very interesting story, too.  We four pilots went to the airport to do our pattern flights today.  Well, we all four walked out to our planes.  However, I came back in to wait for Trisha.  I hopped on the computer to print something off.  Well, while there, I overheard the line guys talking in the food room.  They were completely bashing us.

[mockingly] "Listen to that, a SPECIAL VFR clearance.  I can't believe they asked for that.  9 hours just isn't enough for these guys.  They HAVE to go out for 1 more."

I gave them the benefit of the doubt.  Whatever.  Several line guys hate us.  I know...Matt (a former line guy) has told me!

Two of our planes took off.  "Look at those bastards go."

I broke.  I got up from my computer, walked directly into their room where they were eating and let 'em have it.

"I'm sorry you are receiving your business.  I'm sorry you have to fill up our planes.  I'm sorry you have to pull us out, put us away.  I know that is your job and that we are giving you business, but I can see that you really don't like that."

I paused.

"Who are you"?

"You would REALLY like to know that, wouldn't you"?

"Are you one of those pilots"?

"Yes, I am.  And the fact that you call us 'bastards'?  Completely unbelievable.  I will NOT stand for that."

The three guys vehemently denied everything.  I wouldn't let them talk that crap.  I sat there and repeated WORD FOR WORD the comments that they had just made.  EVEN THEN, they didn't have the balls to take the responsibility.  So I called them out on just that:  their manhood.  "Listen, man to man, just own up to what you said.  We all know the conversation that just took place.  You can deny it if you want, but we all know what you just said.  These words that I just repeated are from ONE of your mouths.  Be a man and own up to it."  They just sat there knowing they had been caught.

Finally one of the men spoke up.  "Well, if I spoke those words that you say I said, then I am sorry."

I wouldn't let him get off so easily.  "No, no, no.  Just because I say something does not mean that it happened.  You either agree that you said them or you disagree.  Which is it?  Do not agree with me just to agree.  You don't apologize for something you didn't do."

And then he did all he could muster.  "I'm sorry," he said.  That was the best he could do.  The oldest of the men still denied everything.  The young boy rarely spoke...but he said he didn't recognize the words, either.  I was simply appalled at their lack of integrity.  It was really a poor showing.  They had been caught, and they were all trying to guard each others' backs.  Schmucks.

So I asked for their boss.  The guy that apologized said he was the supervisor.  Great, I said.  Who's YOUR supervisor?  I don't think he wanted to give out the name, but he did.  He knew that his job could be at stake.  The fact of the matter is I don't want to take ANYONE'S job.  Not at all.  But in the same breath, I am not going to sit back and be called a bastard, either.

As I was leaving, they offered me the wings they were eating.  A peace treaty?  Who knows.

Agh.  Out of the whole story, though, the thing that gets me the most is the lack of integrity.  Yeah, so I was called a bastard.  I'm sure it's not the first time.  But I just sat there and watched three men WILLINGLY lie to me and to each other in order to save face.  What a crock.  It really saddened me.  How easy it was to trade in integrity for convenience.  To trade in truth for safety.  That's the part that really, really ticked me off.  Actually, it just saddened me.  There is NOTHING manly about not owning up to your actions.  I had no respect for any of them.

End of story.

We guys went up and picked up the new hire from St. Louis International.  He's a pretty crazy guy.  Very loud and friendly!  He's certainly guy friendly, too.  Very guy friendly...a self-proclaimed homosexual.  We'll see how this all turns out.  I got a text message from Trisha while I was at the airport, too.  She had come by the hotel to see me!!!  I was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo stinkin' frustrated.  I wasn't even supposed to be on this trip anyway...but it just happened that they let me tag along.  They were supposed to drop me off at the bar/grill.  So when she told me she was at the hotel, my heart sank.  I was devastated!  She had come by just to surprise me.

Man, that really sucks.  It really does.


We guys all went out to eat with the new-hire.  He seems friendly enough...definitely a character.  The boss called and said it looks like I'll be doing some pattern work with him tomorrow (due to the low clouds) and then some more work on Monday.  But as of tonight, they are wanting me out of here on Monday.  MONDAY!!!  That is so close!!!

I'm so excited!  My career is changing pretty quickly!

I went to bed at 1:00 A.M.  Way too late.  The clouds are forecast to be 700 feet overcast tomorrow morning.  No flying there...

Sharin' the Passion--March 12, 2010

Woke up at 7:20 A.M.  The clouds were low again...which meant no revenue flying.

We did end up heading to the airport at 11:00, though, and today I had a tag-along.  The guy in charge of food at the hotel has been asking us for days to take him up!  We had told him that first day that he could go with us sometime, and he made sure we were men of our word!!!  He had taken lessons way back in 1992 an continued up through 2002 (I looked in his logbook), but life had happened, and he just never finished his rating.

Well, I was more than happy to share the experience.  He was going to tag along with me on our scouting flight.  Because the clouds were so low, the flight was pretty short, but I flew with him up to St. Charles again.  I let him have the controls most of the time.  He did a fine job, but he was obviously frustrated at how he wasn't "ahead of the airplane" anymore.  But eight years is a LONG time!!!  We landed up there, had lunch together, and then flew back.

We had to stay clear of the clouds, and on the way back, they were hovering right around 2000 feet.  I made sure he at least enjoyed this second flight (he was admittedly frustrated during lunch), so we swung wide over the river on our way back in.  He was commenting on all of the scenery and all, so I think that helped.

We landed back again at Spirit of St. Louis.  I had logged just 1.2 hours.

The afternoon was pretty slow.  I ended up walking to a bar/grill down the road for supper by myself.  It was raining, but I needed to get out of the hotel.  But the crowd was pretty much 40-60 year-olds...and everyone had someone hanging on their arms.  The waitress was kind enough to talk to me, though, and ask me what I was doing in town.

I walked back in the rain.

Trisha ended up coming over to the hotel to say hi.  I told her that I didn't think we would be able to fly tomorrow.  So we pretty much said our good-byes to each other.  That sucked.  She opened up a bit to me, though, and took me by a special place in her life the past three years.  I just love her honesty.  It's so attractive.

I ended up going to bed around midnight.

Kind of a simple but worthless day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The $100 Hamburger--March 11, 2010

Woke up at 7:29 A.M.  My roommate told me we had clouds in our flight plans, so we both headed back to bed.  I was pretty happy about that.  I was eager for more sleep!  I slept until 8:45.  Grabbed some breakfast, then took the day slow.  We had clouds poppin' up all over outside.

I took care of a washer/dryer saga back home.  I think it's finally over with.  Glad to put that one behind me.

Around noon, we all headed over to the airport to do our scouting flight.  We had already picked out an airport to go to that had a restaurant on the field.  It was only 15 miles away.  The winds were pretty brisk today, around 15 gusting to 20.  But I was pleased to find out that the ride was fairly smooth at altitude.  I only climbed to 2500 feet, though, to stay below the Class B shelf.

I was the first to take off, and so naturally I would be the first to land at the new airport...on a 2200-foot runway that we were all salivating over.  Well, I flew the left downwind, then made a pretty short base/final turn (it was all in one!).  I lined up with Runway 27, but I was high.  I dove for the runway, but I was now fast.  I floated and floated and floated and ate up half the runway.  Crap.  I knew what I had to do.  I knew the guys were watching me, too, from the downwind!!!

"Oh, Andy."  I heard it on the radio, no lie!!!

Well, I pushed in full throttle and did the go-around.  I simply would not stop in time by the time I got down on the pavement.  That runway was getting real short real quick!  It was a bit embarassing...frankly I wasn't that embarassed, but, of course, all of the other guys knew I had messed up.  But as I was climbing out, I was kind of proud of myself.  Sure enough, I HAD failed the approach.  I was too high, too fast, and I put myself in a bad position for landing on a short runway.  But I recognized that, and I didn't let anything get to my head.  I initiated the go-around no problems.  Of course, I was nearly on the pavement by the time I did it as I was trying to get down to save face, but I still did it, nonetheless.

I came back around and landed no problems at all.  I still had 1500 feet of runway remaining!

We ate at the little was nice enough.  Simple.  It was called "Fly Girls" and had the nose-art girls all around the inside of the diner.  I'm not goin' to lie, I really like those!!!  Some of them are just downright attractive!!!  ha!

After a long lunch, we walked over to the hangars where we had seen some old warbirds.  It turns out it was a museum of the Commemorative Air Force.  It was pretty sweet.  An old man took us on a tour (a $2 one!) and proudly showed off the planes and memorabilia.  It was pretty neat.  The highlights were a B-25 bomber and a HUGE TBM bomber.  I'm just madly impressed with the size of fighter airplanes.  It boggles my mind.  We gawked for over an hour.

We flew back, and the rest of the day was pretty uneventful.  I ate the free food, talked with the cute desk chick again, and read more of Hughes' biography before I went to bed.  The forecast for tomorrow is rain.  We're all lookin' forward to a day off.  Well, it will probably be another day like today.

And I'm not goin' to lie, today was pretty sweet.  I flew an airplane to go out to eat.  Who does that?!

Went to bed at a healthy 11:30 P.M.

More Bumps--March 10, 2010

Woke up at 7:00.  The skies were CLEAR!!!  You have got to be kidding me!!!  I packed up real quick, then headed south.  I had two hours to get behind me!!!

I ended up getting into town at 9:15 A.M.  About an hour too late.  I quickly returned the car to Enterprise, then got a ride to the airport.  Thankfully the guys were just pulling up that time!!!  They had noticed the low "scud" clouds that morning, too....they had been burned off for awhile, but it's just hard knowin' sometimes.  I was so worried about being late, but it all worked out.  Phew!

So I hopped in the airplane and headed south.  The closest flight plan was 85 miles away.  Yikes.

And spring is officially here.

Ok, so it's not for a couple more weeks, but it might as well be.  Flying is just CRAZY.  It was so bumpy already.  I climbed to 2500 feet, but that was painful.  So I climbed to 3000 feet where we'd be flying.  Still very turbulent.  So I opted for 4500 feet.  I flew the 85 miles only to find out that I had clouds in my flight plans.  Everywhere.  <sigh>

We all landed for lunch at Farmington, Missouri.  We went downtown where we had a lovely meal of a rib-eye steak sandwich, sweet potato fries, and marshmallow dip!  It was fantastic!

I flew the very bumpy flight back up to St. Louis.  I hate this type of flying.  Updrafts, downdrafts.  Wicked kicks of the wings.  Just very unfun.  But it's going to be like this from here on out.  The earth is warming up very quickly anymore.  Spring is almost here.  Crap.

I was so tired this afternoon, so I took a two-hour nap.

We stayed inside for the free meal at the hotel again.  And I struck up a conversation with the front desk girl.  She's so cute!  I talked to her for a couple of hours...and then invited her for a walk after work!  She said no.  So I went for a walk instead.  A storm was moving in from the west, and I wanted to watch some lightning.  It was still too far off.  But it was perfect!  Probably low 60's.  So I called her and invited her again.  After a bit of convincing, she agreed.

Woo hoo!!!

We just went for a half hour.  She invited herself to go flying, and, of course, I said yes!  I'm excited about that.  Agh, I really enjoy talking to her!  So easy to do!  She jokes back with me!!!  I love it!

I had her back at 11:30.  And I ended up going to bed at 12:25 A.M.  Way too late.

The weather is lookin' good for tomorrow.  Scattered 4000.  I can't believe it.  The rain is goin' on right now.  Thunderstorms even.  But the storms are movin' in at night...leaving the days open for us to fly.  Not cool!!!  I'm goin' to bed with the sound of rain in the background...and I'm sure it will be all gone by tomorrow...

Here we go again.

Home!!!--March 9, 2010

Woke up at 7:20 A.M.  I was really hoping for some weather today, and sure enough, we had it.  The clouds were at 2800 feet at breakfast.  I ate, then went over to the airport.  I was going to do a quick scouting flight, then head up north!!!  I was going HOME!!!  I hopped into my airplane and checked the weather.  ha!  The clouds were now at 900 feet overcast.  So much for that idea!  I couldn't even get up to a normal pattern altitude.  I hopped right back out.  No flying today.

I grabbed a rental car and shot up north.  But not before a quick stop along the way!  I was searching for an oven today on craigslist, and I ended up finding a mannequin instead!  She looked beautiful.  So I made a short 35-minute detour out of my way to pick up Monique.  She rode with me the rest of the way.

I arrived at my NEW HOUSE to meet Mom and Dad at 1:00!!!  Finally!  I was eager to see it.  Frankly, I love it.  I could definitely live there, no problem.  I checked out all of the paint that Mom and my aunt had done, and it all looks good.  I checked out the fridge I bought as well as the washer and dryer.  The washer/dryer set was a bit frustrating as it was advertised as 1 1/2 years old.  It turns out they were 8 and 15 years old respectively.  It made me hate people even more.  I simply lose my trust in humanity more and more every year.  And I hate that.

Mom and I spent the entire day at my house...we went shopping for curtains and mini-blinds.  She kept me busy!  I was so tired!  But it was fun's becoming a home!  I brought Monique in where she enjoyed a chair...and where she scared the socks off my mom when we came in from shopping.  She about flipped!  Pretty fun.

I worked on the sliding glass door which was catching.  I checked out the backyard.  I raked up leaves from the front yard.  A house is work!  But I was sure enjoying doing it.  I really was.  I just wish I had a week with this place!  But it's ready to have a room rented out, so that is good.

Mom cooked supper for all of us this evening.  Crazy and my sis and Casey came over.  She is so big!  Only two months seriously looks like a basketball in her tummy!  Crazy stuff.

I invited Chelsea, Jennifer, and Schneider over to my HOUSE during the evening, and we spent a few hours just catching up.  I LOVED it.  I miss good friends.  And I'm pretty close with all three.  So that was great.  I finally had to kick them out at 12:45!!!  I had to sleep!

The weather for tomorrow is forecast to be 2500 scattered at 10:00, then scattered 10,000 at 3:00.  I'm planning on driving back tomorrow mid-morning.

Went to bed VERY tired at 1:00 A.M.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Movin' On!!!--March 8, 2010


Woke up at 7:20.  We had clouds, but they were all high!  Grabbed some breakfast, took a quick shower, and then we were off for Day Who Knows of flying in a row!  Unbelievable!

The winds were calm on departure, and I never really could figure out where they were coming from at altitude.  My speeds ranged from 104 to 92...but they somewhere out of the south.  But it was a smooth ride for most of the morning...up until 11:00 o'clock.  But we were able to finish this half of the project!!!  The bumps were gettin' kinda crazy towards the end, but we knocked it out!  I was so excited.

We flew back to Branson, called the hotel to see if we could check out, ate, packed, and left!  We were out of the hotel at 2:30 and back at the airport around 3:00.  We were relocating over to St. Louis for the other half of the project...and I couldn't be happier!  If all goes well, I'm goin' to try to swing up to see friends, family, and my house!!!  It's only a couple-hour drive from where we're goin'.

I creeped up to 5500 feet in the ol' Cessna, and we had a relatively uneventful flight over to St. Louis.  It was certainly not smooth, and I had to keep on adjusting the yoke to maintain course and altitude, but all in all, it really wasn't that bad.  After 1.8 hours of flying, I was there.  I flew 6.4 hours total with the revenue flight from this morning.  Pretty nice.

We grabbed a hotel and were thrilled to find out they are serving free food and drinks from 5-7 most nights!  Perfect!  We're only payin' $50 anyway, so this just makes it even better!  I don't even need supper!  Matt and Ivo were still here.  They are finished with their project but couldn't move on to Wichita because of the storms.  So we had six of us together again!  And we had a VERY lively and hilarious hour-and-a-half of conversation and laughter there in the hotel lobby.  We were dying.  So much fun.

The weather is lookin' absolutely crazy for the next few days.  We were kind of in a hurry to get out due to rain and thunderstorms, and sure enough, Branson is under quite a bit of rain right now.  We should be getting that storm tonight and tomorrow...and it looks like the next few days is going to be wet!!!

So as of right now, I'm goin' to grab a car and hop up to home!  Can't wait!

Went to bed at 11:30.

Forecast is for overcast clouds at 1500 with light rain.  I don't see that changing too much...the entire Midwest looks like it's goin' to be soaked.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Paint Shaker--March 7, 2010


Woke up at 7:20.  Breakfast, shower, airport.

The winds were calm on departure.  Oh, how the earth can toy.  I flew the 75 miles out to the flight plan and was on station at 9:15 this of the earliest times...but still a whole 35 minutes too late.  I was doing north-south lines on this project, but I couldn't even do one line.  I had too much of a crab angle...the winds were kickin' out of the west!  So I had to move to another.

Going east-bound, I was doing 127-133 knots.  Coming back west-bound, I was pegged on 66-67 knots.  Wow.  Those ARE some crazy winds.  And they unleashed their fury EARLY today.  Ok, so picture this.  You have a pond.  No water movement, no current, no nothing.  You put a canoe in it, and it just sits there.  Well, air and water have the same qualities.  I LOVE pond days.  Now picture this...a stream with a smooth bottom.  The water moves, and the canoe either goes fast (with the stream) or slow (against the stream).  He may even go sideways (like today) if he tries to float across the river, rather than with it.  Now picture THIS:  a river with large rocks underneath the shallow surface.  Translation:  white-water rafting.  Well, that is EXACTLY what we had today.  The winds were kickin' at 35 knots...and they had these Ozark Hills to bounce over.  And here I was in my little dinghy trying to ford the dang thing.  It was nothing short of MISERABLE at 10:30.  I mean, seriously, I don't even get how turbulence can be this bad.  It simply treats your airplane like a rag doll.  It asks no questions, and it shows no mercy.  Agh, and it was so early today!!!

For safety's sake, for our sake, and for the picture's sake, we called it.  I climbed up to 6500 feet and begged for mercy.  It was decent above 5000.  I swear, though, on climb-out, I actually saw (and took a picture) of a lenticular cloud, though.  These winds were seriously wreaking havoc on the earth...they didn't even need a mountain to make such a thing!  But the flight back was fine...I was just above the clouds.

I was told to expect Runway 32, and I had winds from 240 at 11 gusting to 17.  Needless to say, I waited as long as I could before I descended.  But sure enough, the downwind and base legs were pretty brutal.  Those hills around the airport just provide too much ramp action for these winds.  Yuck.  I had a fun (though admittedly long) cross-wind was pretty uneventful outside of me just floating forever.  It was one of those days, though, where you're just glad to be back on the ground.

All in all, I flew 3.5 hours today.

We went out for lunch, then came back to the hotel.  I went for a walk this afternoon (it was 67 degrees!), studied a little bit in the Aztec POH (which literally put me to sleep), and then went out for a sub this evening.  It was a pretty mild day.  But it was nice.  An enjoyable Sunday afternoon.  We even had our door open all day!  I loved it.

I rented and watched a movie tonight.

The rain has been taken out of the forecast for tomorrow (no surprise there).  So it looks like we'll be flying AGAIN.  We're only a day away from finishing.  If we could just get three solid hours in the sky, we'd be golden!  It's off to St. Louis after this.  I'm so ready!

I also got a phone call that says I'll be transitioning to the Aztec sometime after the 13th.  Basically, the new guy comes in, I'll train him, and then I'm shipped off to the twin.  I'm excited.  I'm trying to eat, drink, breathe this new airplane.  And it's so close!

Went to bed at 11:00 P.M.

I think tomorrow will be the 13th day in a row of flying for the crew.  Unheard of in the Midwest in the almost-spring.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It Continues--March 6, 2010

Enter the "Groundhog Days" of work again.

So routine!

Woke up at 7:20.  Breakfast, shower, airport.  Got to my station at 9:20 A.M.  I flew lines for the next three hours.  We were forecast to have a high temperature of 63 degrees today, and the earth was just a'burstin' with excitement.  She threw up her thermals around 11 o'clock, and I pretty much hated my life ever since.

It was some painful stuff.  VERY abrupt.  I fought downdrafts more than updrafts, but we had everything.  It just boggles my mind how nasty it can get.  I flew until 12:20 and then begged for land!  We all four flew up to Jones-Lebanon again for lunch.  This is probably the last time, though, as we're all movin' further and further away from the airport.  But I did get to have a hamburger, baked beans, and fried potatoes!  And another beautiful slice of cherry pie.  This airport is amazing!!!

I barely climbed to 6500 feet on the way back.  Seriously, this engine is a pig.  Goin' from the 180-horsepower to whatever I have in this is crazy!  It was nothing short of painful.  But I finally made it.

I ended up logging another 5.1 hours of flying today.

Since the weather was so nice, I went for a run (that lasted about 5 minutes before I was dying), but I managed to walk and run for about 20-25 minutes.  PAINFUL.  Then I went swimming and then we went out to eat.  We talked about our jobs, our futures, racism, you name it.  It's a pretty crazy place to be.  Coming to the end of the season and talking about next year.  I never thought I was ever going to have to have a job like this, and here I am going on Year 3 next year.

But it's way too far down the road to even think about.  Just focus on the day-to-day operations.

I stayed inside again tonight.  Which was fine by me.

Oh, and Mom and Dad cleaned up my house some today.  An outdoor light is installed, the leaves are raked up, the branches are trimmed, and the carpets are cleaned.  After tomorrow, I should be able to put a roommate in there.  Crazy.  I also bought a patio table for outside!  I need to stop spending money pronto!

Went to bed very exhausted at 11:00 P.M.  The forecast has clouds at 3500 feet...still high enough for us to work.

Day 12 of flying in a row tomorrow.  I never thought I'd see it in the Midwest.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Back in the (Older) Saddle--March 5, 2010

Woke up at 7:20 A.M.  Routine morning.  Headed for the airport.

This was my first day in the "new" airplane.  50V.  Ok, so she's not new at all.  Just new for me.  I had done a training flight a few days ago in this, but I sat right seat the entire time.  Now she was all mine.  50V is a 1974 Cessna 172M.  Our fleet has nicknamed her "The Cadillac" due to her paint job and plush maroon interior.  But that's about where it ends.  She's just a plain' ol 172 on the inside.  Nothin' too fancy (although she DOES have an auto-pilot!).

Frankly, I'm kind of old school when it comes to flying.  A plane is a plane.  Yes, 151 is MUCH nicer.  Pretty much in everything.  But both airplanes still fly.  So I hopped in and headed for the skies.  We had a broken layer of clouds at 8000 feet, but they burned off by 11:00.

I flew the first few hours and didn't really have any problems.  I had my first "burble" around 10:30, and the consistent bumps starting coming around 11:00.  By noon, it was pretty much getting ridiculous, but I managed to finish three flight plans.  I headed in to Lebanon-Jones with the other four guys, and we had lunch there.  Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, pickled okra, salad, and another dose of cherry pie.  This is just simply amazing!  The guy says they've been doin' this daily lunch for 11 years now.  WOW.  We personally LOVE it.  You just don't get this anywhere else.

I headed back up around 1:00, and it was pretty much painful.  The turbulence was just downright uncomfortable now.  It wasn't too awful bad on the straight-and-level flying (though it was NOT smooth), but when you make those turns, it's just dumb.  You are in a 25-degree banked turn, and all of a sudden, your airplane is thrown upwards and possibly sideways at the same time.  Your body may press up against the side of the door, your tail may swing out sideways, and your wing may flip over 20 more degrees.  It's just plain ol' stupid.  I lasted about 30 minutes...only three lines.  Then we called it.  Phew.

I don't get it.  It's really not that hot, but wow.  These updrafts and downdrafts are just prolific around here!  And to think it's only the first part of March!  Yuck.  It only gets worse the rest of the season.

I climbed up to 6000 feet on the way back but got caught in some clouds, so I quickly descended down to 5000-ish.  I landed back at Branson.  It really wasn't a bad day...I flew 5.7 hours.  Matt and Ivo made it over to St. Louis, so now we're down to four people here.

Went out to Cracker Barrel for supper, then stayed inside the hotel for the evening.

Skies are looking good tomorrow...we should fly until noon again, then hate our lives.

Went to bed at 10:45 P.M.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hangin' Around--March 4, 2010

Woke up at 7:45 strictly to take the guys to the airport.  I cleaned out my bird and handed over the keys.  Bittersweet.  I'll miss having one BEAUTIFUL airplane, but I also know that twin time is coming.  She was a good girl, though.  I have nearly 350 hours in her this season.

I came back to the hotel and went to sleep again.  I ended up napping for just over an hour.  But man, I needed it.  Going to bed at 1:30 and waking up at 7:00 (unintentionally) and then 7:45 just didn't do it for me.

The new pilot of my airplane called me before I napped, though, and asked what RPM the engine shows on take-off.  I literally asked, "You look at that"?!  Obviously I don't.  I said I just listen for the engine and check the oil pressure.  I literally couldn't tell him how many RPM's are shown on the gauge.  Frankly, I didn't care.

Well, he wasn't confident, so he had a mechanic come out and check it out.  Interesting.  It's not that that is wrong or's just interesting to me how pilots fly different ways.  We had a talk about how I listen for the sound of the engine.  He didn't really agree that that could be done (or was the best way).  I don't know!  It's worked for me so far!  I think it just goes with knowing your airplane.  Like I said, I have 350 hours in her...he doesn't.  It's understandable from both sides.  Frankly, I would have been confident to have flown it.  But to each his own.

I ended up using today to be productive, too!  I bought a washer and dryer this morning for my house (another $250) and then spent the afternoon working on a checklist for the Aztec.  I just want to have one when I fly...and frankly I think I should have one!  It's been nice, though, to make this as it helps me go through "flying" the airplane without being around it.  Typing out the procedures has sure helped.

Picked the guys up in the late afternoon.  They flew 5-6.5 hours today.  I logged zero.  While there at the airport, though, the new camera came in so I installed that.  I SHOULD be "good to go" for tomorrow.

Went out to eat at a Greek restaurant, then spent the night in.

Ended up going to bed at 10:45.

Oh, and we're all here again.  Matt and Ivo were supposed to leave for St. Louis, but because of the RPM question, they both stayed around.  They should be out of here tomorrow, though.  Hopefully we follow suit soon after.  I'm ready to leave this place.  Too many slow drivers...and it's already been over a week!  Past my limit!