Friday, April 30, 2010

The 100-Hour Continues--April 29, 2010

Woke up at 8:14 A.M. to my alarm.  Sort of.  I woke up but not so much WOKE up.  I looked at my phone, and I noticed a message from my mom.  She said my sister was heading to the hospital...that today might be the day!  How about that.  I dozed off again.  I was in and out until 8:45 when I got up.  I wasn't sure if I really read that message that I thought I read, but sure enough, it was still there.  Sent at 7:15 Central time.  I might be an uncle by the end of the day!

I grabbed some breakfast, showered, then headed over to the airport.  I was runnin' late, and I knew I had my DATE (we're callin' it a shindig) comin' up, so I wanted to ast least make an appearance before I left!  But I had a lot to do first...I had to get all of my reeipts from the last month in order...and that was a bear.  The desk ladies were havin' a bit of a problem with that...but I had fun with them.  FINALLY, I got everything squared away (just as a side note, I spent around $4500 in just 23 days of being here at THIS airport...this doesn't include the flights up to Wyoming or over to Nebrasksa).  I don't think I could fly if I didn't get paid for it.  While at the desk, Kristina called right at 10:00 like she said she would, and she was on her way!  ha!  I hurried out to the hangar, told Danny I would be MIA for a few hours, then hurried back to the FBO!

She pulled up, and I hopped inside!  She is so gorgeous.  I had her swing me over to the hotel real quick to pick up the rest of my receipts (I felt terrible for doin' that, but I was runnin' so far behind).  FINALLY, I said I was nothing but hers!  We went downtown to the big REI store, and we just walked and talked.  I loved it.  We sat in front of the fireplace for quite awhile and talked some more.  She shared her stories, I shared was so much fun.  We then went on a lil' walk outside, and I loved it even more!  We both have interesting lives...but we have so many similarities.  It's crazy...I could never tell her this, but I was just asking where she was 10 years ago.  I mean, she is beautiful, fun, smart, attractive, adventuresome, and on and on and on.  She's not perfect, but I really find her attractive all around!  It's...well, it's frustrating to me...that I can't really do anything with it.  I knew it beforehand, and I think she knows, too, but I certainly enjoy getting to know her.  She's just a precious woman...someone special.

We headed to Spicy Pickle for lunch, and we talked some more!!!  I was so surprised to see the time fly by.  But I really, really enjoyed the time with her.  I really hope I can help her to trust in guys again...and she doesn't know it, but she has given me renewed hope in finding someone special.  She definitely is a good catch...I don't know how to go about finding those, but it was just a much-needed reminder for me.

What a beautiful woman.

She dropped me back off at the hotel, and I walked over to the airport to help Danny.  I was over there at 2:45, and I didn't leave until 7:30.  Nearly the entire time was spent re-paneling the airplane.  And let me tell you, I was NOT having a good time.  I tried having a good attitude about it, but I just didn't want to be there.  Some screws weren't goin' in right, and that didn't help out the situation.  I found myself sighing again and the point of me being surprised that I was doing so!  I would only notice it AFTER I had just done it...I was frustrated.  And I was tired.  And I was just jaded.  I was so ready to go, but our mechanic wanted to do more...he even brought out hose to clean the engines.  I couldn't believe it!!!  GET ME OUTTA HERE!!!  I stayed until he left as good measure, but my heart and mind were anything but there.

I wanted to be alone for the night, so I took the car and headed out for 7:50 P.M.  I didn't eat until after 8:00.  Today didn't really help out my cause for aviation.  I tell ya, I'm just so JADED with my job right now.  It has reared its big ugly head the past couple of weeks, and I just can't shake it.  Everything is just rubbing me raw...being asked to do a flight deep into the night, flying through nasty turbulence again and again, having the season extended, not knowing when the season is over, and now doing a job I didn't sign up for.  I'm just...jaded.  I'm just down on this job right now.

But I don't know where to go, what to do, how to get there.  I really want to fly for an airline, but how?  I've applied time and time again.  It didn't help that tonight I saw a class canceled for one of the popular freight carriers.  If this economy is really turning around, then why this?  I'm trying to keep my hopes up...

But today, if you asked me...I'd take a job outside of aviation, a house, a dog, a wife, a church, and friends.  I can't really describe the feelings of going out to eat alone and watching other people interact.  I'm a nobody.  Nobody knows me.

I never thought I'd say it.  I never ever thought I would.  But I'm just ready for a good wife.  A solid job that I can enjoy (that was one of the conversations Kristina and I talked about...she LOVES her job...I couldn't say the same).  Stability.  GOOD friends.  And just contentment.  I hope I find all of that.

And I'm not so sure I won't end up in Denver to find it.  It's growin' on me.  Lots to do, mountains, good-lookin' girls, and maybe plenty of opportunities.  We'll see.  If I had it my way, I'd ask out one of the girls behind the FBO desk...I really, really like her.  I think.

Oh, this job.

In other news, I found out I am an uncle!!!  Micaiah popped out at 6:02 Mountain time.  What a relief.  I've honestly been terrified of this whole birthing thing...even thinking about it EARLY this morning.  I was just way nervous...not knowin' how it would all end up.  But I have a beautiful, healthy niece.  And I couldn't be more thrilled.

And actually, it made me realize something else.  I'm successful.  I've met some pretty big goals early in life.  And ya know what?  I don't think anyone cares.  And then my sister pops out a kid, and everyone is enthralled.  Frankly, I'm not sayin' they shouldn't be!  It was just one of those "Aha!" moments.  I've got money...but Micaiah stole the show.  It just really solidified this whole day for me.  An interesting job, crazy stories, and plenty of cash...

None of that compares to people.

I need people in my life.  GOOD, dependable, trustworthy people.  Friends.  A wife.  Maybe a kid.

Went to bed at 11:15...wonderin' what in the world I'm doin' with my life.  But for good measure.

The 100-Hour Begins...--April 28, 2010

Woke up at 8:00 and did the typical morning routine.  I had overheard phone conversations from earlier about NOT going flying due to the winds.  I was thrilled to death.  I've been up in some windy stuff here, and you just don't mess with it.  It's nasty stuff here!

After I got ready, I headed over to the airport to help out Danny who flew in late last night.  He's starting the 100-hour today.  The first thing we did was taxi over to another hangar to swing the gear.  Basically, Danny inspected the gear while I manually pumped it from inside.  It was actually nice to do it case I ever have to do it in real life!  It's nice to know what to expect.  That only lasted around a half hour...pretty simple.  I taxied back over, and I started de-paneling the airplane.  I had a little bit of help, so that was nice...but I'll be the first to say that I am ABSOLUTELY HATE 100-hours.  I mean, I passionately hate them.  And turning screws wasn't really high on my priority list.

But I actually got out of much of it due to my own mistake.  I had found a hangar for us to do the inspection, but I forgot to see if they had any compressed air.  They didn't.  So I had to tag along as the owner went and bought an air compressor...he wasn't too thrilled with me, and I legitimately felt bad, but I guess that's the cost of doin' business.  I grabbed a quick McDonald's on the way back and ended up eating it in the hangar as I helped out some more.

I spent the entire afternoon inside, helpin' and watchin'.  The weather outside was pretty crazy...unbelievably windy.  We had talked about going scouting today, but I'm so glad we didn't.  At one point I checked the weather, and the winds were 29 knots gusting to 40.  NO THANKS.  I talked to a couple of pilots who came in, and they confirmed the report, saying their airspeed indicator was just a'movin' on the way in.  He said he normally wouldn't fly in this weather, but he had a client!  ha!  Oh, and they were in a Westwind jet!

I ended up staying until about 5:00 o'clock.  And then I made the move to retire.  I was tired.  I wasn't doin' much anymore, and I wanted to do anything but be in a hangar doing a 100-hour inspection.  So I headed back to the hotel.

We all ended up goin' out to eat at a restaurant we had tried with Tammi and Brad last week.  I wasn't too thrilled about it, as I was quite literally disgusted by the menu selection last time.  It's nothing but crazy-calorie burgers and such.  To the point of looking gross to me.  So I opted for the chicken sandwich...still pretty unhealthy but cheaper and healthiER.

We headed back to the hotel, and I spent most of the night in the bar.  Frankly, I was just in a funk.  I wasn't too thrilled.  I was having terrible games of pool, but it went much deeper than that.  I was tired of being judged.  One of the (attractive) girls from the hotel was there, and I was just a nobody.  I'm not sure I ever get used to that.  But I watched her hit on some guy (an NFL player, nonetheless), and all I could think about was the girl he had in here last week.  I was sickened to the point of feeling physically unhealthy.  I hated it.  I almost said something to him, but I just stayed way out of it.  But I was just...sad.  So much so that Jensen (back in from vacation last night) AND the hotel bartender asked me what was wrong.  But I just sat there mostly silent...not too thrilled about anything.

I retired to the room and was going to go to bed early, but I ended up finding someone online.  I talked to her for about an hour, and we set up a time to do something tomorrow!!!  I'm pretty excited about that.  Actually, I'm real excited.  I went from down in the dumps to eager.  I'll take it.

Another 0.0 today.  Granted, I'm havin' the 100-hour done on it, but it's not like I could've done any flying anyway.

Went to bed at midnight.  Much later than expected, but a girl will do that to ya.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Well, We Tried--April 27, 2010


Woke up at 7:00 A.M.  Yup, 7:00.  Hopped in the shower, then headed down to grab some breakfast.  The skies were lookin' good.  We all headed over to the airport, and I faxed over our map to Denver TRACON.  The guy was hilarious about it...I told him we'd have 5 airplanes out there, and he asked if we were here last week.  I told him, "Yup."  He said that one of the controllers had a checkride with us out there last week and that he STILL talks about it!  ha!  He then asked another controller (while on the phone!) if there were any other trainees to put in that sector today!  What a treat.

I headed out to the airplane and proceeded to head for the flight plans.  The winds at the airport were calm.  I threw on the oxygen and headed up for 13,200 feet.  I arrived on station around 8:55 and had snow in the flight plans.  I was right next to the peak of the mountain (I think 14,600?), certainly the closest I've ever been to one.  And it was GORGEOUS.  It was a bit crazy in terms of wasn't the smoothest on the northeast side, but it was still beautiful.  But I was close enough to warrant being VERY aware of the altitude of my aircraft...these updrafts and downdrafts are a bit crazy.  I flew down about 20 miles to try another flight plan...and I hit my fastest speed to date...202 knots across the ground!!!  But it was CRAZY turbulent.

So I flew around trying to do any line.  No dice.  The Cessna 172's were getting rocked down low, so I opted to go take one of those over.  I was able to complete one line, doing 112 knots west-bound.  I turned around and couldn't get my east-bound line.  I was getting ROCKED.  At then right next to this one little mountain, my right wing WHIPPED UP so quickly, it made my chest hurt!  I was pretty calm today, and so I just accepted it for what it was.  In all honestly, it WAS pretty crazy...pretty intense.  But I just went with it.  Any other day, I would have probably headed directly to the airport after that.  I tried the line again and overshot my line by quite a bit.  No pictures.  FINALLY, on my third try, I lined up with the line, but I couldn't hold the +/- 200 feet, AND I was doing 155 knots.  Definitely a n0-g0.  Today simply just wasn't goin' to happen.  I headed back for the airport.

I was told to enter right downwind for Runway 17R.  I turned for my base and then final, but I recognized instantly that I was going WAY too fast.  I checked my groundspeed, and I was doing 130 knots.  NOT good.  I would quickly be crossing over into the approach for Runway 17L if I continued the approach.  I didn't know if anyone else was comin' in for that runway, but I made a quick decision to end the approach and turn out to the northwest.  I called Tower and let them know what I was doing.  I definitely screwed up.  But it had to be done for the sake of safety.  But it all ended up being fine...I circled around and came back in for Runway 17R.  No worries.

I had logged 2.2 hours.  And I had finished ONE line.  ONE line!!!  But it was just crazy.  I seriously don't understand how this project is going to be completed.  I just don't.  That turbulence out there is just too much.  The 1000-foot (I had 1500-foot today!) updrafts and downdrafts pose a big problem for maintaining the 200 feet allowances.  AND the high winds up there pose a big problem for maintaining 139 knots.  I just don't get how we're goin' to do it.  Today was supposed to be a PERFECT day, and we couldn't hardly do anything.

Oh well.

We went out to eat at Pat's Cheese Steaks, and then we went shopping for my 100-hour which starts tomorrow.  Then Mike and I went out to the mountains for some hiking.  And that was pretty sweet.  We ended up at Mount Falcon Park where we went on a couple of trails.  I spelled my name with some rocks, and then we found the old remains of a rich guy's mansion up there.  It was pretty sweet.  The views were amazing.


We saw several mangy deer on the drive, and we even saw two ELK!!!  I don't think I've ever seen elk in the wild before, so that was pretty sweet.  From there, we went to Red Rocks State Park, which is an AMAZING view from the sky.  It's quite a sight from the ground, too.  Actually, I told Nini I had more fun from the ground today than I do from the airplane.  He understood.  I'm just jaded with aviation right now.  He reminded me, though, that what we saw from the sky today was a treat...that pilots will go their whole lives never seeing mountains like we saw them today, never from closer than 35,000 feet.  He has a point.  But today, I was just happy to be in nature.  To hike.  I wanted a dog, a girl, and a trail.  That's a pretty good life right there.


I told him that if I had to make a decision today, that I would say "no" to the partnership idea.  It was a bit hard to say, but I threw it out there.  I just know that money isn't goin' to make me happy.  I'm not wanting to get rich just so I can have stuff (which we talked about a couple of times today).  It's just not worth it.  I'm pretty confident in that decision.


Red Rocks was gorgeous...they have built a huge outdoor ampitheater.  I kind of like that (I would love to see Carrie Underwood there!), but at the same time, this place would just be AMAZING without the roads and human footprint.  It's a Catch 22.  It's nice to have easy access, but it's also frustrating to have the scenery wiped out.  Shoot, the whole area around the park is nothing but houses.  It's really frustrating.

I was surprised at the number of people exercising at the ampitheater.  It was crazy!  People running back and forth, up and down.  It was nuts!  The girls there were incredibly attractive, and it just solified my desire to have a fit wife.  I find few things more attractive.  Finally, before we left, I decided that I had to run up the very steep bleachers.  And so I did...and I nearly died.  I made it without stopping, but barely.  And for the next half hour, I wasn't sure if I was going to pass out or not.  I really did a number on my lungs.  I just felt like crap.  I seriously felt terrible.  But it had to be done.  ha!

We finally made our way back to the hotel around 6:00-ish...we had been out for several hours.  I grabbed a McDonald's sweet tea, then we picked the guys up at the hotel around 7:10.  We went out to eat and then came back to the hotel.  I tried to be in bed by 10:30, but I didn't make it until 11:30.  My alarm is set for 7:30.  The winds are forecast to be STUPID SILLY tomorrow...around 45-55 knots at 12,000 feet.  From the west.  It's a recipe for disaster.  I simply don't play with that crap.  I'll do a quick scouting flight in the morning, and then we start the few-days-long 100-hour inspection.  I'm really not lookin' forward to that at all.

But 2.2 more hours.  Some sights to last a lifetime.  And some great hiking.  Not a bad day at all.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Almost Time to Fly Again?!?!?!--April 26, 2010

Woke up at 8:30 to my OWN alarm clock.  My roommate was still sleeping.  It felt so good!  I was "up and at 'em" as my dad used to say.  Nothin' like a good night's sleep.  I forgot to mention that I went to bed with it snowing last night.  And sure enough, we had snow on the ground this morning.  Kind of crazy.

Didn't do a whole lot this mornin'...checked out some stocks and even car-shopped.  The clouds were pretty low around the area, but that didn't matter much anyway.  I checked the snow totals today, and our flight plans have reports of upwards of 22 inches!!!  Anywhere from about 6 inches all the way up to mid-20's.  That is just nuts.  It's supposed to be 51 degrees, though, so that should help.  A bit.

I updated my resume at American Eagle today.  Not sure if I even have a chance, but I'm goin' to give it my best!  I spent some more time studying for the ATP written test, too.  So far I've scored 67% and 62% on practice tests.  But that's not totally fair, because I skip all of the questions with diagrams, and that tends to be around 15-20 in each batch.  I think I can knock this out in the next month or so.

Shoot, I even opened up an interview gouge and started answering the questions I didn't know (most of 'em!).  I tell ya, I'm just gettin' excited about the possibility.  I understand that nothing is a given, but I might as well give it my all.  Jenn even talked to a pilot today from back in Illinois, and he wants me to call him.  She is crazy excited about that, but I'm a bit skeptical.  I guess he flies for United, but I think I know the answer even before I call.  But it never hurts to have names in the industry.  I'll call him tomorrow.

I pretty much wrote off today as a non-flying day, but around 5:00 I received a phone call.  We were going to go scouting.  I wasn't too thrilled about the decision.  Actually, it really irked me.  I had already considered the day to be over.  But nooooooooooo.  Why couldn't we have gone at 9:00?  Or 10:00?  Or ANYTIME before then?!  I begrudgingly went over with the rest of the guys.  It was just another nail in the coffin.  There is so much I don't like about this job!  And it REALLY isn't a huge issue...but it just hit me wrong today.  I just don't have a schedule.  All just like that, I have to go fly.  It's just...weird...crazy.

I ended up doing a calibration field.  The other guys flew out to our actual flight plans, and they said that we can probably do some work out there.  I have a hard time believing that, but I guess we'll find out tomorrow.  I ended up flying 1.4 hours today.  It's weird being back in the airplane flying lines.  It's been nearly a week since I've done that.  My body just felt weird doing it...not used to the steep banks.  I find that odd.  It's only been a week!  The air wasn't too bad, though.  Just the typical updrafts and downdrafts.  You just push through it.

We landed and then went out to eat at a BBQ place around 7:oo-ish.  Came back to the hotel around 8 o'clock, and I eagerly awaited bedtime.  I'm excited to be back in a routine where I can go to bed early and wake up early again.  I hate being lazy.

I must admit, though...I'm a bit skeptical of our work tomorrow.  The winds are supposed to be relatively calm (around 7 knots) on the surface here in Centennial, but up at 15,000 they are supposed to be around 35 knots.  That is a problem for the twin because it makes me fly too fast if it's from the north or south.  And if it's from the west at all, well, the turbulence is goin' to be nasty even EARLY in the day.  I'm kind of anxious to see how it all pans out.  Frankly, I'm nothing short of excited to see the other guys get BACK in the mountains and fly.  It's something fierce back in there.  Low to the ground, nasty turbulence, stupid flying.  I've been doing it for a bit...I can't wait to see the others' reactions!  I'm sure I'm goin' to chuckle.

Again, I just don't see us flying more than 3 hours tomorrow.  We'll see.

But it's a moot point for me anyway.  I am down to 5.8 hours before my 100-hour inspection.  The mechanics are flying in tomorrow night, so no matter what, I'm done after tomorrow for what I'm told is going to be 3 days.  3 DAYS.  I already hate 100 hours with a royal passion.  And they are telling me the twins are that much worse.  It's not just 5's 3 DAYS.  I've been VERY done with flying as of late, but all of a sudden, I don't know that I'm too anxious to be on the ground, either!  I can't win.  I just need to stop complaining altogether.  I hate doing that.  I just want contentment.  I'm not so sure I've found that yet.

So we'll see.  Maybe I'll fly 2 hours tomorrow.  Maybe 6.  I guess time will tell.

Talked to Matt...he called right at 10:00.  He's been sitting on his butt for the past six days with no work...not sure if he has more coming or not.  It's the end of the season for some!  He may get some more work, though...I think this week is really going to iron things out...give us all a lot more clarity.  I'm just afraid I'm flyin' through the end of May!  Uh oh!  Can I handle that?!

Went to bed at a WONDERFUL 10:30 P.M.  Alarm is set for 7:00 A.M.  Yuck.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Finally, A Bit of Clarity--April 25, 2010

Woke up at 8:45 but not by choice.  I actually woke up earlier to my boss's phone again <sigh>, but I heard him go down to breakfast, so I went back under again.  But he came up and shook my bed to wake me up at 8:45.  I wasn't too ready to do anything.  But the guys wanted to go scouting, thinking we might actually have a chance to do something.  I was more than confident that the snow was just too much.  But I got ready anyway.

We headed over to the airport, and I took off to check it out.  I was quite surprised to see that just a few miles south of us was quite a bit of snow in the flatlands!  I can see some of it from my hotel window, but this was pretty widespread.  And the hills?  Not a chance.  It's not goin' anywhere.  And the flight itself was actually quite disturbing.  The winds were doing something fierce.  Updrafts and weird feelings just at 8000 feet.  I turned to the southwest, and I was being pushed sideways like I couldn't believe!  The winds were pretty strong just above the ground.

I flew about 5 miles west, then 10 miles south, then headed back in.  I was crabbin' pretty nicely in order to stay lined up with the runway, but I put her down pretty nicely.  I had logged 0.7 hours.

We came back to the hotel and watched the NASCAR race on TV.  At least for awhile.  I went out and grabbed some Jimmy John's, then went down for a much-needed nap.  While flying, I just didn't feel right.  I was...out of it.  I ended up sleeping for three hours.  It was MUCH-needed.  I went out for McD's sweet tea and Subway tonight and then spent much of the night playing pool again.  What a routine I have here.

I also called Dad up and talked extensively with him about my opportunity.  He helped to make things more clear.  Basically, money can't buy ya happiness.  I know that deep down, but it was just a good reminder.  And it really helped hearing myself talk about everything.  That provided some clarity within itself.  Basically, I am going to aggressively pursue a jet job this summer.  I got into aviation with the express intent of flying passengers, and that is still what I want to do.  Great pay or not.  I'm a bit nervous about not liking it, but I really think I will.  I just want someone else in the cockpit with me, and I want to provide a service to others.  I know it won't be a bed of roses, but this is my dream!  This is what I want to do!

And I'm actually excited to aggressively pursue it now that the season is winding down AND I am approaching the minimums for hiring.  I'm gettin' geared up to take the ATP written, and I'm goin' to study my butt off to actually land the job after an interview.  Frankly, I'm terrified that a job isn't out there, but I can't let that get me down.  I owe it to myself to go after it.  I guess we'll see what happens.

But I DO want to fly for an airline!!!  I do, I do, I do!!!

And I'm so glad I figured that out.

Talked with Jenn a couple of times today.  She is so ready for me to be home.  We'll see what happens!  I am really anxious to see how this week is going to play out.  I just don't think any of us can stay here any longer!  We're not doing anything!

I'm callin' Arizona in my near future.  I guess time will tell.

Went to bed at 12:10 A.M.  Alarm is set for 8:30 A.M.

No Flying Here--April 24, 2010

Woke up at 9:35.  Went down to see if breakfast was still goin' on.  Nope.

Out of curiosity, I checked the snow totals in our county.  I couldn't believe what I saw.  We had anywhere from 9 to 17 inches in the hill country.  RIGHT in our flight plans.  I didn't want to say it, because I knew we would have to move if the management knew, but I'm pretty sure this just solidified the fact that this project is going to get scrapped.  That is just way too much to disappear anytime soon.  Unbelievable.  The hills are crazy white, though.  Just like that.

Ended up goin' out with the guys around lunchtime for some trivia.  The weather was crappy again with low clouds.  It was ridiculously cold, too.  So we headed to Dirk's for some lunch and trivia.  We ended up stayin' there for a couple of hours...maybe more?!  Too long, that's for sure.  It was pretty fun, although the chili on top of pasta was startin' to kick my butt.

We came back to the hotel for a little over an hour, and I watched some of the weather around the country.  The south is getting hit with tornadoes, and Crazy called me and said they had a warning, too!  Sure enough, about 20 miles south of Mom and Dad's house was a tornado warning.  Agh, I want to chase!!!  Oh well.  We then headed out to hang with my friend and her boyfriend...the same ones we went out to eat with last night.  We had been invited over just to hang out.  It was a lot of fun...I wasn't even sure if the guys were goin' to go, but all but one took me up on the offer!  I was thrilled.  So we went over to Tammi's and hung out for the next several hours!  She had made deviled eggs, Italian beef, and dip!  The guys had me stop at a liquor store on the way over, and we each brought some beer.  It was a pretty fun night.  She had some of her friends from work over, too.  One of them was stinkin' cute, but she was older and had 3 kids.  And I had a large beard that she didn't like, so that went nowhere real fast.  After a couple of hours, though, we decided to head out, so we went out for some karaoke at a Mexican restaurant!

And that was certainly interesting!  Almost all of us sang!  I couldn't believe it...I'm usually with a group of timid folks!  But not this time.  Shoot, I even went up and sang for the first time in over 10 years.  I'm pretty sure I was terrible, but you'll have that.  Actually, I REALLY DO think I was terrible...I have one sound, and I don't really move up and down on the notes very well.  Oh well.

After the karaoke shut down (we shut it down), we went back over to the apartment and hung out for about 40 more minutes.  Then we headed back to the hotel.  This is one of the guys' last nights, so we bid him farewell in the elevator.  Crazy how that works.

I was so tired I headed right for bed when I got back.  Ended up bein' around 12:30 A.M.  Alarm is set for 9:00 A.M.  We should be able to fly tomorrow, but because of the snow, it will only be a scouting flight.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I Think Flying Is Over--April 23, 2010

Woke up at 9:00 A.M. to my boss's phone ringing.  <sigh>  And all was not good.  I was so unbelievably tired even at the moment I opened my eyes.  I hate that.  I tried to fall back asleep, but I simply could not.  Well, at least I wasn't given time to.  I had to deliver my keys over to the airport so that our head company's employee could check out my camera installation from last week.  GRR.

And oh the weather!!!  Quite unbelievable.  I walked over in constant (cold) rain and ice pellets.  It was miserable.  I was walking right into it, too.  Not how I had planned on starting out my day.  I think it was around 39 degrees.  What happened to the 70's from last week?!?!  Needless to say, I was soaked when I walked into the FBO.  I was locked out from the hangar, too (it required a code that I didn't have), but I knocked loud enough.  Finally.  I was so wet!

I ended up walking back in the same crap, but at least the wind was behind me.  Ugh.  I dropped into breakfast after that.  Obviously no flying today.

The day was pretty simple.  We went out to Quizno's for lunch, and then Nini and I spent most of the afternoon picking up Pete from the airport.    We were bored in the hotel, so we left a bit early, and we ended up getting there over an hour early!  ha!  We parked in the waiting lot for about 10 minutes and made some calls on some airplanes, but we were bored of that, too.  So I went driving to waste some time.  Ended up out on some country roads east of the airport.  I loved it!  We picked Pete up and then headed back for the hotel.  And I was just feeling TERRIBLE.  Completely out of it.  Not sure what was goin' on, but I blamed it on being tired.  I was just completely and totally BLAH.

Tammi and Brad invited us all out for supper, so we all went out to a restaurant for that.  That was fun.  We came back to the hotel and ended up playin' several games of pool with everyone.  I was still pretty wired after that, so at 10:00 P.M., I decided to work out again (two days in a row!).  I ran for a mile (didn't want to push it) and then walked for 1/2 mile.  I headed up to the room after that, and I checked to see if I was paid today.  And much to my surprise, I also had my tax credit in there, as well.  And just like that, I had reached one of the biggest goals in my life.  More than two years early.  I let out a scream and then honestly and legitimately wondered, "What in the hell do I do now"?  And much to my regret, I had informed my roommate of my goal just a couple of days earlier (while talking about our lives and how young we were and what we were already doing with our lives).  He asked about something tonight, and I told him I had met a goal.  But he asked if it was the one I had told him about!!!  I couldn't lie...agh!  I didn't like that!  I like keeping it a secret.  <sigh>  Oh well.  I HAD MET A HUGE GOAL OF MY LIFE!!!  AT 27 YEARS OLD!!!

I was still wired, so I walked over to the FBO in the freezing cold to get a car (the rental one was out with two of the guys).  I ended up droppin' in on a bar to people watch.  I didn't even order a thing.  It was pretty lame, though.  Watchin' other people trying to get with other people is pretty stupid.

Ended up comin' back to the hotel at 12:45 A.M.  In bed at 1:00.  Tomorrow is lookin' terrible again.

Another 0.0 hours today.  Surprise, surprise...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thunderstorms and Such--April 22, 2010


Woke up at 10:20 A.M.  I was STOKED!!!  I certainly needed to sleep in!!!

I had missed breakfast, so I walked over to the airport to grab the car and head out to eat around noon.  Two of the pilots decided to go with...two of the guys from late last night.  Basically, one was very apologetic, although he didn't remember much about last night.  I don't get that lifestyle.  He mentioned a couple of things that he MAY have done...pretty sure that he did...but he was disgusted by them.  Um, YEAH.  I just don't get it.  He asked me if I thought he was fired.  I said certainly not.

We went out to Quizno's, then headed back to the hotel after that.  And that's when I found out I was way wrong.  I think that's all I'll say about that one.  What an interesting day.

We had severe thunderstorms poppin' up all around again, and I opted to go chasing this time.  I LOVE this stuff.  We had a nasty storm producing tornadoes a couple hours to the southeast, and I think I would have gone if I had my own car!  But alas, I didn't, so I stayed within a couple of miles.  But it was still a good show...I had some small hail, gorgeous clouds, cold rain, and then SLUSH!!!  It basically looked like almost-formed hail, but it didn't have enough time.  It looked exactly like a switch over from rain to snow in the winter...and it is late April!!!  It started accumulating at the bottom of the windows!  I eventually got caught in the rain, so I headed back.

The east side of Colorado was gettin' lit up, though.  Several tornado reports were coming in.  Some pretty nasty stuff out there.  It somewhat cleared up after the storm passed through, and we decided to go scouting today.  I wanted to go as soon as possible, because there were more storms to the south that I could see.  So I headed over with Kenton, and I took him up in the Aztec.  I'm all about sharing some time!  We only flew 0.6, but we could see the rain all around!  To the north, the east, and the over the mountains!!!  It's fun to teach others a new airplane.

The rest of the day was pretty simple.  I worked out for the first time in a long time.  A little bit of running, some push-ups, curls, and sit-ups.  Pretty simple, but GOOD.  It felt great to work out again.  I need it more.  A few of us went out to eat at a Mediterranean grill, then came back and played SEVERAL games of pool in the bar downstairs!  I didn't have any drinks, but I was having a great time.  We have one of the Pictometers here, too, so we played some games with her.

I went for a short walk due to boredom and energy around 11:00, but I was crazy tired at 11:30.  I guess it helped.  I was in bed at 12:15 A.M.  Tomorrow is lookin' like nothin' but rain.

As a side note, my mind is totally racked almost all day, every day.  I have a HUGE decision to make.  Basically, I'm toyin' with stayin' with the company long-term...or chasin' a jet job somewhere.  What to do, what to do.  It's all I think about.  It's goin' to alter my life quite a bit...whichever way I choose.  Hmm.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It Could've Been Nice...--April 21, 2010

Woke up at 7:45 A.M.  I was feeling soooooooooooo tired.  I never really came out of the funk, either.  Went downstairs and grabbed some breakfast.  It was pretty cloudy inside...way too low for our plans.

I spent the morning in the hotel.  There are now five of us here...Dave came in last night.  So we have Dave, Mike, Chris, Kenton, and myself.  We all went out to eat for lunch...which ended up bein' a three-hour affair.  Not by choice.  We drove around looking for a bank for one of the guys...not too fun.

And then the decision was made to at least go up for a scouting flight.  The weather was ominous with some dark clouds off to the southwest.  But the guys wanted their I called the FBO to have them pull the planes out.  We swung by the hotel real quick to grab our keys, and I said that the thunderstorm would be unleashing its rain withink the next 30 minutes.  I was wrong.  I came back downstairs, and it was starting to rain.  Hmm.

The question was raised as to whether we should cancel, but noone said anything.  Mike was saying that he was not going to go up, as he has over 700 hours of mountain flying, and that these storms can either get really nasty real quick or amount to nothing.  But he wasn't so sure it wasn't going to get nasty.  He said we could do what we wanted, but he was staying on the ground.  (Personally, I didn't think it looked all that horrific.  Later on, maybe...but now?  Not so much.).

So we drove the short drive over and waited for our planes to be pulled out.  I was looking out the window, and it WAS looking pretty gnarly.  We definitely had some very dark clouds above us with some westerly flow...the clouds were moving back to the west!  I also saw some greenish up inside the clouds.  But oddly enough, I still felt confident that I could get up there, fly around a bit, and come back and land.  The storm really wasn't doing anything yet.  But we checked the radar, and it was showing some yellow and even a bit of red.  Hmm.  I still thought...

Well, we walked out to our planes, and it starting raining...and I swore I saw something else.  Sure enough, I did.  It started to HAIL.  They were tiny little pellets, just smaller than a BB, but they were starting to come down.  Oh boy.  We walked over to the line guys and asked them to put them back in.  They were anything but thrilled.  Understandable.  We failed.  In order to keep the peace, we ended up buying the guys two pizzas.  After all, we would be with them for another month or so?  We messed up, and we couldn't have them being angry at us.  It was a necessary move.

I walked back into the FBO, and the hail actually became bigger and more dense!  What a storm!  It had literally popped right up in about 30-40 minutes.  Going from minor green to red with hail!!!  (I love it!).  I also realized, too, though, that it's not something to play around with.  I WAS going to go up for a short flight...underneath something that I knew was growing.  Since it hadn't unleashed itself yet, though, I just thought it would be fine.  Lesson learned.  Don't toy with danger.

We played some cards in the FBO, then headed back to the hotel and played some pool.  We were kind of hungry, so we opted to head out to a bar and grill.  I thought I was just going to go out and come back.  End of story.  Well, there was drama.  Someone that had promised another person (too drunk to drive) a ride to downtown all of a sudden backed out.  But the drunk person still wanted to go.  I was basically asked to drive them and the others downtown.  I had ZERO desire to go.  I had been out for several hours by this point (since 1:00-ish), and I just wanted to relax in the hotel.  But basically, one of the guys was going, and the boss wasn't comfortable with him going out alone...drunk.  I begrudgingly agreed.

So I took the guy who backed out back to the hotel (I was jealous), and then I drove the other three downtown.  We dropped the one guy off at a bar with the guarantee of being picked up at midnight.  IF he found a person to go home with (yup, that was his goal), then call us AS SOON AS he knew.  Well, we other three went downtown to a different bar.  The other guys drank, and I had water.  Finally, at 11:50, one of the guys called the other guy and said we would be there in 10 minutes.  He responded and said, "Go home.  I'm getting laid."  <sigh>

Tonight was just really, really stupid for me.  I have NO room for this in my life.  I am not out here to babysit anyone.  And that is exactly what was going on here.  I'm 27 years old.  I have a right to do my own thing.  I have a right to go to the hotel when I want to, to not go out when I don't want to.  But through unforeseen circumstances, I was basically forced (as the only sober guy) to do something I didn't want to do.  And on top of that, I was disrespected AGAIN by being drug on only to find out I wasn't needed.

This job can be enjoyable at times, but it can also be full of a bunch of immature people, too.

I hated tonight.  I'm more mature than that.

I guess it didn't help that the guy who we had dropped off was 31 years old.  It just goes to show...


Drove back to the hotel and was in bed immediately at 12:30 A.M.  I did NOT set my alarm.  The weather is supposed to be low clouds and rain anyway.  But c'mon.  Stupid night.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nice and Easy--April 20, 2010

Woke up at 7:45 A.M.  I was pretty tired.  Almost fell back asleep.  I had to force myself to get out of bed before I slept until noon.  Opened up the curtains, and I saw some haze!  Almost looked like a cloud layer.  I checked the weather online, and most of Denver was under fog!  I went to breakfast and then checked my window again.  Sure enough, we had some fog rollin' right in!  It had started out sunny this morning, and then it turned foggy!  Woo hoo!

The TAF was saying it was going to lift at 9:00.  Then 10:00.  Then 11:00.  Then noon!  And they were all calling for thunderstorms at 2:00.  Perfect!  We went out for BBQ for lunch.  And the skies were terrible!  We loved it!

On the way back, we stopped at a driving range to check on prices.  It was ridiculously cold out, so we were just checking.  But we found out that this place also had an ice rink and arcade place!  I kid you not, we ended up spending a couple of hours playing air hockey.  We probably dropped $20 total on the stinkin' game.  But we were havin' the time of our lives.  I was sweating, I was yelling, I was literally getting angry at losing!!!  It was quite a fun time.

Kenton landed while we were there, so we're now up to five pilots here.

We finally made it back to the hotel, and I learned that our business is most likely expanding.  Soon.  We also have more work for this year.  We just grabbed a 2000-hour project for infrared imaging in Pennsylvania.  That's HUGE.  We were winding down for this season, and now all of a sudden, we have a solid 4-6 weeks left!  I also learned that half of the project here has been scrubbed.  They had a meeting with the county early this afternoon about the leaf coverage, and based on that meeting, the higher altitude stuff is a no-go.  I'm really quite thrilled about that.  I wasn't too keen on having the oxygen in the entire day.

And I also learned that I have a HUGE decision to make over the next couple of days about what I want to do with this job.  With this company.  I mean, a HUGE decision.  It's something that will legitimately alter the course of my life.  Not something to be taken lightly.  At all.  This will consume my thoughts (and has partially for the past couple months) entirely for the next couple of days.  WAY BIG.

We went out to eat at a sushi place for supper.  I ate too much again.  I am gaining weight.  I don't like it.

Spent tonight inside the hotel.  Talked to Jennifer for quite a bit.

Ended up goin' to bed at 12:10 A.M.  Alarm is set for 8:00 A.M.  Weather is lookin' pretty bad for tomorrow, too.  Actually, it's not lookin' too good for the next several days!  Maybe even snow in about a week!  yikes!!!

All in all, a slow but good day.  I'll take it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Runnin' on Empty (or Coffee)--April 19, 2010


Woke up at 5:20 A.M.  The night's sleep was ample but not great.  I ended up bein' uncomfortable on the recliner, so I hopped on the ground.  A small blanket, a very cold room, and a small pillow.  I tried my best.

I woke up, walked out, and grabbed some coffee.  I don't really drink coffee.  But I knew I would need it.  It was pitch black outside.  Not even an ounce of the sun even thinkin' about showin' up today.  It was exactly as I remembered it last night.  Not how I want my sleep to operate.

Jensen and I hopped back in the airplane, and we headed west.  Flying at night is one of the best things known to man.  It's so peaceful, calm, and yet sometimes terrifyingly silly.  That's the best way I know how to put it.  If anything happens at night, it's just a totally different ballgame.  It requires a different mentality.  And seeing as how it was pitch black, well, a man thinks about these things.

The flight was relatively easy, though.  For the most part.  We had encountered clouds yesterday on the flight over, having to change our altitude from 7500 down to around 6000...and then again.  Those clouds never really first.  But we were soon looking at fog down to our south...and that fog became thicker and thicker.  And then we had an unbelievably HUGE area of low overcast for as far as the eye could see.  And then we heard other aircraft being told about moderate to heavy precipitation.  ha!  And then we were told about an area at our 12 o'clock!  Sure enough, the storms from yesterday never really fully died down.  Here it was, 7:00 in the morning, and we had towering cumulous already.  It was going to be a lively day.

I made a 20-mile deviation to the north of one of the cells.  It was nothing short of marvelous.  The mammatus clouds hanging down, the rain shaft going down to the ground, the rainbow, the question as to whether I saw lightning or not!  It was just gorgeous.  I took several pictures.

And on the way around it, I saw one of the most impressive shows of beauty I have ever seen in nature.  The overcast layer had a trough plowed right through it, looking exactly like the first snowplow on a heavy winter day.  It was breath-taking.  It didn't really make sense in my head, but it held my eyesight for quite awhile.  So much so that I told Jensen to grab the controls as I crawled towards the back to grab my camera.  It was just beautiful.  I wish I was alone and could have flown over it for quite some time.  Up to the northwest of this canal was another beauty:  clouds had made themselves into a couple of mountain ranges complete with valley!  Absolutely stunning to behold.  I just wanted to fly up there and take pictures upon pictures.  No one else would probably see these sights today...or like this ever.  It was a mess of systems just creating truly unbelievably beauty.  I ate it up.


I finally headed back on course for Denver.  Much to our dismay, the low overcast layer dissipated, and the higher clouds thinned out.  And then just 40 miles outside of Denver, we could clearly see the mountains...right where we would be flying.  They were cloud-free.  CRAP.  Our last glimmer of hope was shot down.

We landed at 7:45, and I walked over to the hotel for a quick breakfast.  I threw some cold water on my face, brushed my teeth for the first time in 24 hours, and lubed my innards with coffee.  I don't drink coffee.

I headed over to the airport and hoped and prayed for the best.  The thought of dying does come to mind as a pilot, and I just hoped my body would respond to the caffeine.  Two nights of poor sleep in a row.  Not good.  I grabbed two more cups of coffee at the FBO.  And then I headed for the mountains.

The first 35 minutes were pretty great!  Too great.  I was afraid a 7-hour day was about to unfold before my very eyes.  But that just wasn't to happen.  Jensen and Chris came over and joined me in their 172's, and after about an hour, I was just rolling in the airplane.  From laughter.  The words out of Chris's mouth were priceless.

"This is the worst turbulence I've ever encountered in my flying career."

"I have to refly this line."

"I have to refly my refly of this line."

FINALLY!  Someone that could understand what I go through!!!  Admittedly, it was very bad today.  I tried to stay out longer than the guys, but I seriously couldn't finish lines that I started.  It was horrific.  And when I crossed the ridge, I was fighting to keep the airplane level.  It's really something to behold.  It can make an experienced pilot quite scared.

We landed back at Centennial, and I welcomed them into the club.  ha!

The afternoon was slow.  I tried to sleep, but I just couldn't.  We all ended up goin' out for lunch at 2:00 and then drove around Jefferson County to take pictures of the leaves on the trees.  I tried to get them to take pictures of ONLY the trees with leaves.  I'm just ready for the season to start winding down.  But we took pics of 'em all.  Too bad.  :)

We grabbed a rental car and then we came back to the hotel.  Mike and I opened up a bit to each other about how different we are.  And how we both hate it.  He's getting ready to retire at age 25.  I'm anything but normal.  And we both wish we were just the cookie-cutter type that did what everyone else does.  It's not fun or easy being different from everyone else.  But we sure are.  And he also let me know that I'm the creeper in the hotel.  I guess the girls that I have been playing pool with and all just don't like me.  I don't get it.  I was pretty jaded all the point of awkward around them all.  I just gave up talking to them completely.  But I'm tired of fighting for me.  I'm tired of fighting for someone to know me.  Screw them.  If they aren't comfortable, then good-bye.  Good stinkin' bye.  You're welcome, ladies.  Agh, I hate it.

Tomorrow is lookin' like more of the same.  Scattered 7000 when we wake up, cumulo-nimbus at 2:00 P.M.  Same ol', same ol'.  I expect a few hours of flying over hellacious currents.

All in all, ferry flight and all, another 5.5 hours today.  I'm now at 182 hours of multi-time.  I'm thrilled to death.  75 for the month.  And we still have 10 days to go.

Went to bed at 11:10 P.M.  Alarm is set for 7:45 A.M.  I hope I sleep like I've never slept before.  I am nothing short of worthless right now.  It's almost painful.

Still Can't Believe It...--April 18, 2010

Woke up at 7:45 A.M.  The skies were lookin' good.  I did the morning routine and headed over to the airport.  It's back in the saddle again.  I headed over to the hills and began the routine.  The mountains were turbulent again, and I wasn't too thrilled about that.  But today, I just put my proverbial head down and pushed through it.  I was DETERMINED to finish this flight plan that I had started.  It was nowhere near comfortable, but I wanted to finish something, dang it!

I was havin' some problems, though.  I was missin' the beginnings of some of my lines due to the wind and turbulence, and THEN I had another problem!!!  I was getting numerous exposure errors.  Hmm.  Sometimes the sun causes that.  So I kept on.  The next line finished up all of the missed pictures.  No problem.  I WAS getting some worse turbulence, though.  I just wanted to finish up the plan and head in!  5 lines.  4 lines.  4 lines.  4 lines.  The exposure errors were back.  I would refly a line over.  Error.  A different line.  Error.  Crap.  I knew what was happening.  The camera was giving out.

I headed in.  I couldn't fly anymore.  I had 4 lines left remaining.

I landed and then called our Vice President to let him know.  I sent in some files and then went out to eat by myself.  I headed to a WONDERFUL BBQ joint.  It was fantastic!  I also learned that a couple of the other guys were comin' into town.  They were just up in Laramie, Wyoming, and would be heading this way.  Jensen and Chris were coming while Kenton had to stay behind due to alternator problems.  Sweet!  More people!

So I waited around a bit.  Mike finally landed, and I filled him in.  I waited for the other two pilots to land and decided to check out my camera lense.  Sure enough, it was broken.  I let the boss know.

The day was FANTASTIC, though, so I decided to go for a run.  It was actually hot enough to wear shorts and a cut-off tee!  I was kind of excited to finally get to run outside again!  I was also fixin' to hit up the pool later that day.  I received a call from Tammi, and we lined up some grilling out tonight.  What a perfect day!!!

And then...

I overheard a conversation in the room between my boss and our Vice-President.  Basically, the idea was thrown out there by my boss to have me fly my faster airplane over to another location where some 172's had just finished a project and were waiting for another one.  I could steal a camera from one of the planes and then come back and be ready to go for tomorrow morning.  As soon as I heard it, I literally said out loud, "No, please no."  I was staring at my laptop, not really believing what I was hearing.  It was 3:45 P.M.  Then I heard the affirmative.  I knew right then and there what was going to happen.  I was anything but thrilled.

My boss hung up, and I was told to head to Omaha, Nebraska.  Unbelievable.  Like seriously unbelievable.  I was anything but thrilled.  I made a phone call to my friend and tried to make it so that he could hear me canceling the plans.  Oh, I wasn't too happy at all.  It was going to be a three-hour flight there, 45 minutes of changing the camera, and then a three-hour (or 3 1/2) flight back.  <sigh>  I grabbed my gear and tried to head for the airport.  But the plan was to have me take one of the two incoming pilots on a flight to get them some multi-engine time.


I mean, I was thrilled to share the experience and flight time, but I was just eager to go.  It was already 4:00.  But I waited.  Sure enough, Jensen took us up on the offer of a flight, so we headed for the airport right after he came to the hotel.  Here we go.

I prepared myself.  Or tried to.  And I pointed the plane in the direction of Omaha.  At least as best I could.  The GPS wasn't workin' very well, and I didn't have all of the charts between here and there.  We found both of those out while in the air.  But I took off and then let Jensen have the airplane.  We climbed up to 7500 and headed in the general vicinity of Omaha.

The flight was pretty long.  Basically, there's not a whole lot that goes on up there.  I explained some of the instruments and all, but I just sat back and let him fly.  We were kind of all over the place in terms of heading (5-10 degrees), and without holding the controls, it was a bit disorienting.  I wasn't used to it, and I certainly didn't like it.  It didn't help out that it was a bit bumpy, either.  But we kept on.  I was a bit out of it, though.  I couldn't pinpoint why, but I just didn't feel 100%.  But we kept on.

With a bit of help from a controller, we finally managed to make it to Omaha.  It was night-time by this point, much to my surprise.  I thought we would be able to fly there, change the camera, and then come back with a half-night flight.  Boy, was I wrong.  We had a hard time finding the airport in Omaha, actually choosing one on the wrong side of the city first.  A chart sure would have been nice.  But we finally found it, and I aimed for the runway.  I didn't have a taxi or landing light, but this runway had the very bright lights down the center stripe.  No problems.

3.3 hours of flight time.

I instantly went to work on removing my camera.  It turned out that it was the most difficult one to remove, and it took me about 45 minutes.  We had one of the other pilots come out with his camera, and we made the switch.  It was very dark, and all I had was a headlamp.  It was a bit tough really.  But I pushed through.  After over an hour, I finally had the "new" camera in.  The guys had gone to get me a sub sandwich, and I finally enjoyed that at 10:00 P.M. Central time.

I checked the weather at Omaha's airport, and we had some thunderstorms back in Denver.  But I was struggling.  Like big time.  I wasn't feelin' great on the flight over, just out of it.  And I was now VERY tired.  Very tired.  But this whole flight would be a waste if I didn't make it back.  Every hour that I fly, big bucks is being spent by the company.  They were dropping a crap-ton of money on this flight just so that I could work tomorrow.  I was being counted on by my boss, by the Vice President.  Plus I had another pilot who was ready to get back.  He told me so.  He was very tired, too, but he wanted to head back.  The problem was it was night.  I was the only one fully proficient in the aircraft.  And he was tired.  And I was anything but positive that I could make the flight safely.  I honestly wasn't sure if I could stay awake.  And so I had about a 10-minute battle in my mind.  They NEEDED me back.  I NEEDED to be there by 8:30 tomorrow morning.  This pilot wanted to go.  But I was tired.

I finally made the decision.  I was not going.  I wasn't safe.  I wasn't anywhere close to safe.  But now I had some other decisions to make.  Where to sleep, how to still get back by tomorrow morning.  It was not too fun.  Our Omaha FBO was closing at midnight.  And there were no other airports between there and Denver that were 24-hour.  No halfway points to get to.  Agh, what a mess.  I called up Lincoln, just 48 short miles away and found a place to stay for the night.  A hangar for the airplane, and a pilot's snooze lounge.  It would have to do.

Jensen and I hopped in the airplane, and we made the short jump.  Another 0.5.  I walked into the FBO, and I was beat.  I knew it was a smart decision, but I was still 3 1/2 hours away from where I needed to be.  I found the small snooze lounge with two recliners, and I hunkered down for the night.  In order to meet our window open time of 8:30, we needed to be wheels-up at 5:30.

The alarm is set for 5:20 A.M.  Central time.  That is 4:20 what I'm used to.  I am not thrilled about that.

What a day.  What a stinkin' day.  7.7 hours total.  Over the course of a 16-hour actual day.  I HATE it.

I hate that I can't have a "closing" or "off" time with work.  Agh, I'm just so frustrated.  And so unbelievably tired.  Went to bed around 11:30 P.M., I think.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another Day of Fun!!!--April 17, 2010

Woke up at 9:30.  Off and on before then.  But thrilled to death about that!

We missed breakfast which closed at 9:30, so we had to head out for that.  I slowly got ready, and we left just before 11:00 A.M.  The clouds were everywhere!  I was so excited!!!  Mike and I grabbed the courtesy car and headed up north.  We were off to more breweries!  This time in Fort Collins.

We headed out for breakfast at My Favorite Muffin and talked about business ideas.  I have some opportunities up ahead, and I’m just not sure what to do!!!  I was completely and totally honest about my desires.  I want to fly people.  I want to fly jets.  I would love the airlines, but I would also do corporate.  But at the moment, I just have no “upward” movement.  I have nowhere to go.  No dream to pursue.  I just work in day in, day out.  But it was enjoyable to talk about opportunities.

I called my sister while there, too.  She’s due in 2 ½ weeks.  I’m gettin’ more and more excited about bein’ an uncle!  After that, we headed north.

It was a little over an hour drive, and we had some rain along the way (woo hoo!), but it was crazy.  I HATE cities.  Traffic is so dumb.  But we moved through.  We stopped at a nice brewery in Fort Collins, but it was crazy full of yuppies.  I mean, it was PACKED!!!  I was nothing short of surprised!  We actually decided to NOT do that one right then and there…so we left for another smaller one.  We hit up Fort Collins Brewery and tasted the sample plate.  They were rather nasty.  So bitter!  We did the quick and lame tour there…it was pretty much a brewery out of a warehouse.  But they are building a $5 million plant down the road.  Whatever works.

From there, we headed to The New Belgium Brewing Company.  This one was crazy packed, too, so went to the one that we first stopped at!  It was called The Odell Brewery.  We had a tour there, and it was crazy fancy.  Especially for being smaller.  I was impressed!!!  It was HUGE!!!  We had some very tasty beers there.  But after the tour, we were out the door.  And then we went back to the bigg’un:  New Belgium.  They are the makers of Fat Tire.  I had no idea!

We stayed there for quite awhile…an hour and a half?  Two hours?  We had some girls to talk to, and it was pretty fun.  The beers were free, so that helped out, but they only give ya three.  We tried for more, but it just wasn’t happenin’.  But the girls were nice!  I was invited to head to another place after that, so we took them up on the offer.

It ended up bein’ back at The Odell Brewery.  I was done drinkin’, though, so that wasn’t a problem.  We found the girls, and a couple were nice, but the one I had talked to back at the other brewery was…well, not so much.  Basically, after the hello’s again, the small talk, so coldly said, “I want someone taller.”  “Huh?!”  Yup, that was that.  I said I hope you find what you are looking for and walked off.  Unbelievable.  Whatever.  I hate girls.  Anyway, we went out to eat after that.

Then we headed back for Denver.

I spent the night inside the hotel.  I was bored in the room, though, so I headed downstairs and played pool for over an hour.  Just drinking water and playing with the desk chick.  It was fun.  But it really is a silly/sorry existence if I think about it too long.  It’s just silly.  Just silly.

Tomorrow is lookin’ good.  Too good.  It looks like we are going to be able to fly all day.  So much for that rain.  I learned, though, that I am getting help.  Three of the Cessna 172’s should be on their way tomorrow or Monday.  They should be able to do the lower altitudes (over the mountains!!!), and I’ll stick with the higher stuff.  I’m excited about that.

If we have time.  On the way home, we looked at all of the trees in the county I just finished.  Basically, the leaves are just exploding.  They are probably at 25-30% bloom right now on 75% of the trees.  It’s not lookin’ good!!!  We are going to be backed up against the wall here!  We’re down to just a week or two.  Not too long!  We’ll see what the higher authorities say.

Our room smells unbelievably terrible right now.  Like disgusting.  It’s so cold outside, but my roommate absolutely smells terrible.  He’s sleeping, but I think his butt is hard at work.  It’s hideous.  I hope I can sleep.  It’s so thick!

Went to bed at 11:30 P.M.  Alarm is set for 7:45 A.M.  It’s about time to fly again.

Time to Explore!!!--April 16, 2010


Woke up at 7:45.

I opened up the windows, and the skies looked great.  CRAP.  We were definitely NOT planning on flying today, but that's just how it goes.  We got ready to head to the airport.  But the clouds started poppin' up in that short time!!!  I was soooooo excited!

So we ended up grabbin' the courtesy car and headed for the mountains.  We headed up to Golden, Colorado, to take a tour of the Coors factory.  It was a pretty short drive.  The tour itself was pretty nice.  It's a pretty fancy place!!!  I am thoroughly amazed at automation, and this plant was no exception.  They were pumping out hundreds (if not thousands) of 24-packs every hour.  It was really crazy to see.  I've never seen a beer factory, and it was certainly educational.  So big!  We ate lunch in downtown Golden after was nice to have a change.  I would have probably never come up here by myself, so it was nice to have the encouragement/company to do that.

We drove up in the mountains after we toured the factory, and we ended up top at Buffalo Bill's grave.  It was pretty lame.  I don't even know who the guy is.  I was walking back down the path from the grave, and we would have had an amazing view except for SEVERAL huge TV towers right there on the hill.  I said out loud, "I hate America," in reference to that very sight.  A woman walking up the hill didn't miss a beat.  "THEN LEAVE IT."  Whoa whoa whoa, woman!!!  I literally stopped in my tracks and turned around and watched her walk up the bath, my mouth wide open.  I couldn't believe it!  Frankly, I could care less what she said, and I was admittedly kind of proud of her for having the gall to say that!!!  But it was nothing short of surprising!!!  ha!  As I stared, I think she felt it, because she explained herself to her husband.  "He said he hates AMERICA, so I said LEAVE IT!"  Mike was dying laughing.  I just stared.  And threw a snowball up in that direction.

Oh, Americans.

On the way down the mountain, we stopped to take a hike.  Mike ended up sayin' "no" to the idea, but I was eager to have some type of activity in my life.  I went on up the hill!  Frankly, it hurt terribly, and I realized just how out of shape I am.  My heart was beating like crazy, and I couldn't breathe!!!  But it was still enjoyable.  I really miss working out.  Outside.  Being in shape.  Having endurance.  I really need to get on that.  I took a couple pictures, called Jennifer, and then came back down.  Then we headed back to Denver.

I took a wrong turn on the way back, and I ended up driving over an hour to get back!  It should have only taken a half-hour!  Oh well.  We had nothing better to do.

I was so tired from waking up early, though.  I ended up sleeping for 2.5 hours back at the hotel.  I simply needed it.  I woke up, and we headed out to Wal-Mart.  We weren't overly hungry, but we made the poor decision of going out to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant.  It was certainly good, but my body is in danger right now.  I know I'm not goin' to last very long.  And I just ate too much.  Especially after the huge burger this morning.  Bleh.  I hate making stupid decisions.  I shouldn't have eaten anything.  <sigh>

We came back to the hotel, and I ended up talkin' to Jessica for about an hour again.  She's so cute.

I was in bed at 12:30 A.M.  I'm hopin' for rain and clouds tomorrow morning.  Please.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bumpy, Bumpy, Bumpy--April 15, 2010

Woke up at 10:22 A.M.  It was pretty comical, too.  I looked at the clock and just smiled.  I had been wanting to sleep in for awhile...and it finally happened!!!  I couldn't believe it!  Before this, I had been waking up on my own before my I was thrilled to death!

I opened up the curtain and cursed the day I was born.  "You have got to be kidding me."  The words literally came out of my mouth.  The skies looked great.  Not a low cloud anywhere but way to the east.  No 2000, 5000, 8000 scattered.  <sigh>  I had to fly.

I called up the airport, threw on some clothes, and headed over to fly.  As I was pre-flighting the airplane, I saw the low clouds poppin' up.  Several of them.  Phew.  They ARE going to happen after all.  They were actually poppin' up all over.  I actually even debated about going out there then, so I walked back in the FBO and checked the weather.  Hmm.  The reporting stations up north were still reporting clear.  <sigh>  Maybe I would have to still work after all.

So off I went.

I flew up towards one of the flight plans, but there actually were clouds in the way...about 9000 feet MSL.  So I headed to another plan.  And sure enough, it was clear.  I was at 11,500 MSL.  And I started.  The remaining lower plans are all over the mountains, though, and I struggled with the turbulence again.  I was just below the clouds to the west and just above the aggressive slopes.  It was NASTY.  I was able to last three lines...just three lines...before I called it a day.  I headed on back in to Centennial.  And it was so turbulent on the way down, too.

I debated whether to go up to 15,000, but I was just so frustrated already.  I didn't have my oxygen on, and so  I headed back for the airport.  I toyed with going back up to the higher altitudes after putting on the oxygen, but I decided against it.  I was done.

I learned that my boss was on his way out from Philadelphia, so I watched him on FlightAware on the way out.  I texted him several times in regards to weather along the route!  ha!

I went out for BBQ for supper, and I ended up stayin' in the hotel for the night.  He showed up around 11:10 P.M., and I stayed up talking to him until around 12:30 A.M.  Way too late for me!  But it's lookin' like bad weather tomorrow, so I"m excited about that.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Need Solid Ground...--April 14, 2010


Woke up on my own at 7:32 A.M.  My alarm was set for 7:45.   I don't like this!!!

The skies looked good.  Grabbed breakfast, showered, called TRACON, headed for the airport.

For the express sake of allowing my nose to heal, I opted to go with the lower flight plans today...the ones around 11,500-12,500.  So I flew up to altitude and headed first off for the flight plan that the company asked me to grab from yesterday.  I remember heading 320 degrees, aimed directly towards the mountains, when I looked on my screen and saw 35 miles to go.  I swear I was only 20 miles from the aggressive slopes!!!  And sure enough, this flight plan put me RIGHT IN the thick of things over the slopes.  I had the peak at 14,600 to my southwest, but even more concerning was the jagged edges of rock just 1000 feet below me.  I kid you not.  Some were higher, some were lower, but I was just over the tops of these foothills, flying WEST deeper into the rough terrain.  What is more, the winds were brutal up there.  They weren't too bad on the ground (15 knots?), but they were killing me up here on these slopes.  I was only able to complete one line, and I gingerly turned out of there.  It was not pretty.

Actually, it sucked!  It was so bumpy back in there.  And literally, I was looking for which path I would take if I lost an engine.  Sometimes I couldn't turn a certain way (with an engine loss) or I would descend into the side of the mountain!  I had to figure out where I would coast down at all times!  It was silly.

So I headed to another plan on our next project.  And I tell you what, it was more of the same.  Most of the flat city has been done (90% of it).  The flight plans that were left?  You guessed it...the ones over the mountains.  Simply because they are stupid to fly!  But I tried anyway.  I was only able to get one line done.  I was just getting beaten to death...having a hard time focusing on the instruments it was so bad.  I HATE this type of flying.

I tried another plan, but it was nasty turbulent, too, so I called it.  I landed back at Centennial.  I had logged 1.9 hours.  I felt bad, though.  I had expected to fly at least 8 hours today and get some work done.  And I knew that the winds way up high were probably more least the bumps wouldn't be so bad.  So I asked the FBO to top me off, and I had them fill up my oxygen tank as I went and grabbed a bite to eat.  I came back and hit the skies.  AGAIN.

And this time, I climbed up to 14,500.  And I was able to work on a couple of plans.  I finished a small one, then moved on to a bigger one.  I had light chop at first.  But as I neared the southern portion of my second flight plan (over the mountains), I was just getting rocked.  It didn't help that the winds were picking up, either.  I was having a VERY hard time hitting my north-bound lines.  So much so that I had to fly at least three of them over.  I was so mad!!!  I just wanted to be done!!!

I finished that one, and I had no problems in calling it a day.  Frankly, the flight just wasn't fun.  At all.  I was feeling pretty weird, and it's something I've noticed.  I always feel this way when there are STRONG winds.  We had 35 knots up there today but strong updrafts and downdrafts.  And I don't know what is going on some of the times, but my body senses it.  I just get all out of whack.  I feel disoriented even in plain ol' VFR conditions.  It sucks.  I have to look outside, see movement, focus on something and see myself move.  I don't get it.  Well, I felt pretty bad for a couple of hours.  AND there were numerous times when I would look down and see me descending at 1000 feet per minute.  And I couldn't even tell unless I looked at the VSI.  Then I would look again, and I was ascending at 1000 feet per minute.  Ah, this is so dumb!  It's kind of fun if I'm flyin' SOMEWHERE.  But to have to continually monitor the instruments and adjust the trim and adjust and throttles and look outside and...and...and...I was just so annoyed.

I was not having fun.

So after that second plan, I called it a day.  It was just getting too nasty.  I had logged 5.0 hours total.

The rest of the day was pretty simple.  I talked to my boss who should be joining me tomorrow or the next day.  It'll be nice to have a second aircraft helping out, although I'm not too thrilled about having a roommate again.  I've enjoyed the time by myself!!!  I also spent more time trying to find equipment to do my 100-hour.  I'm only 25-ish hours away, but I can't find anyone on the field to loan us jackstands.  It's been a frustrating process.

I went out to eat for supper tonight at the same place as last night...Mega Wraps.  I tried going to a sports bar (I was craving wings), but the one I went to was closed for renovation.  So frustrating!

I stayed in the hotel tonight and ended up spending two hours out in the lobby talking to the desk chick.  What a sorry existence.  It was nice to be out of the room, though.

The next few days are lookin' to be poor weather.  And I am thrilled to death.  Tomorrow looks like low clouds, so I'll at least get a scouting flight in.  But the next three days after that are all rain.  I couldn't be more excited!

I now have 170 multi hours.  And to think just over a month ago, I only had 89.  Sixty of those have come from April alone.  I am certainly flying quite a bit, and I am soooooooooo eager to break that 200-hour mark.  I am just hopin' for the airlines.  It's what I've wanted to do since I went through training.  If I can just make it!!!

Although...I had an interesting talk with the boss today.  There may be another opportunity on the horizon.  I guess time will tell.  It could be HUGE, though.  What to do, what to do.

Went to bed right at midnight.

I'm not even setting my alarm.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

FINALLY...A Day Off!!!--April 13, 2010

Woke up at 7:43 A.M.  MUCH to my disliking.  I tried fall back asleep, but I was strugglin'.  I think I went under for a just a bit but ended up waking up at 8:00.  <sigh>  I guess my body won't even allow me to sleep in.

I checked the weather.  The winds were just a'howlin'!!!  WOO HOO!!!  The airport had 22 knots gusting to 37 just about all day today.  And Airmet Tango was issued from the surface to 18,000 feet MSL.  And let me tell you, there just ain't NO way I'm goin' up to fly in that crap.  No, sirree!!!  I was so excited.

I had a slow morning, but I didn't want to have an unproductive day, so I opted between working on my logbook some more...or studying!!!  I'm startin' to salivate at the thought of a jet job, and although I have NO guarantees, I owe it to myself to dream big.  I'm just a'hopin'.  So I decided to follow through with a plan I had made a couple months ago...I bought an ATP test prep kit.  It cost $75.00, but it guarantees a 90% or better.  I can handle that.  And I started my studying.  I can't believe it!  Like seriously, I'm halfway suprised.  I mean, I KNOW I need to get this test out of the way, but I'm actually doin' it!!!  It's another box to check on the resume, and it certainly won't hurt.  I guess it will let my future employer (hopefully) know that I am serious about aviation as a career.  There are just ove 700 questions on the test.  I studied the first 120 or so.  If I can just do that for 5 days straight, I think I can score that 70!  Or 90 or better!  Agh, I can't wait to get this out of the way!!!

I had lunch downstairs in the hotel.  This place is great.  This set-up is great!  I love bein' here.  I invited a couple of the other imaging guys to sit with me, and we talked about our jobs...kind of like last night.  It's interesting to hear about their life,'s different but all the same.

Tammi called while on my way down, and she invited me to go with her to the dog park with Oscar.  I said certainly!  She picked me up about a half hour later, and we three headed for the park.  It's a very large, wide-open area, and it's right in the middle of the sprawling suburbs.  I'm really glad they keep this a park.  It's certainly worth millions upon millions in real estate, but I just had a great time out there.  As did the dogs!  There were probably 20 cars there and certainly more dogs!  I've never been to a dog park, but it definitely made me want a dog!  It's one of the things I miss about not havin' a home...I would just love to have that best friend!  I miss Hoss...he was pretty much perfect!

We dropped Oscar off at PetSmart afterwards for a haircut, and then we went to Starbuck's just to hang out.  It's so nice having a local friend!  She dropped me back off around 4:00, and I hung around the hotel for a few hours, then walked over and grabbed the courtesy car at the FBO.  I tell you, the desk chick is just downright beautiful.  It really sucks knowin' I can't pursue anything...she is just gorgeous...and fun!  I wish I could talk to her more, but I would just feel pretty awkward...she sees pilots every day.  Guys will recognize she's attractive...I'm sure it gets old.

But, agh, I want to take her out!!!

I walked back to the hotel, played a few games of pool, then headed up to my room for the night.  Tomorrow is lookin' absolutely gorgeous for imaging.  The skies are forecast to be clear.  We have another high-pressure system movin' in.  And you know what?  I'm actually excited about flying tomorrow...even for 8 hours!  Yeah, it's goin' to be rough, but I'm just puttin' myself in that attitude to fly.  I'm goin' to shoot for some lower plans and give my nose and ears a break (with the oxygen), but I'm just ready to have another good, productive day!

Oh, I should also mention that I received a phone call from the company today.  Basically, another vendor is out here working on a plan right below Cessna 172's.  Well, for whatever reason, they have a flight plan that they cannot complete.  Hmm.  Interesting.  Well, I loaded up the plan and checked out the map of its location.  It's at 11,500 feet...but oddly enough well west of where I have been doing my imaging thus far.  And I'm already over the rather-steep-climbing foothills of the mountains.  Hmm.  So I opened up a sectional and checked out its exact location.  Basically, it's in an area where the mountain peak is 14,600.  And the highest elevation right below it is 10,500.  Hmm, so I have 1,000 feet of separation between me and cumulo-granite?  With winds coming over a peak of 14,600?

Um, with all due respect...screw that!!!

I am eager to try it out tomorrow, though.  I've got my camera ready.  I want to fly at 11,500 and aim due west...and just take a picture of the peak at 12 o'clock and send it to our company.  Yeah, um, can we raise that a bit?!

Went to bed at a very respectable 10:45.  I'm hopin' for a solid 9 hours of sleep!!!  I am expecting to have an 8-plus hour day tomorrow!!!

And it's crazy.  I'm actually ready for it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Half Day...--April 12, 2010


Woke up at 8:00 A.M.

Typical morning routine. I checked the weather, and it was a bit iffy for today. This afternoon, we’re supposed to have showers in the vicinity with winds gusting to 40 knots at 5:00 o’clock. But before that, it didn’t look too bad. The winds were still blowing, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker.

I faxed over a couple of maps to Denver TRACON and met another aerial imaging guy at the front desk. I had seen him and a few other guys at the FBO before, and I had heard them talking about imaging, but I never said anything. I just stuck to myself. But he asked if I was going up today, obviously in full knowledge of what I was doing. I told him “yep,” and he couldn’t believe it! I told him the winds appeared to be fine until this afternoon, and I had no qualms about goin’.

And with that, I headed over to the airport.

I was given 8,500 as an initial altitude, and I began second-guessing my decision!!! The turbulence was NASTY, even early in the morning!!! However, I had a 174-knot groundspeed, the highest I’ve seen in this twin yet! I had to find out what it was like up higher, so I just waited for the clearance to climb. Finally, I was given 13,500, and I was on station around 9:30 A.M. And much to my pleasure, the turbulence wasn’t too bad. I could certainly manage.

I had only one flight plan left in this project, and I certainly wanted to get it done. I was down to VERY little oxygen in the tank, and I guessed I had around two hours left in it. I certainly kept an eye on it the entire time!!! But I was havin’ a terrible day in the skies today! I was missing sooooo many of my north-bound lines. The winds were actually pretty brisk out of the south (around 30 knots), and I would consistently miss the first several pictures in my north-bound lines…so many that I often had to REFLY the line over again!!! I wasn’t too happy about that! I wanted to get in, get done, and get down! But I was just messin’ up left and right! I probably had to refly the first parts of four or five lines (out of 15!).

The turbulence was definitely starting, too…especially closer to the mountains. I was trying to get those out of the way as soon as possible. I knew if I waited then I may not be able to finish them. For some reason, too, the southern 1/4 of the 10-mile lines were pretty bumpy, too. Obviously, the winds were rampin’ up some mountain somewhere and burblin’ in my path. But I wanted to finish!!! So I kept on.

But I had another problem. The winds were getting more aggressive from the south. I was having a very difficult time maintaining 139 knots or less going north. I would have 16” MP going south and manage around 130 knots. But going north, I would instantly be cruising at over 160 knots! I would throttle back to around 12” MP and trim the airplane way up. The airspeed would slowly bleed off, and then once I was at 139 knots, I would put the throttles back in just a bit…around 13 or 14” MP. But even then, it was nearly impossible to stay under 139 knots. I was consistently at 139-144. I glanced over at the airspeed indicator, and MUCH to my surprise, I was flying under blue-line at just 105 knots indicated!!! What’s more, I only did this because I swear I felt the airplane buffet, and I was so confused as to why!!! It sure caught my attention, though! Frankly, I was well within the green arc, but I watched that airspeed more closely than I had been. 105 indicated and 140 knots across the ground! Agh, this was frustrating! I just wanted to finish!

4 lines. 3 lines. 3 lines. GRR!!! I missed too many! Then 2 lines. Then one. Then one. Agh, missed too many pictures again due to speed!!! FINALLY, I was able to grab the last line. I was DONE with this project! Woo hoo!

I descended down to 11,000 to work on some other plans in a neighboring county. And I quickly pulled off the ever-so-painful oxygen cannula. It was soooooo painful just taking it off, too. My nose and behind the ears is just raw. I hate that thing!

Well, at 11,000, it wasn’t too bad, but my flight plan was taking me directly to the base of the mountains. Hmm. 35 miles ahead. Hmm. It only looked like maybe 20 miles before the foothills, too. NOT GOOD! That’s an instant recipe for turbulence. And sure enough, as I came right over the foothills, I just started getting rocked…and I still had several miles to go. SCREW THAT. So I asked for a descent back into Centennial.

I grabbed the weather, and the ATIS was already reporting windshear from an Astra jet. Perfect. It was only 10 knots, but it was definitely there. The ride down was pretty bumpy, and I never really got out of it. I stayed as high as I could for as long as I could, but that was only around 8000 feet!!! They kept asking me to descend further! I prepared for landing, and I just watched the airspeed indicator. Sure enough, it was just goin’ up and down. I kept some speed up on final, and I encountered a huge gust, pegging me around 125 knots! And it stayed there! I was supposed to be 112, but I just let it ride. My groundspeed was around 96 coming in.

Basically, the landing wasn’t that bad at all. I certainly have had worse, but I also didn’t want to play around with it later in the day. I was glad to have only had a half a day. I had logged 3.4 hours. As I taxied in, I passed the other aerial imaging crew from the other company by their plane. I found that somewhat comical. They had never even gone up. And they missed a perfectly good half day! Oh well.

I spent most of the day in the hotel, much to my liking. I was thrilled to have some time to myself! I even went for a swim. I tell you, though, my heart is sooooooo much out of shape. I did a few end-to-ends, and I was just dying. I wish I could blame it on the altitude, but I just feel like crap anymore. I am not even close to in shape with my heart. And I feel it more and more! Time to start working out rigorously again. I just need it.

I grabbed the courtesy car and headed to a restaurant for supper. I chose Spicy Pickle, a chain that I had almost bought stock in years ago. Frankly, I didn’t like it. At all! But I forced myself to eat it. I came back and ended up in the bar around 8:15-ish. I talked to Jenn, and that ended rather abruptly.  We talked about a little...and the relationship thing came up. I told her how I couldn't see how she liked me knowing that I am gone for 7 months (a recurring conversation).  But she said she saw it differently, and I just said I couldn't commit to her, to her son, to that life right now (another recurring conversation).  She said she just wanted me happy, and I told her I wasn't, but that "it is what it is."  I have to put my time in, I have to build up the hours.  It's not the lifestyle or career I want, but it's just so unbelievably nasty out there in this industry.  I HAVE to keep doin' what I'm doin'.  She said I was too defensive and pretty much said she was going to go.  It wasn't too pretty.

<sigh>  I'm not really happy with my life.  This is NOT what I want to be doing.  But dang it, I'm putting in my time for the future.  I just hope it works out.  It's a rough spot to be.  It's not that I hate my job.  I like a lot about it.  But I certainly don't love my job, either!  Here's to hoping I get my dream of being an airline or corporate pilot.  WITHOUT being furloughed.  WITHOUT hating it.  Here's to hoping.  <sigh>

I had a few drinks and played several games of pool, first with myself and then with the bartender. It was nice to just relax. I talked with another gentleman who was just thrilled with my job. It’s a nice reminder. I asked him about owning properties, as he did the contract job thing for awhile (like me) and then bought some properties (like soon to be me, hopefully). I also talked to one of the imaging guys. He came in, and we just shared our lifestyles. Basically, it’s a different guy with the same life. Not too happy about what he does, but he has a job, and he’s thankful for it. He is a camera operator, and he fixes things when they go bad. We just shared the in’s and out’s of our lives, and I was surprised to see a similarity in almost everything. ALMOST. These guys work 15 days on, then get 5 off. Ha! I told him about my 8 months on, and he couldn’t believe it. He also couldn’t believe I was single-pilot/crew. Obviously, his job is a camera operator. He couldn’t even work for our company, as we don’t even have a position like that. So that was interesting to talk about.

I headed for the room around 10:30. And I stayed up until just after midnight.

I was simply banking on the fact that the winds are supposed to be out of control tomorrow. We have a low-pressure system moving in, and the winds are supposed to be gusting to 40 knots tomorrow. NO THANKS. That would just be painful over the mountains.

Here’s to hoping it’s really that bad. But if the current winds tell me anything, it’s that it should be pretty rough. My hotel window is just getting beaten right now, with the winds gusting to 40 knots on the GROUND at the airport across the street. It’s sooooo loud! Please. I just want an entire day off. That’s all I ask.

Monday, April 12, 2010

And Again...--April 11, 2010


Woke up at 9:00 A.M.  I opened up the curtains.  Unbelievable.  The skies were basically clear again.  <sigh>  Here we go again...

I did the morning routine and drearily walked over to the airport, again with the coffee in hand.  And I really don't drink coffee!!!  I headed for the skies, and they welcomed me with open arms.  I tried doin' one of the middle flight plans, but the turbulence was pretty agressive over the foothills.  I had to abort on the first line.  I simply couldn't hold my altitude!!!

So I headed way up north to the Colorado-Wyoming border.  Snow was still on the ground, but I went ahead and took the gamble that we needed to get this project done, regardless of what was there.  We were already into the spring, and we just don't have much time left.  And we've had an entire week of 60-degree weather, so this snow isn't goin' anywhere anyway.  I started taking pictures.

And frankly, I just wasn't havin' a good day.  I just didn't feel up to par.  I was at 14,500 feet, too, and I kept thinking about that oxygen.  The skies were hazy, and I was catchin' myself focusin' on different things but not really intending to make that many movements.  I don't know.  I was just behind the airplane, behind my thoughts.  But I stayed up there.  I was just tired.  I stayed up there for a few hours, but it was just getting worse.  Not knowing if it was lack of sleep or lack of oxygen, I just aborted it altogether.  I was scarin' myself.

So I dove down lower and told Denver Center that I would be heading in.  I only had two more lines left of one of my plans, but it just wasn't worth it.  I dropped down to Cheyenne for a break.  I had logged 3.8 hours thus far.  I grabbed the courtesy car and headed for Arby's.  What a routine.  It's the same day-in, day-out!!!

Not knowin' how I was goin' to feel, I literally did some jumping exercises outside of the FBO (behind a car) just to get some blood flowin'.  I was just feelin' slooooooooow.  I started the plane back up and headed right back where I came from.  I was able to finish the three flight plans way up here...I shouldn't have to mess with Denver Center anymore, and I told the controller that he could throw that map away!!!  TRACON is who I'll be annoying for the next few weeks!

I came down south about 60 miles to work on the plan that I had tried to start earlier.  But it was just downright bumpy right next to those mountains.  I even tried working a little ways out from the mountains, but it was still turbulent.  I called it a day.

I had logged 6.1 hours.

I ended up grillin' out with Tammi this evening.  That was so nice of her.  It is just SO GOOD to get out of the hotel and have a normal life.  I certainly anticipate more grilling this summer!!!  Speakin' of which, I need to buy a grill!  Another item for the house!  yikes!

I stayed over at her apartment until 8:45, but she had homework to do, so she brought me back.  I was happy about that, though.  These long days and packed nights have been killing me.  I was more than happy to just "veg" in the hotel room.  And that is what I did.

Tomorrow is lookin' fairly decent.  Clouds are forecast to be at 10,000 feet, but with the field elevations, that puts them at nearly 16,000...higher than most of our plans!!!  The winds are goin' to be interesting, though.  They are supposed to be around 30 knots out of the south...that could present some nasty turbulence up there if it hits those mountains just right.  Most of the remaining plans are fairly close to the mountains, too.  Most of the eastern stuff has already been done.

I'm just ready to have some non-oxygen flights.  My nose is still painful, as are my ears.

Went to bed at 10:40 P.M.

I think I can handle a 4-5 hour day.  But please not 8.  I just don't want it!!!

On a GREAT side note, though...I already have 52 hours for the month of April.  52!!!  And that brings my total multi-time up to 162 already!!!  I've nearly doubled my time in just a few weeks!  I'll most certainly take it.

So eager for a good night's sleep.  Alarm is set for 8:00 A.M.

Here We Go Again!!!--April 10, 2010


Woke up at 8:00 A.M.  Opened up the curtains...couldn't believe it.  The skies were clear.  Where were these clouds at 3000 and 8000?!  I was devastated.  I certainly had NOT planned on havin' a full day today.  I tried to pick up my motivation, but I was strugglin'.

I went through the routine, made the phone calls, and pushed myself over to the airport.  I drank coffee on the way.  Clouds had actually popped up by this time, and they appeared to be a bit lower, but the reporting stations up north were still callin' clear.  I had to go.

I have a problem, too.  The middle part of my nose...the part between the two unbelievably raw from the cannula.  It is SO painful on the inside of my nostrils.  My skin has even raised itself and started's a very bright red, too.  It's not enjoyable.  But I have to use the oxygen.  So I stuck the plastic back in my nose, right on the raw part.  It was not pleasant at all.

I hit the skies and flew the 70 or so miles to my location.  Sure enough, there were some clouds, but they were not in my flight plans.  At least not these.  I started imaging.  I finished up a flight plan and moved up north...but there WERE clouds up there in those plans, so I moved to another.  And there I hung out for the next few hours.  It was a bit on the bumpy side today but nothing too extreme.  Thankfully, though, the clouds started droopin' down in the early afternoon.  Oddly enough, I had clouds doin' that to my north, west, and south!  But I was clear where I was takin' pictures!  Funny how that works.  But I finished up those plans and tried to move to another...and the clouds were there.

I eagerly descended and headed back for Centennial!!!  I had logged 4.1 hours...but I had completed a respectable three plans today.

I came back to the hotel, made some phone calls, and learned that I would be going to the Rockies game with Ryne tonight.  Sweet action.  I walked back over to the airport, grabbed the courtesy car, went out for some late lunch (3:00 P.M.), and then came back to the hotel and tried to sleep.  I was so close to goin' under when Ryne called and said he was leaving Colorado Springs.  <sigh>  Very well.  I tried to go back asleep before he got here, but I didn't really get anything.  Just a lull in mental activity.

He showed up, and I tried to bring myself out of the daze.  I threw on some clothes, and we hit the road for the 6:10 game.  We showed up about 15 minutes before the game, but we had a 45-minute wait outside of Will Call for our tickets!  The line was CRAZY.  Stupid, really.  But oh well.  What else would I be doin'?!  (Sleeping).

We finally got our tickets and made it in at the bottom of the 3rd inning.  They were playin' the Padres.  The weather was fantastic, but as soon as the sun set, the temps dropped quickly.  We enjoyed our six innings...and then some!  The game went into extra innings, and I was ready to go by the 12th.  I told Ryne I had to work tomorrow.  He said if no one scores by the 13th, then we could head out.  And sure enough, the game was still tied 4-4 at the end of the 13th.  We were out of there.

I do have to share a funny story, though.  In the top of the 7th inning, a guy that was sitting two seats down from me leans over and says, "Hey, do you have any chew"?  Of course, I respond with a "Nope, sorry."  And then he says, "Oh, sorry.  You just look like a guy that would have some chew."  WHAT?!  ha!!!  Ryne and I had a GREAT laugh out of that.  Talk about profiling.  A guy grows a beard, and all of a sudden, he does chew.  I guess I missed that memo!  It was pretty stinkin' funny, though.

I made it home around 11:00, and I was in bed by 11:10.  I was so unbelievably tired.  So much so that I knew I couldn't function properly if I woke up early.  So I banked on the forecast of fog in the morning, and I set my alarm for 9:00.  Anything before that, and I would probably be dangerous in the sky.

I am just so unbelievably tired.

C'mon, clouds.  I know they won't happen, though.  The forecast is for skies clear by 11:00.  Once the fog lifts, it's a full day's worth of work...