Ah, the life of a corporate pilot. It’s a trip, man.
The Bossman wanted to go to a wedding on Saturday evening. That meant picking him up in Destin, Florida and flying him to Fairhope, Alabama. It’s a 45 minute flight or about a two- or two-and-a-half hour drive. Hey, if I owned a helicopter I’d want to do the same thing. The plan was for him to spend some time at the wedding, and I’d take him back to Destin afterward.
Scheduled departure time from Destin wasn’t until around 4:30 in the afternoon, so Matt and I figured we spend a good chunk of our Saturday working on cars, something we do less and less of these days. But although he, Alisha and I all have good cars now, they still need the occasional servicing and stuff. His car needs brakes, and Alisha’s has a squealing belt that’s driving her crazy, if you’ll pardon the horrible pun.
I had no sooner pulled into Matt’s driveway when my cell phone “beep-beeped.” It was the Boss.
”Bob, I need you to pick up Chris in Birmingham tomorrow around noon and take him to Columbia, Mississippi where he’s got a meeting. Then take him back to Birmingham when he’s done.”
Okay, let's see… Hour-and-a-half from Home Base to Birmingham, Alabama. Then two hours to Mississippi. Hang around. Then two hours back to Birmingham and another 1.5 to home. Busy Sunday, lots of flying. Bottom line: Sure can do!
Then Chris beeped me. “Bob, can you pick me up at seven a.m. instead of noon?”
“Well sure, *if* I come up to Birmingham tonight after I drop the Boss off after the wedding.” In my head, I calculated that I’d arrive in Birmingham around midnight. Chris, the Boss and I all agreed that we had a plan.
And that’s pretty much how it worked out. After four hours of sleep I was back at the Birmingham Airport. Chris showed up and we left right at seven.
So here I sit in tiny Columbia, Mississippi. I got a room in one of the few motels in town. At least it has high-speed wireless in the rooms. It also has a pool. So after a little nap, I think I’ll scoot down to the pool and hang out until Chris calls, which will probably be around five pm.
Being a corporate pilot means that you’re pretty much always on-call. It’s not always great. I get a lot of time off, but I don’t get many “hard” days off where I can plan stuff in advance. Sometimes the days are very long, and I work a lot of weekends. You might think that such an arrangement would be too much of a hardship, and certainly this lifestyle is not for everyone. On the other hand, the Boss takes care of me very well, and if I ever do have weekend or personal plans all I have to do is let him know in advance.
Chris and I had a ripping headwind coming down here this morning (and I mean it was directly on the nose). While our speed through the air was the usual 104 knots, our groundspeed only averaged 88 knots, which is just crawling. So we were losing 16 knots (a little under 20 mph) to the wind. The good news is that we should have a nice tailwind on the way home. “Should have” being the operative phrase; the weather gods do not always cooperate. With any luck at all, I’ll be back in Birmingham by 7:00 pm. Then I’ll grab some fuel and head back to Home Base, getting there around 9:00. If that luck holds out I’ll pull back into my own driveway around 10:30 tonight.
Yeah, a couple of long days. On the other hand, I could still be flying roustabouts from oil platform to platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Or sightseers around Manhattan. All things considered, I’ll keep my present job, thanks.