It is so hot here that even though the air-conditioner is humming happily away I am still hot from yesterday! Too hot to walk the dog ... even with the crew cut he is currently sporting. As soon as he hears the coffee grinder he's front paws up on the kitchen window sill looking for me ... we make eye contact and I am almost sure he's wondering why no walk ... it's bearable on the concrete floored back porch ... in the shade and still what is going to have to pass for cool ... last year I ran a box fan for him ... the kids want me to put a wading pool out there. Do I let him in the house? Sure, all the time, but he doesn't just lay in front of the refrigerator like you'd think he would. He likes to eat my starfish collection and that's not the worst of it ... he is a persistent attention hog! Maybe I can walk him after sunset tonight. Poor dog.
I've been thinking about that visit with my buddy yesterday ...
He asked me how I am doing ... I guess I should acknowledge that he is a friend here ... he knows my life ... well at least the last many years of it ... they come over for dinner enough that he actually feels comfortable making special requests ... so more then a buddy. Normally when people ask that question they get the answer they want ... I am fine - you ... ? Seems like we like to keep our distance.
Well ... anyway ... I surprised him by answering, "I am fine ... maybe even better then ever."
I caught his eyebrows up on the first stall recovery. How is it so easy to run two ... make that three conversations (with communications outside the airplane) concurrently? How do we flip back and forth with ease between airplane talk and personal conversations?
Let me see if I can write an example of that. I'm already laughing because I know this is going to be a mess.
Yesterday, there was an army helicopter tracking NE bound at he said 500' we assumed MSL of course, but chatted about that briefly ... the terrain around here varies from maybe 350' to around 900'MSL ... tall trees ... this area is where paper comes from ... anyway, he was nervous, I could tell by the number of position reports he gave starting with my departure call on 36 ...it is true that my stated intentions could possibly take me right over him ... with no less then 1000' vertical clearance. I was already at 1600MSL on my downwind departure towards the SW ... he kept on interrupting my flow with now I'm here kinda reports ... "Now I am over the lake due South of your field" ... hahaha, which one someone might have asked ... it was easy to hear the tension in his voice ... poor kid. To my buddy I said "See if you can find him out there by OPOLE" ... a maker beacon near the lakes south of the field ... to him I said, kindly I thought, "Blahblah area helicopter trafffic WE543 1600' climbing 3000' and will not be a factor." "Okay, thanks" Maybe he was afraid of the woman pilot ... maybe it was the haze or maybe his first helicopter solo ... who knows? Before that I just had click clicked his reports cause I was busy flying my own business ... these high traffic uncontrolled areas can be pretty stressful in the haze especially ... my buddy said, "That was real nice." and I said "Poor kid has his panties in a knot ..." We heard from him again as he transitioned East of the field ... never saw him ... probably made 10 different reports within a five nm radius.
I like to fly with no off grid chittychat until we reach cruise and get everything airplane tidied up. Partly, because I don't really care to hear what most people have to say ... arund here it's not uncommon to hear pilots making arrangements to meet their buds at the BBQ house. I prefer quiet mostly because flying and low altitude distractions give me the willies. As I said ... tall trees are everywhere! My bud was acting like a passenger ... actually on his phone texting on short final ... that's okay, I was the flying pilot, but I did release rudder control on the roll once just to make him jump ... he red lined alert like a man who has given a few too many stage one check rides ... mean me is still kinda chuckling about it ... no, it wasn't unsafe ... just a reminder that he's on the clock here!
Well ... my friend/check pilot wanted to talk and between him and the other talkers in the area, I was extremely happy to be flying the plane myself.
I'm going to try to recount the conversations as the words bounced back and forth between my brief responses to his running dialogue and the appropriate airplane talk ...
Me: no way!
Piloting Me with no break: Slow flight 'til I see Little Texas (a grass field)
Pilot Him: good call (a route to a safe landing site is always a good thing)
Him: blahblahblah so how are you really ... ?
Pilot Me: there's the water tower (pointing) 11:00 (Little Texas is identified)
Pilot Him (looking out the window): power off (Let's see your power off stall and more importantly but never stated ... the recovery)
Pilot Me: this will be turning ... eyes on the ball ... (I haven't done one of these in three months ... back me up on keeping it coordinated ... an uncoordinated nose high attitude ... fully stalled ... could get interesting fast as in a spin)
Me: I am fine ... maybe even better then ever
PM: there it is... (Buffeting then nose drops)
full stall recovery
PH: nice ..
Him: ... how do you like that confirm flap thing ... (laughing) ... (... someone pulled the gear up switch when they meant to retract the flaps in an Arrow ... flaps lever between seats like my jeep's parking break in the Arrow ... not over there where the flaps are in the R models ... that is the gear switch though idk how he got it pulled out and up thinking it was flaps ... idk what was up with the squat switch ... idk how they hit the tail ... must have been off the ground in ground effect when someone yanked the flaps as I hear the story ...I don't know why they retracted flaps if they were airborne and barey above the runway ... it's a long and tedious tale with many variations depending on the teller and falls in to the category mentioned above ... tail strike ensued ... then a stack of new SOPs to address which includes "all instructors will verbally state confirm flaps before student input ..." yeah ... in a R model Cessna ... not even an RG.) ... you were a little quick on the flaps there girlfriend ...
Me (laughing): ... how do y'all bear it... ? I spent 30 minutes reading PIFs!
PM: yeah ... good recovery with no (visual) horizon (crazy hazy) ... hit the strobes ...
Him (eyebrows up somehow communicated): ...better then ever ... how's that work?
Me: Yeah ... I think I'm looking at the right stuff in the right way ...
PM: ... let's go do some laps. ... y'all's checklists are in the toilet ... (I point to the sticky spot where the climb, descent, before... checklists are usually clearly posted like a placard)
PH: Yeah ... it's not a placard (defensive ... it's hard to see things not just right when you can't fix them) (
PM: Hit my landing lights please (sorry I said anything ... I do know the procedure w/o a prompt)
Him: What do you mean...?
Me: I have recently realized that I use flying as a means of escape from thinking about stuff that is more important ... I think maybe we all do that with what we call work ... work is really not as important as life ... I've been sitting around figuring that out.
Him: Yeah ... that's true ... but life is expensive ... .
PM: Where the hell is the airport? Do you have it yet? (No response) Okay ... I know we left it right over there. (I'm looking for traffic on the 45 ... they've made the call ... we are above them and away from them too) ... Tell me when you have something, I'd like to descend (I'm still looking ...the GPS puts us 4.9 west of ...) ... .
Me: Yeah ... this quiet time has been good for me ... maybe I'll get to a point where I can do both ... still trying to figure out some stuff that matters more right now though. I stopped wishing for what I wish for and started looking at how to proceed with what I've got ... almost got distracted wishing for something else that's equally impossible ... Man, I miss flying ... .
PM: Blahblahblah traffic ME543 4 mile 45 for 36 descending through 2000' for 1600' ... .
Him: Dang ... it is so hot ... tell UNICOM to turn the air conditioner on the runway on ... I have another flight right behind this one ... .
Kinda like that ... plus every 123.00 frequency within range ... sometimes 100s of miles away! And I was monitoring ATL when inbound just in case we had IFR traffic in the vicinity ... it was really hazy.
Man I miss flying where things are understandable ... pretty clear even in the haze. Out here in the real world where life is lived and souls are constructed ... stuff sometimes just doesn't make sense ... . You can't study an airport diagram when you have no idea which way you're headed or even if there's adequate fuel to get there. And the weather enroute ... it's the weather that frets me the most. In real life, metaphorical weather never shows up on my radar! The antonym for joy was what ... fear? I think it was fear ... fear of the unknowns stealing one's joy. I literally feel it in my shoulders as I type this morning. My experience as a pilot has been that there are just enough unknowns that I am just confident enough that I can handle to make the trip interesting. I can pre-manage many of the unknowns making them somewhat knowable ... I am prepared (I think) for some potentially unpleasant pop-ups ... when I am actually in an airplane.