Friday, June 4, 2010

Seatbelt Check--June 3, 2010

Never, EVER open up an e-mail about a possible job opportunity early in the morning.  Especially if it involves aviation.


Woke up at 7:10 A.M.  Extended my hotel one more day (my last free night here!).  Grabbed some breakfast, then came back up to my room.  Out of sheer excitement and curiosity, I checked my e-mail!  And I had an e-mail from the company from yesterday!!!  I opened it are the opening lines:

"Thank you Andrew, and too for your prompt reply.  Currently, we are interested in pilots with turbine experience, but I will still keep your information on file."

I won't lie.  I was pretty dejected.  This was NOT how I wanted to start out my morning!  Instantly I wished I had waited until later in the day to open it up.  I could have at least enjoyed some more anticipation and excitement.  But curiosty got the best of me.  Remember how I said "Cautiously optimistic" yesterday?  The emphasis was on the "Cautiously."  And for good reason.

<sigh>  First, it was more hours.  I now need 2000 instead of the 300 from two years ago.  Then it was multi-engine hours.  I now need 300+ instead of the 50 I needed two years ago.  Then it was a specific part of flying.  Must have ag experience, 121 experience, 135 experience.  Then it was airplanes.  Must have Lear Type rating, 500 hours in a King Air.  And on and on and on.  And now a type of engine.  Must have turbine time...jet time...whatever time.

When does the madness end?  Seriously, when?  It's getting pretty demoralizing.  This is certainly NOT the industry that I had stepped into a couple of years ago.  Oh, how the times have changed.

Oh well.  Such is life.

I headed to Subway, then on to the airport.  I picked up my oxygen that I had them fill up yesterday, then headed for the plane.  The take-off was enjoyable as always...I'm able to turn freely in smooth air!!!  I love that!

But I had 120 miles to go.  Yuck!  I climbed up to 10,500 and began the journey.  I was only doing 125-130 knots west-bound.  The winds were a bit stronger today.  I arrived on station and started my plan.  I headed south first, then back north.  I had to drop the gear and flaps for the north-bound lines.  All in all, it wasn't too bad.  I wasn't overly thrilled to be doing lines today, but I pressed on.  I made small goals.  This plan first.  Then after this next one I could eat lunch.  Just small goals to pass the time...and keep me motivated.  I finished one plan, then moved on to number two.  It had 16 lines, and all but the last two were just routine.  But by the time I was on the last two, I was just getting beat up.  I had numerous clouds just above me, and I was over some pretty aggressive ridges far below.  It was a bad combination.  I messed up one of the lines and had to re-enter it.  But I finally was a little before noon.

I decided to fly up to Price rather than head back to Grand Junction.  I knew I wouldn't be able to fly any more lines in the afternoon, but I wasn't too eager to get back quite yet.  I flew the 40 or so miles up to Price and did a hold while I was at it.  Good practice.  Kind of.  It was quite uncomfortably bumpy.  I then shot the VOR approach into Runway 36 but circled to land on Runway 25.  I had logged 4.3 hours so far.


I ate my Subway on the ground and decided to head back pretty quickly before the bumps became too much worse.  I went outside to leave, but I had the hardest time getting the left engine started again.  GRR!!!  I talked to it, I yelled at it, I tried everything I knew how.  To no avail.  I headed back inside for 30 minutes...and read some National Geographic.  I came back out and tried again.  Still nothing.  I sat in the hot cabin for 15 minutes...trying and trying.  Another pilot and wife just watched me.  GRR!!!  FINALLY, she caught and started.  But this is really getting annoying!

I took off Runway 36 with the winds reported as calm.  They were 10, gusting to 16 when I landed an hour ago.  Crazy mountain weather.  I took off and climbed up to 9,500.  And oh the bumps!!!  This was pretty aggressive turbulence, too.  With no outlet.  It was bumpy up high, it was bumpy down low.  And it NEVER stopped.  And it was mostly side-to-side jolts, too.  I would look out my window and just watch my wing swing forward, then back.  It never stopped.  But that wasn't all, of course.  The updrafts and downdrafts were there, and I could feel the aggressive winds THROUGH my fingers on the yoke.  It just wasn't pretty at all.  I opted to fly around the mountains rather than over them (and under the clouds).  It was a longer journey, but I felt like it would be safer (and smoother?).

But there just wasn't anything smooth about this.  I would easily put it in my Top 5 bumpiest flights.  It was just...annoying...horrendous...uncomfortable...and at times downright scary.  Terrifying.  If it makes it easier to understand, I would NEVER put anyone else in the right seat with me on these flights.  They would just hate flying.  No getting around it.  There is just nothing good about it.  My spine would compress, I would feel the fabric and the bottom of my seat in my butt.  At other times I would fly off of my seat into my seatbelt.  All the while, the airplane is just being rocked back and forth, side to side.  It's pretty stupid.  I kid you not, it was hard to even focus on the instruments.  I was showing 145 knots on the airspeed indicator, but I was doing 182 knots across the ground.  At only 9000 feet.  I chose the middle point of the valley between the two mountain ridges for some relief, but I found none.  I just couldn't get out of it.

It was enough even to make me cry out in frustration and pain sometimes.  Every now and again, a huge compression or jolt would cause me to wince or just bellow.  I hate this type of flying.  It's nothing short of...painful.  I counted down the miles...but I had to stay up in it for an hour.

I landed back on Runway 29 at Grand Junction and was THRILLED to be on the ground.  Oh how I yearn for the days when I can climb out of this stuff.'s a part of flying, I guess.  I had logged 5.7 hours.  Not a bad day, really.

I headed back to the hotel, did my paperwork, then received a text from Pete.  He would coming to join me for this project!  Agh, I was kind of disappointed!  I was just enjoying my all-freedom time alone!!!  It's kind of nice, I won't lie!  I do what I want, when I want.  I eat wherever I want to, I go wherever I want to's just nice sometimes!  Needless to say, I was enjoying that freedom here.

But I guess all good things come to an end.  I headed out to the airport at 4:45 to pick him up.  We came back to the hotel, then headed to my favorite little restaurant for supper.  The bird liked to eat from his hand more than mine, though!  Little stinker.

We sat outside and just talked and talked.  That part was nice.  I mean, it really isn't all bad having someone else here.  I guess I just wasn't ready for the quick change...the surprise.  Oh well.  We talked aviation, and he said that a 12,000-hour pilot had called him personally to ask about a job with us.  Oh, that made me sick.  Just sick inside.  It's just the nature of the industry.  Oh boy.  He asked when I was done, and I told him June 15th-ish.  I told him I had to do some training, and he responded by saying the training takes a week or so.  Man, I was kinda dejected again!!!  I sure hope it's not that long!!!  I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHEN I AM DONE!!!  I had been telling myself "12 days" today...could that be wrong?!  Is it longer?!  Agh!!!

We came back to the hotel and spent the rest of the night inside.  Tomorrow is looking pretty poor in terms of winds.  I think we can finish just one north-south plan, but that's it.  Frankly, the winds are going to be problematic for the next few days.  I guess we'll see what happens.

Alarm is set for 7:10.  I think I'll be on the ground back here before noon.  In bed at 10:15 P.M.

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