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 flying...it 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.
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.