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 came...at 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 night...to 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.

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